I’ve written about my insomnia time and time again, most recently here. My sleep challenge is a constant battle and something that I will always work to improve. Whether it’s acupuncture, breathing exercises, natural supplements, or a nighttime routine, I’m willing to try pretty much anything.
One thing that I try to do on and off is a nightly yoga routine. Whenever I practice yoga before bed, I feel so much calmer and more grounded. I never know exactly where to start, however, so I caught up with celebrity yoga/pilates instructor, Kristin McGee, to teach me a thing or two about yoga poses for insomniacs. It’s so exciting that she’s guest-posting today, you guys have no idea! I have practiced this sequence for three nights in a row now and it’s incredibly restorative and helpful to calm me down before sleep. I hope you enjoy!
Goodnight Yoga Sequence
It’s hard these days to get to bed on time and to fall asleep easily. I can totally relate managing my own company, tending to my two year old son, running around teaching all day and trying to keep everything organized. It’s impossible to not get caught up in the rabbit hole of Instagram as I’m lying in bed as well. The blue light emitted from our computers and iPhones has been linked to disrupting the body’s natural circadian rhythms by suppressing the production of the sleep hormone melatonin. So put down your laptop and cell phone and try this calming bedtime yoga sequence instead so you can sleep like a baby! Although my baby still doesn’t sleep through the night (LOL) this sequence helps me feel better regardless.
Extended Child’s Pose
Start in Extended Child’s Pose. From your shins sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forward, relaxing your forehead to the floor. Feel your lower back, hips, and waist stretching out as you tap in to your deep breathing. Stay here for 8-10 breaths until you feel calm and connected.
Come on to your hands and knees and take a few Cat/Cow stretches, arching and rounding your back. Link your breath to the movement and open up your spine.
Next, bring your right knee forward towards the right side or your right hand and your right foot towards the left hand. Lower you back leg straight down to the floor, lower your forearms down and hold Pigeon for 8 to 10 breaths. Make sure your not sinking in to either hip (you can prop the right buttocks up if your very tight), you can also lower your forehead down to the floor or a pillow. Switch sides.
From Pigeon on the left side, float your right leg around and stack the right ankle above the left knee for Double Pigeon. This is one of my all time favorite stretches! We hold so much junk in our trunk, which leads to excess tension in our backs, hips, and jaw even. Double Pigeon (also known as ankle to knee pose) is one of the best hip openers there is. If you can hold 8 to 10 breaths (or more) stay here and allow your hips to fully relax and release. Make sure your shins are stacked exactly one on top of each other and don’t let the top ankle collapse (look for wrinkles on the inner ankle and iron them out by flexing the foot). Repeat on the left side.
Bring both soles of feet together and bend your knees in to a kite shape. Tarasana, Star Pose, is restorative because your inner thighs aren’t getting too deep of a stretch; and you can round your torso forward resting the head neck and shoulders as you breathe in to the lower back, outer thighs and groins. Stay here for 8-10 breaths. You can also place a block under your forehead if you want it to be more restful.
Lie down on your back keeping your feet together knees apart and come in to Goddess. You may knee to slide your heels a bit closer to your groins or see what is most comfortable for you. You can prop your outer upper thighs with pillows or blocks if you wish. Lie in Goddess for as long as you wish and watch your breath. If you like, place your hands on your belly you can watch the rise and fall of the abdomen as you breath.
Finally lengthen your legs forward and let them drop out to the sides. Turn your palms up and rest your shoulders down away from your ears. Let the entire body melt in to the floor in Savasana. Let your breath relax, close your eyes, imagine yourself melting in to a deep state of rest. Release in to your own natural state of beauty and bliss.
Namaste and Goodnight!
For more yoga inspiration and a plethora of poses, visit Kristin’s pose gallery.