Downward-facing dog, cat’s pose and warrior II. Of course, we’ve all heard of these positions, or asanas if we’re being fancy – the ancient Indian spiritual and physical practice of yoga has definitely made an appearance on the pop culture scene these days. With classes on offer in most fitness studios across the world, it’s hard to escape even the most basic of all yogic knowledge.
And though we often tend to give things in the media a bad rap for being too commercially mainstream or corrupting in some way or the other, yoga retains its purity. Yes, there are places that offer extravagant varieties of yoga done high up in the air in silk ribbons, or even beer yoga (yes, you read that right. It’s quite literally yoga practiced with a beer bottle in hand), but in its core, yoga is just a form of exercise that is known to have great health benefits. From boosting immunity, to strengthening core muscles and battling stress, yoga is quickly being recognised as the soothing, miracle cure for all ailments.
What few realise, however, is that yoga is known to improve the quality of sleep as well. Insomniacs, listen up!
The combination of releasing physical tension and calming the mind is key in letting the mind and body drift off into dreamland. By regulating breath and activating the parasympathetic nervous system (translation: slowing the heart rate and relaxing the sphincter muscles to conserve energy), yoga is a great way to control the body just before bedtime to allow for a better night’s rest.
Perhaps the best part of bedtime yoga is that it can all be done in the privacy and comfort of your bedroom, or even on the bed itself. Begin with some light meditation, cross-legged and back straight, to control your breathing patterns and to clear the mind. Move through a series of poses which stretch out various elements of the body. Lean forwards to extend the arms and legs, twist the back to stretch the lower back and neck, and arch backwards to relieve tension in the spine by relaxing each vertebra one by one.
Wrap up in the corpse pose (yes, it’s a thing) and let each section of the body fall into a numbness before letting the mind shut down for the night.
You’re guaranteed to find YouTube clips, DVDs, instructors and podcasts galore to guide you through the technicalities of bedtime yoga, but the fact remains in that a little bit of exercise and stretching before sleep can make it tenfold better. Keep calm, and sleep on.