Ever since the Autumnal Equinox two weeks ago the days have been getting shorter and the nights longer. Before the equinox we wrote about preparing for Vata season, a time associated with the untethered elements of Air and Space and the mutable energy of the wind; these outside shifts can easily cause anxiety can rise: We have as much to do, but seemingly less time to do it in.
Any change in the seasons is naturally disruptive to our sleep cycles, and this shift from summer to fall — from Pitta to Vata — really requires a conscious tuning in and slowing down on our parts. If you have trouble sleeping you’re not alone: the sound loop of a box fan has been streamed more than 5 million times on Spotify, one of many wildly popular white noise sounds you can put yourself sleep to.
Need more than a fan on a loop to help you sleep? Yoga’s got your back. These six poses are ideal for winding down and combatting insomnia. You can put them together in a simple posture flow before bed or pick one or two to spend more time in. Either way, give yourself at least two minutes in each shape, inviting your internal metronome to slow and your mind to stop chit-chatting.
It goes without saying that the more serene and relaxed an environment you can do these poses in the better, but just focusing on your breath in these shapes — despite what may be going on around you — will improve your chances for deeper sleep.
More sleep tips: No screens before bed; no screens in the bed; and keep the lights low. Try a simple, seated meditation to tune inward before getting under the covers or lead yourself through a guided relaxation once you’re already there.
Use a bolster or a blanket or a pillow from your bed to give your chest maximum support.
Giving the head and neck a chance to relax in a Standing Forward Bend sends a subtle message to the brain to chill out. If need be, bend the knees.
Same deal in Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend. Forward folds are great for reducing anxiety and insomnia and relieving headaches. Put the crown of your head on a block for super comfortable support.
Literally turn the gaze inward in a Seated Forward Bend. A successful night’s sleep means disengaging from the activities of the outside world. This is a great shape to practice Pratyahara in.
Supta Baddha Konasana
As with all of these pre-bedtime poses, props of all sorts are encouraged. A serene and supported Reclining Bound Angle Pose stretches major muscle groups and gives the spine, a.k.a command center for the Central Nervous System, a chance to relax.
Legs-up-the-Wall takes all of the benefits of an inversion and delivers them to you while you lie on the floor doing absolutely nothing. Heaven.
Sweet dreams, yogis.