There are a myriad of reasons for interrupted sleep. Whether you suffer chronic insomnia or find yourself having a hard time getting back into a healthy sleep routine after travel or a change in stress levels or life circumstances, Yoga offers a range of techniques to calm your busy mind and relax your tired body so that you can do what you're meant to overnight; recover and restore.
The forward bending family of poses are a great place to start for calming an outwardly focused mind and tuning into the natural internal rhythms of your body to prepare for a good night's sleep.
Forward folds come in all shapes and sizes from standing to seated and wide leg to one leg at time. Generally in Yoga, forward folding postures are credited with encouraging mental rejuvenation and stress relief by bringing stillness to an overactive mind, physical release along the back side of the body including hamstrings, upper and lower back and balancing us energetically by asking us to look within, rather than without for the answers to all we may seek to find, to stop running away from pain or chasing the next high and instead rest in that which we are experiencing right now and finally with listening to our hearts, instead of getting caught up in the melodrama of our minds.
If you struggle with getting to sleep or with getting back to sleep after waking in the night, a simple sequence of floor based, restorative forward folds paired with deep, intentional breath can help prepare you to reenter 'rest and digest' as soon as your head hits the pillow.
There are plenty of forward folding poses you can try from simple child's pose, seated forwards folds with straight legs, wide legs, crossed legs and folding over one extended leg at a time. Have a play with what feels good for your body and use as much support as you can such as pillows, cushions or blankets to support the front side of your body. This support will help you really relax into your chosen forward fold. If you suffer sciatica or have other lower back or hamstring injuries, please be careful that your forward folds don't aggravate your condition.
Spending at least 5-10 deep breaths in each position will allow you to gain some of the benefits of mental quiet and emotional space from each pose. A helpful mindfulness tool to pair with each pose is to visualise breathing right down to the soles of your feet and working your awareness back up the body, piece by piece, breath by breath. This is a great way to get out of your head and back into connection with the grounding energy of your lower body.
So next time you find yourself fighting to find sleep, take five minutes out of bed and set yourself the intention to surrender to the still place inside your body, through a series of simple forward folds. Hopefully you'll reset your system to find peace and have a new tool to add to your personal wellbeing toolbox!
Namaste and sweet dreams!