Five Yoga Positions To Calm The Mind Before Bedtime
If you want an easy way to unwind after a long day, take ten minutes before you go to bed and try these five simple poses to connect your mind and body. Completely zone out from the rest of the world and transport yourself to a more tranquil headspace before bedtime.
Start with the breath...
We hold most of our stress in our shoulders and back throughout the day - time to let that out.
- Wherever you are, sit down on your mat, floor or rug and cross your legs, so they are just out in front of your body (a position known as ‘easy cross’ or sukhasana). Use a pillow and place it underneath your bottom if it makes it more comfortable or if you have any lower back issues.
- Take a deep breath in and lengthen your spine. Roll your shoulders back and create space in-between your ears and shoulders. Take your hands and place them on top of your knees, turn your palms to face upwards. Close your eyes, connect with yourself and focus on your breath. To begin take a long deep breath through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat twice to begin to release tension from your body.
- Now switch you breathing to equal inhalations and exhalations through the nose using a count of four. This is called the 'wave' breath and is used to help calm your mind down.
1) Stretch it up and out
Most of our emotional tension is held in our back, hips and shoulders. A seated stretch will help to release this.
- Inhale and reach both arms up, palms facing each other, exhale and lean forward, to bring your fingertips to the floor. Follow your fingertips with your eyes.
- Relax your face and shoulders. Feel the stretch across the scapula and down your back. Hold for five inhalations and exhalations. Relax your face and shoulders.
2) Seated side stretch
- Inhale to come up to seated again. Then inhale and stretch arms up, as you exhale lean to the left side, bringing the left palm to the floor and stretching the right arm up and over. Palm faces down, keep the arm long. This is a side stretch which helps to open up the side body, stretches out the abdominal muscles and the arms.
- Keep looking forward.
- Hold for five breaths, breathing into the spaces in your body. Return right hand to the mat and repeat on the other side.
3) Cat Cow
This pose helps to keep the spine flexible and massages digestive organs - keeping them healthy and happy!
- Come into a “tabletop” position, hands underneath the shoulders, on all fours with palms flat on the mat, knees aligned underneath with the hip bones.
Toes and shins are relaxed and flat on the mat.
- Look down at your mat and close your eyes to really take your focus inward for a moment. Inhale and move your head out and upwards, curve your spine upwards to create a 'c' shape so it dips in the middle and your tailbone tilts upwards. This is your “Cow”.
- Exhale and round your back, press your palms into the mat to curve your spine and round it, and create space between the shoulders. This is your “Cat”. Inhale and repeat for five to six times.
4) Child's pose (Balasana)
- From a table top position, position your knees slightly wider than your shoulders and move your feet together at the back to create 'v' shape in-between your knees and feet.
- Take a deep breath in and look forward, as you exhale slide your bottom back towards your heels as you slide your hands away and begin to bring your forehead to the mat (you can rest it on a pillow if it's more comfortable). Relax your shoulders and arms.
- This restorative pose helps to release pockets of tension from the chest, back and shoulders and also helps to calm the chatter in the mind. Take your focus inward and to your breath. Stay here for five five to ten breaths.
5) Reclined bound angle pose
It can take a bit of getting used to, but as the hips are an area where we also hold lots of emotional tension, it's a good area to work on.
- Relax, sit on the mat with knees together and feet flat on the mat.
- Take your knees out to the side, externally rotating your hips and place the soles of your feet together. Wiggle your bottom further away from your feet, so you have a diamond shape in-between your legs and lower your body to the floor. Turn the palms to face upwards.
- Close the eyes, withdraw your senses, focus only on the breath. Deepen your inhalations and exhalations, stay here for five to ten breaths, feel the rise and fall of the breath, and let everything else float away...then pull the knees together and “windscreen wipe” your knees from left to right a few times (a motion like the windscreen wipers on a car).
- Relax the face, outstretch the legs, the arms and close the eyes to take a moment in shavasana (corpse pose) just focusing on the breath for a minute at least, until you are ready to open your eyes and go off to bed. Sweet dreams!
Remember to consult a doctor before performing any of these poses if you have any injuries, are pregnant, or have back, knee or hip issues.
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