You know the feeling, you're too stuffed to stay awake, you head to bed and cha-bing! Your mind decides it's time to go into every single little detail of your day, including things that didn't even happen! I mean, do we really need to go over the boring minute of our day again?
There are a whole bunch of techniques to do throughout your day to make sure you get a good shut-eye, but today we are just talking about some lovely stretches.
I'm a 500 hour trained yoga teacher with 12 years experience in encouraging people to relax. I specialise in the chill yoga, not the sweat and go type.
Here are three poses that will calm your body, tell your parasympathetic nervous system that it's time to relax and set you up for a good night's sleep.
I'll post next time about some great breathing techniques you can do while you are in bed when that mind wakes you up at 3 am and wants to do a spin class - that is spin around and around your thoughts, until you're frustrated and dizzy.
Move slowly through these poses. If you find your mind wanders, it's actually OK. Allow it to flow through your day, event by event, as though you are switching the channels on your TV, then it won't be so busy when your head hits the pillow.
Remember to take care of yourself, only do the poses that feel good.
Seated Forward Bend
Relax into Paschimottanasana to help calm your mind, stretch your hamstrings.
This pose can be done with the legs out in front of you, the legs crossed, or the knees out wide and the soles of the feet towards each other.
Sit on the floor with a blanket folded underneath your bottom. Rock a little from side to side allowing the natural balance of the body to find it's way. You may like to 'scoop, the fleshy part of each side of your bottom to the side, so you are stable and balanced. Pushing down through the legs and the bottom, lift up through the spine and take deep breaths in and out.
As you take your next exhale start to lean forward from the hops, not the waist. Lengthen the tailbone away, as you lift your chest forwards, then down towards the knees, if they are straight, or the floor, if you have out-bent knees. Do not force the bend, just rest where you are comfortable.
When you are ready to go further, take a deep breath in and on the exhale, pull yourself further forward and relax. Relax the neck also. Do this a few times, concentrating on the breath, then relax again.
Stay in the pose anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes. To come up, think about placing each vertebra in your spine on top of each other, starting at your tailbone.
Reclining Twist - Jathara Parivartanasana
Get ready to massage the abdominal organs, relax and can help to relieve stress and anxiety.
Lay on your back, bend your knees gently into your chest and allow your arms to rest out from the shoulders like a T. Bring your palms up to the ceiling, allowing the chest and lungs to expand and relax.
Inhale and give your knees a lovely cuddle. As you exhale, soften both of your knees over to the right, and bring your gaze to your left.
Remain here for at least 1 minute. Then on an inhale come back to the centre, then exhaling drop your knees to the other side and your gaze to the right. Stay there for another minute.
Inhaling, bring your knees back to the middle, give them another cuddle, rock side to side giving your spine a lovely massage.
Cat Pose — Marjaryasana — is often paired with Cow Pose — Bitilasana.
When practised together, the poses help to stretch the body and prepare it for other activity.
These two poses help stretch the back, torso and neck, softly stimulates and strengthens the abdominal organs, opens the chest, encouraging your breathing to become slow and deep. When you Coordinate this movement with your breath, it can relieve stress and calm the mind.
Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips.
Inhale as you gently release your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling, being very mindful of your neck. Do not strain anything. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Relax your head towards the floor, but again, no strain - just relax.
As you inhale, repeat step 1 and 2 for a minute or more, continuing moving your spine in flowing movements, in time with deep long slow breaths.
Rest your bottom back towards your heels, rest your arms and head low.
I hope you have a great sleep, my friends.
These poses are part of the 36 pack of cards I have made to help you sleep better.
I will be sharing more with you soon, especially at our upcoming rest and release retreat in November!
What helps you sleep?