by Bridget Fujioka
One of the most common causes of insomnia, or trouble falling and staying asleep, can be anxiety and stress. Taking some measures before going to bed can aid in getting a good night’s rest. Be sure to eliminate caffeinated drinks by 3pm. Other factors that can stimulate the body before sleep are cigarettes, television, and our mobile devices. Try to not use these a couple hours before bed. Although alcohol is a depressant and might seemingly help you fall asleep faster, in reality it interrupts your natural sleep cycle, therefore you may not get into the deep sleep that is necessary for true rest.
In addition to removing some obstacles to sleep, there are other thing you can do to get a good sleep. Adding a sachet of dried lavender in your pillow case can aid in relaxation or the use of lavender essential oil. Relaxing music or a guided relaxation can also help. Using these in conjunction with taking some time before bed to practice Restorative Yoga can help alleviate sleep problems by relaxing the nervous system.
To start, carve out a small area in your bedroom free from clutter on your floor either next to a wall or your bed. You will need a few props, but even if you don’t have “official” yoga props, it is easy to make do with items you have around the house like pillows, blankets, and towels.
Supported Legs up the Wall – Viparita Karani – 10 minutes
Depending on how flexible your hamstrings are, start with pillow or several folded blankets about 6 inches parallel from the wall or bed. Take another blanket folder in thirds perpendicular to your pillow. Come to sit sideways at the end of your pillow. Start to lean back and as you lean back bring the legs up against the wall and take the torso to lie over the perpendicular blanket. Arms will come down by your side. You shouldn’t feel a deep stretch in the back of the legs. If you do, come out of the pose and move the blanket further from the wall. IF you are using your bed, bring the legs up alongside the bed and bed the knees so your calves rest on top of the mattress. Close the eyes and bring your awareness to the breath. You can stay here for 10 minutes. When you are ready to come out of the pose, bend your knees and roll off to the side. Come up to seated and take a few breaths to acclimate to your environment.
Seated Wide Angle – Up vista Konasana – 5 minutes
Coming to sit up on a folded blanket right at the edge with legs spread wide in front of a chair or your bed. You do not want to feel a deep stretch on the inner legs or hips. Inhale to sit up tall and on an exhale fold forward hinging from your hips. You can place arms in goal posts or fold arms and place on chair with your forehead resting on top. In either variation, if you feel you are straining your neck so your head reaches the props underneath, add more height to the props meet your body where you are.
Close the eyes and bring your awareness to the breath. You can stay here for 5 minutes. When you are ready to come out of the pose inhale up to seated head bowed towards chest. Take a few more deeper breaths and then inhale as you lift your head and open your eyes.
Supported Relaxation – Savasana – 10 minutes
Bringing your feet to a wall, place a rolled up blanket beneath your knees and a folded blanket where your head is to go. Come to lie down flat on your back with your knees and head supported. The blanket at your head should come right up to the top of your shoulders and you can create a small roll to support, not pressing, the natural curve of the neck. Brings arm our to your side palms facing up or down. As you move into a more relaxed state the body may cool down so you can cover yourself with a blanket . Close the eyes and bring your awareness to the breath. You can stay here for 10 minutes.
This sequence should take about 30 minutes to complete including the time it takes to set up your props. IF you can’t find the time for the whole thing you can try each one at different times and see what resonates with your body best and then stay consistent with that pose for a while.
Bridget is co-owner of Yoga in the Heights and teaches Yoga Basics on Monday/Wednesday at 6:00pm, Core Vinyasa Flow on Tues/Thurs 9:00am and Restorative Yoga on Sunday at 5:30pm. Register now.
Bridget is also leading a special Mother’s Day Restorative Yoga & Reiki Healing Workshop on Sunday, May 8th at 2pm. Spaces are limited. Pre-register here.