For the Love of Sleep

sleepy conversation
How often are you able to crawl in to bed at night and fall asleep without a problem? Your mind relaxes the moment your head hits the pillow and bam, you’re out cold, right?

For a lot of you, that may be the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever heard and yet the biggest wish you have ever had for yourself; fall asleep soundly without tossing and turning. Sure, we all have a night here and there where our mind runs wild with things we have to do tomorrow, or things we forgot to do today, people we forgot to call, and things we are afraid to forget in the morning. A gaggle of stress lurking in your body, your mind and ultimately targeting your nervous system. Then we start stressing about the fact that we aren’t going to get buy 5 hours of sleep, 4 hours, 3, 2…
Sleep deprivation can be caused by stress and in turn lack of sleep can actually create stress on our bodies. It sounds a lot like the chicken and the egg, I’m not really sure which came first, but it’s an ongoing cycle until we break it. So let’s do that!

Here is my secret and biggest tip; do YOGA. Make it habit. I have had so many students come up to me and tell me that they just had the best night sleep after their yoga class they attended earlier in the day.

Wondering if there is a way to get the benefits of yoga without having to attend classes or pay for a membership at a studio you can’t afford?

Here are a few of my favorite poses to help calm the mind, and relax the body.

Inhale the awesome, exhale the crap

3-Part Breath or Complete breath:

To begin lets focus on our breath. It is the one thing that keeps us walking around, waking up every morning, and sleeping every night. It sustains us. It sustains our movement, it sustains our emotional stability, it sustains our mental state. It is something we take for granted because without even thinking about it, it’s happening. It has our back. It’s on autopilot because we are constantly over stimulated by the outside world. All of this affects our nervous system. To allow your nervous system a moment to release, let’s breathe.

Whether you are lying down or seated, get comfortable. Begin by taking a really deep breath in through your nose, so big you feel yourself sit taller, or lay longer and then exhale through your mouth and feel yourself relax, feel your shoulders relax down your back away from your ears. Begin to breath in through your nose and back out through your nose. Continue doing so and just allow your breath to deepen on it’s own.

-Breathe in through your nose; breathe out through your nose.
-Inhale in to your belly; let your belly completely fill. Exhale, release your breath back out through your nose, actively press your bellybutton back toward your spine.
-As your breath grows, allow your belly to fill, allow your lungs to fill, exhale from your lungs, your belly.
-Repeat until it grows even longer, and continue doing so. Try to maintain this breath throughout all of the following poses.

Supine Twist or Supta Matsyendrasana:

-Lay on your back. Pull your knees in to your chest and then release your arms open like a ‘T.’ Leave your knees to hover over your hips or chest.
-Allow both of your knees to fall to your right. Try to keep both of your shoulder blades planted on your mat.
-Intensity: To make this a little more intense, you can take your gaze to your left. For less intensity take your gaze to the sky or let your gaze fall to your right.
-Remain here for a couple of minutes before repeating this twist on the other side.

Benefits of Supine Twists
-Twists are great for detoxification. Think of your internal organs as a sponge and you are ringing them out. I love twists and when I teach or practice I try to incorporate at LEAST one twist in to the class.
-Help alleviate stress and tension being held throughout the spine
-Aids in digestion also.
-Stretch the glutes and stretches and releases the spine.
-Opens tight shoulders
-Quiets and calms the mind

Seated Forward Fold or Paschimottanasana

I love forward folds because they allow you to connect with yourself, when you fold into yourself all that can be found is you. Letting go of the outside world, all of the external distractions, it’s just you.

Begin Seated with your legs extended long in front of you. Flex through your feet.
Reach your arms up above your head, think of yourself reaching toward the sky, get long.
-Leading with your heart and maintaining a flat back, begin to fold forward from your hips (not your low back) reaching toward your feet. Let your hands fall wherever. If they only extend as far as your shinbones; rest your hands on to your shins, that’s perfect.
-Come back to your three-part breath; stay here for 30 seconds or for 5 breaths. Then come up and out of your fold and exhale, release back in to it for another 5 breaths. You can repeat this for up to 5 minutes, or work your way up to a static 5-minute hold.

***If seated is uncomfortable, you can take this pose standing: Standing Forward Fold or Uttanasana***
-Begin standing slowly fold forward, allowing your hands as well as the crown of your head to reach toward your mat, or the floor. Your gaze should be at your shins. -Feel free to allow your knees to bend slightly.
-To come out of this pose, slowly come up half way allowing the blood to rush from the top of your head, and then the rest of the way.

Benefits of a forward fold:
-Stretches the hamstrings and strengthens and lengthens the spine.
-Massages the digestive organs
-Relieves digestive problems (ie: constipation)
-Stimulates the nervous systems
-Relaxes the mind and enhances your ability to focus

Childs Pose or Balasana

This is a very well-liked resting pose. Again it allows you to really connect with yourself, coming inside and allowing your focus to be on nothing but yourself and your breath.

-Begin in table-top position, walk your knees really wide and bring your big toes together.
-Press your hips back toward your heels
-Release your forehead to your mat
-Extend your arms out in front of you, or wrap them back around your sides toward your heels.

Benefits of Balasana:

-Stretches and releases tension throughout the back, shoulders and chest
-Alleviates stress and anxiety
-Stretches the hips, thighs and ankles
-Calms the mind and relaxes the body
-Normalizes circulation throughout the body



Supine Butterfly Pose or Supta Baddha Konasana

This is one of my favorite poses. You can use this with or without supportive props. The point of this is to be as comfortable as possible, so prop yourself with blankets wherever and whenever needed.

-Begin lying on your back with your knees bent.
-Place the souls of your feet together and allow your knees to splay open.
-You can prop your knees by rolling blankets or towels up and placing them beneath each leg, or you can use pillows if you feel strain in your legs, hips or knees.
-You can rest your arms by your side, you can rest them on your belly, or you can take your arms above your head interlacing your fingers or taking opposite hands and grabbing opposite fore arms or elbows. This gives a little extra love to your shoulders.
-Come back to your breath.

Benefits of Supine Butterfly
-Calms Anxiety
-Reduces stress
-Soothes and comforts the nervous system, mind, and body
-Improves focus
-Reduces tension
-Relieves headaches

When you find yourself in an uncomfortable pose, change it or breathe through it. Please try to notice the difference between discomfort and pain. Never force yourself to sit through pain.



Legs Up the Wall or Viparita Karani

All you’ll need is you and a wall (maybe a towel or two and a blanket depending on preference). The easiest way to get in to this position is to sit next to the wall, as you lay back, sweep your legs up the wall so your booty should be as close to the wall as you can get it (within 6 inches or so). This will vary, if you have tight hamstrings; feel free to slide back a bit.
-If you have back pain, feel free to use blankets or towels to support you by resting them beneath your low back.
-Strain in your neck, roll a small towel and slide it underneath your neck.
-Rest your arms by your side or out to the side like a T. If it is more comfortable to rest them on your belly, feel free.
The point of this pose is to reverse the process of the blood flow.

Benefits of Viparita Karani:
-Regulates blood flow and helps those with high or low blood pressure.
-Improves digestion
-Relieves mild backache
-Provides headache relief even for migraines
-Alleviates stress and calms anxiety
-Relieves symptoms of insomnia and mild depression
-Stretches the back of the neck as well as the hamstrings and even into the calf muscles.
-This in turn can help restore tired feet or legs
-This is great for the reproductive organs for both men and women, including alleviating menstrual cramps.
-Can help with arthritis

I hope these poses help you find that sound nights rest you have been longing for. To help you find a little extra comfort, follow this link for your perfect bedroom addition.
All my love and gratitude, sweet dreams.

For any questions or comments, leave them here or feel free to email me.