Unless you are secretly a superhero, your body requires sleep. But very often when bedtime comes at the end of a busy day, it’s hard to allow the body and mind to slow down. You check email, you scroll through social media, and you fall down the rabbit hole. Before you know it, it’s midnight, the blue light from your electronics has thrown off your circadian rhythm—the body’s biological clock that regulates the 24-hour cycle of each day—and you can no longer fall asleep properly.
According to Ayurveda, the hours between 10 pm and 2 am are governed by the Pitta dosha, which allows you to digest all things from food to information and emotions. Pitta helps to restore and renew all major systems of our body. When you skip sleep during this precious 4-hour window, you miss a vital opportunity to heal. A good night’s rest affects how you relate to the world, thus decreasing depression, anxiety, heart rate, and blood pressure to name just few benefits. Proper sleep increases stress resilience, optimism, memory, metabolism, and even our ability to problem solve.
A helpful first step in shifting your relationship with sleep is turning off your phone an hour before bed and (this might be a stretch) getting under the covers before 11 p.m. If rest is not coming easy to you and support is needed, get in bed and try this restorative sequence. You’ll need two or three pillows and lots of slow, deep breaths. Try just one or all of the asanas. May your dreams be sweet and your sleep refreshingly deep!
See also A Nervous System–Settling Sequence (with Self-Reiki!) to Prepare for Sleep
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Rest your chest and belly on one or two stacked pillows with knees wide apart and big toes touching. Rest an ear on the pillow, eyes closed, and jaw and belly relaxed. Your arms can rest on the sides of the pillow or underneath. Focus your attention on the nostrils and enjoy the sensation of breath flowing in and out.
See also 15 Poses to Help You Sleep Better
Supported Half Frog Pose (Ardha Bhekasana)
Lie on your belly, with pillows under the belly optional. Extend one leg out to the side and bend it at a 90-degree angle with your knee level with your hip. Invite the opposite leg to straighten and extend behind you. Invite your head to turn and rest in the direction of your bent leg. Relax your belly, eyes, and jaw. Focus your attention on the nostrils and enjoy the sensation of breath flowing in and out.
See also 5 Yoga Poses for Insomnia
Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Lie flat on your back. Bring the soles of your feet together with legs bent. Place a pillow under both thighs and an optional pillow behind the head, folding the pillows if needed for more support. Place hands on stomach. With eyes closed and jaw relaxed, bring your awareness to your hands resting on your belly. Focus on feeling the rise and fall of your torso with each slow and deep breath in and out
See also 4-Step Bedtime Restorative Practice for Better Sleep
Wind-Relieving Pose (Pawanmuktasana)
Lying flat on your back with an optional pillow behind your head. Straighten and extend one leg long in front of you and bend the other leg, hugging it in toward your side body as if your knee could touch your armpit. Interlace fingers around your shin or behind the knee of your bent leg. With closed eyes and a relaxed jaw, breathe into your belly. Stay for as long as you’d like and then switch sides.
See also 9 Keys to Getting the Sleep You Need
Supported Reclining Twist
Lie flat on your back. Bend both legs at a 90-degree angle and let them fall to the right. With knees stacked and hips level, slide one or two pillows between your thighs. Extend your arms straight out at shoulder level and turn your head to the left. With eyes closed and jaw and belly relaxed, focus on feeling the breath flow all the way up into your collarbones. Stay for as long as you’d like and then switch sides, twisting to the left and turning head to the right.
See also An Evening Ritual for Better Sleep with Jacqueline Smyth & Lauren Eckstrom
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Allow your body to rest with hands by your sides or on stomach. You can place pillows under your upper thighs or behind knees for more support if desired. With eyes closed and jaw and torso relaxed, feel your breath filling up your belly, expanding your ribs, and flowing up into the chest on an inhalation. Exhale by relaxing your chest, ribs, then belly. This breath is called Dirgha pranayama (Complete Breath). Allow this wave-like rhythm to lull you to sleep.
See also Bedtime Yoga: 12 Poses to Help Kids Sleep Better
Want to practice with Sara Clark in person? Visit saraclarkyoga.com for details on her Inner Wisdom Retreat in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, March 10–17, 2018!