Who doesn't wish they could squeeze in a few more zzz's? Sleep is incredibly important for our wellbeing, proper immune function and lowering our stress levels. Although we might be aware of the health benefits of a good night’s sleep, sometimes it can be challenging to transition from the busyness of everyday life into a restful slumber. If you could use a bit of help winding down for bedtime, check out the restorative yoga sequence below. Taking 20 minutes before bed to slow down and unwind could be your ticket to snoozeville.
For this practice you will need:
2 blocks or firm pillows, some wall space, a blanket (optional), and an eye pillow (also optional)
Short and sweet meditation
Begin in a crossed leg seated position, back facing the wall. You might want to sit on your block or blanket for additional support. You can also use the wall for back support if this is helpful. Close your eyes and draw your attention to your breath. Before you change your breath in any way, notice the natural rhythm of your breath. Take note of where the breath wants to live in the body and the quality of the breath. Be aware, there is no right answer to these questions. This is not about judgement but rather building awareness. Take this time to check in how you are feeling at the beginning of your practice.
After a minute or two gradually begin to deepen your breathing and begin:
3-part breath (dirga swasam pranayama)
Divide the inhale into 3 equal parts, breathing into the belly, the ribs, and the chest. If it is helpful, you can use your hands to guide your inhale as you move the breath up the torso. Allow the breath to be continuous as you initiate your inhale from the low belly, lift the breath into the rib cage/diaphragm, and then the chest. Once you reach the top of your inhale, take a long, continuous exhale, following the same path in reverse. Repeat 5-10 rounds. You may slowly start to lengthen the breath as you feel ready.
*as with all pranayama (breathing exercises), stop if you become dizzy or lightheaded
Legs up the Wall:
Snuggle one hip next to the wall, knees facing up toward the ceiling
Lay on your back as you simultaneously swing both legs up the wall. You can place your hands behind you to help this action.
Cover your eyes with an eye pillow.
Take long deep breaths into the belly. Enjoy this pose for 5-10 minutes
*If the legs fall asleep, you can either come out of the pose or hug the knees into the chest for a few breaths and re-stretch the legs when you are ready.
*If the hamstrings are tight, the knees can stay a little bent in this pose.
Bend the knees into the chest
Rock the knees over to the left with your feet gently pressing into the wall
Stretch your arms out on the floor, in line with your shoulders, chin turned towards your right shoulder
Optionally place your left hand on top of your right thigh to gently encourage the leg toward the floor, thus deepening your twist.
Breath deeply, finding a smoothed out version of that same 3-part-breath with which we started practice. Hold 10 breaths, then switch sides
Supta Baddha Konasana
Lie on down on your back with an optional low folded blanket under your head.
Bring the soles of your feet to touch, open your knees to the sides, laying the thighs on either your blocks or firm pillows.
Gently place an eye pillow over your eyes and a blanket over the belly. A blanket placed on the abdomen adds a sense of grounding, which is very helpful as you ease your way towards dreamland.
Enjoy this pose for 10 minutes.
When you are ready to finish your practice, draw your knees together and rock side to side a few times. Roll to one side to press yourself up to sit.
Take a few breaths in a seated position, take note of how you feel. Then head to bed for some seriously sweet dreams!