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Yoga for a good night's sleep

Lisa Sanfilippo, Britain’s leading expert on yoga for insomnia and founder of Super Sleep Yoga, shares her sleep-inducing summer bedtime routine.

by Psychologies

A lower body temperature is essential for deep sleep. Make sure your bedroom has a good flow of air, and take a cool shower before bed. Try this balancing breath sequence to cool the body and calm the nervous system.

PREPARE Lie on your back in bed, or on the floor, with the soles of your feet fl at, knees bent, pointing upwards. Keep your lower back gently arched.

1. Low belly breath

Place your hands on your lower belly, just beneath your navel and above your pubic bone. Breathe in deeply but gently, while letting your belly muscles expand to make a ‘Buddha belly’. When you exhale, let your belly muscles relax, and imagine you can feel the tiny muscles around the bones in your lower back release towards the floor. Do this 10 times. For added calming, make your exhale slightly longer than your inhale, without any strain.

2. Middle ribs

Wrap your thumbs around the sides of your rib cage, and fan out your fingers on the front of your ribs. As you inhale, expand your ribs laterally, and from front to back. This releases the area where we hold the tension that can sabotage sleep. Opening up this area can promote calm sleep and banish anxiety.

3. Cooling shoulder breath

When stressed, we tend to breathe into the upper front third of the chest. For 10 breaths, expand the upper part of your lungs, while keeping aware of the back. Breathe gently, as though it was possible to breathe into the back of your shoulders. On the ‘out’ breath, release both your jaw and neck, letting your head get heavy.

4. Bring it together

Take a smooth breath in through your nose, and move your hands to your belly. Breathe up into the middle ribs, then to the back of your shoulders. Pause and, on your exhale, let your shoulders, mid-ribs and belly soften. Repeat up to 10 times. If done with gentle, even breaths, you’ll probably be asleep before you’re finished!

For more sleep-inducing yoga sequences, go to yogaforbettersleep.com

Photograph: iStock

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