Static Stretching: 8 Ways to Ease Yourself to Sleep
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Are you finding it harder to get your Zzz’s these days? Anxiety abounds in 2020, and you aren’t alone if you struggle to get your recommended daily allowance of shuteye.
Have you considered trying yoga to ease you into dreamland? This form of exercise doesn’t have to get your heart rate going — instead, it can help you wind down for the night. Here are eight ways to use static stretching to ease yourself into sleep.
1. Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
Yogis consider paschimottanasana one of the most vital poses in all yoga — and considering the thousands of postures, that’s high praise. You can do this stretch when you’re already seated in bed with no props necessary. However, many folks find that using a towel or strap makes finding the full expression of the posture less problematic.
Begin by sitting tall with your legs extended in front of you. Reach for your toes while keeping your spine straight, and use your breath to help you elongate into the posture. You can wrap your first two fingers around your big toe if they reach or grab that strap for extra leverage.
2. Sleeping Swan Pose (Adho Mukha Kapotasana)
In hatha and ashtanga yoga, this posture is known as pigeon, but the forward-leaning motion of yin practice transforms it into sleeping swan. It’s a terrific way to open up your complicated hip joint before sleep.
Bend your right leg with your heel toward your groin. Extend the left leg behind you with your knee and top of your foot flat against the ground. Start by sitting tall, then lean forward over the front knee. Hold this static stretching for up to three minutes, then switch sides.
3. Single Leg Forward Fold (Janu Sirsasana)
Ashtanga yoga features three “janu” variations, but you only have to do one to ease yourself to sleep. Place the palm of your right foot against the inner thigh of your left leg. Then, reach forward and hook the extended left leg, stretching your hamstring and lower back. You can hold any of the static stretches on this list for up to three minutes before switching sides.
Another “janu” variation is to sit on your heel — you might find that doing so moves the stretch down toward your calves more. If you want to throw in a bonus straddle stretch after hitting both sides, feel free.
4. Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
If you stock shelves or flip burgers for a living, you know how tired your dogs feel by day’s end. Give your feet a break, improve your circulation and ease yourself to sleep with viparita karani.
All you need is a wall — elevating your legs against it helps treat and prevent varicose veins, which can occur when blood pools in your lower extremities. As you become more flexible, move your glutes closer to the place where it meets your floor.
5. Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
Do you want to sleep as soundly as an infant? Try happy baby pose before bed to calm your central nervous system.
All you need to do is get on your back and bring your legs up to your sides. Make if you were trying to touch either knee to the floor. Grab onto your feet — it’s okay to give yourself a bit of a back massage by rocking from side to side.
6. Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Supta matsyendrasana is one of the most gentle yoga twists, and you can do it while lying in bed. You can do two different variations — play around and see which feels best for your body.
The first way to enter this pose is to pull both knees into your chest while extending your arms to either side. Gently let your knees fall first to the right side, then switch after holding for several seconds. For a variation on this movement, extend your bottom leg while the top one remains bent.
7. Supta Virasana
If you have issues with your knees, bring plenty of pillows when practicing this asana. While it’s challenging to lie all the way back, you can stack your supports as high as necessary to make it comfortable.
Start by sitting up and bending both knees — similar to a kneeling-back chair with your feet slightly to either side. It might help to place a pillow or two between your glutes and lower legs to protect your knees. Once you get into position, lean back. Here’s another spot where having a cushion or two beneath your back can support you and let you relax toward sleep.
Many yogis consider savasana, or final resting pose, the most challenging asana in all of yoga. However, if you hope to go to sleep, it’s also the most conducive to slumber.
The reason savasana is so challenging is that while it’s one thing to relax a muscle, it’s harder to turn off your brain. If you find that you can’t relax in a meditative state without your thoughts turning to worry, try dialing up a sleep hypnosis video on YouTube. Often, the combination of gentle body movements followed by a little mental guidance helps to soothe your brain waves into a hypnotic state.
Ease Yourself to Sleep With This Yoga Static Stretching Routine
Use these eight yoga techniques and let static stretching relax you into sleep. You’ll find the road to dreamland less rocky and improve your flexibility.