Taking a few extra minutes before bed to practice some basic yoga poses will ease your mind and body into a more restful state. I recently spoke with Iyengar-certified yoga instructor Deborah Baker of Park Hill Yoga in Denver, CO, who shared the following advice for soothing bedtime yoga poses.
The benefits of yoga at bedtime are different from those during the day. When you prepare for sleep, you want your body relaxed and your mind at ease. The poses you incorporate at night are therefore extremely passive and don’t force your body into movements that elevate your heart rate and get your blood pumping.
Start by relaxing, or “quieting the nervous system,” as Deborah put it. Don’t force your breath into a certain pace. “You are creating space for breath,” Deborah explained. “Not necessarily deep breathing; it’s breathing where the body doesn’t have to put forth any effort.” The focus here isn’t in controlling your respiration, or even paying attention to it. It is allowing your lungs to do whatever feels natural.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
Once you’re relaxed, try this simple pose. Start by sitting next to a wall, with your left side touching it. Slowly move yourself around so that you back and head are on the floor, and your legs are reaching up the wall. It may take some wiggling to get your body and legs at a 90 degree angle from each other. This pose can help ease tired and cramped leg and foot muscles after a long day.
If you’re uncomfortable in this position, back up a bit and just rest your legs so that they’re merely leaning against the wall’s surface. You can also put a blanket under your lower back for support.
Diamond Leg Pose
Here, you’ll be seated on the floor with your legs bent so that the soles of your feet are touching. With your hands placed on your feet, lean your head toward your feet as far as is comfortable. You’ll feel a slight pulling in the muscles, but this pose is all about calming the body.
In a seated position, put your legs straight out in front of you. Similar to a toe touch stretch, this pose loosens your muscles, but should also encourage relaxation. Reach your arms up to the ceiling and extend forward, being careful not to bend your lower back. The important thing to remember is to keep your pelvis neutral. It can help to have something in front of you at eye level to reach toward—like a chair or your bed.
Always remember that when practicing bedtime yoga poses, the best state is a natural state. Forcing your body into something strenuous or uncomfortable hinders the mental and physical tranquility that specialists like Deborah embrace regularly. So, allow your thoughts to wander, and the worries of the day to set with the sun.
If you want to learn more, pursue a class at a local yoga studio. Instructors will be able to give you individual attention and advice about what’s best for your body.
What do you do to relaxes after a long day? Tell us in the comments.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons