Stretch Out Before Bed
July 15, 2021
Practised for thousands of years, specific forms of yoga are a tried and true way to help call in the drowse at day’s end.
Bedtime yoga satisfies the need for relaxation many of us struggle with at the end of a busy day. It calls for minimal effort and can be done in the comfort of pyjamas and a quality bed—the duvet poised patiently waiting to embrace you in your post-yoga serenity.
Particular types of yoga suit different needs. Gentler forms optimise blood flow, stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and release tension in connective tissues. It’s important to pick the correct poses at night, but even more so to focus on correct breathing. Through slowed breath you can lower your heartrate, replenish your oxygen and release stress. Lose yourself in Savasana before you tuck in and feel the anxieties, stress and tension from the day disperse.
If you’re weighing up whether to namaste or not, there’s a variety of different styles to try which cater to whatever your nightly routine may be.
The most-widely practiced form of yoga, Hatha is the style that most likely comes to mind when you think of yoga in general terms. It is a gentle variety that focuses on static poses, controlled ‘ocean’ breath and ends with Savasana meditation. Translate this to a bedtime routine and find your ‘flow’ of poses, possible to practice from the comfort of your mat(tress).
Slumber-suitable poses shouldn’t require a lot of strength or force. Ease through passive poses like legs up wall, child’s pose, supine spinal twists, reclining bound angle and cat-cow—restorative poses that encourage blood flow around the body to calm the nervous system. Call on the support of pillows and blankets should you need.
As the sun settles, often so do our energy levels, and the call of slumber can be too tempting to ignore. Yoga Nidra is an excuse-proof option as the entire routine is done laying down. Cosying beneath a blanket is even encouraged, however drifting off to sleep is not… for now.
Yoga Nidra, or yogic sleep, combines guided meditation and active breathing which draws your attention to particular sensations throughout the body. The goal is to eventually ‘habituate’ your body, so the sensation is forgotten all together. Your body is asleep while your mind lucid; triggering the blissful state of relaxation you need to bed down easily.
Yin Yang is an ancient Chinese philosophy based on the concept that two opposite characteristics can exist in harmony and complement each other. If ‘yang’ is the energy and fast-pace of our daily lives, ‘yin’ is the calm we explore under darkness. Yin Yoga restores balance to yang activities of our daily lives; through holding poses for typically two-to-six minutes at a time.
Unlike most forms of ‘yang’ yoga that target muscles, yin yoga targets deep connective tissues like ligaments, joints and bones. Poses should not be uncomfortable or extreme, so call on the support of your pillow. Through stillness, gravity and time, the tissues should release along with mental and physical tension from the day.
These three yoga styles, often praised for their gentle approach, call for the comfort of a cosy bed—free from lumps, bumps and valleys. A good yoga routine takes practise, so stay with your savasanas, keep your matt in good nick, and a few ‘oms’ each night may see your Zzz’s come more easily.