Lately I’ve had an insane amount of work on my hands, which is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve got my ‘big kid’ job and now five (seriously five!! So excited!) yoga classes I’m teaching, and my little space on the internet here that you just happen to be reading! Each day in my planner is ridiculously multicolored and I even have a note on my to-do list each day: GO TO SLEEP. Which, quite frankly, is easier said than done as I’m the kind of person that when I finally settle in under the covers my mind wants to do everything but sleep.
I’ve been attempting to get off my computer at least 30 minutes before I try to sleep and have been making quite a few pots of my DIY Sleepytime Tea, but I needed something physical to settle my body before I crawled into bed. So, I brought my (yoga) work home with me and started practicing restorative yoga poses before bed. Sweet dreams? Yes, please!
If you’re new to yoga or need an alignment refresher pop over to my Five Foundational Yoga Poses post, as each pose is taught from those basics!
This pose is a life changer. With the legs uplifted it helps the blood flow back to the heart, producing a calming effect and is a passive stretch for the hamstrings and can help ease tension in your back. Simply scoot your hips next to a wall or other stable vertical surface (a tree comes to mind!) and place your legs against the wall. Adjust the position of your hips so a place of comfort, and stay here from five to ten minutes. You can always place a blanket under your hips for a bit of cushion if you’re practicing on a hard floor!
Simple but effective a seated forward fold helps ease tension and facilitate release in your hips where we so often carry the bulk of our stress. Start in Staff Pose (Dandasana) and allow yourself to ground your hips down. Inhale to create length in your torso and raise your hands above your head and then exhale and hinge forward at your hips, melting your head and heart towards your legs. Stop where it feels comfortable. Don’t feel like you need to have straight legs if it is uncomfortable, even with knees bent, this act of forwarding into yourself releases tension and stress, readying your body for rest.
This pose requires quite a bit of flexibility if it is done flat on the floor. So if flexibility is an issue, feel free to lay back onto a bolster or pillows for support! Start by kneeling with your shins flat on the floor and your body upright creating an L-shape with your thighs perpendicular to the floor. Shift your feet so that they are wider than your hips then sit back onto the floor (or a pillow) between your feet. Slowly lower back so that your torso is flat on the floor (or the pillow) extend your arms and breathe deeply.
Child’s Pose is a restful pose, sequenced in between vigorous asana flows, at the beginning of class, or as part of a cool down. There is something so incredibly calming about folding into ourselves, hugging our body, and just being in the little womb like state of safety. Start by kneeling, big toes touching then sit back onto your feet. You can keep your legs underneath you or keeping your big toes touching widen your thighs to about hip’s distance apart. Inhale to create length and nestle your body in between your legs. You can outstretch your arms in front of you, let them float back to rest beside your side bodies or for a wonderful stress relieving shoulder opener clasp them behind your back and let your hands drift off your back.
Plow pose is an advanced yoga asana. Please do not attempt if a stable shoulder stand is in your practice. From a supported shoulder stand position hinge at your hips so that your legs drift, controlled, over your head toes reaching for the floor. Maintain engagement in your core and legs, breathing deeply as to not collapse your torso. Your shoulders should be flat and the floor and you should feel no neck pain.
Always remember that meditation is also a wonderful yogic tool to help calm the body, and is incredibly helpful even for a few minutes at a time. Do you have a bedtime ritual that helps you to fall asleep? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more yoga? Check out my foundational poses as well as poses for runners, office workers, hip opening, stress relief, winter athletes, and detox! And make sure to pop my my incredible photographer’s website: Alpen Glow Photography