If it gets to bedtime and you’re finding stress is still biting, you may need to take action to relax your body and mind to help you get a good night’s sleep. Yoga could be the answer to this problem.
Yoga is a form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to help boost physical and mental wellbeing.
How can yoga help you sleep?
Unlike rigorous exercise, which can affect your sleep by making you more awake through increased blood pressure and adrenaline levels, yoga can to help improve your sleep by putting you in a state of relaxation. This is done through reducing stress levels, regulating the nervous system, unwinding your mind and easing physical discomfort.
Science backs this theory up too. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that yoga improved sleep efficiency, sleep time, wake time, and the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
Here are five simple pre-bed yoga routines that you should try, with some video tutorials to keep you on the right track, all of which could help you get the perfect kip:
Routine: Corpse pose
This is one of the best yoga poses for sleep and will leave you well set for a deep slumber. Simple to execute, the corpse pose requires you to lay still on your back and is believed to aid with muscle tension, blood pressure, and clearing your head.
All you need to do is lie on your back with your legs straight and arms by your sides, placing your palms upwards and try to lay as still as possible, whilst inhaling and exhaling. This will demist the things in your mind to help get you into a state of relaxation, which will ultimately aid your sleep.
Exercise:Bound angle pose
This straightforward exercise is great for clearing your mind and easing any tension in your muscles before bedtime – what’s more, you can do it without a mat!
Begin by sitting on the floor, bringing the soles of your feet together in front of you – be mindful not to slouch! Once you’re in a comfortable position, bring your feet close to your groin then inhale while lengthening your spine and exhale bending forward from the hips. Remember to keep your back straight throughout and breathe as your muscles begin to relax.
Exercise:Legs up the wall
To start, sit sideways against a wall (if you don’t have room to do it against a wall, you can make do without) and gradually bring your legs up. Then extend your arms along your sides (keeping your palms up), close your eyes and breathe as you ease into the pose. A neat little trick to help with this one is tying a belt to your lower legs. This will keep them together allowing you to help with your technique.
Exercise: Butterfly pose
This pose provides a stretch for your inner thighs and opens your hips, whilst improving circulation to vital organs and calming your nervous system.
To perform the butterfly, start by laying on your back then press the bottoms of your feet together and let your knees fall towards the ground. If you feel this is putting strain on you, use pillows or cushions underneath your arms and knees to help ensure that you’re stretching to a level that’s comfortable with you.
Exercise:Head to knee pose
One of the more difficult relaxing yoga poses to execute, the head-to-knee pose is an ideal exercise to help ease any stress on your mind and body before you plan on getting in bed. It also helps your body by improving the flexibility in your hamstrings and strengthening your back muscles.
Simply sit on the floor, remembering not to slouch, and have your legs extended straight (you can bend your knees if your feel your spine isn’t staying straight). For this it’s one leg at a time, so start by bending your right knee and bringing your foot to the inside of your left thigh. Once you’ve done that, lean forward whilst keeping your back straight and bend forward from your hips, keeping your neck and spine straight. Place your hand either side of your left leg, breathing in and out, then repeat on the other side bending your left leg and bringing your left foot to your right thigh.
Relaxing your body and mind through yoga can be the best way to get you to sleep: it’s easy to do and doesn’t require any equipment. There’s no set time amount on how long you need to perform yoga for bedtime poses, just choose a time that’s comfortable for you.
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