Want to have a restful night’s sleep and wake up pain-free? Yoga (as usual) can help.
Here are 5 poses to help you unwind at the end of the day and prepare for rest.
The great news? You don’t have to worry too much about alignment while doing these poses. The purpose here is gentle muscle stretch, easing digestion, and dropping into your breath and body. That way, you can take your mind off anything not related to the moment at hand.
1. Apanasana (“Wind relieving pose” or Knees to Chest). Draw your knees to your chest. Hug your favorite person (you!). You can rock side to side a little here to massage the muscles on either side of your spine. Hold for about 10 breaths.
2. Jathara Paravritti (Abdominal twist or Simple spinal twist). From apanasana, wiggle your hips over to the right. Let your knees fall to the left. (You can twist deeper into your mid-back if your knees are closer to your shoulder and more into the lumbar spine / low back if below hip height). Turn your gaze to the right and allow your right shoulder to be heavy. This pose is phenomenal for aiding digestion and sustaining proper mobility in your ribs. Take 5-10 breaths with eyes soft. Switch to the other side.
3. Supta Matsyendrasana (Single knee reclining twist) / From the double knee down twist, simply straighten your bottom leg softly. The twist will deepen. Take 5-10 breaths here on each side.
4. Brettzel – this delightful twist / quad stretch / hip flexor release is not a classical yoga asana, but it is recognized in my other world (of physical therapy) as being a meaningful gauge of range of motion. It helps release the powerful hip flexors that can cause low back pain originating from the front of the body. From the single knee reclining twist, bend your lower leg at the knee maintaining the thigh parallel to your torso. If your foot easily enters arms reach, grab it, while thinking of drawing your tailbone down to the back of the knee. (This will keep the pelvis from tipping forward). Remember, this sequence is about letting go of tension. If you find yourself straining in any way in this shape, move on. If not, hold for 5-10 breaths. Switch sides.
5. Supta Baddha Konasana (Supine Bound Angle Pose). Return to flat on your back. Bring the soles of your feet together, allowing your knees to drop out to the sides. To the best of your ability, allow the muscles of the inner thighs to relax so the knees drop down further toward the bed. If this is uncomfortable or painful, slide a firm pillow under each knee until you feel easeful yet with a slight stretch. Hold for 10 breaths.
Straighten your legs out, breathe deep, let out a yawn and sleep tight.
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