Do you feel like a completely different person when you’ve had a good night’s sleep? You may notice that not only are you more alert, but that you have a different outlook as well. The world appears to be a friendlier and easier place to navigate. Needless to say, so many of us have trouble sleeping at night. A busy mind and a tense body are difficult to unwind after a day out in the world. These poses are designed to unwind knots in the body and tone your somatic nervous system and calm your autonomic nervous system—all important elements of a good night’s sleep.
If you have a yoga strap place it behind your shoulder blades under your armpits so that it’s high up the back and in the center of the scapula. If you don’t have a strap you can use a belt and do the following posture using one leg at a time.
As you reach your heels toward the sky, allow the heaviness of the legs to drain. Feel your belly dropping into your back body and as it releases with each exhale, taking on a soft, watery quality.
Let your shoulder blades move under you so they support the lift of the heart. Feel your chest broaden and open up. Lie back and simply enjoy your connection to the earth, the rise and fall of your soft belly, your open and receptive chest.
Lie flat on your back and draw your right leg into a squat. Shift your hips an inch or two to the right and then draw the knee into your chest to get a deep fold of your leg and the release of your belly. Bring your leg over to the left side of the mat and let it fall heavy to the earth. If it doesn’t reach, put a blanket or a block underneath. Swing your right arm wide away from your body and let your chest open toward the sky. Breath into your lower back and let your sling unwind. Then repeat to the other side.
From a Downward-Facing Dog, place your right knee behind your right wrist and come into Pigeon Pose. If your right hip feels far from the floor, slide a blanket, block, or cushion underneath it. Make sure you take the time to move your right knee over to the right so it’s not in front of your hip. Also take a moment to check out your back leg and foot to bring it right behind your left hip. You can support your chest and head with a pillow but it’s preferable to have two blocks, one under the sternum bone in the chest and one under the forehead. You adjust the blocks until you feel that they’re in the right place. As you inhale feel your back body widen and your hip expand. As you exhale, consciously release into your hip and feel the front of your spine grow taller. Repeat to both sides.
Photos by Chloe Crespi