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Yin Yoga - A pathway to a good night's sleep

In today's fast-paced world, finding quality sleep can be challenging. The constant stress and stimulus of daily life often leaves us feeling restless and unable to unwind. 

If you are looking for a natural and effective way to improve your sleep, yin yoga might be the answer. 

In this post, I explain the benefits of yin yoga and provide you with a simple yin yoga sequence to help you achieve a peaceful and restorative night's sleep.

What is Yin Yoga? 

Yin yoga is a slow-paced, meditative practice that focuses on deep stretching and relaxation. Unlike more dynamic forms of yoga, yin targets the deep connective tissues of the body, such as ligaments, joints, and fascia. By holding poses for an extended period, typically three to five minutes, yin yoga helps release tension and increase flexibility.

The Benefits of Yin Yoga for Sleep

a. Stress Reduction: Yin yoga promotes relaxation by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps counteract the effects of stress and anxiety.

b. Improved Circulation: The gentle stretching and compression of yin yoga poses can enhance blood flow, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and organs, promoting overall relaxation and better sleep.

c. Deep Relaxation: Holding yin yoga poses for an extended period allows your body and mind to enter a deeply relaxed state, making it easier to fall asleep and stay asleep throughout the night.

Yin yoga is a great way to unwind and prepare your body for a good night's sleep. Here are a few yin yoga poses (see also graphics below) that can help promote relaxation and prepare you for a restful night. Practise the whole sequence or just pick a couple of poses each time.

1. Child's Pose (Balasana): Start by kneeling on the floor and bring your big toes together. Sit back on your heels and slowly fold your torso forward, resting your forehead on the mat.  You might like a folded blanket or soft block under your head. 

Extend your arms in front of you or back alongside your body. Stay in this pose for several breaths, hibernating and focusing on deep, slow breathing to calm your mind and relax your body.

2. Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana): Sit on the floor (or a low cushion/folded blanket) and bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to fall open to the sides like the wings of a butterfly.

Gently fold forward from your hips, resting your arms on your legs with palms upturned.  You might like to place some padding (soft yoga blocks are my favourite) under your thighs. Stay in this pose for a few minutes, feeling the stretch in your hips and inner thighs.

3. Sphinx Pose: 

Lie on your stomach, place your forearms on the mat, and lift your chest off the ground, keeping your hips grounded. I personally like to cup my face in my hands with elbows on the floor. Hold for 3-5 minutes, feeling a gentle stretch in your lower back.

4. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani): 

Sit yourself sideways on to a wall with hip touching the skirting board. Then swivel your legs up the wall, keeping them straight or slightly bent. Relax your arms by your sides, palms facing up. A cushion under your head is lovely here. Close your eyes and focus on your breath as you allow your body to relax. Stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes to promote relaxation and improve circulation.

5. Supine Spinal Twist: 

come down from the wall and bring your knees towards your chest. Extend your arms out to the sides in a T shape. Slowly lower both knees to one side, keeping your shoulders grounded. Gently turn your head to the opposite side. Hold this position for a few breaths, then switch sides. This pose helps release tension in the back and promotes relaxation.

6. Savasana:

Reward yourself by lying out long in savasana, the ultimate relaxation pose.  A cushion or bolster under the backs of the knees and a blanket to cover you make it all the more perfect. 

Remember to listen to your body and modify these poses as needed. Yin yoga is a gentle practice, so take your time and focus on deep, relaxed breathing throughout. Enjoy your yin yoga session and have a peaceful and rejuvenating night's sleep.

Incorporating yin yoga into your bedtime routine can be a powerful tool for improving your sleep quality. One of my students notices an improved sleep score on her fitbit after my Tuesday night classes.

Sweet dreams await you on the path of yin yoga! Let me know how you get on 😴

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