Bedtime Yoga Stretches For A Good Night's Rest

by Trina Remedios

Some say, "Unwind with a glass of wine." We say, yoga has the same relaxing effect minus the nasty hangover, dehydration, and tummy troubles. Who needs alcohol or bedtime TV to induce some shut-eye when the best thing you can do for yourself is simply stretch and roll over?

Many studies show that yoga can help you de-stress, relieve depression, ease anxiety and reduce insomnia, all things that keep you up at night. Hit the reboot button  and wake up fresher than ever by getting that much-important shut-eye with bedtime yoga.  

Get Your Fix
If you're having trouble sleeping then channel your inner yogi at bedtime; just try and make sure you've eaten your food more than two hours prior to the activity. Here are the changes you can expect to see within the first week itself:

  • Lower stress levels
  • Fewer cramps, aches, and pulls as bedtime yoga releases the tension from the muscles
  • Improved circulation which will lend your skin that blushing glow
  • Increased flow of oxygen which is great for bodily functions; this means, no tummy troubles, headaches, colds, and the likes.
  • A limber body that's raring to go the next morning
In a study published by the JAMA Internal Medicine, mindful meditation has been cited as the best way to improve sleep or relieve sleep disturbance. This takes care of the mind and the body. Here's a little routine you can do in bed; you don't even have to get on the floor and grab a yoga mat.
Happy Baby Pose, Or Ananda Balasana: It releases the tension and stiffness in your hips and lower back.
Step 1: You can begin by first lying on your back. While breathing deeply, fold your knees and bring them close to press them up into your belly.
Step 2: Take a deep breath, and with your hands hold onto the outside of your feet. If you find it difficult to hold your feet with your hands, you could make use of a belt or a scarf that goes over each instep. Bring your knees to widen more than your torso and let them be pushed towards your underarms.
Step 3: Let each ankle be placed above each knee, so that your shins make a right angle to the ground. Through both your heels, without using too much effort, flex and let your feet be thrust into your hands (or belt or scarf). Let your hands get pulled down so that a resistance is created.
Step 4: Your thighs should be brought in towards your body, and your tail bone should be pushed down towards the mat as your spine is stretched. Your pelvis should be released towards the mat and your skull’s base should be stretched away from the neck. Make sure that at all times that your hips do not come off the mat. To ensure this, you could let your lower back and tail bone press into the mat.
Step 5: This pose can be held for 30–60 seconds. To get out of the pose, you should breathe out, release your feet and place them on the mat. Once you complete the happy baby pose you can relax for a few breaths.
Forward Bend Pose, Or Paschimottanasana: It relaxes your mind and body, and strengthens and lengthens the spine.
Step 1: Start out sitting in the Staff pose/Dandasana (seated with your legs extended straight out, hands placed in line with your hips).
Step 2: Inhale, raise your arms and gaze up at the sky
Step 3: Exhale, bend forward and hold on to the sides of your feet or your big toes with your thumb, index finger, and middle finger. Advanced practitioners can clasp their wrist with their hand and hook it over their feet.
Step 4: Now take a deep inhale, lift your head up, chest open, and stretch your spine upwards.
Step 5: Exhale, bend forward deeply, extending your chest further forward towards your knees, and torso over your legs. Be sure to keep your feet flexed.
Step 6: Gaze at your nose or toes and hold for a minimum of 5 breaths.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose, Or Supta Baddha Konasana: It loosens the hips and relieves muscular pain.
Step 1: Sit in Sukhasana (a simple cross-legged position).
Step 2: Stretch out both legs in front of you.
Step 3: Bend your legs at the knee and bring your feet towards your body. The knees should be pointed outwards.
Step 4: Join your soles with toes and heels close together.
Step 5: Now maintaining this posture lie down backwards.
Step 6: Keep your hands stretched out on either side.
Step 7: Stay in the asana for a long as you are comfortable.
Legs Up The Wall Pose, Or Viparita Karani: This is a restorative posture that relaxes and rejuvenates the mind and body.
Step 1: Lie down on your right side against the wall, bringing your knees into your chest.
Step 2: Place your right shoulder and hips in line with your buttocks touching the wall or headboard of the bed. 
Step 3: After a deep exhale, roll on to your back.
Step 5: Keep your spine erect.
Step 6: Now, slowly walk your feet up the wall while keeping your legs together.
Step 7: Spread your arms out by your sides.
Step 8: Calm your breath and relax anywhere from 5-20 minutes depending on your comfort level.
Step 9: To exit, gently come out of the opposite the same way you went in.

Corpse Pose, Or Shavasana: It is a relaxing pose that regulates rapid heart rate and stabilizes your breathing.
Step 1: Lie down on your back.
Step 2: Keep your heels together and allow your feet to fall flat open.
Step 3: Arms by your sides, your palms should be facing up towards the ceiling.
Step 4: Close your eyes and relax, shutting off from the world.
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