Yoga for the Sleep Deprived

How to Use Yoga to Handle the Lack of Sleep that Comes Standard with Motherhood

Like many first-time mothers| I spent a good portion of my son`s first years feeling overwhelmed - sleep deprivation being the nasty cause of this.

My relationship with my now ex-husband went to pot| the house (even with a nanny) was a disaster| and I had "bad hair" for days on end.

It was only after an anxiety attack that lasted 5 days (and nights) that I realized I need help. Besides finding a therapist| some good drugs and a sleep coach for my son| it was restorative yoga that really saved my life.

I had become so exhausted that even when I had the chance to sleep I was too tired to go into a deep slumber. My nervous system needed some serious re-training and the only way I accomplished this was through learning how to do a series of relaxing yoga poses.

I happen to be a certified Ashtanga instructor and had this attitude that you weren't really doing yoga without breaking a sweat. My body was telling me otherwise. I soon learned slow deep poses held for a long time made me feel good - like really| really good! And I found doing these poses at unconventional times like after Julian had woken up for bottle| diaper change or whatever (for the third time in the night)... were of great benefit for me. Actually| more often than not| the yoga put me right back into la-la land.

Here are some of my faves you can try out yourself:

Child's Pose extends your spine and releases your hips

Cobra helps to counter the forward-bending movements of nursing and the shlump of sheer weariness

Explore your hips a little further in seated poses like this Head-to-Knee Forward Bend

Try a poses that opens the upper chest like Locust Pose

Amazingly| Cow Face Pose can facilitate in your breast-milk letdown

Reclining Bound Angle Pose feels great and helps tones the uterus

And last but not least| Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose is good for extreme exhaustion

Here's the kicker... It turns out that our bodies/minds directly correlate our stress levels and lack of sleep with "belly fat". So if we're always stressed out| we go into a continuous fight or flight state| where our adrenal glands get maxed out and send a signal to our metabolism to store "survival" fat in our mid section.

Hence| if you can learn specific tools for "conscious relaxation" (like this type of yoga) it becomes a whole lot easier to lose fat on your lower belly. In fact if your exercise routine exclusively revolves around things like spinning + running| or if you don't exercise at all| without incorporating some conscious relaxation into your daily routine| you can actually make belly fat more difficult to burn!

My previous (pre-child) Power Yoga practice is not something I do much anymore. It's my slower| more leisurely Restorative Yoga practice as Mom which serves me well. Plus| I don't panic anymore when I'm woken up in the middle of the night because now I know what to do :)

Graydon Moffat ( is single mom + yoga teacher who specializes in teaching yoga to kids + stressed out Moms. She has a 6 week course on Yoga for the Stressed + Sleep Deprived at Roots Yoga starting later this month. Click to email her.