Hoping to increase peaceful feelings in your household as everyone settles down for the evening? If you have a family, bed time can be anything but peaceful. There’s likely a nightly protest from the kids about getting to sleep on time. There could be arguments over having to put smart phones or ipads away; or maybe someone has neglected to finish homework on time.
If you live with a partner, you might have different ideas about what the evening routine should involve for enjoying some peace before bedtime. Maybe he or she enjoys turning up the volume on loud, violent movies just as you are settling in with some light reading. Or perhaps your to-do list is what summons you after-hours, which is stressful.
If you are looking for an evening self-care routine to carry you away from the pressures of family life and make the pre-bedtime hours more relaxing, then think about this series of yoga poses designed to help you relax for a more restful sleep.
Practices these poses slowly and in this specific order, taking deep, cleansing belly breaths throughout. Hold each pose for about 6 deep breaths to release tension in the body.
Mountain pose. Stand with feet positioned hip-width apart. Place arms at sides and press shoulders down as you exhale. Inhale through the nose, letting the chest rise as the feet press down into the ground and the top of the head rises proudly skyward. The trick to releasing tension in mountain pose is planting the feet firmly, and imagining the top of the head spiraling to the heavens as you pull your stomach muscles in and breathe deeply.
Forward fold. From mountain pose, sweep the arms overhead and out to the sides. Then bend down as though you were about to touch your toes. You are folded in half at the waist, with head toward the ground. As you breathe through this pose, pull your abdominals in. Hands can dangle freely, or if you’re more flexible you can try to place them on either side, behind the calves.
Downward-facing dog. From forward fold, step backward with one foot and then the other while planting the palms flat on the floor in front of you. You are now bent in half with feet and palms supporting you. This pose resembles a dog stretching. Tummy pulls in as you breathe and imagine pinning your bellybutton to the back of your spine.
Plank pose. Plank is like a gentler version of a pushup. It’s a great pose to relieve stress from the entire body while engaging all of the long muscles. Lower yourself from downward-facing dog into plank pose. Hands are beneath shoulders, pressed into the floor on either side of you. You’re using your chest muscles to support your body. Imagine you are a plank of wood, everything flat and straight, with tummy pulled in and backside tucked downward. Breathe through plank pose, then move on to upward facing dog.
From plank, come into upward-facing dog by placing your body in the prone position (facing the floor) with palms under shoulders, ready to support you. Next, lift only the torso (your hips stay pressed into the ground). Lift your torso, shoulders, neck, chin and face upward while pressing the lower half of your body (hips, front of legs and feet) to the floor. Rest between breaths and then resume the pose again if you need to.
Child’s pose. Come into child’s pose from plank. Sit on your knees, then lower your head to the floor so that your forehead touches the ground. Arms can be on either side, hugging your knees, or stretched out past your head. Focus on elongating your spine, keeping hips pulled back in their sockets and reaching forward with hands if you can.
This series represents just a few of the basic, relaxing yoga poses that you can do to increase relaxation in the evening hours, relieve stress, and sleep better. Not only will you get to sleep more quickly, but you are more likely to stay asleep through the night. And if you do wake up? Try doing some more relaxing yoga.