The Ultimate Guide to Bedtime Yoga


**This is a guest post written by Lindsey Dirats. Not only is she an amazing Yoga teacher, but she’s also my soul sister!

 

To spite being a teacher of yoga and mindfulness, I still find it so hard to slow down sometimes. My natural rhythm of operating is approximately a thousand miles a minute. Sometimes, I forget to take my foot off the gas at bedtime and falling asleep can be a struggle. Sound like you? Fear not! This posture sequence is a sweet and gentle way to wind down before bed, or any time you might want to take it down a notch. There are several torso-to-thigh postures (like in Child’s Pose), which relax your parasympathetic nervous system. This is relaxing because it decreases your body’s fight-or-flight response.

I recommend that you start this practice with the 6 rotations of the spine to begin to connect breath and body. I made a little video for you walking through those movements! I apologize that it cut off at the end and that it’s completely unedited (current unavoidable tech situation…oh well) but it still covers what we need to get started for practice tonight. 

 

Standing Back Arch – Urdhva Hastasana

  • Begin with your feet placed hip-width apart, feet parallel, toes facing forward, and arms down by your sides.
  • Take a deep breath in, and as you do, gently lift your arms up overhead, clasp your hands, and extend your index (pointer) fingers towards the sky.
  • As you exhale, reach backwards with your hands and lift your gaze up towards the ceiling – bringing a slight arch to your back.
  • Sustain for a few deep breaths
  • On an exhale, draw yourself upright again and let your hands float down by your sides.

 

Half Moon Pose – Ardha Chandrasana

  • Begin with your feet placed hip-width apart, feet parallel, toes facing forward, and arms down by your sides.
  • Take a deep breath in, and as you do, gently lift your arms up overhead, clasp your hands, and extend your index (pointer) fingers towards the sky. Relax your shoulders away from your ears.
  • Exhale, send your hips out the right and lean your hands over to the left.
  • Hips and shoulders stay parallel and facing forwards, and avoid collapsing over to the side
  • Sustain for a few breaths
  • Inhale, sweep your hands back up overhead, and exhale over to the other side – hips shifting to the left and hands leaning over to the right
  • Sustain for a few breaths
  • Inhale, sweep your hands back up overhead, and exhale to let them float back down by your sides

 

Forward fold – Uttanasana

  • Exhale, let your whole torso droop slowly forward, drawing your chest towards your legs
  • Bring as much of bend to your knees as you need to (it may be a deep bend, and that’s perfect!) to get your belly to rest on your thighs
  • Let the crown of your head fall towards the floor, head is loose on a relaxed neck
  • Let yourself hang like rag doll for a few breaths
  • To rise, make sure knees are bent, and slowly roll up, one vertebra at a time

 

Standing Wide-Angle Forward Fold – Prasarita Padottanasana

  • Take a wide stance, toes facing forward, feet about a leg’s length apart from each other, knees unlocked
  • Exhale, lean forward with a flat back – option to bring hands down onto your bed
  • Either sustain here for a few breaths, or let your torso drop down between your legs, crown of the head points down towards the floor, hands can either reach down to the floor, out towards feet – whatever is most comfortable!
  • Let yourself hang for a few breaths
  • To rise, bring a bend to the knees and slowly roll up, one vertebra at a time

 

Time to get in (onto) bed!
Seated Forward Fold – Paschimottanasana

  • Sit on your bed with your legs extended, toes flexed towards you, knees slightly bent
  • Inhale to sit up nice and tall
  • Exhale to reach down towards your feet and bring your belly down onto your thighs
  • It doesn’t matter if your legs are almost fully extended, or if they’re very much bent! Find what feels good in your body.

 

Head-to-knee Forward Fold – Janu Sirsasana

  • FIRST OF ALL let’s call this head towards knee, shall we?
  • Begin in the same way you started seated forward fold, but with the sole of one foot on the inside of the opposite thigh
  • Inhale your upper body upright, exhale, gentle bend to the knee, and belly down onto thigh
  • Repeat on the other side

 

Bound Angle – Baddha Konasana

  • Draw the soles of your feet together and hold on to either your ankles or the outside of your feet
  • Exhale to draw your chest forward and gently use your elbows to press on the insides of your knees, inviting your hips to open
  • Take a few deep, easy breaths
  • On an inhale, slowly draw yourself upright

 

Cross-legged Forward Bend – Adho Mukha Sukhasana

  • Cross your legs
  • Inhale to draw your upper body tall
  • Exhale to gently let your belly collapse down towards your legs and slide your hands away from you
  • Take a few deep breaths, and then inhale yourself upright again

 

Child’s pose – Balasana

  • From your cross legged position, roll up over your ankles onto hands and knees
  • Exhale to send your hips back, coming to sit on your heels
  • Arms extend out in front of you, belly drops onto thighs, and forehead comes to rest on the bed
  • Feel free to breathe gently in this posture for as long as feels right. It’s such a good calming position!
  • When you’re ready to come out of it, come back up to hands and knees

 

Wind-relieving Pose – Pavanamuktasan

  • From hands and knees, flop on over onto your back
  • Draw your knees in towards your chest and give yourself a hug around your shins, option to f
    ind a gentle rock from side to side
  • Alternately extend one leg and then the other, drawing knee
    towards chin and breathe deeply

 

 

Reclining spinal twist – Supta Matsyendrasana

  • Draw your knees back into your chest, and let them drop over to the right. Gaze out over your left shoulder for a few breaths
  • Inhale to lift your knees back through center and then exhale as you let them fall over to the other side

 

Corpse pose – Savasana

  • The pose we’ve all been waiting for! You might want to get under your covers for this one.
  • Option to place a pillow under your knees, and I like to put a lavender-scented eye bag on my face as well.
  • You can leave your arms down by your sides or rest them on your belly. Let your feet flop open.
  • Slowly, allow yourself to release all tension from your body. Let muscle melt from bone. You have nowhere to go, nothing to do. There is no need for effort in this moment. Enjoy the benefits of your gentle practice and let yourself drift slowly into sleep!

 

 

**If you want to see more from Lindsey follow her on instagram (it’s @lindseydirats) as well as her amazing Facebook page!

 

Take good care of yourself,

Srna

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