30 Minute Sequence- Yin Poses For Better Sleep
Do you have difficulties sleeping?
Based on the holistic approach, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) sees the sleep-wake cycle as a dynamic yet integral flow between the Yin and Yang. The Vital Axis states: “When Yang Qi is at its limit and Yin Qi is abundant, one’s eyes are closed. When Yin Qi is at its limit, and Yang Qi is abundant, one is awake.” Essentially, we naturally sleep at the Yin predominate time (night) while awake during the day when it is predominantly the time of the Yang energy.
Find out more about Yin-Yang here: Yin & Yang- How Balanced Are You?
Although there are many variables, there are two main Chinese meridians that can disturb our sleep:
In TCM, the Heart’s function is to circulate the blood and control the blood vessels, as well as to regulate the mind. As well, the sleep-wake cycle is part of Shen (spirit) activities. Shen refers to thought, state of consciousness and mental functions that keep the mind sharp and alert. It is believed that Shen resides in the heart and when it is too excited, for example during an emotional conflict like heartbreak and argument, sleep problems occur.
The Liver’s primary functions are to control the amount of blood in circulation and to create a harmonious, unrestricted flow of Qi (energy) throughout the body. A healthy liver facilitates sleeping rhythms, ensures proper vision and allows our emotions to be in appropriate balance.
A great way to ensure proper sleep is to harmonize the Liver and Heart channels through yin yoga. Yin yoga is an accessible form of acupressure and can be practiced by practitioners of all levels, age, and physical conditions. (Read: The Practical Guide to Yin Yoga & Traditional Chinese Medicine).
Here is a 30-minute sequence you can do on your bed before sleep, give it a try tonight!
Butterfly (Hold 5 minute and rest 1 minute)
From a seated position, place the soles of your feet together. Gently fold forward as you let the spine round and soften. You can rest your hands on your feet or the floor in front of you. Simply relax your head toward your heels or place a block underneath the forehead for more support.
If your feet are closer to the pubic region, you will feel a more intense sensation in the groin area. Or you can also try sliding your feet further away from you and see how the sensation would disperse along the inner thighs. Both are correct, so choose the one that is more suitable for you.
Wall-Dragon Fly (Hold 5 minute and rest 1 minute)
Place your legs on the wall and slowly open them to the side until you feel a mild sensation in the inner thighs. Try your best to wiggle your buttock right up against the wall. Gravity will slowly open your legs, so relax the body and mind as much as possible.
When coming out of the pose, use your hands to help bring the legs back up. You can keep the legs together and rest them against the wall.
Wall-Funky Chair (Hold 5 minute and rest 1 minute)
Stay against the wall after Dragonfly. To enter wall Funky Chair, slide your hips slightly away from the wall, bend your knees and place the soles of the feet on the wall. Keep the knees at 90 degrees. As if you’re sitting on a chair, cross the right ankle over the left thigh. You may feel some sensations along the right outer hip and right inner groin.
Practice on both sides for 5 minutes and take a 1-minute rest afterward. To rest, you can come out all the way and lie down on your bed or simply prop the legs up against the wall.
Caterpillar (Hold 5 minute and rest 1 minute)
Extend your legs in front and slowly fold forward with a relaxed spine. You can place a pillow under the belly or the forehead for extra support. You can also sit on the edge of a cushion to help tilt the pelvis forward.
Meditation: Seated or Lying Down (6 minutes)
After completing the poses, find an easy seated or lying down posture for meditation. A simple but effective meditation technique is called Anapanasati (Mindfulness of Breathing). Anapanasati is most commonly practiced with attention focused on the breath, without any effort to change the breathing. Start by slowly inhaling and exhaling through the nose. Sustain an even count for both inhale and exhale (for example, inhale for three counts and exhale for three counts.) Try your best to focus only on the breathing and see how the chatters of the mind slowly fade away.