Today, I was talking with a coworker of mine about yoga. He had asked me if there were any particular yoga poses that he should do before going to bed, maybe to help him with sleep. And as you have probably guess, I said yes there are. But before I go into those poses I wanted to tell you a little bit about where we work.
I work in a communications center that operates 24/7. That means we are never closed. Some people work 12 hour shifts. Some work 8 hour shifts. Some get to rotate regularly between nights and days. So now that you know that, you probably understand why my coworker asked me this question. Shift work creates total havoc on a person’s natural sleep wake cycles. As such, it can be really tough at times to get a “truly restful” sleep whether that is during the day or at night.
And I can totally relate! Sleep is a very big deal. I’ve tried all sorts of things like eye pillows (great for daytime sleeping), blackout curtains, nature music, turning off phone ringers, Melatonin supplements, a glass of wine…
Now, I’ve added restorative yoga practices.
The following poses are excellent in terms of helping a person relax their bodies and quiet their busy minds. Nothing crazy because the goal is to help soothe the body into calmness, not cause it to be more alert. And you can do these right in your bedroom close to or maybe even in your bed and in your PJs!
GENTLE CALMING FLOW:
1. Equal Ratio Breath: You choose. Sit or lie in a comfortable position of your choice. Place your hands on your belly, close your eyes, and notice your breath. Try to even out your breath so that your inhales and exhales are the same duration. Maybe make each last for 4 counts. Focus on ensuring they are even in length. Count silently in your head. (This helps quiet the mind and actually triggers your parasympathetic nervous system nicknamed “rest and digest” system). Do this for a few moments. (Way better than counting sheep).
Now just breath…
2. Legs Up the Wall Pose: This is your very gentle inversion. Move your butt closer to the wall for a deeper hamstring stretch. Move a few inches away to lessen the stretch. Regardless, you legs rest gently up against the wall. You can slightly elevate your hips if you’d like with your pillow. Arms relax out to your sides with palms up. Close your eyes.
3. Easy Seated Pose Lateral Flexion: Lift both arms above your head. Take your left wrist with your right hand, inhale and lengthen your torso tall then exhale as you lean right and stretch out the left side. Come back to neutral, switch hands, and stretch out your right side. Repeat back and forth a few times.
4. Easy Pose/Seated Twist: Sit comfortably with legs crossed. Inhale and lengthen your torso tall. Gently exhale as you twist to the right. Left hand can rest on right knee and right hand behind you. Neck turns slowly last as you gaze over your shoulder. Do the other side. Repeat back and forth a few times.
5.Reclined Butterfly: While seated, draw knees in towards chest and feet are on the ground. Place soles of feet together and butterfly your legs out. Gently lower on your back. Arms rest by your sides with palms up. Stay here for a few moments.
6.Child’s Pose: Extend arms out. Again, stay here for a few moments.
7. Rocking: Lying on your back, draw knees into your chest and wrap arms around shins. Rock side to side then front to back. You can rock up enough to sit if you’d like (maybe that will keep you alert). But after you do that, roll back down.
8. Savasana:Stay here and relax for as long as you’d like. Who knows, you might not get out of this pose.
You can decide how long you want to do each pose or the amount of repetitions. Some other suggestions include dimming your lights, closing your door to eliminate noises and/or distractions, soothing relaxation music, and aromatherapy such as lavender essential oil rubbed on your temples, back of your neck, souls of feet, and along your spine. Just prep these extras before you go with the flow.
Hopefully, you have a more restful sleep my fellow shift workers out there…and everyone else too.