One reason for yoga’s popularity is its versatility; it can be as physically intense as any other form of fitness workout, but with the added mental and spiritual exercises. While most exercises and workouts are designed to get you pumped and energized for the day, the practice of yoga can be tailored to achieve the opposite — to calm your mind and relieve feelings of stress that keep you up all night.
If you’re already familiar with yoga, you’d probably expect insomnia-combating poses to be like the Lotus, Corpse, or Mountain pose. While those are effective in calming the mind and body, doing more “active” poses may actually help induce sleep as well. So instead of reaching for tablets and sleep-inducing products, try out these yoga asanas or poses that are known to soothe the mind and body and get you sleeping like a baby in no time.
Plow Pose or Halasana
Poses where the head is lower than the heart, and the hips and legs are higher than the heart are called inversions. Inversions are known to be effective in combating insomnia despite them usually requiring more physical effort than restorative poses like the Corpse. To perform Halasana, lie on your back and let your legs come up and over the head, reaching your toes to the ground.
If you experience strain in the neck, or you’ve only just begun doing yoga, you can simply bring your legs up and over, and slowly work to lowering the toes to the ground.
Legs Up the Wall or Viparita Karani
The English name for this asana pretty much says it all; you lie on your mat with your legs up straight and leaning against the wall. But if you’re doing yoga to get the elusive Zzzz’s, an even better way of doing the Viparita Karani is by using a bolster and placing it under your hips. Let your arms rest on your sides, or parallel to your shoulders. Using a bolster for this pose will not only get you physically and mentally relaxed, it will also improve circulation and ease lower back pain.
Child’s Pose or Balasana
The Balasana is often performed as a resting position, and is incorporated into the asana sequences used in different styles of yoga. Aside from its calming and meditative aspects, the Balasana is also good for relieving tension in the neck and shoulders — the parts of our body where stress manifests itself physically. To do the Child’s pose, knees and fold your legs underneath you, resting the buttocks on the soles of your feet. Bend your body forward and lower your forehead onto the floor. You can rest your arms by your side or extend them with your palms touching the floor.
Standing Forward Bend or Uttanasana
Whether your insomnia is a result of stress or hormonal irregularity, forward bends will work to help release tension and get the body in a comfortable, physical state. To do the Uttanasana, first stand with your feet at hip-width distance. With your arms raised overhead, begin to slowly lower your upper body towards your legs. If you can’t reach the floor with your hands, you can bend your legs also and just fold your arms in front of you and reach for your elbows.
The key thing to remember is never to strain or hurt yourself getting to a specific position. Always work only to what is comfortable, and you can slowly progress from there as you gain more flexibility in your yogic practice.