Falling asleep and staying asleep is a challenge for far too many people nowadays. Did you know that over ⅓ of Americans are sleep deprived? I know I am not alone when I say that I would love to get more sleep. Although the quantity of sleep is important, quality is also quite essential, especially since we live in a society that glorifies the fast-paced, barely-slept, overworked-is-a-personality-type reality. People wear how well or unwell rested they are like a badge of honor. So, let’s try to switch up that silly little narrative because sleep is one of the most important pillars of optimum health that we have. But… how do we get there?
Here are 5 postures I like to do before bed, just 10 minutes of your time!
These postures have loads of benefits, but specifically, they work to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which can aid in better quality of sleep! This can leave you feeling more rejuvenated and energetic for whatever the day has in store for you, and possibly will allow you to kick that 3 pm, “I need more coffee, or chocolate, or a nap, or all of it!” slump! Yoga before bed can also aid in the actual act of falling asleep more promptly, while also keeping you asleep- minimal tossing and turning and checking the clock. So roll out your mat or hop into bed- because you can do these postures anywhere, and surrender your body and mind to a practice that will set you up for a sleepFULL night.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Start in a table top position. As you sink your hips back in space, let your knees fall out wide and bring your toes to touch. Allow your hips to rest towards your heels, as you walk your arms forward. Your palms can rest on the ground beneath you- invite gravity to do the work, as your forehead rests on the ground. Focus on your breath. Options include rolling the forehead side to side, walking your finger tips to one side then the other (creating some side stretching), or letting your arms come back by your sides.
Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani)
I prefer to do this on a hard ground, but I know many who like to do it in bed- your choice! Come to a seat facing a wall and slide your bum towards the wall. Roll one vertebrae at a time down on to your back and inch yourself closer to the wall. Let your legs go straight up the wall. Options include opening the legs into a straddle position for some passive stretching or focusing on the breath with your hands on your belly.
Supine Twists (Supta Matsyendrasana 2)
I have a deep love hate with supine twists- but if you are a desk worker- this one is for you (but truly great for everyone!) Twists have so many benefits! I like to start on my back and bring myself into a tight ball- giving myself a hug. Scoot your hips to one direction and let your knees fall in the opposite direction. Allow your arms to take up space, in a T or goal post shape. Tip: play around with the positioning of your legs to find the most comfortable and sustainable twist for you.
Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
If you have yoga blocks- this is a favorite of mine to use props with! If you don’t, pillows or large books will also do! Recline onto your back, bring the palms of your feet together as your knees soften out wide. Place the prop under your upper outer thigh for extra support, or closer to your knee for less. If you feel open enough, you can experiment with no props. For even more of a calming sensation, this is a great posture to do some self massage into the hip flexors- a common place where we often carry tension!
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
“BuT iT’s JuSt LyInG DoWn?!” Yes… but also… not quite. Corpse pose is a posture of total stillness, but with that comes a surprising amount of concentration.. Aka mindfulness! Take your time getting into this posture, roll one vertebrae at a time, fidget and move until you feel as if you have found the optimum position to ensure a quiet state. My favorite meditative trick is to imagine each muscle group lighting up, starting with the muscles in my toes and feet, and working up my body. Once each muscle group has “lit up”, I mentally ask it to release any last bit of tension it might be holding on to. Toes to the head, gift yourself a bit of stillness before you sleep.
Make it a bedtime ritual, or add it into your already existing pre-bedtime routine. Find your favorite corner or space in your house, light a candle, click play on that calming instrumental playlist, or even on a guided meditation if you really want to spice up your self care life, and zone out before you conk out.