It’s no secret that I love yoga! It does great things for your mind and muscles. I tend to do a daily yoga bedtime routine.
I experimented with different poses until I found my optimum destressers (is that a word? I don’t think it’s a word). To each is their own but I’ve told a few friends about my nightly bedtime routine and they’ve tried it and said they sleep like babies (some of them very loud bear like babies).
The stretching of worked muscles and ease of a tired mind come together like a harmony of well, great things. If you find some of these poses are a little too much then cut back the stretch or cut it out all together.
The idea is to relax enough to fall asleep and rest your mind enough to stay asleep. You’ll wake up refreshed too (that’s your body’s way of thanking you)!
The preparatory position is with the hands and knees on the floor, hands under the shoulders, fingers spread wide, knees under the hips and typically about seven inches (17 cm) apart, with the spine straightened and relaxed.
On a deep exhale, the hips are pushed toward the ceiling, the body forming an inverted V-shape. The back is straight with the front ribs tucked in. The legs are straight with the heels reaching to the floor.
The hands are open like starfish, keeping the forefinger and thumb pressing down on the floor/mat. The arms are straight, with the inner elbows turning towards the ceiling.
If one has the tendency to hyper extend elbows, keeping a microbend to the elbows prevents taking the weight in the joints. Turning the elbows up towards the ceiling will engage the triceps and build strength. The shoulders are wide and relaxed.
Line up the ears with the inner arms which keeps the neck lengthened.
The hands are shoulder width apart and feet remain hip-width apart. If the hamstrings are very strong or tight, the knees are bent to allow the spine to lengthen fully. The navel is drawn in towards the spine, keeping the core engaged.
The hips move up and back. Focus is on the breath while holding the asana, with deep, steady inhalation and exhalation creating a flow of energy through the body. On an exhale, the practitioner releases onto the hands and knees and rests.
In this asana, the body faces the floor in a fetal position. The knees and hips are bent with the shins on the floor.
The chest can rest either on the knees or the knees can be spread to about the width of a yoga mat, allowing the chest to go between the knees.
The head is stretched forward towards the ground – the forehead may touch the ground.
The arms may be stretched forward in front of the head or backwards towards the feet.
Cat Cow Pose
Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips, and your wrists are under your shoulders.
Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged. Take a big deep inhale.
On the exhale, round your spine up towards the ceiling, and imagine you’re pulling your belly button up towards your spine, really engaging your abs.
Tuck your chin towards your chest, and let your neck release. This is your cat-like shape.
On your inhale, arch your back, let your belly relax and go loose. Lift your head and tailbone up towards the sky — without putting any unnecessary pressure on your neck.
This is the Cow portion of the pose. Do this for several breaths.
Seated Spinal Twist Pose
Begin seated on your mat with your legs extended in front of you.
Bend your right knee and place your right heel as close to your right sit-bone as you can.
Then bend your left knee and cross your left foot over your right knee. Plant it on the floor so your left ankle is next to your right knee.
Reach your left arm behind you and place your palm on the floor. Then bend your right elbow and cross it over the outer side of your left knee.
Keep your elbow bent, or if you can, hold onto your left toes. Keep your left hand on the floor for stability, or bring your left arm around your lower back. Reach for your shirt, or if you can, hook your fingers on the top of your right thigh.
Gaze behind you and over your left shoulder.
Continue pressing your right arm into your left knee, and use each inhale to lengthen the spine and each exhale to rotate further to the left.
Do this for at least 6 breathes.
Lie flat on your back, preferably without any props or cushions. Use small pillow below your neck if absolutely required.
Close your eyes.
Keep your legs comfortable apart and let your feet and knees relax completely, toes facing to the sides.
Place your arms alongside, yet a little spread apart from your body. Leave your palms open, facing upward.
Taking your attention to different body parts one by one, slowly relax your entire body.
Begin with bringing your awareness to the right foot, move on to the right knee (as you complete one leg, move your attention on to the other leg), and so on, and slowly move upwards to your head, relaxing each part of the body.
Keep breathing slowly, gently, deeply and allow your breath to relax you more and more. The incoming breath energizes the body while the outgoing breath brings relaxation.
Drop all sense of hurry or urgency or any need to attend to anything else. Just be with the body and the breath. Surrender the whole body to the floor and let go.
After some time, about 10-20 minutes you should feel fully relaxed.