A bedtime routine can train the mind that it’s time to slow down and prepare for rest. When our kids were young it was a bath, reading a book, and bed. As adults with deadlines and full lives, we forget the necessary time to unplug and create a routine for ourselves. Taking a warm bath with magnesium infused Epsom Salts, or diffusing lavender in the bedroom are ways to send the mind messages that it’s time to let go of the day. Reading a book is a great choice and works for many, and so is yoga. Yoga poses and focused breath in bed can relieve body aches from the day’s routine patterns of movement and reduce stress by calming the mind.
Many feel like yoga isn’t possible because they’re “inflexible” but it’s said it is only the inflexible mind that keeps someone from yoga. Yoga can help you trigger a relaxation response and is associated with reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. Plus when yoga is practiced in bed or on the floor the body is fully supported by the surface below and can relax into the poses without the need to balance or exert an opposing muscle to stabilize.
When bedtime yoga is combined with focus on the breath, heartbeat or even the sensations in your big toe additional calming benefits are experienced. Brain patterns and heart rate slow plus blood pressure is lowered and an increased sense of well-being is experienced.
For additional Bedtime and Sleep Tips check out www.Tuck.com. This site has numerous articles on a variety of topics like “Health Benefits of Napping” & “How to Prevent Jet Lag” plus a multitude of resources and reviews for everything from types of mattresses for back pain to how to buy one online.
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclined Bound Angle)
Benefits – opens groin, hips, thigh
Your bedtime yoga practice might begin and end with just this one pose as mine often does. Simply bring the soles of your feet together (it doesn’t matter how close they are to your torso) and then place a hand on your belly and one on your heart. Bring your mind’s attention to the movement of the breath into your palms and how the muscles of respiration expand and contract with each breath in and out. If this bothers your knees place a pillow under each thigh for support.
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclined Hand to Foot)
Benefits – opens hips, hamstring, groin, calf and low back
Lie on bed with legs extended and pull your right knee into your chest and hold to begin to release the low back and hip. Breathe for 10 breaths or longer. If you would like to lengthen the hamstring hold the back of the thigh, calf or foot and extend the foot towards the ceiling. Hold again and breathe 10 or more breaths. For additional hamstring lengthening and hip opening extend the straight leg to the right. You can also use a strap or bathrobe sash around the foot to aid extension of the leg. When complete pull the right knee back into the chest and move to the left side.
Benefits – opens hips, thighs and low back
Lie on bed with legs extended and pull right knee into your chest. Depending on your hip and low back flexibility place your foot on the calf or thigh or groin of the left leg. If this causes discomfort in the right knee bring the foot to the calf and place a pillow under the bent leg.
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
Benefits – opens hamstrings and low back plus relieves tired legs and feet
This is another pose that might be all you need to do. It is said to have many therapeutic benefits for insomnia, anxiety, sadness, headaches, varicose veins, menstrual cramps and menopause.
Sit with one hip next to the wall, pivot your bottom to the wall and swing legs up. Your sitting bones can be next to the wall or not depending on your hamstring flexibility. You can also bend your knees and bring the soles of the feet together in Baddha Konasana up the wall (photo #1).