It’s not exactly easy to shut your brain after a hectic day. Between meetings across town, running to fit in a sweat and figuring out logistics for that annual summer girls’ weekend — your stress levels are sky-high.
Not so surprisingly, the grind of a busy day can make shutting down and falling asleep a little on the tough side.
The solution? Yoga. Creating a ritual to relax the body and calm the mind can help you fall asleep sooner, sleep deeper and for a longer time. According to one Duke University Medical Center study, yoga can actually improve your overall sleep quality and reduced the need for sleep aids.
“Doing a few restorative yoga postures before bed is an great way to unwind at the end of a busy day,” said Y7 Studio instructor Rob Montgomery. “Choose to slow down, clear the mind and breathe. Your body and mind will thank you tomorrow morning.”
Check out Montgomery’s five must-do pre-bedtime yoga moves for easier sleep. Flow through the following with deep, deliberate breath, in and out through the nose, and hold each posture for between five and 10 breaths.
Stretches and strengthens the spine and neck. Invites an emotional balance, relieves stress and calms the central nervous system.
>> Do it: Come to all fours. Spread your fingers wide and make sure your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips.
Inhale, tuck your tailbone, round your back, and look toward your belly. Exhale, drop your belly, arch your lower back, and look up.
Take a few moment to settle the body and deepen the breath. This slows the heart rate and prepares the body for rest.
>> Do it: Kneel and sit back on your heels. Extend your torso over your legs and rest forehead on the floor. Relax neck and shoulders.
A gentle inversion that promotes good circulation. Increases blood flow to the brain which may help clear the mind of the day’s anxieties.
>> Do it: Lie on your back, arms at sides, and legs straight up, so your body forms a 90-degree angle. Squeeze your abs, keep your knees straight, and bring your legs back overhead.
Try to touch the floor with your toes. Keep your chin away from your chest, and breathe freely. Hold for 1 minute.
RECLINED SPINAL TWIST (RIGHT AND LEFT)
Lengthens, relaxes and realigns the spine for more comfortable sleeping.
>> Do it: Lie on your back with legs extended and arms outstretched at a 90-degree angle from sides, palms facing up.
Draw one knee up until foot rests flat on floor beside opposite knee. Keeping both shoulders on floor, hook foot behind opposite knee and slowly turn, lowering bent knee as close to floor as possible.
Breathe and relax into pose for 30 seconds, then repeat on other side.
Ultimate release and relaxation. Practice this on your yoga mat, outside of your bed for 3 to 5 minutes. Maybe use a calming song as a timer. Once the song finishes, maintain an easy calm, find your way to bed and hit the hay.
>> Do it: Lie on your back on the sand with your legs slightly apart and your arms at your sides, about a foot away from your body, palms up. Imagine every part of your body sinking into warm, soft sand.