During the first month of the new year I have been spending a lot of time reflecting on my daily rituals. One of my New Year’s resolutions was to bring my yoga into my daily life more. One of the things I have noticed is that I almost never practice yoga in the evening. I would get home from work, almost always with the intention of doing some sort of practice, and simply sit in my bed with my computer or my phone until it was time to go to sleep. This means that I was basically looking at a screen from when I opened my eyes in the morning to when I closed my eyes at night. This has left me feeling tired during the day because I am not getting the most restful sleep. Instead of just practicing once a day I am trying to practice throughout the day, whether that is physical poses, breath work, or short meditations. The biggest time I am working on currently is in the evening.
The benefits of putting away our electronics and spending some quiet time before bed without a screen are wonderful. Below are some benefits of doing yoga in the evening and some simple poses for relaxation.
Coming to the mat, or doing a short meditation, before bed is a great way to let go of the day (1). We all have long to-do lists that we might not have completed, stress from work that is sitting on our minds, families to take care of, and much more each day. Taking a few minutes to breathe and move through some poses can help take the weight of these things off our minds right before we fall asleep. In addition, moving through the different poses mindfully helps slow us down. I definitely come home feeling frantic from work in a fast-paced environment. Taking a few minutes to move through different poses slows our minds down before getting into bed. Finally, practicing before bed quiets our senses (2) and brings our focus inward to prepare for a good night’s sleep.
Here are a few poses you can do to help quiet yourself down and prepare to sleep.
Child’s Pose (1). Sit on your heels with your knees either together or spread wide on the mat. Bend forward at your hips and bring your forehead to rest on the ground. Stretch your arms out in front of you for an extended child’s pose or rest them along your sides for the traditional version of the pose.
Seated forward bend (3). Come to sit on your sits bones. Bend at your hips and fold forward with a straight back. Grab your shins, ankles, or toes; whatever is available to you. Breathe deeply into the opening in your back and down through your legs.
Seated head to knee pose (4). Send one leg out at a 45 degree angle and tuck the other leg in so the sole of your foot is on the opposite thigh. Inhale your arms overhead and exhale as you twist toward your extended leg. Fold forward at your hips and bring your forehead to your knee. Bend your knee however much you need to make contact with your knee. Breathe deeply and repeat on the other side.
Spinal twist (3). Come to your back and pulling one knee in draw it across your body until it touches the floor. Extend your arms out in a T. Breathe deeply and repeat on the other side.
Legs up the wall (2). Come to a wall or another flat surface so your legs are stretched up the flat surface and your bottom is pressed against the surface. Rest your arms on the ground at your sides. Stay here for at least a few minutes.
What is your favorite to unwind from a long day and prepare for sleep?
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