Whoever came up with the saying “sleeping like a baby” was obviously never a parent. Babies can be the WORST sleepers, at least when you really want them to sleep so you can get some much-needed rest yourself. Am I right?
The significance of a good night’s sleep for pregnant and new moms cannot be over emphasized.
Even when you give yourself lots of time to get your beauty sleep there’s almost always something that messes it up for you. Maybe your baby thinks 3am is a great time to practice stretching his legs. And just when you drift off again… Leg cramps! We all know newborns are up every couple of hours ALL. night. long. And toddlers? Well, my almost-4-year-old still crawls into bed with me and lately has been cuddling a little too aggressively for my liking (she kept putting her icy cold feet on my back last night and even INTO my pajama pants).
It’s hard to control the quantity of sleep you get when you have a little one—some night are good other nights are the stuff of nightmares. But you do have some control over your sleep quality. In the last few years, I’ve learned to make the most of the little time I have for undisturbed sleep. One of the things that has helped me the most is establishing a great sleep routine, not just for my little one, but for ME, too.
On those occasions that I’m able to get my daughter down to sleep at a reasonable hour, I try to spend at least a few minutes doing something that helps me unwind and sets me up for at least some good quality sleep. If it’s late, I might sit down to meditate for just 10 minutes before I get myself ready for bed. If I have a little more time, I might take a warm bath with some lavender and epsom salt to soothe sore muscles and ease my anxious mind. My favorite way to prepare myself for sleep, though, is through a few gentle yoga stretches and lots of slow, deep breaths (if I’ve had a particularly stressful day, I do the following pose sequence with soft music and lavender wafting out of my essential oil diffuser, too.)
It’s what I imagine heaven is like…
The more often I do these yoga poses to help you sleep, the faster, more efficiently, (and more deeply) I sleep. And the more likely I am to wake up feeling refreshed and ready to tackle another busy day (a mama’s work is never done!). Make time for it, Mamas. There is NOTHING more important than getting enough rest.. NOTHING.
Heavenly Yoga Poses to Help You Sleep Better
(Note: Skip this one if you’re in your second or third trimester since it requires you to lie flat, or modify with a standing version such as Pyramid Pose and Triangle Pose)
Lie down on your back. Bring your right knee into your chest and give it a hug. Extend the left leg out in front of you, and ground the back of thigh down toward the ground. Flex both feet. Then, straighten the right leg up toward the sky. Use a strap around the fall of your right foot, or interlace your hands behind the lifted thigh for support. Either way, keep the arms straight and the shoulders relaxed. Keep grounding through the left thigh as the right leg lifts. Take a big breath in. Then, with an exhale, open your right leg over to the right (don’t feel like you have to bring the leg to the floor—resting it on a bolster or block can be plenty, especially at night). After at least five breaths, bring right leg back to the center and switch sides.
Seated Side Stretch
Take a seat in a comfortable position (cross legged or sit on your heels in Vajrasana (Thunderbolt Pose)). Root your sitting bones down and lift the crown of your head up, stretching your spine as loooooonng as you can get it. Exhale, let gravity help you drop your shoulders down and away from your ears. Inhale, feel your lungs expand. Exhale, bring your right hand to the floor outside of your right hip and reach your left arm up and over to the right. Stay here for a couple of breaths, imagining your left side ribs opening like a paper fan. Inhale back up to the center, and then repeat to the other side.
Supported Downward Facing Dog
Come to hands and knees with your shoulders stacked right over your wrists and your hips right over your knees. Have a block or a bolster between your hands. Spread your fingers wide and engage the muscles of your arms. Tuck your toes under and, with an exhale, lift your hips up and back. Slowly, start to stretch your legs straighter, but keep a slight bend in the knees if your back starts to round at all. Adjust your block or bolster to the appropriate height and position that allows you to comfortably rest your forehead (especially the Third Eye point right between your eyebrows). Step your feet in closer or further away from your hands if necessary. Take 5-10 deep breaths, emphasizing a long, smooth exhale.
Supported Pigeon Pose
Bring your right knee forward and to the floor to the inside of your right wrist. Press the top of the right foot into the floor to keep the leg active (this protects the knee from injury). Inhale, press your finger tips into the floor and lift your chest toward the sky so your spine is long. Exhale, hinge at your hips and walk your fingers forward. Cross your forearms bring them to the bolster in front of you. Rest your forehead on your forearms. Take at least 10 deep breaths, then switch sides.
Supported Child’s Pose
Come back to your hands and knees. Widen your knees mat-distance apart or wider. Bring a bolster between your knees (it should be vertical so your chest and head will be supported). Bring your hips to your heels. Either stretch your arms out in front of you or bring your hands back in line with your feet. The back of your hands will rest on the floor. Stay for 10 breaths.
Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose)
Move over to a wall. Lie on your back (or, if you’re pregnant, set yourself up with bolsters so you won’t be flat on the floor) and swing your legs up onto the wall. Bring one hand to your belly and one hand to your heart. Take deep breaths, finding that sweet connection between your breath, your heartbeat, and your baby if you are pregnant. Stay her for at least 10 breaths, then carefully roll yourself down and sit up.
Savasana (Final Resting Pose)
Set yourself up for Savasana at your mat (or even in your bed so you can drift right off to sleep!). If you’re pregnant, be sure to lie on your left side or support yourself with bolsters so you aren’t flat on your back. Extend your legs out in front of you and bring your hands to your sides, palms facing up in a gesture of receptiveness. Close your eyes. Stay here for at least 5-10 minutes (or, if you’re in bed, stay here until you wake up!)
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