Mind & Body

Sleep Supporters

Put away your pills and roll out your yoga mat. These yoga poses help relieve insomnia.
Sleep Supporters
Pin it courtesy of Shutterstock

When was the last time you had a good night’s rest? According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation is on the rise: As many as 71 percent of Americans get far less than the recommended eight hours.

There are two primary categories of sleeplessness, says Judith Hanson Lasater, Ph.D., P.T., author of Relax and Renew: Restful Yoga for Stressful Times. One is physiological (too much coffee or alcohol, hormonal changes, illness, jet lag); the other is psychological (stress, worry, unresolved conflict).

“You may hold your thoughts at bay all day long,” explains Lasater, “but when you sleep, they’re still spinning in your mind."Yoga helps slow the spin, she says, adding, “It’s not that you go to sleep and then relax—it’s that you get relaxed and then go to sleep.”

Poses that support you completely with props are the key to creating a relaxed body and mind. “When you feel supported, the only response is relaxation,” Lasater notes. This sleep-enhancing set includes Side-Lying Corpse Pose, which teaches “total release, total softening,” she says: “It’s the ultimate form of letting go.The focus is directed inward to shift you from doing to being.”

Do these 3 poses one after the other. If you wake up sleepless in the middle of the night, leave your bed and do any of the 3 you choose.

Supported Reclining Pose

  1. Place a pillow on your mat,along with a folded blanket to support your head. Roll 3 additional blankets.
  2. Sit in front of the pillow with your tailbone at its edge. Bend your knees and place a blanket roll underneath.
  3. Lean back and rest your torso on the pillow and your head on the folded blanket. Let your heels rest on the mat. Place each forearm on a rolled-up blanket, both palms turned up.
  4. Take several long,deep breaths. As you exhale,allow your belly to drop into your pelvis. Feel the tension melt away. Stay here for at least 15 minutes.

Simple Supported Backbend

  1. Stack 2 blankets, one folded around the other,and place them horizontally on the mat.
  2. Sit on the mat with your back to the blankets, your knees bent, and your feet flat. Lean back and place your elbows on the blankets for support and balance.
  3. Slowly roll backward until your lower back is completely supported by the blankets and your head is on the mat. Bring your arms out to your sides, palms turned up. Close your eyes.
  4. Breathe slowly and evenly, allowing your body to soften. Stay here for 1 minute, then gradually increase your time in the pose.

Side-Lying Corpse Pose (Caution: If you are more than 3 months pregnant, lie on your left side only.)

  1. Sit on your mat with your props—2 folded blankets and 2 king-sized pillows—nearby. Lean on one arm, then lower yourself to the mat so you’re lying on your side with your knees bent.
  2. Place one blanket under your head and the other between your knees, shins, and ankles.
  3. Place one pillow lengthwise in front of you and the other behind you so you’re lying between them; hug the front pillow as you relax into both. Close your eyes and take several slow, easy breaths. Relax your jaw and eyes. Stay here for 20 minutes.