“I rest well. I sleep peacefully, and I awaken with joy” Louise Hay
I shared a comment on facebook a few weeks ago on how I solved my night of insomnia (restless legs, restless body and an overexcited mind) with a simple yoga pose called “legs up the wall at midnight”. Actually, its only called legs up the wall, but adding – at midnight – sounds so much more appropriate when you’re practising yoga in the middle of the night.
Anyway, it worked wonders. After no more than 5 minutes, everything in my body was calmer. I went back to bed and slept like a baby. I kid you not it happened that quickly.
Photo by restorative yoga – Modified child pose with bolster:
End your day with a calming practice:
So, if crashing on the couch, drinking mugs of hot milk or watching hours of TV is not working for you as a cure for insomnia then you might like to try (in addition to legs up the wall ) the relaxing yoga pose called child pose. Its healing qualities are specifically aimed to settle and calm the brain and soothe the nervous system.
The best part is there are few variations of child pose. I’ve shared three here in this article with a few modifications if necessary. Essentially child pose involves your head bending forward, which is a well known trigger for getting the mind to slow down.
If legs up the wall or child pose don’t do it for you, then I can highly recommend a few rounds of alternate nostril breathing if you are having trouble sleeping. Its fabulous for calming an overstimulated mind and I guarantee you’ll feel more centred afterwards.
Three variations on childs pose:
1 – Modified child pose with bolster and/or blankets (picture 1 above)
2 – Modified child pose with chair (picture 3)
3 – Standard Child pose with forehead resting on floor and arms resting along side the body and hands beside the feet (picture 2)
I love child pose with my forehead resting on the floor, as it gives my back and spine a lovely stretch. On the days when I’m feeling fragile leaning forward in child pose over a bolster is incredibly soothing. There is something deeply nurturing when you allow your whole body to be fully supported by the bolster.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a bolster simply use a few pillows or pile of blankets to get the same effect.
Benefits of child’s pose:
1 – Helps you let go of your day, as you are energetically turning your back to the world
2 – Encourages you to breath into your back and kidneys (breathing into your kidneys will help release fear which may be keeping you awake)
3 – Great for relieving tightness or tension in the lower back
4 – Relieves tension in your shoulders
5 – Quietens the mind
6 – Helps dissolve stress and fatigue
7 – Gentle stretches hips, thighs and ankles
8 – More blood flows to the mind (this can help with dizziness and headaches)
9 – Increases flexibility in the knees
10 – Calms the central nervous system
11 – Releases any heaviness in the body
12 – Relaxes your breathing
How to get comfortable in childs pose:
Before you start, remember the aim of any restorative yoga pose is to be extra comfortable and not restrict your breathing at all. Restricted breathing means your body needs more space and you’ll need to come out of the pose a little and modify.
- Begin by sitting on your heels with knees together or slightly apart whatever feels more comfortable
- Gently bend forward so your head rests on the ground in front of your knees
- You may feel more comfortable placing one or two pillows under your forehead or resting your arms above your head. Comfort is the key.
- Place your hands, palms up on either side of your body and next to your feet. If this feels uncomfortable then simply stretch your hands out in front of you.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath
- Breath slowly and deeply by imaging you are gently pressing the belly against the thighs on your inhale
How to let go of any fear:
According to Chinese Medicine your kidneys are known to hold fear. Being fearful of the past or future can often keep us awake at night. I can vouch for that.
So, sometimes I place my hands over my kidneys (whilst in child pose) and breath and smile into them, using my exhale to let go and soften my kidneys. It makes a huge difference.
Modify childs pose if you need too:
Sit on a chair and fold forward (as in the photo below ) or use a bolster to rest on as shown in picture 1 at the top.
This is NOT an ideal pose if you have knee problems, ear or eye infections
If you have trouble sleeping let me know if child pose or legs up the wall have helped you get back to sleep. Or perhaps you have another practice that you’d like to share. It certainly doesn’t have to be from yoga.