6 Of The Most Soothing Yoga Poses To Help You Sleep Better

Have trouble switching off before bedtime? Hope Bastine, a psychologist and yoga instructor, shares her top snooze moves

Simple Cross-Legged Pose & Breathe Alternate Nostril Breathing

1 Find a sitting position that allows the spine to be straight without creating tension in the body.

2 Close your eyes and tune into the breath. Breathing through the nose, make the breath as long and deep as you can, filling the lungs from the bottom to the top.

3 Begin to count the length of the breath silently in your head, making the inhalation and exhalation equal.

6 Of The Most Soothing Yoga Poses To Help You Sleep Better Photo Gallery



4 Once you have established a steady rhythm, raise the right hand and rest the first two fingers between the eyebrows. Bring the thumb to rest on the right nostril and the ring finger to rest on the left nostril.

5 Exhale fully through both nostrils to empty the lungs. Closing the right nostril with the thumb, inhale through the left nostril.

6 Closing the left nostril with the ring finger, exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right nostril, close and exhale through the left. Inhale left, close, exhale right. Inhale right, close, exhale left.

7 Continue doing this, changing sides only after the inhalation for 5 to 10 breaths. Make each breath as slow and deep as you can.

Hope says: ‘this helps to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain, calm the mind and slow down the breath, thereby preparing the body to switch from “fight or flight” to “rest and restore” mode.

KNEES TO CHEST POSE

1 Lie on your back and hug both knees in towards your chest.

2 Allow arms and shoulders to be relaxed. As you inhale, feel the legs lift away from the abdomen slightly and as you exhale, use the arms to gently draw them in a little closer. Breathe slowly for 5 to 10 breaths.

Hope says: ‘this pose is reminiscent of the foetal position and has a soothing effect on the body and mind. the lower back is gently stretched and released, while the internal organs are compressed and released, aiding your digestion.’

SuPINE SPINAL TWIST

1 From knees to chest pose, stretch your left arm out beside you and keeping the right hand on the knees, roll the legs all the way over to the right until they come to rest on the mat.

2 Turn the head to look down the left arm. 3Stay here while breathing slowly for 5 to 10 breaths; repeat on the other side.

Hope says: ‘this pose is great for releasing tension and toxins from the body. twisting the spine releases a build-up of tension held here and rebalances the body. compressing and also twisting the major detoxifying organs of the torso will stimulate your body to detox while you are asleep.’

SIMPLE SEATED TWIST

1 Seated, bring knees together with the feet flat in front of you.

2 Place hands on knees and inhale, lifting the chest to sit tall and straighten spine.

3 As you exhale, turn to your right, wrapping your left arm around your knees and taking the right hand behind you for support.

4 Turn your gaze to look over your right shoulder. As you inhale feel the spine grow long and as you exhale, use your left arm to gently twist a little deeper. 5Stay in this position, breathing slowly for 5 to 10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Hope says: ‘twisting postures have a balancing and neutralising effect on the body and mind. this pose will help to release tension all along the spine while opening the chest and shoulders – a great antidote to hunched or slumped posture brought on by stress and desk work.’

Bound Angle Pose

1 From a seated position, place the soles of the feet together and open the knees outwards. Take hands onto the feet and open them out like a book, with the outside edge and little toes touching and the big toes and inner ‘seam’ apart.

2 Inhaling, lift the chest and look up. Exhaling, fold forward. Allow the body to soften and relax. 3Breathe slowly and stay in this position for 5 to 10 breaths. hope says: ‘forward folding postures have both a grounding and relaxing effect on the body and mind. this particularly helps to release tension along the spine and deep into the hips.’

Reclining Angle Pose

1 Lying on your back, draw the knees back into the centre and hug them in one last time.

2 Place the feet back on the mat with the soles touching, allow the knees to fall out to the side.

3 Slowly lengthen the exhalation until it reaches double the length of the inhalation. So, if your inhalation lasts for a count of three your exhalation will last for a count of six. Do this slowly and gradually. Remember to never strain or hold the breath.

4 Stay in this position, breathing deeply for as long as desired. hope says: ‘this pose allows the spine to rest in a supported neutral position while gravity slowly opens the hips. counting the breath steadily also has the effect of calming and centring the mind, and helps to overcome the common “racing mind syndrome”.’

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