Yoga For Bedtime

Gentle stretching calms the body and mind, and helps prepare you for a restful sleep

Photos By Lorella Zanetti

Taking a few moments to do yoga for bedtime to do some gentle stretching and deep breathing can help create a more restful night’s sleep.  Many of these postures are taken from the yin series, which works towards a deep fascial release.  When you are moving into a  yin posture, find your edge – that spot where you feel sensation but you can sustain the posture for a longer duration.  You may find that your edge shifts as your body relaxes into the pose.  Be aware to move slowly and mindfully, with intention.  Unless otherwise specified, each pose should be held for 3-6 minutes, but adjust depending on the feedback your body is giving you.

Forward Fold / Uttanasana

Benefits:

  • Stretches the hips, hamstrings and calfs
  • Keeps spine strong and flexible
  • Calms the mind
  • Relieves tension in spine, neck and back

 

Photo, Lorella Zanetti; Grooming, David Allan Jones, Brodine, Judy Inc.

How To:

Stand with your feet hip width apart, and a slight bend in your knees.  Gradually, roll forward, until you are hinged at the hips, with your torso hanging down.  Let your arms hang down, and relax your neck.  Let gravity help you out.  If you would like to add some movement, go ahead and gently bend each knee, alternating left and right.  Take deep, slow breaths and enjoy. Hold for 3-6 minutes.

Butterfly / Badhakonasana 

Benefits:

  • Stretches the inner thigh, groin and knee.
  • Help intestine and bowel movements.

How to:

Sit with your spine straight and your legs spread out.  Bend your knees and bring your feet together until the soles of the feet touch each other.  By bringing your feet closer to your body, or further away, you can adjust the stretch to target the areas that you need.  Slowly, lower your upper body forward, until you are hinged at the hips. Come gently to rest in a place where you can hold the posture. Breathe deeply and hold for 3-6 minutes.

Straddle / Upavistha Konasana 

Benefits:

  • Opens hips, groin and back of thighs
  • Provides a gentle opening of the inner knee

How to:

From a seated position (you can prop your hips up on a rolled yoga mat or low bolster), spread your legs until they are as wide as possible.  Slowly, lower your upper body down.  Rest your arms on the floor and let your head hang down.  Practice slow and gentle breathing and hold for 3-6 minutes.

Half Butterfly 

Benefits:

  • stretches the lower back without requiring loose hamstrings
  • stimulates internal organs

How to:

From a seated position, extend the right leg out to the side, and bend the left leg in.  Bring the sole of your left foot up to the inner thigh.  Your two legs should form a 90degree angle.  Slowly walk your hands out on either side of your right leg, and lower your upper body down.  Rest, and breathe normally. Slowly roll up, pushing the floor away with your hands. Repeat on other side. Hold for 3-6 minutes.

Bridge / Set Bandha Sarvangasana 

Benefits

  • opens your thoracic spin
  • lengthens hip flexors
  • strengthens legs
  • opens shoulders and chest

How to:

Start by lying on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are planted firmly on the floor, hip width apart.  Keep your arms down by your side, palms facing down. Press your feet into the floor, take a deep breath, and lift your hips up, rolling your spine off the floor.  Gently press your knees towards one another to keep the knees spaced hip width apart.  Press your arms into the floor, and engage your legs and buttocks to lift the hips higher.  Hold for 5-10 breaths, and slowly lower down, rolling the spine, vertebrae by vertebrae.

Legs up the Wall – Viparita Karani 

Benefits

  • Lowers stress and promotes relaxation
  • Facilitates circulation and drainage
  • Returns blood to the heard
  • Stretches hamstrings and lower back
  • Releases lower back tension

How to:

Start by sitting beside the wall, and move your hips as close to the wall as possible.  Start walking your feet up the wall until your body is in an L shaped position.  Make any adjustments you need to ensure comfort and relaxation.  Hold for 3-5 minutes.

Bananasana 

Benefits:

  • whole side of body stretch
  • releases the IT band to top of rib cage
  • stretches obliques and intercostal muscles

How to:

Lie on your back with your legs tougher and straight on the floor.  Reach your arms over your head and grab the opposite elbow with each hand.  Slowly move your upper body to the left, creating a sideways arc through your spine.  Keep your buttocks on the ground, and move your legs to the left. For added stretch, you can cross the right foot over the left foot.  Be aware of your hips, and ensure both hips stay firmly planted on the floor.  You should feel a deep stretch down the right side of your body.  Hold for 3-6 minutes.  Repeat on other side.

Reclined Spine Twist / Supta Jathara Parivartanasana 

Benefits:

  • stretches back and spine
  • stimulates kidneys, abdominal organs, bladder and intestines
  • releases stress

How to:

From Savasana, bend both knees and place your feet on the ground.  Open both arms out to the side, palms facing up.  Slowly lower your knees to the left, while simultaneously shifting your hips to the right. For an additional stretch, you can extend your right leg out over top of the left.  Hold for 3-6 minutes, and repeat on the other side.

DISCLAIMER:

All topics covered are provide for informational purposes only.  It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.  The contents should not be seen as health, nutrition, fitness, or medical advice.  Please consult with a medical professional before attempting any of the postures listed on the site (or this article). Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on or accessed through this website.