The Power of Restorative Yoga for Restful Sleep

2 Bedtime Postures for Deep Rest

Chair Rest

In a world filled with boundless energy, a peaceful night’s sleep can sometimes be challenging. The busyness of the day can sometimes leave us feeling wired, overwhelmed and restless, making it difficult to unwind and relax as we move closer towards our sleeping time. A soothing herbal tea can certainly help calm the systems of the body along with other sleep supplements and herbs, however yoga – and in particular restorative yoga – is a powerful practice that we can tap into anytime without requiring external input.

Yoga practice is a completely free discipline that cultivates a connection and awareness with our inner self – and our bodies natural rhythms. As well restorative – or restoration – yoga is an incredible tool for igniting the relaxation response, building muscle memory and recalibrating our brain, ultimately leading to improved serotonin levels – and better-quality sleep. If you’re struggling to find that lovely restful slumber, bring one or both of these restorative yoga postures into your evening routine. The practice benefits are cumulative, meaning the more we rest, the better the long-term results…

Legs Up the Wall – Viparita Karani

In the early evening, take 12 minutes or longer – I like to set my timer – to lie with the legs resting up a wall.

To come into the posture:
Have a bolster, 2-fold blanket or a pillow placed lengthways a couple of inches out from a wall.
Sit sideways on the support with one hip facing the wall.
Next pivot the legs up the wall and come to lying with the head and shoulders on the floor, lower back and sacrum area on the bolster, legs resting in the supported inversion up the wall.
If the hamstrings are tight or there are restrictions, have the bolster/blanket support further out from the wall so the legs are more at an angle to the wall, heels resting onto the wall. Adjust the height of the support under the lower back area as needed so it feels restful. You can do the posture without the bolster support under the lower back if that feels better – lying flat on the floor.
Place another folded blanket or bolster on top of the feet. This helps to create a soothing, grounding affect.
Be warm with socks and jumper on as needed and a blanket over your body.
Cover your eyes with an eye pillow or cloth. With the eyes covered the awareness turns more easily inwards.
Become aware of the air flowing in and the air flowing out. Feel the touch of the breath in the body. Listen to the sound of the breath.
As you stay longer notice the feeling of the body resting and restoring.

Viparita Karani is known as the most therapeutic posture of all the yoga restoration postures. This supported inverted posture helps relieve tired aching feet and legs.
Stay for 12 minutes or longer…

Chair Rest

This posture can be easier to get into than Virparita Karani posture (above) and has similar  restorative benefits. I like to stay in this posture for 20 minutes however 5-12 minutes is also very affective for slowing down the systems of the body and preparing for sleep.
Simple set up > lie on the floor and rest the calves of the legs onto a chair. If you have some yoga bolsters or blankets handy then place a 2 fold blanket under your head or use a cushion; place a bolster or two fold blanket on top of your shins – to give a soothing/grounding feeling and cover the eyes with a cloth. Cover the body and be warm so you can rest more fully. If you don’t have a suitable chair for this posture you can do this with the calves onto a couch/sofa in the lounge.

With all restorative yoga the quality of the practice is restful so we bring in more blankets, cushions and supports wherever needed to give more comfort, support and rest.
During our retreats – or in a private class with Jessie – you’ll be shown how to do these posture well and given alternatives to address individual needs. Feel free to contact me here with any questions or for further practice guidance.

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