Do you find life is passing you by and days are just whizzing past so that suddenly months instead of days have slipped away? I do and this year summer for me personally has just gone in a blink of an eye. Projects which I had planned remain untouched in various areas of my home and my yoga practice has slipped from an everyday discipline to being more like my rounder shots – hit and miss! Still, I am not beating myself up over this as these are the lazy hazy days of what’s left of summer past. Light and heat are slowly beginning to fade away and autumn’s gently caressing us with cooler air, shortening evenings and a hint of chills to come. We are slowly getting ready to snuggle on down into the inevitable winter which lies ahead.
With these hectic lives we live I am an advocate of incorporating yoga into everyday living. I can be heard saying do a forward bend at the kitchen counter whilst waiting for the kettle to boil… do your core work between adds of your favourite TV programme or whip out that pillow and take yoga to your bed. With this in mind I’ve decided to share a little of my bedtime yoga practice with you. Bedtime yoga aids my sleep, relaxes my mind and enhances my experience of a snugly deep and utterly delightful sleep.
I like to read positive, uplifting, life enhancing, captivating and magical longing pages of a good book before I drift off into slumber. Keeping this in mind my first bedtime yoga pose is Sphinx.
I whip out my pillow, turn onto my tummy and prop myself up on my elbows which are positioned just beneath my shoulders, arms parallel to each other and my head is held loosely, shoulder blades are gently relaxing downwards. Head and neck can be kept lose and tension free. I then lift and extending each leg at a time, pointing my toes towards the end of my bed as this helps to lengthen into my lower back. I then gently press into my pubic bone thereby tucking in my tail bone as I relax and gently breathe into this gentle back bend whilst I catch up on a couple of pages of my book.
Benefits of Sphinx Pose:
- Sphinx pose helps to release stress from the body
- It helps to strengthen the spine
- It gently stretches shoulders and abdomen
- It expands the chest and lungs
- It helps to stimulates abdominal organs
- Best of all, it helps to firm the buttocks
After a few minutes, I like to do a gentle relaxing moving meditation. Breathe in and out fully into each pose, do not force your breath simply allow it to flow in and gently ebb back out. Each breath moves you into the next posture, alternatively you can break each pose down and hold each pose for a number of breaths before then finishing with all poses flowing together into yoga flow.
Starting position – Childs Pose – pose of surrender
Breathe In – Heart opener, kneeling
Breathe Out – Hare Pose
Breathe In – Table top – Weight bearing
Breathe Out – Down Dog – Inversion
Breathe In – Table Top
Breathe Out – Hare
Breathe In – Heart opener, kneeling
Breathe Out – Childs Pose
Hold childs pose for at least three breaths. Place your awareness on breathing, those with asthma may focus on breathing into the back of lungs, helping to work the muscles at the back of the lungs and develop lung capacity.
Repeat this meditation a number of times.
Benefits of this moving meditation:
With breath awareness during yoga flow, all your cares and worries slowly begin to drift away as you gently float into ease of movement with the breath. This allows the chatter of the brain to fall away, instills a sense of peace and calm which is beneficial and supportive to a good nights sleep. I often ask students to close their eyes whilst embracing this meditation. It completely shifts your awareness inwards, you can literally feel every movement and subtle shift within your body. This also allows you to trust yourself and your own innate intuition as you knowingly find your mattress as you return back to starting position.
- Child pose – allows your awareness to start to travel inwards helping you to cut ties with the outside world and all the distractions that this brings, thereby alleviating stress and anxiety. It releases tension in the back, shoulders and chest. It lengthens and stretches the spine. It gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles whilst at the same time stretching muscles, tendons and ligaments around the knee.
- Hare pose – stretches the back muscles and helps relieve backache. Tones the pelvic muscles and sciatic nerves. When actively practiced (gently extending into the palms of your hands) it helps to tone the shoulders, upper arms and chest area.
- Down dog – is an inversion which stretches your arms, back and legs in one movement. It is weight bearing and thereby improves bone density especially in the upper body. This pose boosts your immune system and aids circulation in the body. It also aids the movement of energy in the body. Lifting the sit bones towards the ceiling also lengthens into the hamstrings and calves.
Then gently come too lying on your back and rest in lying cobbler.
Lying cobbler is a strong groin and hip opener and is sometimes known as the Goddess Pose. It massages all the lower organs of the body such as the urinary, digestive and reproductive. If practiced regularly it can help relieve and regulate irregular menstruation. It relieves sciatic pain and prevents hernia. Gently place your arms on your upper thighs and bring your knees together to come out of this pose.
Introducing a calming breath work whilst in the pose is also conducive to aiding a great night’s sleep. Breathe in for the count of four and breathe out for the count of eight if possible. Relax, release and allow all your cares and worries to float away as you drift contentedly into a blissful sleep. Sweet dreams…… Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz