I am a teacher working in higher education. I have a B.A. and M.A. in English & Creative Writing, and am pursuing a doctorate as well.
Best Yoga Poses for Insomnia
In our busy society, many people have trouble sleeping. Known as insomnia, this can be caused by illness, stress, poor nutrition, and more. Insomnia can also cause a lot of health problems! There are many different ways to help relieve insomnia and return to getting a good night's sleep. Yoga is a great way to reduce stress and relax your body to get ready for sleep. The following poses are well-suited to do this, so the next time you can't seem to catch some Zs, give them a try!
As with any exercise, remember to listen to your body. If you have any contraindications, please talk to your doctor before exercising or practicing yoga.
1) Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
This pose, as well as all other forward bends, stimulates the relaxation response in the body. Using blankets, blocks, or bolsters to support the head and make the pose less strenuous can increase the relaxed feeling one gets from the pose. Forward bends are also great for quieting the mind before bed.
2) Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Put a pillow or a bolster under your hips while doing this pose. Let your arms be relaxed and focus on your breathing. This pose helps to relax the body and the mind. It also helps to restore tired legs and feet so sleep can be more restful.
3) Child's Pose (Balasana)
This pose is a wonderful stretch, and it promotes relaxation and relieves anxiety. Use props here to get completely relaxed. If you do one pose before bed, do this one. Let yourself quiet your mind and focus on your breath while preparing your body for rest.
4) Plow Pose (Halasana)
This is a more challenging pose that can help to reduce anxieties. It stretches the shoulders and the spine. Plow pose can be held for anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
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5) Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
A reclining twist can release tension in the back and hips. This is another pose where props like a blanket or bolster come in handy. Twist into the pose slowly in time with your breath. Be sure to do the pose on both sides for balance.
6) Shoulder Stand (Salamba Sarvangasana)
This is an advanced position that one can do to relieve insomnia. Despite the challenge of the pose, shoulder stand can be very relaxing. It soothes the nervous system to help with anxiety and tension. Only do Shoulder Stand for as long as you feel comfortable. This pose is best done close to bedtime, but not right before you get into bed.
7) Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This restorative pose helps to loosen the hips and legs. This pose has many of the same benefits as a forward bend, but it can be more relaxing since it is done while seated. This pose could also be done in a reclining position for many of the same benefits. Do this pose right before you lie down for rest, either while reclining or with a forward bend, for the most relaxation benefits for your body and mind.
8) Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Ending with Savasana is the best way to prepare for sleep. You can even do this pose while lying down in bed. Focus on your breath and relax all the muscles in your body. Slow your breath down and try to avoid stressful thoughts as you drift off to sleep!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
wiserworld on September 17, 2016:
Thanks for the pictures and poses. Very helpful for beginners and advanced learners of yoga.
Cynthia Lyerly from Georgia on January 26, 2013:
The focused breathing in yoga is soooo relaxing.