I love sleep, plain and simple. I must have inherited this from my father who can sleep at the drop of a hat. Imagine my excitement when I was introduced to a yoga practice called Restorative Yoga and found myself surrounded by blankets, bolsters, neck pillows and the like. I was smitten to say the least… seems like the perfect time to take a nap!
Well lo and behold, Restorative Yoga is not time for a nap BUT it can help you get a good night’s sleep. This practice of balance and healing assists us to create space in our muscular-skeletal body, our emotions and our mind. Just as importantly, it gives us time for ourselves to reset, renew and reenergize.
One way you can get a better night’s sleep is to spend time in a pose with your legs above your heart. You can easily access this position with your legs up the wall, chair, couch, coffee table, etc. The key is to keep your feet up higher than your heart. If you want to go all Sanskrit, the beautiful name of this pose is ViparitaKarani.
This highly accessible pose only requires a supportive place for your legs to rest and maybe a firm blanket for cushioning the lumbar spine. Of course, additional props like a neck pillow, a blanket to cover oneself, or even a strap to keep the legs from falling outward are akin to putting a cherry on top of a sundae.
What would you expect to get out of practicing this pose? The benefits are numerous including the following:
- Increasing circulation which helps venous and lymphatic flow from the lower body
- Relieving swelling and fatigue in the legs
- Helps relieve muscular skeletal stress in pelvis
- Quiets the mind
- Can help promote ease in meditation and sleep. This will also attribute to a more healthy sleep cycle.
When should you practice this pose? You can certainly practice at anytime of the day but to transition from activity to sleep, it is most beneficial right before bed. Find a place where you can be undisturbed for 15-20 minutes, put on your comfy pjs, turn down the lights, and take a few deep breaths as you settle into the pose. Feel free to wiggle, adjust, and settle with some deep breathing until you can begin to relax the muscles, the mind. I highly recommend Left Nostril Breathing to go along with the pose.
To do this gently close the right nostril with your thumb of your right hand, breath in and out of your left nostril, closing eyes. Use this breath if you happen to wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep.
With practice, the body begins to remember this relaxed state and can more easily ease into your (hopefully 8) hours of sleep each night. Happy Rest, Happy Healing and Happy New Year!
Diane Kistler, Certified MOYO Teacher
For more yummy poses, check out Diane’s blog at www.RestorativeYoga-Feelingthebliss.blogspot.com.