Your pre-bedtime yoga routine
Having trouble sleeping? You’re not alone—and it could be costing you more than just a restless night and sleepy day. According to recent research, people with insomnia are much more likely to experience associated health problems such as anxiety, depression, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.
But don’t despair—a good night’s sleep really is within reach. EspecialOne often-recommended treatment is to establish a relaxing bedtime routine (and no, a nightcap with Netflix doesn’t count). A good place to start? A pre-bedtime yoga for sleep practice.
“Yoga gets you in touch with the breath,” says Toronto yoga instructor Darcie Clark, who consulted on and modeled for the following pose sequence. “When you slow down and stay in a pose you can feel different areas of the body that are tense and holding on from your day and gradually let that go as you sit and breathe through the pose.” And stretching in general has a calming effect, says Nikos Apostolopoulos, director of the Microstretching Clinic in Vancouver, making bedtime the best time for it.
Ready to begin? Ideally, says Clark, do each pose in the sequence for one to five minutes, holding each position gently without strain or pain. Can’t manage the full sequence? Pick your favourites and build them into your routine as you can—even in bed, if that works for you.
And remember: Always listen to your body, don’t push yourself past your comfort zone and don’t do anything that hurts. Of course, with any move you have not done before, ease yourself into the practice and only go as deep with the stretch as you can comfortably handle. Speak to a yoga teacher for further modifications to these poses that will work with your body.
Did you know your pillow can have a huge effect on your sleep? Here’s how to choose the best one for you.
Janu Sirsasana (head-to-knee pose)
• Sit on the floor without slouching, legs extended straight in front of you and knees bent if necessary to keep the spine from rounding.
• Bend the right knee and open the hip, bringing the sole of the right foot into the inner left thigh and the right knee toward the ground. If it doesn’t reach, support the right knee with a cushion.
• Inhale and lengthen the spine.
• Exhale as you bend forward from the hips over the left leg, keeping the spine and neck long, and place the hands on either side of the left leg. Gaze at the big toe of the left foot as you focus on the breath moving in and out.
• Repeat on the other side.
Tip: Those with tight hamstrings will find all forward bends easier with a folded blanket or cushion under the sitting bones.
Finding your muscles are stiff? Try this easy stretching routine for flexibility.