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Want to Sleep Better? Try Stretching

If you’ve been struggling with getting a solid eight hours of sleep per night, or even just having a hard time falling asleep in the first place, you’ve probably tried the standard remedies: warm milk, chamomile tea, a hot bath – maybe you’ve even gone so far as to try sleeping medications. But if you are somebody who has previously done yoga – or even a person who’s never tried the ancient art in your life – there may be a simple and free answer to your problem. People who take yoga classes know that when class is over they feel remarkably relaxed and refreshed, and you can transplant that effect right into your bed by doing a few simple yoga stretches about half an hour before you turn out the lights and climb into bed. Give them a try and see if you don’t find yourself snoozing the second your head hits your pillow. Remember that when you’re practicing yoga, the secret to achieving calm is to breathe in and out through your nose. Doing so delivers oxygen directly to your nervous system and has a soothing effect.

1. Sleeping Swan
To practice this pose, which will relax your neck, shoulders, back, hips and legs, just sit on the floor with a pillow in front of you. Bend your left knee in a way that puts the bottom of your left foot against your opposite thigh, and stretch the opposite leg out behind you. Now lean a bit forward and rest your head on the pillow with your arms extended forward. Breathe in deeply, holding your breath for a count of eight. Then switch legs and repeat.

2. Happy Baby
Happy Baby is a wonderful pose for relaxing your back, hips and hamstrings. Lie on your back and bend your knees to your chest. Put your arms between your knees and grab the insides of your feet with your hands, with your palms facing outwards. Now relax your knees so they each fall to the side, keeping your feet flexed and above your knees. Rock from side to side while breathing in deeply.

3. Bridge

The Bridge will relax your hips and your legs. Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and your knees bent. Extend your arms to either side, with your palms facing up. Now keep your shoulders down but press up with your legs, lifting your hips off the ground to form a diagonal line between your hips and your shoulders. Hold that position while breathing in deeply, holding your breath for a count of eight, then relaxing

4. Seated Side Bend
The Seated Side Ben will relax your neck and shoulders. Sit on a pillow in a classic cross leg position, then put your left hand behind you with your elbow slightly bent. Take your right arm and lift it over your head, extending it past your ear. Learn to the left while keeping your rear on the floor. Breathe in deeply, hold for a count of eight, then release your breath and switch sides.

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