Having trouble drifting off? Want to have more structure in your bedtime rituals? A nice nightly yoga routine might be just what the doctor ordered for you!
If you're interested in easing into yoga, this is a good place to start, as it's a gentle and relaxing yoga flow that contains only basic moves you can practice, with the purpose of sleep in mind.
Unlike cardio, yoga can be done right before bed. Cardio gets the adrenaline and heart pounding, which is conducive to tuckering you out but also gets your systems raring. On the other hand, a simple, easy yoga flow like this one, recommended by yoga guru Tara Stiles herself, can burn off a little excess energy as well as soothe you for sleep.
Plus, yoga is one of the greatest busters of stress, which can be a big reason most of us lie awake at night staring at the ceiling. Yoga helps us find our center, calms our minds and relaxes our bodies with just the right amount of exertion.
Tara suggests this be the last thing you do before closing your eyes for the night. Give it a try and see what works best for you. Maybe the meditation part is what resonates with you; try elongating the allotted time you spend on this instead of the full yoga flow. The point is to get yourself ready for rest, not work out, so keep that in mind as you give Tara Stiles’ suggested poses and stretches a whirl:
Sit up in bed comfortably, either with your legs folded or straight in front of you; whatever you can do with the most ease. Sit up and lean slightly back on your pillows or backboard. Close your eyes and rest your hands on your thighs and just breathe here for a few minutes. You can try a more serious, guided meditation like "Yogic Sleep" or just use it as a time to do nothing but breathe.
Extend both legs out straight into a savasana position. Rest here for a while. If you feel yourself drifting off, great! Your work is done and you can drift off to sleep.
Hug both knees into your chest and rock slowly side to side on your back. Let your whole back relax into your bed.
Star Shape Twist
Extend your leg that is twisted over and reach with that foot out to the diagonal. Reach with your opposite hand to the opposite diagonal. Look towards your hand. This is a really nice twist. Try the other side.
Bend Knee Lying Down Twist
Bend your knee back into your chest and twist your leg across your body. Turn your head in the opposite direction and bring your arms out to a T shape. Make sure to do the other side.
Half Happy Baby
Bend your knee again and flex your foot to face the ceiling. Grab the outside of your foot with the same arm as foot and bend your knee towards your armpit. You can also do this with both feet at the same time.
Extend your leg straight up to the ceiling. Grab behind your knee or closer to your ankle. Keep the leg straight and slowly start to bring it closer to your head on each exhale. Try the other side. Remember to stay gentle with these stretches--almost like you are half-doing them. This will help you drop any tension left in your body before bed.
Lying Down Knee to Chest
Roll back down on your back and rest your head on your pillow. Bring one knee into your chest and grab your shin to pull it closer to you. Breathe here for a few breaths. This lengthens your extended leg and loosens up your hip. Switch legs and do the other side.
You can also do a Knee Hug by hugging both knees into your chest and rocking slowly side to side on your back.
Legs Extended Forward Bend Round Back
Keep your legs extended out in front of you and round your back gently over your legs. This is a nice stretch along your spine.
Legs Extended Forward Bend Flat Back
Slowly start to straighten your legs in front of you. You can keep your knees bent slightly since we are working towards sleep here instead of the power yoga move of the day. Reach towards your feet with your knees bent and keep your back flat. Bend your knees as much as you need to keep your back flat. This is a really nice hamstring stretch.
Easy Forward Bend
Keep your seated position and gently bend forward at your hips and let your hands stretch out straight in front of you on the bed. This will feel good in your hips and your whole back.
Stay in your seated position and twist around to the back of your bed. If you have a backboard you can grab onto that to help your twist. Breathe into the twist for a few breaths and then try the other side.
Now for the piece de resistance! The best yoga position: sleep. Roll over on to your side and enjoy your night of rest.