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Saturday, 11 March 2017

4-Step Bedtime Restorative Practice for Better Sleep

Restorative yoga postures can be very influential in preparing the body for restful, deep sleep and though an hour or more practice can be a great way to train the body for this, using a short exercise can also be useful. The the most egregious part of this shortened practice will focus on the breath. Because the breath is the only part of our autonomic nervous system that we can deliberately control it gives us a direct gateway into the principle of the nervous system and the relaxation response that prepares us for sleep.

Relaxing footbath

This footbath is a great way to setup for bed. By drawing the circulation to the feet, we draw ruminating stress and thoughts out of the head. Begin by drawing a footbath as hot as you can endure. If you are sitting with your feet in a sink you can make the water hotter and hotter as your feet adjust. Stay for five to ten minutes until your feet feel warm all the way through. No phones, books, or other activities here, just relax. When you are done dry your feet and wear some warm socks to keep your feet warm for the yoga practice that follows.
Before you move on, collect the props you need (a yoga block or a towel) and a place on a wall near your bed. Then dim the light as much as you can or turn off them.
bedtime pranayama

Bedtime Pranayama

Find a comfy position on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the ground. Close your eyes and start to notice your breath. Without gripping or tensing, start by simply slowing down your breath until you can count to four on your inhale and four on your exhale. As you feel comfortable here, progress by slowly lengthening each exhale one-two counts each round until you inhale for a count of four and exhale for a count of eight. Staying relaxed is key here; only raise the duration of each to exhale as much as you can staying relaxed. Imagine yourself leaning into the exhale each round as you discharge any stress or thoughts and relax into the ground. Continue for three to five minutes, you can build up to as much as ten minutes over time as long as it feels relaxing and comfortable.
child pose

Child’s Pose modification

For this pose, you will need one yoga block or a rolled up towel to place on your forehead. Sit back on your heels in a comfy position then walk your hands ahead and place your forehead on rolled towel or yoga block on its lowest level. Stay for two to four minutes and visualize the thoughts pouring out of your brain onto the floor as you allow your mind to empty here.

Legs-Up-the-Wall modification

Lie with your legs up a wall. Make yourself comfy here with your pelvis and head resting on the ground, a comfortable distance from the wall. When you are finished adjusting, begin to come back to the pranayama exercise above, Lightly increase your exhales to allow your nervous system to drop in even deeper this time. Make sure you are able to let the breath be slow, as you rest in the exhales so that each round you imagine yourself melting deeper into the floor. Do five ten rounds of the four-count inhale, eight-count exhales then let go of the pranayama practice and let the breath be natural for about five minutes. When you are finished, slowly roll to your side and gently head right to bed (you can take off the socks if you like) without turning on any lights or distractions.


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