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Why the heck does falling asleep have to be so hard sometimes?
It seems the more exhausted we are, both mentally and physically, the more challenging it is to shut down and just relax.
This is the worst when you know you have to wake up in a few hours!
When I find myself tossing and turning in bed, I have found this simple 5 minute yoga sequence to be extremely helpful in relaxing my mind and body, and to be extremely effective in helping me get to sleep faster.
You can do the sequence anywhere, even in your own bed so you can peacefully drift off to sleep after the last pose.
These poses are restorative more than anything, so you will be holding them a little longer than in other sequences.
I suggest holding each pose for 14-16 slow breaths, which equals about a minute per pose. When the poses are “one sided” meaning only focusing on one side of the body, cut the time in half and then repeat on the other side.
1.Seated Spinal Twist
Twists are amazing for promoting relaxation throughout your entire body and calming your mind.
Start in a seated cross legged position, then cross your left leg over your right, placing your right foot flat on the floor or bed. Keep your left leg where it is.
Keeping a straight back, lift your arms up overhead and gently twist towards your left, letting your left hand drift behind you and your right arm come to the outside of your outer left thigh.
Use your right arm to deepen the stretch as you take each exhale.
Stay here for 5-7 slow, comfortable breaths and then repeat on the other side.
2.Seated Side Stretch
Come back to a comfortable cross legged position.
Bring your arms up overhead, and on your next exhale, gently bend at your waist to your right side, keeping a straight back.
Your left arm stays overhead, and you can choose to bring your right hand over towards the left side of your body, or gently place it behind you.
You will feel a deep stretch here that will help relieve stress, anxiety, and ease tension in the neck, shoulders, and obliques.
Stay here for 5-7 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
3.Straight Legged Forward Fold
Forward folds are some of the most relaxing yoga poses, and have so many other benefits. They stretch your spine, shoulders, and hamstrings, soothe headaches and menstrual pain, and calm your mind.
Do not worry about how far you can reach with your hands. You just want to get enough of a stretch without putting your body in too much distress in order to receive the full benefits.
Put your legs out straight in front of you. You can choose to flex or point your feet for the purpose of the pose in this sequence. Do whatever is more comfortable for you.
Lift your arms up overhead, and on your next exhale, slowly fold over your legs, bringing your hands to your legs, shins, or feet.
Completely allow your body to sink, and let your head and neck relax.
Stay here for 14-16 comfortable, relaxing breaths.
There’s just something about child’s pose that makes you feel so safe and calm.
This pose gently stretches your back, neck, and shoulders and is great for relieving tension built up throughout the day.
Come onto all fours, with your knees parallel to each other.
Slowly push your hips back until your sit bones come onto your feet.
You can also choose to do a wide-legged child’s pose if that is more comfortable for you by bringing your knees wider than your hips and feet touching.
Let your forehead come to the ground or bed as your stretch your arms forward.
You should feel a deep, relaxing stretch here.
Stay here for 15 breaths. You may find it hard to stay awake to complete the sequence after this pose!
Bridge pose is a mild inversion. Inversions are very effective in promoting relaxation and easing your mind. Bridge pose is also great for those of you who struggle with back pain as it neutralizes the spine in this pose by engaging the abdominals.
Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor or bed, about inner hip distance apart. Your arms should be flat by your sides, palms facing down.
Lift up slightly as you shimmy your shoulder blades underneath you.
On your next exhale, gently lift off the floor and extend through your pelvis, straightening the spine. Keep your shoulders on the ground and extend through your arms. Keep your feet grounded and keep your chin slightly tucked in towards your chest.
Stay here for about 5 breaths, then release. Repeat a total of three times.
As you come down to the ground, gently release one vertebrae at a time, starting with your upper back.
The most important thing to remember while doing this sequence is to utilize your breath. It is the most important aspect of this routine, and the key to getting optimal benefits from each pose.
If you find your mind getting busy, just come back to your breath. I like to count my inhales and exhales by counting to four on each part. It helps me stay focused in the present moment and maintain a calm breathing pattern.
Here is an infographic I made to help you remember the poses.
Ally is the co-founder of GroundedPanda.com with her fiance Victor. She began practicing yoga at the beginning of her career as a Registered Nurse to cope with the physical and mental stress it put on her, and fell in love with it. Her goal is to help beginners develop a fulfilling practice without the intimidation. Besides managing this website, she loves hiking with her loving fiance and cuddling with her two silly cats.