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Your Yoga Prescription: How to get to sleep when insomnia strikes

(Photo: Tiffany Cruikshank)
(Photo: Tiffany Cruikshank)

Tiffany Cruikshank is the smart, cool creator of Yoga Medicine, a method that pairs yoga with holistic health practices to address the modern-life ailments that are constantly creeping up on you— like stress, insomnia, and back pain. We teamed up with her to bring you simple solutions you can really use, in this reoccurring feature.

There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to fall asleep when you really, really want to. But popping a Tylenol PM night after night is a quick (and habit-forming) fix to a larger problem, and watching Youtube videos or scanning your Instagram feed unfortunately won’t help, either.

“To fall asleep, you need to get the nervous system to calm down,” Cruikshank says. “Watching TV and going on your phone will stimulate your brain waves. To get past that, do a simple relaxation to get the mind to turn off—and help you stay asleep.”

Below, Cruikshank shares her all-natural insomnia-fighting recipe that includes a simple restorative yoga pose (pictured above) and a hot foot bath. How’s that for an effective way to fall asleep without an encyclopedia-size list of side effects?

Holistic Practice

“In Chinese medicine, the idea is that there’s all of this energy in the head which sometimes doesn’t turn off and let you go to sleep,” Cruikshank says. “You have to pull the energy out of the brain.” To do so, get completely ready for bed and set your alarm for the morning, then go somewhere you can do a hot foot bath, like in your bathtub or in the kitchen with a bowl or bucket of water. Make the water is as warm as you can tolerate, with just enough water for covering the ankles down. Soak your feet for five minutes, then get straight into your bedroom and turn off the lights.

Yoga Pose

Next, lie on the floor on your back with the soles of the feet together and your knees out wide. Put pillows or folded blankets under your torso to lift up your head. Put another pillow or blanket directly underneath your head so that its higher than the rib cage. The low back and hips should still be on the floor. If you’re tight, you may need to put blocks underneath your thighs to completely relax. Stay here for five to ten minutes. “Next, slowly roll over and crawl into bed, without turning on the lights or walking around,” Cruikshank advises. (No checking your phone either!) —Jamie McKillop

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