Five yoga asanas that can help you get rid of stress, improve quality of sleep
One of the most effective ways to sleep better is to give yourself a wind-down period that begins at least an hour before bedtime
Sleep is an essential part of life and key to the proper functioning of the circadian rhythm. But stress, anxiety and fatigue can often lead to sleep disturbances and disorders, and that’s been the case especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An Indian study published in the journal Chronobiology International in July 2020 revealed that poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness was highly prevalent among corporate professionals and students in the country.
Many other studies have also pointed this to be a global phenomenon, and methods to fix your sleep cycle during COVID-19 pandemic have been indicated by many as well. One of the most effective tips is to give yourself a wind-down period that begins at least an hour before bedtime. Relaxation techniques can be used to de-stress during this time and electronic devices must be avoided.
Experts at both the US National Sleep Foundation (NSF) and Harvard Medical School recommend yoga as a “gentle and restorative way to wind down your day”.
NSF data reveals that those who practice yoga daily sleep for longer, fall asleep faster, have better sleep quality and feel better during the day as well.
If you find it difficult to sleep, try the following five yoga asanas before bedtime every day.
This resting pose relieves back pain and calms the mind at the same time.
- Kneel on a mat with your toes placed together. Rest your hips near your heel and place your knees hip-width apart.
- Breathe in deeply, and fold your torso onto your thighs while exhaling.
- Your hands should be on your sides, palms facing up and relaxed to release the tension in your shoulders by widening the blades.
- Try to touch the mat with your forehead, and you can gently roll your head from side to side to release the tension in the brow.
- Hold this position for five minutes while breathing gently yet deeply through your nose.
This simple forward bend stretches out all the muscles from your neck and back all the way down to the hamstrings and ankles.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart and breathe in deeply.
- Exhale and bend down from your hips in a gentle and smooth movement. Keep your back as straight as possible.
- Do not strain to touch the ground with your hands. You can instead rest them on the shins.
- Hold this position for a minute while breathing normally, then gently come back up.
- Repeat twice more.
3. Viparita Karani
This simple pose takes the strain off your feet and legs to recirculate blood flow.
- Place a mat perpendicular to an empty wall.
- Gently lie on the mat and place your legs up the wall.
- Relax your arms on the sides with the palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and stay in this position for five minutes or as long as you want while breathing normally.
4. Baddha Konasana
This asana stretches out the inner thighs, groin and knees while relieving the pressure from your legs and feet.
- Sit with your back straight and legs straightened in front of you.
- Inhale, then bend your knees and pull your heels towards your pelvis while exhaling.
- Drop each knee to the side and press the soles of your feet together.
- Bring the joint heels as close to the pelvis as possible, then grasp the big toe of each foot with the first and second fingers and thumbs. If you can’t reach the toes comfortably, hold the ankle or shins.
- Keep your back straight and apply gentle pressure to push the knees towards the ground.
- Stay in this pose for upto five minutes, then inhale, lift your knees and stretch your legs back to return to the original position.
This is the final resting position in yoga and leads to complete relaxation.
- Lie flat on your back without any props or cushions. You may place a rolled-up towel under your neck if absolutely necessary.
- Keep your legs slightly apart and relax your thighs, knees, calves, ankles and feet.
- Place your arms by your sides, slight away from your torso. Leave the palms open and facing upwards. Relax your shoulders, arms, elbows, palms and fingers.
- Close your eyes, relax your entire body, breathe normally and gently focus on each and every part of your body.
- Stay in this position for 10-15 minutes, open your eyes and gently sit up.
For more information, read our article on Yoga.
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