Improving your rest with yoga


Yoga is a technique dating back thousands of years. Its philosophical principles are based on creating harmony between the mind, body and spirit. Regularly practicing yoga can improve your health, help you relax better and can treat insomnia.

+ Hatha yoga, the path of physical yoga, is the most popular branch of yoga in the West. It uses physical poses or asanas, breathing techniques or pranayamas, energy flows bandas and psychic gestures mudras. Each yoga pose is thought to improve your body's functions while at the same time increasing your clarity and mental concentration. The poses also prepare the body and mind for meditation, a state that helps bring on sleep.

The Bridge

It may help to stretch the spinal column and relieve tension where we most often store it in the back.

1. In a lying position, with your arms extended next to your body and your knees bent, feet together, keeping the balls of your feet pressed against the floor and as close to the buttocks as possible.

In a lying position, with your arms extended next to your body and your knees bent

2. Tighten your buttocks and inhale while keeping your feet pressed to the floor; exhale while you lift up your hips, keeping your knees pressed together and lifting your belly button as high as you can. Stay in this position inhaling and exhaling three times, each time you in hale try to lift your belly button higher. Exhale and lower your body.

Tighten your buttocks and inhale while keeping your feet pressed to the floor

Another way to do this position is to take your ankles in your hands and while you inhale raise your buttocks and trunk; lower your buttocks when you exhale. Repeat three times.

The Plow

This pose may help to relax, calm you and facilitate digestion, making it a good asana to help you sleep. In addition it nourishes the spinal nerves and gives flexibility to the spine, neck and back, helping you to sleep better.

1. Begin the position lying on your back, with your legs together, arms down by your sides next to your body and the palms of your hands pressed to the floor. Bring your chin toward your chest and press your back muscles to the floor. Inhale through your nose and raise your legs up until they are at a 90 degree angle with your torso. Exhale, then inhale and bring your hips off the floor, supporting your back with your hands.

Begin the position lying on your back, with your legs together

2. Without bending your knees, stretch out your legs by bringing them behind your head, until your toes touch the floor. Your arms should stay forward, with the palms of your hands pressed to the floor. Stay in this position breathing slowly and deeply. Next, inhale through your nose and slowly lower your legs while you exhale. Concentrate on how each segment of your backbone presses against the floor.

Without bending your knees, stretch out your legs by bringing them behind your head

GETTING READY

For these exercises to completely relax you and to bring on sleep, it's best to do them two hours before going to bed or eating dinner. And, whenever you can, add to a relaxing experience by listening to soft music to help you meditate.

GENTLE EXERCISE

Yoga is a discipline designed to improve your flexibility and harmony. The exercises use gentle movements without straining your body. When practicing the asanas remember not to strain yourself. There is no need to push yourself too far. Over time and willpower, you will improve your body's health naturally and get in tune with your body.

Rocking chair

This yoga exercise is always done at the beginning of a yoga session, before beginning other asanas, to stretch out the body. It is also indicated for practicing a few hours before going to bed because it promotes relaxation and resting well.

1. Begin sitting on the floor (or on a padded mat); bend your legs, leave the soles of your feet pressed against the floor. Wrap your hands around the part of your leg behind the knee, leaving your thumbs outward. Keep your chin pressed to your chest to avoid back problems. Slowly lean back to give you momentum.

Begin sitting on the floor

2. Next, push your legs back with your hands, gently inhaling, the body goes back until your back is off the mat, with your legs still bent and your chin pressed to your chest. Next, exhale and return to the initial position. You may like to practice this pose 10 or15 times.

Next, push your legs back with your hands, gently inhaling

In the future, when you are more familiar with the movement, you will be able to take your legs all the way back until the tips of your toes touch the floor behind your head. Return while you exhale, never lifting the chin from the chest. You may like to repeat this position 15 times, always keeping your chin pressed to your chest, inhaling as you go back and expelling your breath as you go forward. Afterward, lie down on the mat and relax.

THE CHILD'S POSE

This asana relaxes the entire body and brings a sense of total well-being, while at the same time relieving stomach pain and helping to bring on sleep.

1. Kneel down and sit on your feet with your heels pointing outward. Your knees should be separated, about the width of your hips. Inhale as you lift your arms above your head and exhale while you bring your torso down to your thighs. Place your forehead, palms of your hands and forearms on the floor, while keeping your shoulders relaxed.

The child's pose

2. Next, bring your arms behind and keep them relaxed next to the body. Stay in this position for however long you like, breathing softly and keeping your mind on your spinal column.

The child's pose

The Tree

This position may help concentration, bringing confidence and elasticity to the body. It also works with the body's balance, mental stability and spiritual harmony. It is practiced with your back straight and constantly looking forward. Always concentrate on your breathing and use very slow and controlled movements. Little by little you will gain confidence.

Stand with your legs apart, putting all of your weight on your left foot. Place your right foot on the inside of your left thigh. Once you have balance, bring your hands together toward your chest, breathing slowly while you inhale lift up your hands –always with your palms together– above your head. Stay in this position as long as you can. Next, return to the initial position by doing the steps backward. Repeat the position, but with your other leg.

Stand with your legs apart, putting all of your weight on yourleft foot

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