Studies have shown that lack of sleep increases risk for health problems like stroke and diabetes, memory lapses, depression, and certain cognitive deficiencies.
To fight sleep deprivation, there are easy yoga-based exercises that people can use to get better sleep. These exercises take approximately six minutes to help trigger the body’s natural sleep inducing processes.
Fitness expert, Dana Santas, has developed a six-minute yoga program to help the sleep deprived. Dana uses the same meditation, stretching, and breathing techniques used by professional athletes. The program starts with two postures implemented bedside to address the stress that builds throughout the day, especially in the hip flexors and lower back.
Begin this posture by standing with feet at hip-distance apart, extend arms till shoulder level, exhale then, dip into a deep squat. Keep weight in the heels, avoid letting knees and toes to turn out. Take three deep breaths while in the squat position. Focus on relaxing the lower back with each exhale. This exercise helps lengthen the spine and lower back and realigns the hips and pelvis.
Warrior One with Side Bend
From a standing position, place the right foot back with the heel down and toes slightly turned out. Bend the left knee to align it with the ankle. Keep the back leg straight and put the left hand on the left hip. If balancing is difficult, place the left hand on the bed instead of the hip.
Inhale as the right arm moves over the head to the left, stretching the front of the hip and the right side. Exhale to maintain the posture properly. Inhale, then return the arm to the side. Return to standing position, repeat the exercise on the other side.
Once in bed, practice a gentle twist to allow proper blood flow into the abdomen. This helps activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps lower blood pressure and heart rate.
Prone Bent-Knee Twist
Lie down with arms at the side and legs extended. Hug the left knee till it touches the chest. Inhale as you put the right hand on the left thigh. Breathe out while gently twisting from the mid-back to bring the left knee across the right side of the body. Take two deep breaths, then repeat for the other side.
This exercise helps stretch the lower back, groin, and hip muscles. Also, it increases blood flow in the abdomen and pelvis, improves back mobility, and opens the chest.
Backward Count Meditation & Diaphragmatic Breathing
Get comfortable either supine or lying on the side on the bed and place a pillow behind the head, under the knees, or between the legs. Keep eyes closed while inhaling using the nose. Feel the lower ribs expand outward, breathe out and focus on the lower ribs descending and rotating internally. After establishing exhalation process, contract the abdominal muscles to push out remaining air.
Try deepening and lengthening breathing to match a 5-count exhalation, 5-count inhalation, and 2-count pauses after exhaling pattern. Once the pattern has been established count breaths backward from 20 to 1.
These six-minute yoga exercises help practitioners get better sleep.