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Want to get some ZZZ’s? Yoga “Sequence for Slumber” – by Aida Bielkus

Many of us are not getting enough sleep.  Staying tuned-in to our active day and electronics late into the night, detach us from a natural rhythm, and we therefore often fall into bed exhausted and wake feeling much the same way (yikes!).  Here is a great yoga sequence to integrate into a pre- bedtime routine.  Gently moving and stretching the body helps the mind unwind from your day, preparing you for sweet dreams.  The goal is to quiet your senses and bring your attention inward.  So turn everything off, silence your cell phone, put on your most comfortable pj’s, wash up, brush your teeth, put your favorite cream on your face, rub a little on the back of your neck, lights out and try this yoga sequence in bed.

1.      Gentle Inversion- this is one of my favorite poses ever! Scoot your hips close to your headboard and kick your legs up. Your legs rest gently against the headboard. Arms by your side face up. Close your eyes and stay here for 3-5 minutes.

2.      Spine Twist- keeping your eyes closed, bend your knees and gently roll to one side pushing away from the headboard.  Take your arms out by your side -like a T- bring both knees together, letting them drop to one side, and turn your head in the opposite direction. Take 5 breaths counting down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then take the same actions for the other side counting down your breaths.

3.      Reclined Butterfly- bringing the soles of your feet together gently let your knees fall toward the bed, place one hand on your heart and one on your belly and begin to notice your heart beat, silently witnessing and observing your heart and breath. Think of one thing that made you grateful today.

4.      Reclined Half Pigeon- lay with a straight spine, hug your knees into your chest, and then lower your feet to the bed, releasing hand from around the knees. Lift the left ankle over the right knee, and interlace your fingertips under the right knee and gently pull in. Go gently to begin to loosen the hips, or try using your breath to take the stretch further. Release and take the other side.

5.      Child’s Pose- roll over onto your belly, bring your knees under your chest, you’re your forehead on the bed, and extend your arms out in front of you. Take your arms gently to the right feeling a gentle stretch on your left, take a deep breath and release. Take it to the other side and then find center.

Deep breathing will also enhance this sequence and quiet the mind. Keep in mind your muscles may not be as “warmed up” as they are in a complete yoga class so go gently and listen to your body.  After you’ve done the poses, take 10 gentle breaths counting down 10 to 1 with the acknowledgement that at 1 you will be drifting toward sleep.

Depending on how you like to sleep extend into that position and beginning with the soles of your feet, systematically bring attention to various parts of the body moving all the way up to the crown of the head.  Invite a heaviness and looseness into each part as you feel the mind letting go of the body, silencing thoughts, and drifting to sleep.