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Having trouble sleeping lately? Try calming your body and mind with gentle yoga stretches. Here are the best yoga stretches for a good night's rest.
Caroline Igo (she/her/hers) is a wellness editor and holds Sleep Science Coach and Stress Management certificates from the Spencer Institute. She received her bachelor's degree in creative writing from Miami University and continues to further her craft in her free time. Before joining CNET, Caroline wrote for past CNN anchor, Daryn Kagan.
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Carl R. Greer/Andrew D. Hepburn Award for Best Nonfiction Essay (Miami University, 2020)
How often do you have trouble falling asleep at night because your mind is still racing from the day and worrying about the next? You aren't alone, and luckily, there are plenty of tricks that can help me at bedtime (such as reading, drinking a hot cup of herbal tea or journaling). But if those tips aren't enough, and you're still struggling to get some shut-eye, try practice a few yoga poses to try to get to sleep.
Yoga, just like any exercise, can help your mind destress and decompress from the day. Studies have found that those who practice yoga may present lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. The same results concluded that yoga had a similar effect on depression as antidepressants.
These poses are for any level of experience and easy enough for beginner yogis. While moving between these poses, remember to pay attention to your breath and where you feel most tension in your body. Breathe and try to relax if you experience any discomfort. Move through these poses for about 20 to 30 minutes before bed.
To get into this pose, start on your hands and knees. Your hands should be shoulder-width apart, and your knees should be below your hips. Take a deep breath and tilt your head towards the ceiling while also sticking up your pelvis -- this should mimic a "cow." Then, on your exhale, arch your back and bring both your head and pelvis down like a "cat." You can repeat these two motions a few times before moving on.
This pose is as easy as standing up straight and leaning over to reach for your toes. If you are able, place your hands on the ground. If you are unable to touch your toes, you can do a half-forward fold and grab below your knees. Looking for a challenge? Try reaching around your ankles and hold. Make sure your back is straight and you are taking deep breaths.
Start by lying down on your back, legs and arms stretched out and on the ground. Take a deep breath, raise your core off the ground and shift your arms closer to your body to balance. Your knees should be at a 90-degree angle. Your hands can lie flat, or you can bring them together underneath your core.
An easy pose to transition into after Bridge -- start this pose on your back. Lift your legs to the ceiling and out a little past your shoulders (or however far you can go). Then, grab onto the outside of your feet with both hands. Gently rock left and right to relieve tension in your lower back.
You will need to clear a space beside a wall for this pose. Facing the wall, lie on your back and walk your legs up high or lift your hips with your arms. Your hips can be against the wall or a little away. Once you get in a comfortable spot and you feel like you can balance, stretch your arms out beside you. This pose is great for destressing and improving your circulation.
You can start this pose by kneeling or getting on your hands and knees. Tuck your feet underneath your hips and bring your head close to the ground. Reach your hands out in front of you, stretching your spin. The further out you reach, the better the stretch will be for you.
If you are coming out of Child's pose for this next one, sit back up and extend your legs out in front of you. Cross one leg over the other, pulling the heel of the crossed leg your outer thigh. With the opposite arm, cross your body and twist yourself, pushing with your elbow on the raised knee. Twist and breathe. Repeat with the other side before moving on.
From a seated position, straighten your posture and press the bottom of both your feet together. Placing your hands on your feet, attempt to press your hips as low as you can to the ground. The lower you go, the bigger the stretch. If you are looking for more of a challenge, move your feet closer to your body.
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.