The power of a self-care night routine with gentle yoga poses
Many of us have busy schedules and have a tough time winding down at night. Even though our lives are so busy that we feel like we don’t have time to take care of ourselves — it is even more important to schedule time for self-care. For this reason, it is helpful to create a self-care night routine with gentle yoga poses to help us sleep 7-8 hours at night.
To learn more about how to incorporate yoga in your daily life: The yoga habit: 5 Tips for beginners.
Remember: listen to your body and only do poses that feel comfortable for you. If you have any injuries or medical conditions, it’s always a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before starting a new exercise routine.
The self-care night ritual
A nighttime ritual is a great way to take time for your physical and mental health. It is a set of activities that you practice on a regular basis. Ideally, these activities are practiced an hour or two before going to bed. These activities can vary from person to person and may include things like taking a warm bath, practicing relaxation techniques such as meditation or deep breathing, journaling, or reading a book. Basically, the goal of a self care night ritual is to help us wind down, relax, and to prepare for a restful night’s sleep.
Gentle and restorative yoga poses are great to practice before you go to bed. The National Health Interview Survey found that over 55% of yoga users reported improved sleep.
Let’s explore how gentle yoga poses can be incorporated into your self-care night routine!
The 3 steps for nighttime routine
- Getting you in the mood
- Practicing a sequence of gentle yoga poses
- Closing ritual and going to bed after the yoga and meditation practice
Setting the mood for your evening routine
The first step in creating a successful self-care night routine is to prepare the atmosphere. Dim the lights, light some candles or incense sticks. Next, put on a soothing playlist. Taking the time to create an environment that is comfortable and calming will help you relax and ease into your yoga practice more easily. This will help you with shifting your mindset and unplugging from the day’s events.
After the mood has been set, you’re ready to focus on your own well-being.
Gentle Yoga Poses for a Relaxing Self-Care Night Routine
The next step is to bring awareness to your breath and practice gentle yoga poses. Yoga is an excellent way to stretch out tight muscles from inactivity, and to improve overall body strength. Additionally, the stretching motions of yoga can help reduce stress levels by helping clear the mind and release built up tension in the body.
Begin with some deep breathing exercises. Sit comfortably in a chair, or propped up with pillows on the floor or bed.
Next, take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Even out the breathing so that the inhale count matches the exhale count. Taking slow, even breaths can help you relax and clear your mind.
Before moving into the gentle stretches, remember: the most important part is to focus on the breath.
After you have connected with your breath, try some gentle stretches. Sitting in a comfortable position, stretch your arms overhead. Then, gently stretch your sides by reaching your arms out to the sides and up towards the ceiling. Be slow and take care to not make fast or jarring movements.
Based on what your body is telling you, it is ok to stop here and move into the closing sequence or meditation. You should only move onto the next yoga pose if your body is feeling up for it.
Cat cow pose (Bitilasana Marjaryasana)
Next, if your body is feeling ready, begin to practice gentle movements. A great way to start is with slowly moving in and out of cat cow pose (balasana). If you are new to practicing this movement, watch this video about how to practice cat cow pose.
Child’s pose (Balasana)
This one is great for relieving stress because it gives you the opportunity to be still and just breathe. To get into this pose, kneel on the floor and sit on your heels with your toes touching together. Then slowly bend forward so that your chest rests on top of your thighs as close to your knees as possible. You can place your forehead on the floor or keep it lifted if it feels more comfortable.
Stay in this position while focusing on deep breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
If you feel discomfort in your knees or legs due to tightness, place a pillow under your torso to relieve some of the pressure. This pose should not be painful, if you feel pain — It is important to stop and seek the advice of a qualified yoga teacher for ideas on how to modify the pose to make it more accessible.
Watch this video on child’s pose for detailed instructions
Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)
After a few minutes in child’s pose, and you are ready, you can move your body into legs up the wall pose. This is a restorative yoga pose that can help to bring you into deep relaxation.
If it is your first time, it is important to practice this pose under the guidance of a yoga instructor or healthcare professional because it is critical to put the prop in the right position. Here are detailed instructions on how to practice legs up the wall.
Supported seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)
For this pose, you will need a pillow, bolster or a folded up blanket. Sit on the mat or blanket with your legs extended in front of you. If you have difficulty reaching your toes, you can bend your knees slightly. Place the yoga block or bolster on the ground in front of you.
Slowly lean forward, placing your chest on the block or bolster and your arms on the ground beside it. Relax your back, shoulders, and legs by taking a few deep breaths.
Close your eyes and stay in this pose for as long as you like. Take slow, deep breaths.
Corpse pose (Savasana)
Finally, finish with Corpse pose, also known as savasana. Here, you lie on your back and relax completely. The most important part of Savasana is setting it up. Make sure you have your blanket or yoga mat positioned so you can lay comfortably. Use a pillow or folded blanket to comfortably elevate your head. Your body temperature will drop when you relax, so cover yourself with a blanket.
Meditation: Closing the practice with a calming ritual
End your practice with a calming meditation or visualization. Focus on letting go of any stress or worries and allowing yourself to fully relax and unwind. The meditation practice doesn’t have to be long; it can be as short as a couple minutes. Set a timer. Close your eyes and synchronize your breath with your thoughts. Inhale: a thought arises. Exhale: let that thought go.
Your new nightly self-care routine with gentle yoga poses
Overall, incorporating gentle yoga poses into your self-care night routine can be a great way to relax and unwind after a long day. By taking time for yourself and practicing some gentle stretches and restorative poses, you can help your mind and body prepare for a good night’s sleep.
One way to take care of yourself is to include soothing yoga positions in your bedtime routine. Practicing self-care at night at lower vibrational energy will help you fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Yoga can be invigorating or relaxing — depending on the poses you practice and how you sequence the poses. Therefore, it is important to select poses that will help calm and soothe you.
Lastly, don’t forget the 3 steps: set up the mood, practice a sequence of easy yoga poses, and close your ritual with a meditation practice.
Please note: that the information provided is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health or exercise routine, you should always consult with a medical professional or qualified healthcare provider. The information provided by this article should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, or have any pre-existing medical conditions, you should consult with your healthcare provider before beginning any exercise program.