The Advantages of Bedtime Yoga
Whether you spend every day at a workstation or on your feet, your commute is a brief stroll or a lengthy drive, you did a 20-minute HIIT exercise or an hour of Pilates, your body is put through its paces on a daily basis. So, it’s crucial to give yourself some relaxation time and, naturally, ample hours of rest. Great news: This bedtime yoga routine can guide you directly from Savasana into a more peaceful slumber.
“Stretching before sleep not only calms you, it also maintains the flexibility of your muscles so that you are less likely to experience discomfort during everyday activities,” says Sarah Larson Levey, certified yoga instructor and co-founder of Y7 Studio.
In addition, performing a few soothing yoga poses before you go to bed can greatly influence and benefit the quality of sleep your body receives throughout the night, which is arguably the greatest advantage of a bedtime yoga routine. “It permits you to release some of the tension you’ve accumulated during the day so that you can prepare both your body and mind for a restful night’s sleep,” says Levey.
For improved rest, try this bedtime yoga routine devised by Levey and Kay Kay Clivio, head teacher trainer at Pure Yoga in New York City. Pro tip: To maximize the benefits of each pose, inhale and exhale through your nose. It has a soothing effect on the nervous system. (See also: 7 Bedtime Stretches That Will Help You Completely Decompress)
Targets: neck, shoulders, back, hips, and legs
A. Sit on the floor with a cushion in front of the body. Bend the right knee, bringing the sole of the right foot to the inner left thigh.
B. Raise the buttocks and extend the left leg behind the body.
Remaining focused, softly pivot forward from the hips, positioning the head on the cushion.
C. Stretch out your arms forward, with slightly bent elbows.
Hold for 8 to 10 breaths, then roll back up. Change sides and repeat.
Standing Forward Bend
Targets: spine and neck
A. Stand with your feet around 6 inches apart. Bend forward at the hips to lower yourself into a forward bend, reaching towards the ground or bending your arms and gripping opposite elbows above your head.
B. Exhale and lengthen your body down through the top of your head.
Hang and maintain this position for 15 seconds.
Targets: muscles in the upper legs, back of the thighs, and front of the thighs
A. Begin in a downward dog position, then step your right foot outside of your right hand and bend your right knee, coming into a lunge position with your right thigh parallel to the floor and your toes turned slightly outward.
B. Lower your elbows to the ground while keeping your neck and spine aligned and press your left heel away from you, keeping your hips squared. If you want a more relaxed stretch, rest your left knee on the ground.
Hold this position for 15 seconds. Then switch legs and repeat.
Legs Against the Wall
Targets: gluteal muscles and hamstrings
A. Sit facing the wall, then lie down on your back.
B. Move your buttocks as close to the wall as possible, lift your legs, and rest the back of your legs against the wall, so they are perpendicular to the ground.
C. Rest with your arms out to the sides.
Hold this position for 15 seconds.
Targets: muscles in the hips and legs
A. Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms extended by your sides, palms facing up.
B. Keeping your shoulders down, engage your abdominal muscles and press into your heels to lift your hips and back, creating a diagonal line from your shoulders to your knees.
Hold this position for 8 to 10 breaths.
Seated Forward Bend
Targets: muscles in the back of the thighs and calves
A. Sit on the floor with a straight back, legs together, and extended in front of your body.
B. Bend knees keeping them active and flex feet. Lean forward from the hips, placing forearms on the floor beside each leg.
Maintain this position for 15 seconds.
Seated Side Bend
Targets: cervical spine, shoulder muscles, dorsal muscles, and oblique muscles
A. Take a seat on a cushion with legs crossed. Rest left hand on the floor beside the left hip, with the left elbow slightly bent. Stretch the right arm by the ear.
B. Incline towards the left side, while keeping the buttocks on the floor and shoulders relaxed.
Keep this pose for 8 to 10 breaths. Then, switch sides and repeat.
Targets: spinal column, groin, and hip joints
A. Lie on your back, raise legs and bend the knees, with feet flexed towards the ceiling.
B. Hold onto the outer sides of each foot with the corresponding hand and further bend the knees towards the armpits. If possible, gently rock from left to right, providing a gentle massage to the spinal column.
Hold this pose for 15 seconds.
Targets: hip joints, gluteal muscles, and lower back muscles
A. Lie on your back with legs stretched out. Lift the right leg, bend the knee, and embrace the leg with the arms, bringing it towards the chest for 5 seconds.
B. Raise the left leg towards the ceiling and bend the left knee, with the left calf perpendicular to the floor. Then, bend the right knee outwards and place the right ankle against the left thigh. With one hand behind the left leg, gently pull the left leg towards the body.
Hold this pose for 15 seconds. Then, switch legs and repeat the sequence.
Targets: mental well-being
A. Get into bed and lie down, with legs extended and slightly apart, and arms stretched out alongside the body, palms facing downwards. Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
Hold this pose for 15 seconds or until you fall asleep.
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