Thursday, October 16, 2014


Everybody experiences sleeplessness from time to time, and this past week has been one of those periods for me. I feel extremely tired and sleepy on the way home, but when I do get home, my body somehow taps into this source of endless energy that keeps me awake for longer than I'd like.
So, tired of this pattern of temporary insomnia, I decided to call it a night earlier than I normally would have and started doing some yin yoga poses . . . que in the most peaceful drop into sleep I have had in a while. I always practise yoga earlier in the day, but I’m definitely adding this routine of poses as a nightcap from now on so I can feel like a baby floating on a cloud every time I go to bed. Get into these restorative poses, stay in each for about two minutes, nourish your cells with your breath, let go, and crawl into bed like a baby . . .
This pose is so highly therapeutic for everything from fatigue to indigestion to backaches, which are conditions many people lose sleep over. When you stand in this pose, feel the ground beneath you as if you are a tree, the roots beneath your feet going down deep into the earth. Pull your shoulders back in and soften the connection to your neck, letting go of the day’s tension. This time to connect to your body and breath is yours. Pay attention to the parts of your body that are still holding onto the day’s tensions—such as the neck, lower back, or shoulder—and move your breath to those places for support. You can also interlace your fingers here for an even more therapeutic pose.
This pose melts away my headaches, but it has so many other benefits. Your aim here should not be to touch your toes or touch your forehead to your knees; you can bend your knees if you cannot straighten them and simply rag-doll your upper body over your knees. Imagine the clutter in your brain melting into the mat and just drop your brain. Savour the deliciousness of this pose and when you’re ready to get out of it, bend your knees and slowly come up one vertebra at a time—with your chin to your chest—as your chin comes up in alignment the last.

This has the same therapeutic effects that Uttanasana offers. When you’re getting into this pose, make sure that you grow and stretch your chest at a 90 degree angle before you fold so you don’t pull and fold from your lower back. The magic here is finding your strength and stability from your legs, growing from the ground up. You can add a twist to this as well by placing one hand right below your sternum and reaching your other hand up towards the sky. The twist adds gentle cleansing to the body, opens up your respiratory tracts, + recirculates oxygenated blood to your cells. And as much as this calls attention to alignment—an impression of where your outer body is at—try to balance this attention out by also looking at your inner alignment to let go of what is holding you away from a restful sleep. 
One of the most beautiful of all yoga poses: the seated forward fold. This pose feels even better when your embrace your body and just smile, giving thanks to the hard work it does each day to keep you ALIVE. Just as it was in Prasarita Padottanasana, make sure you grow tall first and don’t pull out from your lower back. As for reaching your toes, if it’s a problem, gently rest your forearms by your legs and put a blanket below your chest to rest your head upon. If you can reach your toes, make sure you don’t jut your shoulder up to your ears by reaching from your shoulders; the fold should not come from reaching your arms but from folding your body. So, fold your body at the level it is comfortable, close your eyes, and smile.

photos unknown, via Pinterest