These days, yoga is often regarded as a core-strengthening sweat session – but it doesn’t have to be. There are many different styles of yoga, one being restorative or “yin” yoga, which includes postures to help the body settle down, so you can reach a place of equilibrium and rest.
The following yin poses can be a wonderful addition to your bedtime ritual, helping you to unwind from a long day, and prepare your nervous system for a successful night of sleep. In the past, I have worked with clients suffering from insomnia and they have had wonderful results when they do even just a few of these positions. It’s not unusual for them to fall asleep right in the middle of this routine.
1. Supported Forward Fold
Sit on your bed with your legs extended out straight. If you’d like, tuck a pillow under your knees for support. Then take a pillow (or two or three — whatever feels best) and position it lengthwise down your legs, as shown below. Allow your body to GENTLY fold forward. Ease yourself into the pose, letting your hands fall wherever they do naturally. Grab your toes only if you can and want to.
Rest the full weight of your head on the pillow. Or cross your arms on top of the pillow and rest your head on your arms. Do what feels good. Allow your body to melt into the forward fold. You will be shocked how much muscle tension is released as you relax deeper into the position. Hold for at least 10 breaths, or as long as you’d like.
2. Supported Fish Pose
Lie back on a pillow positioned horizontally under the middle of your back. The top of the pillow should be in line with the bottom of your shoulder blades. Knees can be bent, or legs can extend out straight. Allow your head to fall back and your throat to open. Allow your shoulders to fall back and your chest to open.
Your breathing may feel a bit constricted here. Don’t fight it — focus on opening up the throat. Let your upper shoulders and head sink into the bed. Relax fully into this position for 5 to 10 breaths.
3. Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Start lying back on your bed. Bend your knees toward your chest, and bring your heels together. Gently let your knees open out to each side. Let your arms fall naturally, or bring one hand to your heart and the other to your belly to feel your breath go in and out.
If you’d like more support, place pillows under your knees. You might also place a pillow under your lower back for comfort. Take a little time to get things just right, then close your eyes and relax for at least 10 breaths.
4. Legs Up the Bed
Turn yourself toward your headboard or the wall behind your bed, and extend your feet up toward the ceiling. A pillow can be placed under your back/glutes for additional support. Make sure your glutes are pressed right up against the headboard or wall.
Let your arms fall comfortably to each side, or back above your head. Feel your hips and back sink into the bed, as you take at least 10 deep breaths.
5. Supine Twist
Start by lying flat on your back. Breathe. On an exhale, bend your knees to your chest and then let them fall gently to the right side of your body until they’re resting comfortably on the bed. Your left arm can extend out to the opposite side, as shown below. If it’s comfortable for you, turn your head to the left as well. Relax into this position for 5-10 breaths, then switch to the other side.
I hope you’ll take these poses to bed with you tonight, and try at least one or two. We live in a sensory-overloaded society, rarely taking a break from our technology to sit or lie for a few moments, and be at peace. Stopping to settle the mind and body can make all the difference at bedtime — or at any other time.
Kat Pummill is a yoga instructor and wellness blogger. Visit her virtual home at www.fitgirlwellness.com.