Yoga is an amazing tool to help give you a restful night's sleep. But as a pre-requisite to the practice I have designed below, I would recommend that you put all devices (smart phones, laptops etc.) out of sight and on sleep mode so you're not tempted to check Instagram just one last time (we've all been there...) or look at work emails. I'd also steer clear of watching telly and consuming any caffeinated drinks or foods (dark chocolate is a sneaky culprit!) at least an hour before bedtime. You can also create a calm and relaxed environment in the bedroom by using an oil diffuser with a simple blend of Naissance oils. My favourite blend at the moment is lavender and bergamot.
The sequence below is designed to be practiced in bed so you're ready to drop straight off, but you can also do it on your mat in your regular spot at home. Perhaps just put your PJs on and have your teeth brushed so there's no faffing around required afterwards.
Start by getting into a comfortable reclined position (i.e. on your back). If you have any lower back tenderness I suggest keeping the knees bent with the feet on the floor/bed. Allow your hands to rest on to your belly or ribcage and take a moment to let the body settle and begin to tune in to the movement of the breath beneath your hands. The breath is a natural relaxant for the autonomic nervous system within the body and moves us towards a parasympathetic state, also known as the 'rest and digest' state, as opposed to our sympathetic 'fight or flight' state. Allow the breath to become smooth and steady, absorbing your attention with its rhythm.
Try to soften the grip of the thinking-mind and ungrasp the thoughts, allowing them to pass through freely as clouds pass through the sky or as bubbles pass through a champagne glass, only to dissolve at the top. (Note: if you find it particularly difficult to let go of thoughts for the following day, try writing a to-do list on a notepad next to your bed before you practice so that you know you will remember and can come back to your responsibilities in the morning.)
Apanasana (Wind Relieving Pose)
From your reclined position, bring your knees in to your chest and interlace your fingers around the front of your knees or thighs. As you draw the knees in try to relax the shoulders down and soften the expression on the face. Close the eyes and breathe for 15-20 breaths.
Salamba Balasana (Supported Child's Pose)
From Apanasana, release the knees and rest the feet down. Roll on to one side and gently press yourself up. Using a bolster (if you have one) or a rolled up mat or blanket, take a supported Child's Pose. Sitting back on the shins, open the knees apart slightly, keeping the big toes touching, and place the bolster between your legs. Rest your torso on the bolster and either rest the forearms either side or hug the top of the bolster as shown in the image. Take a couple of minutes with one cheek on the bolster and then, changing sides, rest the other side of the head down for the same length of time (if you have no props to use please take a regular Child's Pose.)
Paschimottonasana (Intense Stretch of the East Pose)
Come to sit, placing the bolster to one side, and extend the legs out in front of you. If you are working with some tightness in the backs of the legs or lower back you may want to bend the knees or place a rolled-up blanket or cushion beneath the knees to support them. Gently flex the feet by pointing the toes toward the ceiling. As you inhale, reach the arms up beside the ears, look between the hands and lengthen the sides of the body and then gently fold over the legs on the exhale. Turn the gaze down to lengthen the back of the neck. Relax the upper body and soften the expression on the face. Breathe for 15-20 breaths.
Viparita Karani (Legs up the Wall Pose)
Viparita Karani is a wonderfully nourishing restorative inversion that reverses the blood flow in the body. By taking the legs and pelvis higher than the heart we give the heart a break from having to pump blood to those areas and instead flood the internal organs, including the brain, with a fresh supply of blood. In turn, the breath will naturally slow down and the chatter of mind will begin to settle.
You can do this pose on your bed against the headboard or against a wall. Placing a bolster or a couple of cushions against the wall/headboard, sit sideways on the props with your outer thigh to the wall. Lie on your back as you swing the legs up to rest on the wall. Adjust your position so that your pelvis is fully supported on the props (as seen in the image). Allow the legs to be relaxed and about hip-width apart. Take the arms away from the body and turn the palms upward.
Stay here for anywhere between 5-20 minutes.
Come down the same way that you came up and enjoy a restful night's sleep!
All poses should be practiced mindfully, listening to the feedback of the body, and if there is any pain then practitioners should come out of the pose immediately.
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♥ I see your point! He could them with you?! Nia x