7 poses for a deep nourishing sleep

Is your mind racing with emotions about the baby and the birth when you’re just trying to fall asleep?

Are you woken in the night (probably needing to pee or settling another child!) but then you just can’t get back to sleep for hours?

I know exactly how that feels, believe me, so I’m sharing this sequence with you – it was a life saver for me! Every time I found myself staring at the ceiling or tossing and turning I’d make myself get out of bed and follow this simple sequence. It’s actually just as good post pregnancy too so this is a tool you’re learning for life!

Stay in your PJ’s and keep the lights low. Remember to breathe through your nose and if you’re familiar with Ujjayi breathing use that technique. If not follow this blog and I’ll be covering breathing techniques to calm the mind in my next blog!

We’ll start with two standing poses, because sometimes we firstly need to charge our muscle fibers with some pressure to be able to wind down and settle into the rest of the sequence and ultimately sleep!

You can stay in each pose as long as you feel comfortable to make the sequence as long or as short as you need on any given day. Once you’re in the poses just breathe deeply and melt into the pose – Yummmm I love that feeling!

Pose 1 & 2 – Dog Pose – Adho mukha svanasana

Option 2. Dog pose/Adho mukha svanasana - unsupported. Draw your heels to the floor and draw your shoulders away from you ears and roll them outwards

Pose 1. Take a few breaths with bent knees, then draw your heels to the floor, shoulders away from your ears and shoulder blades roll out. Tuck your tailbone under to open up the vertebra at the base of the spine.

Option 1 . Dog pose/Adho mukha svanasana with a bolster.Resting the forehead onto a bolster regulates the endocrine system, relieves stress and alleviates headaches

Pose 2 . Rest the third eye, the area above the nose, onto a bolster and apply gentle pressure in micro circles. This regulates the endocrine system, relieves stress and alleviates headaches.

Poses 1-4 take the pressure away from the lower back by shifting the baby’s weight off the pelvis, they also rejuvenate the legs by stimulating their blood flow – Amazing!

Pose 3 & 4 – Wide Legged Forward bend- Prasarita Padottanasana
Pose 2. Wide Legged Pose/Prasarita Padottanasana - hands to the chair. This stimulates blood flow to the legs and takes the weight of the baby off the pelvis and lower back - Amazing!

Pose 3. Now take your feet wide, palms to the chair seat, lengthen your spine, tuck in your tailbone underneath you & roll your shoulders away from your ears and away from each other.

Resting the head in Wide Legged Pose/Prasarita Padottanasana

Pose 4. Now move towards the chair and rest your forehead onto the seat. Massage your third eye with micro circles for a few breaths then just melt into the pose!

Pose 5 – Head-to-Knee Forward Bend – Janu Sirsasana

This pose improves the circulation in the legs and pelvic region and also relieves aching in the legs and back. Deepen the breath as you release and stay here for 5 – 10 breaths or as long as you feel comfortable. Then release and repeat on the other side.

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend/Janu Sirsasana  Stage 1

Pose 5/stage 1
 Take your right heal to your groin, press your left leg down into the ground, draw your toes back. Use a belt if needed.

Stage 2 Improve the circulation in the legs and pelvic region and relieve aching in the legs and back

Pose 5/stage 2 – Inhale the arms up then exhale the hands to the feet or a belt. Look forward and lengthen out of your spine as your inhale and release as you exhale.

Head-to-Knee Forward Bend/Janu Sirsasana  Stage 3

Pose 5/stage 3- On an exhale lower your face and draw the top of your head, as if on a string, to your toes.

Wide Seated Forward Bend/Upavista Konasana - To the chair seat

Pose 6 . Now take the legs wide apart, flex the feet, draw the toes back towards you and press the underside of the legs down into the ground. Inhale the arms up and exhale them down to the chair seat

Wide Seated Forward Bend/Upavista Konasana - stage 2

Pose 6/stage 2. Lower the hands down to a bolster. Keep lifting the chest to lengthen the spine and tuck in the chin to lengthen the back of the neck.

Pose 6 & 7 – Upavista & Parsva Upavista Konasana – Wide Seated & Sideways Wide Seated Forward Bend

 

Pose 7/Stage 1 - Turn your chest to the right, either hands to foot, hands to belt around foot or hands onto a bolster. Draw your face towards your toes, lengthen your spine, tuck your chin towards your chest. Repeat the other side

Pose 7/Stage 1 – Turn your chest to the right, either hands to foot, hands to belt around foot or hands onto a bolster. Draw your face towards your toes, lengthen your spine, tuck your chin towards your chest. Repeat the other side

Pose7/stage 2 - If it's comfortable for you release your face towards your shin and draw the top of your head, as if on a string, towards your toes. Deepen the breath and melt into the pose

Pose7/stage 2 – If it’s comfortable for you release your face towards your shin and draw the top of your head, as if on a string, towards your toes. Deepen the breath and melt into the pose

 

 

Relaxation Time!

There are 3 choices here. Once you are in you relaxation pose, try and withdraw all thoughts of past and future and just focus on this special time for you and your baby here and now, while the two of you are still one.

ENJOY!

 

Not safe for fragile knees. Lie back onto a firm bolster with a pillow under your head, and possbily an extra blanket under your lowerback so your fully supported. Knees wide, buttocks between your heals

Not safe for fragile knees. Lie back onto a firm bolster with a pillow under your head, and possbily an extra blanket under your lowerback so your fully supported. Knees wide, buttocks between your heals

Sit with your back supported against the wall, knees bent and the soles of your feet touching. Try and draw your heels as close to your body as possible

Sit back supported against the wall, knees bent, soles touching. Keep your heels close to the body

Lying on your left side with your top knee bent and supported by a pillow. You can also place a long pillow or stacked blankets under your belly and a pillow under your head.

Lying on your left side with your top knee bent and supported by a pillow. You can also place a long pillow or stacked blankets under your belly and a pillow under your head.

 

 

 

Hopefully you’re now ready to fall into a deep and nourishing sleep! ENJOY!

 

If you’re interested to learn a little bit about the science of sleep, read on ……..

During pregnancy a woman’s body and hormones go crazy! The science of sleep requires that we have a calm central nervous system and a balanced endocrine system that is not over stimulated. Forward bends and poses where the head is supported help to calm the central nervous system by lowering the blood pressure. Seated poses help to flood the pelvis with oxygenated blood maximizing the function of the uterus. They also help us calm the breath by alleviating the pressure on the diaphragm allowing for deeper slower breathing, this helps us calm the mind and the central nervous system by increasing the level of oxygen in the bloodstream and in turn the level of oxygen delivered to the baby via the placenta. Finally, light pressure or massage to the third eye (the place between your eyebrows above your nose) helps to regulate the pituitary gland calming the endocrine system. The endocrine system needs consideration in the quest for a deeper sleep as it is responsible for secreting our hormones. Some of the hormones released by the endocrine system are estrogen, progesterone, adrenalin, endorphins and the steroid cortisol. And they are released into our blood stream through many glands (some of which are in the ovaries and the pancreas, the thyroid and parathyroid glands, the pineal, adrenals and pituitary glands). These hormones influence our behavior, firing us up, giving us energy but also making us wired when we over stimulate them. A busy day and high stress levels can hyper activate your glands and this can catapult you into a vicious cycle of over stimulated alertness and sleeplessness.

So, for a deep nourishing sleep we need well regulated endocrine system and a calm central nervous system, we also need to release the physical stresses and strains the body has built up throughout the day.

End of science!