Do you find it difficult to relax before going to bed? Do you need some new bedtime routines? Our guest writer, Virva, introduces you some great bedtime yoga postures which will surely make you relax.
Create a relaxing routine with bedtime yoga
How many of you tend to chill in front of Netflix or TV before going to sleep? I am not judging! I do exactly the same even though I know what the studies show on giving that much stimulation for your brain before bedtime (screen lights etc.). But what I also try to do is give my body gentle movement before laying down. My aim is to go to bed relaxed and make it easy for me to fall asleep.
What I try to do is ease into asanas. I try to find the most comfortable way to stay in the asana and guide my breathing through the part of my body that feels tense. Finding this takes time but I find that practising relaxation is – well relaxing. And when considering that we are trying to prepare our bodies for good night of sleep, if you fall asleep while doing your yoga practise (like I do) in this case that is a good side effect.
I am pretty blessed with being able to sleep almost everywhere. I know very well that this is not the case for most people and lack of sleep or difficulties with falling asleep can be frustrating and in a long term can cause damage to our health. According to studies average adult person needs 8 hours of sleep and even if one does not feel tired with just 6 hours – the long term effects will start to show in your health and wellbeing later. Sleep is one of the key parts of your health.
In my own practice I find that breathing techniques made a big difference to my sleep routines. So throughout these movements concentrate on your breathing and follow the flow of it. Once again it is essential to listen to what your body has to tell you. For example – if you have been working most of the day in front of computer, your neck and shoulder muscles might feel tense and they need gentle movement.
Easy yoga – bedtime yoga routine
The first asana is malasana or a deep squat. This pose opens and relaxes the hip area and is actually pretty natural way for a human to sit in. In case you feel stiffness in this pose you can take a block or a pile of books and sit on top of it while still engaging your muscles. While in this pose use your inner thigh muscles to push your knees apart and make room for your hips to open. Keep your chest open and back straight. To get some gentle twist to your upper body bring your other hand on your mat outside your knee and extend your other hand diagonally towards the ceiling. Remember to do the other side, too.
After you have spent some time here sit down on your mat. Wise man pose or commonly maybe recognized as sitting legs crossed is our next asana. We are going to stretch our sides here. Place your left hand on the mat and lift your right arm up. Close your eyes and inhale. With an exhale gently bend your upper body to the left side, use your left hand to support you. You are lengthening your right side in this pose. Stay here for three breaths before returning to center with inhale. Repeat the steps on your left side.
Next bring your knees together and sit on top of your legs. Gently bring your hand on the back of your head and with an exhale nod towards your collarbones. Inhale and bring your head back up. Stay neutral for one breathe and after that with your next exhale lean gently back opening your chest. Push your shoulders back softly and use your hands to keep yourself supported.
From here bring your left leg forward. Turn the bottom of your foot to face the right side of your mat and try to keep your hips straight. This pose is known as pigeon pose. I struggle with my hips here a lot! And that is ok. Just try to make sure your two hipbones in the front are facing forward and your hips are even. If the backbend here feel uncomfortable for your back, you can lay down as well. Repeat on your right leg.
Come back to the middle and bring your big toes together. Separate your knees and lay down to relax your back. This is called the child’s pose. You can bring your hands towards the edge of your mat to lengthen your back or you can relax your shoulders and keep your hands to your side (see pictures). This is sort of a first part of this sequence that I usually do on my mat. For the next part feel free to climb to your bed. For the next pose you can use a wall for assistance.
Lay on your back and lift your legs up straight. You can let them lean against a wall and even pop a pillow under your hips. Keep your arms to your sides and stay here for ten breaths. If I would have to do one pose before going to sleep, this is it. The legs-up-the-wall-pose is stress-relieving and calming pose. Spend some time here.
Bring your legs down and lay on your back. Now lift your knees to face the ceiling and your ankles close to your sitting bones. You should be able to tickle your heels with your fingers. Keep your knees and ankles lined up and with an inhale lift your hips up. Push your hips upwards and lean on your shoulders – avoid any tension around the neck. Keep your hips up for three full breathes before lowering back down and repeat for couple times.
Lay down to savasana and relax your breathe. Bring your right knee towards the chest and let it stay there for couple breathes. Grab on to the outside of your right foot and bring your knee towards your armpit. Stay here for couple breathes before repeating the steps on the left side.
Your final pose is savasana. If you feel sleepy, feel free to let go here and just fall asleep. In case you still feel too active – take your time in this pose to calm yourself. Keep your eyes closed and let your breath flow freely. Forget the practice you just did and let your body’s relaxation enter your mind, too.
// Virva Rantanen
Virva is a 25-year-old Finnish woman. She graduated from her 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training last fall. She has been doing yoga for six years. Her yoga practice can be time to relax and time when she wants to sweat and challenge her concentration. What got her hooked was the connection between body and mind that yoga highlights. See Virva´s Instagram account: @virvacious.