Yoga for Sleep
Summer is often a time of movement: we’re running off to vacation, we’re running around with our kids, and we’re running outside to enjoy the sunshine. This is all well and good, but we also need to make sure we’re taking enough time to fully relax. That’s where yoga comes into play. Yoga has many health benefits, but a study done by Harvard University suggests that yoga can also help improve sleep quality. “Researchers in this study provided their subjects with basic yoga training, then asked them to maintain a daily yoga practice for eight weeks. The study participants kept sleep diaries for two weeks before the yoga regimen began, and for the duration of the eight-week study period. In the sleep diaries, they kept a record [of] the amount of time spent asleep, number of times they awakened during the night, and the duration of time spent sleeping between periods of waking, in addition to other details about nightly sleep amounts and sleep quality. Twenty people completed the eight-week evaluation, and researchers analyzed the information in their sleep diaries to evaluate the influence of yoga on the disrupted sleep [patterns]. They found improvements to several aspects of sleep, including: sleep efficiency, total sleep time, total wake time, sleep onset latency (the amount of time it takes to fall asleep), [and] wake time after sleep onset.” With that in mind, here are some yoga moves to help you power down at the end of the day.
- Child’s Pose: Begin by sitting on your knees. Spread your knees apart while keeping your big toes together. Sit up straight, lengthening your spine, and then bow forward. Stretch your hands out in front of you, palms flat on the floor.
- Reclining Bound Angle Pose. Begin by lying flat on your back, bolstering your hips and back with a folded blanket if necessary. Then bring the soles of your feet together, keeping your knees bent. Imagine there are weights on the inside of your knees, pushing them down towards the floor.
- Supine Spinal Twist. Lie down on your back with your arms stretched out straight on either side of you. Bring your right knee up to your chest. Slowly lower your right leg across your body, giving your spine a gentle twist while keeping your shoulder blades flat on the floor. Repeat on the other side.
- Cat and Cow Poses. Begin on all fours with your knees under your hips and your hands under your shoulders. As you inhale, bring the crown of your head and your tailbone up towards the ceiling, allowing your lower back to hollow. On the exhale, slowly drop your head down do that the top of your head is pointed towards the floor as your arch your back up towards the ceiling. Allow yourself to go at your own pace, following the rhythm of your breath. Although this isn’t pretty, as an added bonus, cat and cow can help relieve discomfort from gas and digestive discomfort.
- Legs Up the Wall Pose. Begin on your side with your rear end against the wall. Slowly lift your legs as you rotate onto your back so that when you achieve the pose, you’re lying on your back with your tailbone against the wall and your legs resting against the wall up in the air. If necessary, you can bolster your hips or lower back with a folded blanket.
- Corpse Pose. Lie flat on your back, arms at your sides with palms facing up and your legs about hip width apart. Let your limbs relax as you close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
*Vemma Nutrition Company recommends following a healthy approach to weight loss by consulting with your physician or health care professional prior to starting any new exercise or diet plan.
 Breus, Ph.D, Michael J. “Yoga Can Help With Insomnia.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 4 Oct. 2012, www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/sleep-newzzz/201210/yoga-can-help-insomnia.