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Yoga sleep tips MINDBODY
Wellness
Published Wednesday Sep 18, 2019 by Amber Scriven

4 Yoga Poses for a Better Night’s Sleep

Yoga
Personal Growth
Expert Advice

We’ve all had sleepless nights. It’s the worst! Watching the wee hours of morning tick away. Wishing we could slip into a restful sleep before our alarm goes off . The frustrating feeling of knowing exactly how many minutes there are before you need to be up. Then, struggling through a heavy relentless morning filled with self-medicating coffee runs, and a tired, snappy version of yourself dragging through the day. 

There’s no one miracle cure for insomnia because there are so many reasons for not being able to sleep. Many people, however, find relief by curbing stress right before bed. One way to do that is with a few choice yoga stretches that mellow you out by encouraging your Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) to ignite your bodies “rest and digest” cycles. This is the opposite of the “fight or flight” system that helps you race away from oncoming tigers, or other more urban “dangers.”  

Here are a few shapes that calm the nervous system and decrease adrenaline in the body to help you rest and ultimately sleep better. 
 

Legs-Up-the-Wall

This is a super simple way to relax right before bed, or even from the comfort of your bed. Pushing your legs up the wall helps move the lymph and blood out of your feet using gravity, this, in turn, means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump it back up. Thus, things get a little quieter in your cardiovascular system helping to soothe your body into a sense of softness.

1
Legs-Up-the-Wall

This is a super simple way to relax right before bed, or even from the comfort of your bed. Pushing your legs up the wall helps move the lymph and blood out of your feet using gravity, this, in turn, means your heart doesn’t need to work as hard to pump it back up. Thus, things get a little quieter in your cardiovascular system helping to soothe your body into a sense of softness.

Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This shape uses the same idea as Legs-Up-the-Wall. It calms by inverting your hips above your heart, but it also stretches your neck and chest open for tension relief. The muscles can open and let go of anything they are holding onto. It also opens your lungs and diaphragm, which allows you to breathe more deeply, and that oxygen is a calmant.

2
Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This shape uses the same idea as Legs-Up-the-Wall. It calms by inverting your hips above your heart, but it also stretches your neck and chest open for tension relief. The muscles can open and let go of anything they are holding onto. It also opens your lungs and diaphragm, which allows you to breathe more deeply, and that oxygen is a calmant.

Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Folding forward in Child’s Pose works a little differently. It still opens the lungs (from the upper back), but it requires you to turn inwards. You could bring your hands by your sides for a more restorative version of the shape, and resting your head to one side or the other is often more comfortable. Alternatively, try resting your forehead on a block or the floor, and use that surface to massage the space between your eyebrows. This triggers an acupressure point between your eyebrows that stimulates the pineal gland to encourage a melatonin response. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark that tells us to go to sleep!

3
Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Folding forward in Child’s Pose works a little differently. It still opens the lungs (from the upper back), but it requires you to turn inwards. You could bring your hands by your sides for a more restorative version of the shape, and resting your head to one side or the other is often more comfortable. Alternatively, try resting your forehead on a block or the floor, and use that surface to massage the space between your eyebrows. This triggers an acupressure point between your eyebrows that stimulates the pineal gland to encourage a melatonin response. Melatonin is the hormone our bodies produce when it gets dark that tells us to go to sleep!

Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Use a couple pillows for this one! Pop one under your knees, one under your head or upper back, along your spine, and under your hands.Then, get ready to  fall asleep there. Let everything get heavy and drippy and start to think about that weighted sensation in your feet, slowly bring your attention up your body making each body part heavier and heavier as you go. This is a version of Yoga Nidra Meditation and it is extremely relaxing—but you must go slowly. 


So, there you have it! A few ideas from yoga, science, and acupressure to help you get some much-deserved ZZZ’s. 
 

4
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)

Use a couple pillows for this one! Pop one under your knees, one under your head or upper back, along your spine, and under your hands.Then, get ready to  fall asleep there. Let everything get heavy and drippy and start to think about that weighted sensation in your feet, slowly bring your attention up your body making each body part heavier and heavier as you go. This is a version of Yoga Nidra Meditation and it is extremely relaxing—but you must go slowly. 


So, there you have it! A few ideas from yoga, science, and acupressure to help you get some much-deserved ZZZ’s. 
 

Amber Scriven Acupuncturist
Written by
Amber Scriven
Acupuncturist | Yoga Teacher
About the author
A busy acupuncturist, yoga teacher and trainer, Amber has actively worked in the wellness industry for over 10 years. For her, yoga is a form of health care that she uses alongside acupuncture in the form of retreats, injury rehabilitation, and pain relief. Amber is renowned for building emotional strength while cultivating physical health.
headshot shanila sattar
Fitness
Published Monday Dec 21, 2020 by Shanila Sattar

Practical Tips to Ground You Through the Holiday Season and into 2021

As we are heading into an unconventional holiday season and approaching a brand-new year in 2021, it's going to be more important than ever to ground, center, and align ourselves. This year’s energy is less about resolutions and #goals. It’s about creating intentionality, peace, and grounding within ourselves first. 

The season’s energy can bring about grief for a plethora of reasons outside of our current times, the nostalgia of how we were accustomed to spending our time, and the people we were surrounded by. Putting a few grounding routines and mindfulness practices into the new daily life can make a huge difference in emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Here are a few practical tips that you can take with you for the next few weeks as you ease into 2021 feeling grounded, intentional, and inflow with your energy.

Adapt a breathing routine into your daily life

Check out this article where I share with you a few non-fussy and easy breathing techniques that you can try out anytime. Mindful breathwork is the #1 way to regulate our body’s natural healing systems. It helps us calm down our body especially during a time where we are experiencing a lot of transitions. It also helps our body release and regulate feel-good hormones that we might be lacking, especially during seasonal changes.

In times of lower daylight and sun exposure, we have to take extra caution to allow our bodies to produce some of the feel-good hormones, and we can do that by mindful breathwork. 

A breathing practice doesn’t have to be complicated. We aren’t talking about going into an hour-long shamanic breathwork session. We’re talking about adopting a 30-second to a three-minute routine that you can repeat several times during the day as you wish. This is a gamechanger for how your body releases and processes hormones, promotes calmness and peace, and regulates flow within the body. Find one to two breathwork techniques that feel doable and implement them into your daily life right away.

Allow grace and gentleness with yourself

In this unconventional year, nothing has been normal. You might feel that your routines, your patterns, and even your identity have changed in the last few months. With so many things in flux, we could experience something known as a spiritual hangover. This is when you’ve been doing a lot of mindfulness and inner work, self-reflection, and getting hyper intentional about what you’re creating in your life. Because of this, you very well may be exhausted.

Now, our natural inclination is to fill up our time, to create more projects, to be busy, to surround ourselves with more stimulus and to-dos. And as much as we may want to do that, it’s okay if we just allow ourselves to be exhausted. 

No one is expecting you to be a super person at a time where we are all doing the best that we can. So, what would it be like for you to give yourself time and permission to rest? This may be a radical idea, but try clearing out your time, even if you have to schedule it in your calendar. Remind yourself—I’m going to do nothing but rest and serve my soul in a way where I do something that feels energetically nourishing rather than depleting. For you, this might be literally sitting and watching TV. It might be working in the garden. It might be listening to music. It might be a breathwork dance party. Find the form of rest that aligns with you and catch yourself if the habit of creating busy work starts to creep up.

Reflection as elevation

In 2020, we cheekily called it 20/20 vision—The Year of the Vision and played that one to the ground. But this year really did clear up the vision for many of us. Now is a great time for you to be very intentional about habits, thoughts, patterns, and even people that you may want to separate yourself from going into the next season of 2021.

Reflect on where your precious time, energy, and resources have been going and if it aligns with what you envision for yourself to experience in the upcoming year. Your energy is more valuable than ever. We have experienced working from home, separating from our families and friends, changing routines, adapting new roles, and so much more. The time, the energy, and the resources you will utilize going forward must come from a place of absolute intention.

Ask yourself:

  • How have I changed this year?
  • What are the big realizations I’ve had?
  • How do I want to integrate and adapt these realizations going into 2021?
Last but not least, let’s not forget the power of play

You must involve play and joy back into your life. Staying in a state of worry, sadness, and grief can become extremely harmful to your overall well-being. Yes, we absolutely do need to process and acknowledge it as a collective, AND we get to find ways where we can still have fun. We have so many blessings to count; we have so many things to be grateful for and it’s okay if you give yourself permission to do something that makes you crack up. 

In fact, go ahead and place both your hands on your belly and laugh like you heard something hilarious. I mean it. Laugh like you heard the funniest thing in the world. Put on that comedy and laugh. Tell that dumb joke to your friends. Tell yourself something that brings you joy. Dance. Move your body. Express yourself. Let’s fingerpaint.

Not only is this energetically healing, when we laugh and find joy, we actually produce the feel-good hormones right here in our own body. When we laugh, we’re essentially pumping out our gut hormones that have oxytocin, serotonin, dopamine. Turns out, 95% of our neurotransmitters are produced in our gut flora; When we allow ourselves to move, have fun, and play, we’re not only having a really good time, we’re also giving our body a dose of amazing feel-good hormones.  

Notice if your relationship with joy and fun have been compromised in the last few months. If you’ve been going through it or if things have been tough, maybe you have felt guilty for having fun. Maybe you’ve been feeling guilty for doing something that brings you joy like playing outside with your pets or laughing like a maniac. Right here, right now we get to do something completely radical—we get to give ourselves that permission to play. We get to know that we are living, we are alive, we are well, and we have the opportunity to decide to be intentional about the vibration and the energy we are wanting to bring with us into 2021. 

So as you ease into the flow of 2021, breathe, be gentle, reflect, and have fun.

If you’d like to try breathwork, mindfulness, or play classes with me, check out these workshops and training sessions that work with your schedule. For other breathwork classes, browse Mindbody.

Shanila Sattar
Written by
Shanila Sattar
Founder, AlwaysPlay Studios
About the author
Shanila is a sound healer, breathwork coach, women’s researcher, and speaker. She trains sound healers and breathwork facilitators through her mobile studio, AlwaysPlay Studios, and is the founder of the Integrative Wellness Leaders based in Los Angeles. She practices integrative wellness - considering a person's emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Her background is in tech, having co-founded an award-winning web agency, and in women’s research, specifically in mindsets, implicit bias, perfectionism, women's health, and societal experiences supported through the National Science Foundation, National Institute of Health, and several universities. She has implemented several health and wellbeing programs in underserved populations throughout Los Angeles. Shanila mentors women who are wellness entrepreneurs and on their confidence journey.