Do you ever come home from a long day of work and find it challenging to relax? Perhaps you find yourself occasionally having staring contests with the ceiling while lying in bed because you have a long list of tasks to complete the next morning? If so, incorporating a few restorative yoga poses prior to bedtime may be just what you need to help de-stress your body and relax your mind.
Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on breath and awareness, while physically lengthening the body. Restorative yoga is a gentler style of yoga and focuses on muscle relaxation and a steady-state breath. In addition, it engages the parasympathetic nervous system to decrease stress, muscle tension and fatigue. Below are some gentle exercises to explore just before bed!
While in these poses, hold for one or two minutes, or until the need to switch positions.
Head to Knee Pose
Sit on the ground with legs extended. For back support, sit upright with a wall or side of a couch for back support. Place your right foot toward your left inner thigh. Inhale, lift the arms overhead and exhale lengthen the spine forward. The hands will touch either the left thigh, shin or foot. Allow the body to relax before switching to the other side.
Thread the Needle Pose
Slowly, place the body onto all fours. Sweep your left arm between the hip and right arm. Place the triceps, shoulder and head on the ground. For the restorative position, keep your right hand on the ground. Once complete, come back to center and repeat on the opposite side.
Supine Spinal Twist
Lie on the ground with feet on the floor. Place your hands at shoulder height. Slowly lower your knees to the right. You can keep your head facing the ceiling, or for a deeper neck stretch look toward your left hand. Hold the position and when you are ready to switch, slowly switch sides.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Slowly, sit on the floor and place two pillows by your legs. Lie on the floor and slowly lets your legs open to the side and rest on the pillow. Allow your arms to rest by the side, and close your eyes as you experience the comfort of this pose.
Eye of the Needle Pose
Lie on the floor and cross your right leg over the left thigh. For a deeper stretch, lift your left leg toward a 90 degree angle. The hands will interlock behind the left hamstring. When ready, slowly release and complete on the opposite side.
Legs up the Wall Pose
Sit next to the wall with your right hip and should facing the wall. Slowly, lie back and start to walk the feet up the wall. Readjust your hips to be closer toward the wall. Find a comfortable position for your arms at or below shoulder height. Allow yourself to relax in the posture. To come out of the pose, slowly back the hips away from the wall and bend your knees. Roll toward your right to place the whole body on the floor, similar to the “fetal” position. When ready, lift yourself into a comfortable seated posture.