Many of us are not ready to relax after a long day. You may have last-minute emails, dishes to wash, other household members who require your attention, or worries about tomorrow’s list. It’s hard to fall asleep when you are constantly buzzing.
Before-bed Yoga can help. Yoga is relaxing in itself. The principles of yoga — self-compassion and gratitude — can also be soothing when practiced prior to bed.
Krucoff has a gentle Yoga class on YouTube. BMC Psychiatry published a review and meta-analysis in May 2020 examining 19 studies and nearly 2,000 women with sleep problems. It found that yoga (at any time) was better than not doing yoga.
Before attempting these poses, center your mind. Krucoff suggests practicing the “Three Good Things Exercise.” The exercise is designed to help you think of three positive things that occurred to you during the day. She says it can be simple as drinking a great cup of morning coffee. Check out this How-To from the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California at Berkeley for more information. This helps to alleviate worries and puts you in a positive frame of mind that allows you to relax.
Yoga Belly BreathingKrucoff says that if you only have time to do one thing, it’s to focus on your breathing. She’s talking about relaxed abdominal breathing, also called the “yoga stomach breath.” You may be used to shallow chest breaths during the day, but deep breaths will fill your lungs. This triggers a series of physiological changes. She explains that your heart rate will slow, blood pressure will drop, and muscle tension will ease.
How To Do ItLie down and place one hand just below your belly button. Inhale through your nose (your stomach should rise) to fill your lungs. Exhale through your nose. Repeat this for a few moments.
Range of Motion Sequence
You’ll be able to move your joints in their entire range. Krucoff says this is a great way to relax, release tension, and it’s easy because you can do it lying in bed. It also helps you pay attention to your body sensations. You will be more aware of how it feels, not only what happened at work or with your family, but even the news. Are some muscles sore? Are specific muscles tired? Krucoff says that many of us spend most of the day in our minds. This practice brings you back to your body and prepares you for sleep.
How To Do ItLie on your back or the floor. Circumscribe your ankles. Bend your knees and extend your legs. Circular movements can be made by lifting and lowering your hips. Then, bend your elbows and extend your arms at your side. Do a shoulder shrug and a circle. Repeat as often as you feel like it.
Krucoff says that the knee hug can be an exceptionally soothing experience if you suffer from back pain. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, low lower back pain can be a significant reason for seeking medical attention. It also prevents them from working. The pain can be caused by working hunched at a computer all day. This pose will help relieve the pain.
How To Do ItLie Down and hug either one or both of your knees to your chest. It depends on how physically fit you are to do either or both. Rock your spine from side to side if you can squeeze both knees together.
Krucoff says it’s normal to feel tension in the neck and shoulders. This is especially true if you’re spending your days staring at a computer screen or your smartphone.
How to Do It’s up straight on your bed in a good position. Inhale, and raise your shoulders to your ears. Squeeze your shoulder and arm muscles. Exhale, release your shoulders, and pull your shoulder blades down. Repeat this a few more times.
Savasana is the last pose in a yoga class. It may seem easy to lie there and do nothing. But it is one of the most challenging poses to master because you must let go of all mental and physical tension—no need to worry about Savasana. Lie down, be still, and don’t think about anything specific. This will help you relax. Krucoff refers to it as “relaxed awareness,” which may sound contradictory, but it is about being aware of whatever thoughts or feelings come up and not dwelling on one.
How To Do ItLie with your palms facing up, relaxed, and at your side. Focus on your breathing and close your eyes. You can eliminate intrusive thoughts by acknowledging their presence and picturing them floating away.