The Mindful

Yoga for Sleep

Little frustrates me as much as a bout of insomnia. The body tosses, the mind ticks and muscles twitch. It’s primarily caused by an increase in Vata in the mind or nervous system. It can also be related to constipation, stress and being over-tired. Oddly enough, getting out of bed can actually help.

Try shoulder-stand pose at the end of the day, before bed or in the wee hours. It stimulates the thyroid, increases blood supply and soothes the nervous system, making it perfect for a calming night’s rest. Avoid doing this during menstruation and late stages of pregnancy.

Lie on your back, and bend and squeeze your knees into your chest. With hands by your side, palms down, breathe out and raise your hips off the floor. Press your hands on your hips by bending your arms at the elbows. Breathe in. Raise the trunk up perpendicularly, supported by your hands until your chest touches your chin. If you suffer from high blood pressure, stay here and continue to breathe. Use your legs to balance you – bent or straight, whichever feels most comfortable. Only the back of the head and neck, the shoulders and the backs of the arms up to the elbows should rest on the floor. Place your hands to the middle of your spine, with your palms against your back. Breathe. Stretch your legs up to the sky, toes together, pointing up. Stay here for 5–10 minutes, with deep, even breaths. Gradually slide down, using your hands as support, then release and relax.

If you are a beginner, start by bending the right knee and placing the right foot on the left knee. Rotate or twist your hips forward to bring the knee to the forehead. The left leg should be horizontal to the floor. Repeat on the other side.

While I am in shoulder-stand I imagine a tube of light running along my spine. I visualize my in- and out-breaths flowing up and down the tube. This creates focus and an intention for the breath to become louder than your thoughts.

Love, Selda x

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