by Yvette Jain
While sleeplessness can happen for a variety of reasons, most people find it happens because they can't turn their racing mind off. If you frequently suffer from nighttime chitta-vrittis, or mind chatter, give this sequence a try—your monkey mind won't stand a chance. As a bonus, you can do this in your bedroom on without a mat!
1. Forward fold.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Fold your upper body over your thighs, letting your head hang. Interlace your fingers and draw your arms up and overhead, releasing tension in your upper back. Take five breaths and feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
2. Side lunge.
Take your legs about 4 to 5 feet apart. Exhale as you bend your right knee and lunge to the right side, stretching out your left inner thighs. Lower your hips as much as you can, pointing your left toes up toward the sky while keeping your spine long. Inhale, extending both legs as you press up to center. As you exhale, bend your left knee; repeat this process on the left side. Inhale back to center and repeat again on the right side.
From skandasana, turn and face the right side of the room so that the right leg is forward in a lunge. Gently lower your back knee onto the floor and untuck your back toes.
3. Low crescent lunge.
Bring your fingertips on either side of your front leg, lower your hips to the floor, and feel the stretch in your left hip flexors. Take five full breaths. Inhale back to center, turning to face the left side of the room. Repeat on the opposite side.
4. Downward-facing dog.
Bring your feet together, then hook the right foot on top of left for a calf stretch. Draw your navel in, taking five deep breaths. Switch sides. Press the floor away from you to open your shoulders and armpits.
5. Half pigeon.
Bring your right knee next to your right wrist and your right heel toward your left wrist. Square off your hips and inhale; exhale and bow forward as you lengthen your spine. Take five to seven breaths and enjoy the stretch in your hips and glutes. Press back to downward dog and repeat half pigeon on the left side.
6. Hero pose with tucked toes.
Bring your knees to the floor, tuck your toes, and sit back on your heels. This stretches the toes, the arches, and the soles of feet. This stretch can be pretty intense, so bring a block underneath your seat to relieve some of the pressure. When you are ready, lean forward with your hands on the floor to support you. Cross at your shins and sit back.
7. Neck stretch.
Ground your sit bones on the floor and bring your arms to either side of your body. Walk your left fingertips to the left side of the room, then tilt your head toward your right ear. For a deeper stretch, use your right hand to gently reach above your head and place your hand over your left ear, gently opening the left side of your neck more. Hold for five to seven breaths. When you're ready, bring your right hand to your right ear and carefully guide your head back to center. Repeat this process on the right side. Extend your legs in front of you and roll down to lie flat on your back.
8. Supine twist.
Keep your left leg extended and draw your right knee into your chest. Roll out your right ankle. With your left hand, draw your right knee across your body for a supine twist, neutralizing your spine. Take five breaths. Hug your knees into your chest, then switch legs and repeat twist on the other side.
Finally, take a savasana in your bed, bringing your awareness to your entire body and allowing it to relax. Take your awareness to your nose and notice the cool air as you breathe in and notice the warm air as you breathe out. Allow your breath to slow down even more as you slowly drift off to sleep.
M.Om., Dipl. Acu (NCCAOM) L.Ac.
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