Yoga for Restful Sleep

Hit the alarm clock then hit the ground running. Slam a coffee then slam the gas petal. Full throttle all day going from 0 to 60 miles per hour until the head hits the pillow at the very end of the day. Then a funny thing happens: the eyes won't shut. Insomnia, that evil sleep-stealing monster that lurks under the bed. It thrives off of stress and anxiety and what we call in yoga, 'the constant fluctuations of the mind'. Tonight, instead of slamming into your bed with wishful thinking of bliss-filled uninterrupted sleep, try unrolling your yoga mat for this small sequence to calm your mind, your nervous system and put those pesky gate-jumpy sheep away for good.


UTTANASANA (Standing Forward Fold): In your most comfortable PJ's, start standing with your back against the wall, feet separated hips width and placed one foot away from the wall. Engage your quadriceps (front muscle on thigh) and extend your torso until you can melt over your legs. Keep the bottom resting on the wall and let the arms dangle. Take 20 full breaths. Place your hands at the wall on either side of your hips and gently press your bottom away from the wall until it stacks over the heels. Let the arms dangle. Take another 10 breaths. One vertebrae at a time, roll up to stand. Enjoy the head rush.

PASCHIMOTTANASANA (Seated Forward Bend): Sit on your mat or on a folded blanket if your lower back is sensitive or if you have tight hips. Keep the legs straight, together (if you a pregnant keep them open hips width) and sit up tall. Keep the length in your spine and begin to elongate over your legs, spreading your torso long and avoiding any rounding in the upper back. Potentially clasp the outer edges of your feet or use a belt around the balls of your feet. Relax the shoulders and take 20 breaths.

VIPARITA KARANI (LEGS-UP-THE-WALL POSE): Go back to the wall and sit next to it sideways. If you have a bolster or several pillows, place your lower back onto the support. Lie down and swing your legs up the wall so that they are straight and touching. Release your arms either overhead, next to your body, or one hand to the belly, one to the heart. Stay here for as long as you like or at least for 5 minutes. Completely relax your breath. With each inhale bring in warmth, with each exhale release, surrender, let go of your day.

Kathryn Budig is a popular Los Angeles vinyasa flow instructor who's clientele ranges from celebrities such as Bill Murray and Giada de Laurentiis to new mothers and students. She travels nationally and is regularly featured in yoga and health publications. For more informations, please visit the sites below.

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