Yoga for Sleep: 5 Poses and Mantras to Practice Before Bed
13th of November marks World Kindness Day; we all need more love and care in our lives, but where do we begin? We start with being kind towards ourselves! Here our special guest Blogger, Yoga Teacher and Life Coach Mariel of mindfulsonder.com introduces a bedtime ritual that will not only set you up for a good night sleep, but also teach you to cultivate self-love, care and kindness.
Life often feels like running on a treadmill. We add more and more speed in the hopes of getting somewhere, only to end up exhausting ourselves and getting nowhere. This stressful, oversubscribed reality creates overactive minds that can often result in problems sleeping – creating a cycle between stress and sleep that exacerbates the issue. Not enough sleep can affect your weight, mood, productivity, athletic ability, immune function…the list goes on. Sleep is as important to us as food, hydration and breathing - and yet we don’t seem to give it the attention it deserves.
Most of the Western world is sleep deprived. We regularly get less quality sleep than we should, wrongly associating being busy and feeling exhausted with working harder and success. Often the last thing we do before bed is to be in front of a screen (be it your TV, computer, tablet or phone), overstimulating the mind, making it harder to unplug when it’s time for bed.
What if instead of overestimating the mind with a screen, you tried some night time sleepy tea and then relieved tension in the body by doing some simple yoga poses right before bed in the warm glow of Lumie Bodyclock? These mindful movements soothe the mind and allow your body time to wind down for a restful night’s sleep.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold): is a great pose to stretch the shoulders, spine and hamstrings. Flex your toes (toes pointing towards you) as you inhale your arms towards the ceiling. Draw the hips back and navel in as you start to hinge from the hips, reaching your arms as far forward and then down onto your legs – grabbing shins, toes, feet or hands. Feel free to use a block or bolster between you/your head and your thighs and a blanket under your sitting bones.
Mantra: “I was born to be real, not perfect.”
From Paschimottanasana, inhale to lift your upper body back up and as you exhale draw your chin to your chest, round through the back lowering vertebrae by vertebrae to lie down on the ground. Make sure lower back stays connected to the ground as you lower
Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose): hip openers are great for releasing blocked emotions. Bring the soles of your feet together, knees fall apart. The closer your heels are towards you the more intense the hip stretch, so if it becomes too much move your heels further away. You can also use support under both knees to make the pose a more relaxing one as well as a bolster under your back to create more of a heart opener. Place your hands on your belly or one hand one your belly, one hand on your heart and connect with your breath – deep belly breathing.
Mantra: “May I be kind to myself and trust the decisions I make.”
Draw your knees into your chest and give yourself a squeeze to release any tension.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Supine Pigeon Pose): helps to soothe sciatica while releasing tension in the hips. Place your right ankle over your left thigh just above the knee. Draw your left knee towards your chest as the right hand threads between your legs, left arm behind your left knee, and interlace fingers. Draw left knee in as you push right knee out (you can use your right elbow to push the right knee). Change sides.
Mantra: “My speed doesn’t matter, forward is forward.”
For the next pose you can use a wall for support or have an imaginary wall.
Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall): is a great pose to relax tired legs. Lying on your back, lift your legs up towards the ceiling soles of the feet facing up (if against a wall, make sure you draw your hips as close to the wall as you can get). Keep your head and neck in a neutral position and breath. Hold for 5 minutes.
Mantra: “I am loved, loving, and loveable.”
If you were by a wall, draw your knees to your chest and come back to a place where you can lie down outstretched.
Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Twist): twists are known to be great detoxifiers. Hugging both knees to your chest, keep your right knee in as you draw the left leg long. Moving your hips slightly to the right, using your left hand draw your right knee across your body. Keep both of your shoulders connected to the ground, your head facing the right and close your eyes. Hold for up to 5 minutes and then change sides.
Mantra: “I am strong, I am able, I am calm.”
Having a good night’s sleep can make the world of a difference to your state of mind and state of being, vastly impacting your day, so take the necessary measures to ensure you are getting the kind of sleep you need and deserve!
Mariel Witmond - Bateman is a 500hrs Yoga Teacher and Life & Integrative Health Coach; born in Puerto Rico to a Mexican mother and English father, Mariel has lived in Connecticut, England, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Argentina, Malaysia, Mexico, India, NY, and LA. She currently resides in London. You can check out her schedule here. For daily doses of inspiration, follow Mariel on Instagram.