Sleep is one of the three essentials for a healthy body and mind besides exercise and diet, but it’s the least discussed one. As we grow older it gets harder to fall asleep and stay asleep, for most of us. Especially in the age of screens, where tech giants like Netflix are competing with people's sleep, it becomes even more important to take charge of it and make efforts to improve our sleep quality as well as quantity.
A good night’s sleep helps in being alert and energetic throughout the day, maintaining the immune system, and decreasing the risk of heart diseases.
Regular practitioners of Yoga have reported improved sleep quality and reduced sleep disturbances during nighttime. In addition to directly improving sleep quality, practicing yoga indirectly helps to get better sleep in a lot of ways. Stress is a common factor why people experience insomnia, sleep disturbances, and poor quality of sleep. Yoga makes us calmer by moderating the release of Cortisol, resulting in stress relief. Cortisol is released when you get stressed which makes you alert in a crisis situation but harms your body in the long run.
The deep breathing that is done during Pranayama practice is a great relaxation technique that can induce sleep. It is preferable to perform Ujjayi breathing before going to bed if one is having trouble going to sleep, which we will talk about in detail in another blog post. Performing relaxing asanas that help you loosen up muscle tension and unwind is a great way to improve sleep quality and overcome sleep-related problems.
Here’s a list of asanas to perform before bedtime that is beneficial for our sleep:
Viparita Karani or the Legs Up the Wall Posture, as the name suggests requires one to raise the legs up keeping them straight lying relaxed in the supine position. This yoga pose calms the nervous system which helps lower stress and anxiety. It is very important to have a relaxed body when trying to sleep, Viparita Karani does exactly that. It relieves tension or fatigue from legs, feet, and hips by increasing circulation elevating the venous drainage.
2.Supta baddha Konasana
Supta badha konasana or reclines bound angle pose helps relieve stress, anxiety, and depression which can be impediments to your sleep quantity as well as quality. This asana like the previous one increases blood circulation which helps you relax and unwind after a busy day. It also stimulates the abdominal and reproductive organs, improves digestion, and soothes menstrual discomfort.
Uttanasana (Standing forward bend) is known for reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue. It calms the mind and soothes the nerves, relieving tension in the spine, neck, and back and stretching the hips, hamstrings, and calves.
Balasana, also known as child’s pose, relieves lower back pain when performed with head and torso supported. Performing this asana gently stretches the hips, thighs, and ankles. You can stay in Balasana anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes. It is very relaxing because it relieves tension caused by daily movements by opening your hips and elongating your back.
Savasana or Corpse pose is a final resting pose that is usually performed at the end of yoga practice. Savasana is performed by lying flat on your back, closing your eyes, and simply breathing deeply letting your body and mind relax. This asana calms the nervous system, aids the digestive system and immune system, reduces headache, fatigue, and anxiety.
Some of the common traits that you will find in all these asanas are that they relax and relieve tension in the muscles, hips, and legs, and increase blood circulation. Regularly performing one or more of these asanas before bedtime will surely help improve your sleep quality and overall well-being.