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6 Stretches That Help You Sleep Better

Posted by Kat Tancock on


You can feel more relaxed before going to sleep by stretching the body. This will increase circulation and allow for better relaxation and comfort. This is particularly true if you have a mattress that is not sub par. It becomes even more important to stretch if you have not an adequate sleep surface. Unlike springs that can stop circulation and increase pressure on pressure points, foam mattress have been known to allow for the highest amount of pressure relief and circulation in the mattress industry. If you are not going to be stretching or increasing your circulation so you can feel comfortable and relaxed, it maybe a wise choice to check out one of our locally owned mattress shops, strategically located nationwide. You will find our most popular gel memory foam models that will help with morning stiffness and poor circulation. If you do not feel like you are sleeping well, its important to become aware of these 6 Yoga poses that will help with pre bedtime comfort and relaxation.

By Kat Tancock

Your pre-bedtime routine

Often have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone – and it could be costing you more than just a restless night and sleepy day, according to recent research, which showed that people with insomnia are much more likely to experience associated health problems such as anxiety, depression, diabetes and congestive heart failure.

But don’t despair – a good night’s sleep really is within reach. One oft-recommended treatment is to establish a relaxing bedtime routine (and no, a nightcap with David Letterman doesn’t count). A good place to start? A pre-bedtime yoga practice.

“Yoga gets you in touch with the breath,” says Toronto yoga instructor Darcie Clark, who consulted on and modelled for the following pose sequence. “When you slow down and stay in a pose you can feel different areas of the body that are tense and holding on from your day and gradually let that go as you sit and breathe through the pose.” And stretching in general has a calming effect, says Nikos Apostolopoulos, director of the Microstretching Clinic in Vancouver, making bedtime the best time for it.

Ready to begin? Ideally, says Clark, do each pose in the sequence for one to five minutes, holding each position gently without strain or pain. Can’t manage the full sequence? Pick your favourites and build them into your routine as you can – even in bed, if that works for you. And remember: Always listen to your body, don’t push yourself past your comfort zone and don’t do anything that hurts. Speak to a yoga teacher for further modifications to these poses that will work with your body.

1. Janu Sirsasana (head-to-knee pose)

  • Sit on the floor without slouching, legs extended straight in front of you and knees bent if necessary to keep the spine from rounding.
    • Bend the right knee and open the hip, bringing the sole of the right foot into the inner left thigh and the right knee toward the ground. If it doesn’t reach, support the right knee with a cushion.
    • Inhale and lengthen the spine.
    • Exhale as you bend forward from the hips over the left leg, keeping the spine and neck long, and place the hands on either side of the left leg. Gaze at the big toe of the left foot as you focus on the breath moving in and out.
    • Repeat on the other side.
  • Make it easier: Those with tight hamstrings will find all forward bends easier with a folded blanket or cushion under the sitting bones.

    2. Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose)

  • Sit on the floor without slouching and bring the soles of the feet together in front of you, hands holding the feet or ankles.
    • If you’re comfortable and able to sit without rounding the lower back, bring the feet as close as you can toward the groin.
    • Inhale and lengthen the spine.
    • Exhale and bend forward from the hips, keeping the spine long. Breathe in and out as you feel your muscles relaxing.
  • Make it easier: If sitting in this pose is challenge enough, skip the forward bend. Sitting on a blanket or cushion can help tight bodies open up.

    3. Upavistha Konasana (wide-angle seated forward bend)

  • Sit upright on the floor, without slouching.
    • Extend the legs in front of you in a vee, placing hands behind the buttocks for balance. Only go so wide as is comfortable.
    • Inhale and lengthen the spine, ensuring the lower back isn’t rounding.
    • Exhale and bend forward from the hips, with hands in front of you. Focus on the breath as you lengthen the spine with every inhale and relax forward with every exhale.
  • Make it easier: If sitting in this pose is challenge enough, skip the forward bend and keep the hands behind the buttocks; focus on sitting up without rounding the back. Try sitting on a cushion or folded blanket, or bending the knees and placing support under them.

    4. Thread-the-needle

  • Lie on your back with the head flat on the floor. Bend the knees and place the soles of the feet on the floor.
    • Bring the right knee toward the chest. Keeping the hips even, place the right ankle below the left knee with the right knee pointing to the right. Flex the right foot to keep the muscles engaged and protect the knee from strain.
    • Lift the left foot off the floor and bring the left knee toward the chest. Bring the hands on either side of the left thigh for support. You should feel a stretch on the outside of the right hip. As you breathe in and out, try to bring both hips parallel.
    • Repeat on the other side.
  • Make it easier: Only go as deep as you need to to feel a gentle stretch.

    5. Reclined twist

  • Lie on your back and bring the knees into the chest.
    • Extend the left arm to the side at shoulder height, palm facing up.
    • Keeping the knees high, slowly bring them out to the right until they reach the floor.
    • Place the right hand on top of the right knee. You may want to use the right hand to massage the outer left leg and hip.
    • Gaze straight up at the ceiling or slightly to the left.
    • Repeat on the other side.
  • Make it easier: Place a cushion or other support under the lowered knees to decrease the range of motion.

    6. Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall pose)

  • Sit sideways against a wall. Bring up one leg then the other as you come to your back with legs extended up the wall.
    • Extend the arms along your sides, palms facing up.
    • Close the eyes and breathe as you relax into the pose. If you like, place an eye pillow over the eyes to block light.
  • Make it easier: Bring the buttocks farther away from the wall to relieve tight hamstrings. Tie a belt around the lower legs to keep them together so you can relax further into the pose.