Yoga may be a fantastic way to refocus during your lunch hour or to have as part of your fitness routine. However, did you realize that yoga can benefit you as much while you sleep as during your waking hours? Engaging in yoga stretches prior to bedtime can help you relax and increase muscle flexibility. It helps minimize discomfort associated with joint pain, improves breathing, calms your nervous system, and can lead to a more restful sleep. Here are a few yoga stretches to try out before you go to bed tonight.
1. Sleeping Swan – Kapotasana Ii: This pose works to relax your nervous system and open the hips. While sitting, bend your right knee in front of your body while stretching your left leg out behind. Keep your weight focused into your hips as you slowly fold yourself forward with arms outstretched above your head, gently resting on the floor. For increased comfort, place a pillow on the floor in front of you for your head. Hold for a count of 10 and slowly come back up.
2. Corpse Pose – Savasana: This pose eases tension, lowers blood pressure, and offers a sense of rejuvenation as negativity is released. Lie flat in bed (or, for those with back pain, modify with raised knees). Straighten your spine, stretching your legs out with a slight space between them, so your ankles are aligned with your hips. Stretch your arms alongside your body. During this pose, remain quiet and focus on your breathing. Hold for a count of 15 or longer.
3. Supine Spinal Twist – Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana: The Supine Spinal Twist calms the mind while stretching the back and releasing physical, mental, and emotional stress. To get into the pose, life flat on your back and lift your left knee, crossing it on the outside of the right knee. Push the left knee downward while keeping both shoulders pressed against the floor and your face looking towards the ceiling. Breathe deeply while holding the pose for a count of 10, then slowly return to your original position and switch legs. This is not a pose that should be done by anyone with a knee injury, as it could aggravate the condition.
4. Eye of the Needle – Sucirandhrasana: Also called the Reclining Figure Four and the Reclining Pigeon, this pose opens the hips while releasing tension from the lower back. Lie on your back and bend your knees. Your soles should be flat on the floor. With your feet flexed, bend your right knee, cup your heel in your hand, and gently cross your right ankle across your lower left thigh. Use your hands to slowly pull your left thigh towards your chest. You will feel the stretch in your right hip region. Hold the pose for 10 to 15 seconds. This pose can also be modified by placing the soles of your feet against a wall in the starting position.
5. Reclining Goddess Pose – Supta Baddha Konasana: Also known as the Reclining Butterfly Pose, this is a restorative pose that clears the mind while opening the hips and stretching the hip flexor muscles. Begin lying on your back with bent knees. Moves your knees out while slowly pulling the soles of your feet closer to your pelvic region and towards one another. Stretch your arms over your head or wherever they are most comfortable for you. Breath, relax, and remain in this pose for three or four minutes.
6. Child’s Pose – Balasana: This pose eases fatigue while calming the mind and alleviating stress. Begin the pose on your hands and knees and the tops of your feet against the floor. Slide your knees slightly wider than your hips while keeping your toes together. Slowly set your hips back towards your feet while your hands slide forward over your head on the floor. Rest your head on the floor (or bedding) and breathe slowly for five to 10 breaths. Slide your hands back towards your body and move back into the original position. This pose can be modified by placing a pillow between your hips and heels for increased knee comfort.
Yoga is a practice that relaxes both the mind and body while also strengthening them. It helps release pent up stress from places you may not have even realized were retaining it, while improving your breathing and peace of mind. It is due to these reasons, and more that engaging in yoga stretches promotes a better night’s sleep, which, in turn, contributes to a better quality of life. Check out Amrit’s yoga studio where our trained professionals can help you find poses that you can integrate into your nighttime routine.