It’s no wonder many of us find it hard to switch off after a long, busy day. With Netflix, social media and smartphones keeping us wired right up until bedtime, the mind remains very far away from the sleepy state you need to nod off. Taking time at the end of the day to make yourself feel comfortable and ready for bedtime is essential to preparing for a good night’s sleep.
Bedtime yoga is a brilliant way to help the body and mind relax and unwind for sleep. Restorative poses alongside deep, slow breathing can slow the heart rate, calm the mind, relax the muscles and help induce sleep. Yoga teacher, Dijana, has put together a series of bedtime yoga poses below to help you drift off to the ‘Land of Nod’.
Decaf Flavoured Coffee
A milky decaf coffee is a soothing cuppa to have just before bed. Milk is rich in tryptophan which our bodies convert into serotonin – a natural hormone that makes us sleepy. When you start to fall asleep, your body temperature drops. Some say emulating this drop in temperature can help to promote sleep. Try having a warm bath or a hot drink, which will make your temperature rise and then fall.
Yoga Poses For Sleep
Bound Angle Pose
This is a wonderful grounding position. Bound Angle Pose places good stress on the connective tissues of the groin, which makes for healthier ligaments, fascia, and tendons. Sink deeper with each exhalation and relax. Connective tissues of groins thrive on steady holds. For extra care, sit on a pillow and ease out any tightness in the groins.Shoulders are the storage units of tension, stress, and emotional baggage. This seated posture leaves the individual feeling nice in the upper body. Play with the arm placement in this pose and explore different ways of releasing and softening the shoulders.
Placing your head down on the mat has an instant calming and soothing effect on the brain. The inward fold of the body, with the eyes looking back towards you sends a signal to your brain that you’re safe, and that it’s OK to rest. If you sit at a desk all day, stand for long periods of time, or are otherwise alive in the world, chances are you have some compression in your lower back. Folding over your legs immediately reverses the splaying of the tailbone that can cause lower back pain.
Cat Pulling Its Tail
This pose helps to reduce the tensions around the hips and the lower back and this is achieved if the pose is held for a longer duration. A great practice to end the day to relax the legs before going to bed. Focuses on the upper hamstrings and upper quadriceps muscles. As Cat Pulling its Tail is a deep stretch, it encourages one to surrender and connect to the Earth in a humble way. It’s also great for the internal organs like the liver, spleen, kidney and stomach.
This pose helps to hydrate the spinal disks. It lengthens, relaxes, and realigns the spine. It massages the abdominal organs and strengthens the abdominal muscles. As a result, this pose tones the waistline and also helps to remove toxins. Twists are yoga’s remedy for poor digestion. You can think of your digestive system as a wet towel. When you are actively in your twist, you are wringing out your digestive system, just as you would the wet towel. Never underestimate the power of a simple Supine Twist!
Legs Up The Wall
This is a restorative yoga posture that allows the mind and the body to relax, relieving stress and tension. Elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build-up. In addition, gravity assists the return of blood back to the heart. The pose combined with controlled breathing leads to a slowing down within your body. This exhibits itself in a lowered heart rate which elicits a relaxation response and, in turn, helps lower anxiety, stress and insomnia.
About Dijana Krnjajic
Dijana’s yoga journey started when she found her mat in a period of change eight years ago. In the influx of a breakdown, she found yoga allowed her to process, digest and work with her external and internal blocks. Many moons later she found herself in London and settled in north Hackney, working in an industry that quickly made her forget about time, values and encouraged her to focus solely on achievement as my measure of success. After realising this isn’t what she wanted, she moved out of her flat and quit her job – not knowing where she was heading or what to do. Dajana left for Croatia for a couple of weeks to switch off from the city, reconsider her values and what she wanted to focus on. It was then that she committed to sharing her yoga practice and focus on creating spaces for others to deepen theirs. Today Dajana is a full-time Yoga Teacher based in London, teaching Vinyasa, Yin Yoga.