In Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends that healthy adults aim for at least 15 minutes of stretching each day to build and maintain musculoskeletal health (page 70). Individuals who are looking for a great way to end their day can meet basic recommendations by incorporating this relaxing yoga regimen into their bedtime routine.
Basic Bedtime Yoga Routine
For a better night's sleep, perform the following poses in the order suggested below, and for the recommended amounts of time.
Left Nostril Breathing
Deep breathing techniques are an important part of any yoga routine. While any deep breathing technique is better than none, author Beth Shaw of Yoga Fit notes that left nostril breathing is an especially good choice for a yoga routine designed to promote rest and relaxation (page 59). Before attempting any yoga poses, perform ten to twenty left nostril deep breaths, recommends Shaw. Depending on the yogi in question, as well as their lung capacity, these breaths may take between 10 and 20 seconds each -- for a total duration of about two to four minutes.
A bedtime yoga routine should continue with a basic pose -- such as child's pose -- to help warm-up tight muscles and prevent possible strains. Shaw suggests holing child's pose for two to three minutes (page 61), to help calm your mind and relieve nervous tension.
Winding Down Twist
Once your body is warm, begin to incorporate more vigorous yoga poses. While winding down twist -- or seated spinal twist, as it is sometimes called -- does help the body relax, it also stretches tight muscles in the shoulders and lower back. Easing tension in this part of the body is often a must when it comes to getting a good night's sleep. For optimal results, Fitness Magazine recommends holding this pose for one minute on each side.
Standing Forward Bend
According to Huffington Post, standing forward bend not only helps to ease stress, but can also reduce rates of insomnia, which is a must for those who are looking for an effective bedtime yoga routine. For optimal results when it comes to winding down, hold standing forward bend for two to three minutes, recommends Beth Shaw in "Yoga Fit" (page 63).
Nighttime Goddess Stretch
Nighttime goddess stretch is often performed during the cool-down portion of any yoga routine, due to it's ability to ease insomnia and reduce headaches. Hold nighttime goddess stretch for three to fives minutes for optimal results, Shaw suggests (page 66).
Corpse pose is a great way to end any bedtime yoga routine, reports Yoga Journal. While Yoga Journal recommends holding corpse pose for three minutes, some individuals may find themselves so relaxed that they fall to sleep before the three minutes are complete.
Sleep Like a Baby
Finding time to get in a workout can be a challenge. For some people, 15 minutes at the end of the day is all the time they have. Fortunately, by incorporating some basic yoga poses into your evening routine, you can meet daily flexibility guidelines and promote a better night's sleep. You'll be counting sheep in no time.