The Benefits of Bedtime Bending: Why You Should Try Yoga Before Bed
Whilst you normally may feel like you need a nap after a workout, there are gentler ways to get yourself to sleep! Yoga has many health benefits but there’s also ways to target your practice to help you ease off into sleep and then to experience a better quality of sleep.
If you’re finding sleep difficult because of aches and pains, soreness or tenderness, you can work out this pain through yoga practice and stretches. Lots of yoga postures (asanas) can be achieved laying on your back and even done on your bed. There’s no need for fork out on an expensive studio membership or lots of activewear – instead stick to your pyjamas and the comfort of your own bed!
Yoga can result in muscle relaxation even if not under lots of strain, so makes for a great addition to your evening unwinding routine. After a day at work, taking a few minutes to stretch out your muscles may not feel strenuous but can give you real physical benefits and as a result, keep your sleep more constant and cause you to wake less.
The focus on breath during yoga practice can increase mental capacity, reduce stress and promote total relaxation throughout your body. Try out some pranayama (breathing exercises) in bed and you could find yourself falling asleep considerably quicker than usual. Focusing on breath and being overall more mindful promotes a healthier respiratory system and better circulation. Both will help you breath more consistently, cutting back on snoring and ensuring you don’t accidentally wake yourself up right in the middle of a REM cycle!
Regular yoga practice has been proven to boost the metabolism of its practitioners. This means you digest food quicker, so can risk eating a little later in the evening than you might otherwise.
If you’ve ever been to a yoga class before, you’ll know that it ends with a nice little lie-down and some breathing practises at the end. This is called savasana, which literally translates from Sanskrit as ‘corpse pose’. It’s a dedicated period at the end of a practice where you allow your body to take in the exercise it has just done and relax back into an eased state. Combined with pranayama breathing exercises or some light meditation, it makes for a fantastic quick and easy chill out. You can try savasana in bed even if you haven’t done any stretches beforehand and make find you quickly fall asleep.
Longer, more guided meditation savasana can induce ‘yoga nidra’, which is yogic sleep. This can take some time to master as the intention isn’t just to nod off, but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll find it much easier to relax and then ease yourself into sleep when it’s appropriate to. A qualified yoga teacher will be able to coach you in this practice.
Even if meditation and Sanskrit is a step too far for you, incorporating some gentle stretches into your routine before bed can help improve flexibility, calm your mind and expedite some healthy deep sleep.