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Yoga for Insomnia

8 Yoga Poses to Sleep Better Tonight

Try this sequence before bed, or anytime, to relieve stress and calm your nervous system.

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One of the reasons that so many of us find it hard to sleep is our inability to shift from the fight-or-flight mode into the parasympathetic nervous system, where deep rest is possible. This sequence turns down the intensity of modern life and helps you drop into your deeper, calmer self. 

See also Change Your Stress Response

1. Cat/Cow

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For Cow Pose, inhale and tip your hip points down, widening your sit bones. Dip down into your belly and open through your chest. From Cow Pose, exhale, curl your chin in and use your exhale to lift your navel in and up. Press into your hands and feel some space between your shoulder blades as your upper spine domes. Your spine arches tail-to-crown, like an angry cat. 

See also Cow Pose

Child’s Pose

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With your knees together or apart, sit back on your feet in a kneeling position and then bend forwards, allowing your torso to rest on your thighs and your forehead to the floor. Rest your head on the ground and your arms in front of you with your forearms grounded. Allow yourself to feel cocooned and safe within the shape. Focus on the release: let go and surrender to the downward flow of gravity.

See also Balasana/Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose: Diagonal Stretch

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Walk your hands over to one side, reaching the second hand as far away as possible. This lateral extension allows you to breathe a bit deeper into your side body, and it’s a welcome side stretch if you’ve been at a desk all week. Take five breaths on one side and repeat on the other side. 

See also The Anatomy of a Satisfying Side Stretch

Extended Puppy Pose

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Slowly pad your hands forwards. Your hips stay above your knees as you walk your hands further away, so that you feel an opening in your underarms. Keep your elbows off the floor and rest your forehead to the ground. Maintain length in your spine and extension all the way to your fingertips. Imagine your arms starting at your hips and creep your ribs away from your pelvis to feel side body length. 

See also 4 Ways To Modify Extended Puppy Pose

Revolved Child’s Pose

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From all fours, keeping your thighs perpendicular to the floor, thread your left arm underneath your right arm until you’re lying on your shoulder. Rest your arm on the ground from your shoulder all the way to the back of your hand. Turn your head so that your temple rests on the ground. Revolve your chest and ribcage so they turn towards your arm and into a twist. Use your exhale to twist a little deeper. Press back through your right palm and unravel the way you came in. Repeat on the other side. 

See also Let’s Twist Again

Side Lying Spinal Twist

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Place a bolster lengthways and kneel next to it with your right hip touching the long side of the bolster. From here, turn your torso towards the prop, keeping your knees to the side and your hip snug to the bolster. Inhale, creating space and length in your torso. Exhale, lay your belly down on the bolster. Place your face down sideways, looking in the same direction as your knees. You can experiment with a blanket supporting your head. Give yourself time soften into your props. Repeat on other side. 

See also Restorative Yoga

Savasana

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Make yourself as comfortable as possible lying on your back. Make sure you’re warm enough. Maybe put a blanket underneath your head so you can comfortably draw your chin down, lengthening your spine. Let your teeth and lips fall slightly apart to relax your jaw. Allow your arms to rest by your sides, with your palms facing up. Leave a little space between your feet and allow yourself to take up as much space as you need. Notice your breath and allow your analytical mind to dissolve into the present experience.

See also Corpse Pose 

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Excerpted from Yoga: A Manual for Life by Naomi Annand. Reprinted in arrangement with Bloomsbury Sport.