VIDEO: Bedtime Yoga
Most of us are connected to our computers, smartphones, and televisions right up until the moment we close our eyes. This habit is proven to interrupt the quality of our sleep. Instead of crawling into bed at night to catch up on your favorite guilty pleasures or to pin your recipe to-dos on Pinterest, try winding down with a bedtime yoga flow.
The following sequence of poses is aimed at releasing tension in trouble spots like the hips and spine in order to slowly bring your body into a restful state. Throughout the flow, be sure to focus on your breathing to calm the mind. Bonus: It can all be done in your bed.
Sit up tall and drop your right ear towards your right shoulder to stretch the left side of your neck. Take a couple breaths here before switching to the other side.
Benefits: Tight muscles in the neck can aggravate any pain in the shoulders, arms, or upper back. By stretching the neck, you’re likely to alleviate tension in more than one spot.
Seated Side Bend
Place your right hand off to the right. Stretch your left arm up and over to the right with the palm facing down. Turn your gaze up towards the ceiling. Feel your ribs expand as you inhale, then stretch a little further as your exhale. Repeat on the left side.
Benefits: Lengthening the side body and stretching the muscles between the ribs improves breathing capacity.
Place your right hand behind you, and put your left hand on your right knee. Twist to the right. Lengthen your spine up tall on an inhale, and twist from your waist on an exhale. Keep your head and neck in line with your spine, rather than twisting it unnaturally to the right. Take several breaths, then switch sides.
Benefits: We collect a lot of tension in our spines throughout the day. Twisting is the first step towards relieving aches while also massaging the abdominal organs.
Bowing Hip Stretch
From a seated posture, place your right shin in front of your left shin. Slowly walk your hands out in front of you, moving towards a forward fold. Inhale, sending the breath to your hip. Walk your hands further forward on your exhale, maybe resting your forehead on the bed. After several breaths, return to a seated position and switch your legs to repeat on the other side.
Benefits: The hips are a tight area for everyone, whether sedentary or athletic. Sitting all day puts a lot of pressure on hips, but runners also experience hip tightness from repetitive linear motion. The intensity of this bowing hip stretch will vary based on flexibility. Folding with arms extended forward also targets the back, neck, and shoulders.
Seated Spinal Twist
Sit tall with legs extended straight forward. Take your right knee into your chest, then place your right foot on the outside of your left thigh. Place your right arm behind you, then hook your left elbow over the outside of your right knee, twisting to the right. Inhale sit tall, exhale twist from your waist. Take several breaths, then switch to the left.
Benefits: This twist gets a little deeper than the previous seated twist. Use your hooked elbow for leverage, focusing on deepening the twist on each exhale.
Knee-Knocking Pose, Lower Back Release
Lay on your back with knees bent and feet positioned under your knees. Next, heel-toe your feet out so they are wider than your hips. Knock your knees together to touch and feel a slight release in your lower back. After several breaths, separate your knees and rock them over to the right, then left. Repeat this windshield wiper motion for several cycles of breath.
Benefits: Desk job or not, odds are you spend some time sitting throughout the day. This knee-knocking pose release tension in the lower back by allowing it to lengthen and relax. Moving your knees side to side also releases tension in that area.
Supta Baddha Konasana
From a reclined position, bend your knees and bring the bottoms of your feet together to touch (like a butterfly stretch). Place your hands on your hips and send your breath there. To intensify the stretch, move feet closer to the body. Stay here for several long, slow breaths.
Benefits: Opening the hips from this reclined position allows the body to relax in what might be an uncomfortable pose for some. Supta baddha konasana also stretches the inner thighs and calms the nervous system.
Reclined Spinal Twist, Savasana/Sleep
Hug your knees into your chest. Extend your arms out like a “T” with palms facing down, then let your knees fall to the left. Turn your gaze to the right and breath here. Bring the head and knees back through center, let them fall to the right, then your gaze turns to the left. Hug your knees back into your chest, wrapping arms around your shins. Extend your legs out along your bed, taking a savasana or easing your way into a deep slumber.
Benefits: It’s common to end practice with a reclined spinal twist since it relieves tension without energizing. Not only does this posture stretch the spine and shoulders, but it also helps restore equilibrium in the nervous system. Resting in corpse pose at the end of this sequence helps the body and mind really relax. Laying this way will also increase the likeliness of falling asleep on your back—which is proven to be the best position for sleep.
Looking for something to flow to when you roll out of bed in the morning? Try this morning yoga flow, which is perfect for reducing stiffness and helping you feel energized all day. Also, try this digestive flow, which will help you de-stress and digest after a big meal.