Finding a healthy way to unwind before bed can be tough. A lot of people try to do it by watching TV or reading a book, and those are both excellent options. But they’re not for everyone. Sometimes, choosing the wrong show or just watching a recap of the news can make you more anxious and less able to sleep. Books are easy to get sucked into, so if you choose one that’s a bit too good, you might accidentally be up until 4 a.m. finishing it! In those cases, you need an alternative, and we’ve got one for you. Yoga has some fantastic relaxation benefits. I know I’ve written about it before – but I can’t say it enough. Yoga is incredible for you, prevents you from developing unhealthy habits and sequences like this will get you comfortable and ready for bed. Check out these moves to get some ideas!
This standing pose is one of the best ways to ground yourself and start to get into a decent mindset before bed. To do so, stand on the floor with your hands by your sides. Rock gently back and forth from the balls of your feet to your heels, finding your balance, and remain there. Pretend there’s a string going from the top of your head to the ceiling and allow your head to float above your shoulders. Mountain pose isn’t the most relaxing pose, but it’s the best one to start any yoga routine. It gives you a second to bring yourself into focus, and to remember that this is the time set aside for you.
Standing Forward Bend
From mountain pose, raise your hands above your head and fall forward, bending at the hips. Let your head drop between your arms and sink down as far as you can. You should feel the stretch mostly in your hamstrings, though as you progress, you may feel it in your hips and lower back as well. You can stay here as long as you like, or come up to a flat-back position and relax back down with your breath. This move can help relieve headaches and insomnia, getting you ready for bed. Just helping alleviate headaches might be enough to let you slide more easily into sleep and give you a fresh outlook for the next day.
From standing forward bend, slide down to your knees and lean forward. Try to touch your forehead to the floor as you rest your butt on your heels. You can let your hands reach out in front of you, or you can slide them back to lie along your sides. If your forehead doesn’t reach the floor, you can also place your hands under your head for added support. If that’s uncomfortable, use a pillow!
Fire Log Pose
Fire log pose isn’t a common pose, but it’s an excellent way to open your hips. It can be a bit intense, so modify it if you need to. Slide one leg so your foot is up against the outside of your opposite hip, then stack the other leg directly on top. If it’s hard to do, start by sitting cross-legged, then pull your top leg out and place that foot on top of the other knee. Hold this pose for a minute if you can.
Seated Forward Bend
Seated forward bend is more relaxing than fire log pose, but you’ll benefit from having open hips. While sitting, stretch your legs in front of you and lean forward. Your goal is to touch your nose to your knees, but don’t force it. You don’t want to pull yourself into any poses. Just sit there and let gravity take effect as you gradually gain flexibility. Remember, increasing flexibility takes time. If you’re new to this, expect it to take at least a few weeks before you’ll be able to reach your knees with your nose.
To get into plow pose, start on your back. Lift your legs up and let them gently fall to the ground behind your head. If your legs don’t reach the floor, don’t worry. Let gravity take them as far down as you can go. Don’t push it. If your legs can reach the floor with ease, try removing your hands from your hips and clasping them together. If you want, place a folded blanket under your shoulders to relieve some of the pressure. Plow pose is a challenging pose, but it can be really beneficial. It’s great for opening up your lower back, which is where many people carry tension and stress. By opening up your back, you may find you can further open your hips, thighs and chest.
Legs up the Wall Pose
Lying on your back, put your legs up the wall. Scoot your butt as close to the wall as you can and let your hands rest far out to the sides. If you want, position a folded blanket under your hips for a better stretch. This pose is excellent for relaxation. If you want to get the full benefit, try staying here for about five minutes. Since we spend most of our day upright, reversing that can give us a boost. This pose provides similar benefits to a handstand, but without getting your heart rate up or requiring superhuman balancing skills. It doesn’t require much strength or flexibility, making it a great beginner pose.
Lie flat on your back, hands towards the ceiling and allow your feet to fall open. Starting with your toes and working up to your scalp, check in mentally with each body part and allow it to relax. This process should take a few minutes, and gives you a chance to let go of any leftover issues you had throughout the day. When you finish off a standard yoga routine with corpse pose, most of the time, the goal is not to fall asleep. Here, it’s OK to relax fully, you may actually fall asleep and that’s totally cool. Use this time to cement your relaxation and do a full-body scan to find out where you have remaining tension. You can then focus on those areas tomorrow night and try to work out the kinks. Once that’s done, allow yourself to fall into a gentle meditation. If you start to add some relaxing yoga poses into your nighttime routine, you’ll begin to associate them with sleep. It might not be instantaneous, but the combination of routine, stretching and meditation will help you fall asleep faster and let you sleep deeper.
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