The Best Yoga Pose for a Good Night's Sleep

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Yoga can be intimidating. The sea of seemingly perfect bodies in stretchy pants. The effortless touching of the toes. The impossible handstands without support. Luckily, you don’t have to be an expert yogi to get the benefits of yoga.

I distinctly remember my first yoga class and how I almost snuck out the back door. There was no one there that looked like me and I felt like I would never master the beautiful poses.

10 years later, the yoga studio is like my second home. It’s the place I go to escape from the world for an hour. I still can’t do handstands but I have noticed incredible positive changes in my sleep and mood. This is almost entirely due to the elaborate bedtime ritual I created to guarantee a good night’s sleep. Curious? Get my secrets here.

My personal routine may be too involved for the busy woman that you are (although it can actually make you MORE efficient). You just want to keep it simple. If that is you, try this restorative and easy yoga pose before you go to sleep tonight.

Equipment required: Your headboard or a wall, a light blanket

The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

  1. Invert your legs to lay against the headboard or wall. Your bottom should be as close to the wall as physically possible but still comfortable. (*Note: If your mattress is really soft, I suggest you use the floor to support your back.)
  2. Place a small blanket under your hips to support blood flow towards your head.
  3. Close your eyes and rest quietly for 5-15 minutes.
  4. When you’re done, bend your knees toward your chest and roll to your right side. Take a few deep cleansing breaths.
  5. If you are already in your bed, then just rotate and fall asleep. If not, rise slowly from your side with your head the last to rise.

Tips:

  • If noises are distracting you, put on headphones and play relaxing music.
  • Put a small pillow over your eyes to block out distracting light.
  • Rub a few drops of lavender essential oil on the bottoms of your feet.

Why This Pose Is So Effective

  1. You get all the benefits of inversions with virtually no effort. Inversions improve digestion, reduce edema (extra fluid) in the legs, and regulate blood pressure.
  2. It activates your parasympathetic nervous system. This is our ‘rest-and-digest’ response to fight the many stressors in our life. By combining this pose with slow, rhythmic breaths, you can dip even deeper into relaxation mode.
  3. Calms your monkey mind. If you have ever had trouble quieting all the thoughts running rampant in your mind right before sleep, this pose is for you. When practiced on a regular basis, you will easily fall into a sleepy, blissful state!

Photography by Chris Sutton

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Dr. Tiffany Lester is an integrative medicine doctor, farmacy foodie and curly girl who believes that we all have the ability to take charge of our health. Often we just need a bridge to reach that other side. She has been that bridge for hundreds of patients at her clinical practice, Alliance Integrative Medicine in Cincinnati, Ohio—one of the leading integrative medicine centers in the country. By combining the best of functional medicine, acupuncture, and nutrition, she navigates the complexity of the body to get to the root cause of disease. She is passionate about healing chronic disease through whole foods and teaching people how simple, small shifts can have an enormous impact on their fatigue, stress, and pain levels. She created The Unconscious Workout, which is like a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout for sleep.

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