Friday, February 13, 2015

Bedtime Yoga

The Casper Mattress Company is working on an initiative called Bedtime Yoga, poses that one can do in bed to unwind after a long day.  When I heard about this project, I was intrigued.  I enjoy doing a little bit of yoga to unwind, especially after a day with a hard workout or an especially cantankerous time with the kids, but I don't usually think to do it on the bed.  The idea sounded unusual and fun, so I decided to give it a try**.

One of my favorite spots in the house,
but one I've never considered for yoga...until now!

Any bedtime yoga I attempt must be short and sweet.  I start heading to bed too late almost nightly, so this is not the time of day for me to attempt an in-depth yoga session.  Instead, I aim to stretch the parts of my body I've used heavily but haven't tended, namely my shoulders, back, and feet.  To hit these key tired muscles at the end of the day, I like to do this sequence:

Eagle arms:  targets my upper back and shoulders where I often carry the stress of the day.
* stretch arms out to the side
* bring them in front of the body, with the left over the right
* bend the elbows to 90*, twisting the forearms so that the palms touch
* lift the elbows straight up to feel a stretch in the shoulders
* repeat on the other side

Supported chest opener:  releases the chest and realigns the neck and spine.  So relaxing!
* sit with a pillow immediately behind your backside
* lay back on the pillow
* raise arms up and then slowly lower them to the side, finding a resting point that is comfortable

Toes pose (in 2 parts):  stretches and relaxes my overworked feet.
Part I:
* sit on your knees with your toes curled under
* take care to make sure the bottom of each toe is touching the ground; use your fingers to place the pinky toe in the proper position
* sit with a tall spine in this position to stretch the bottoms of your feet
Part II:
* still on your knees, sit with the tops of your feet touching the bed
* lean backwards, raising your knees off the ground to feel the stretch along the top of your feet and your shins

Legs up the headboard:  a pose that I call pure magic.  It drains excess fluid from the lower extremities, gently stretches the backs of my legs, and settles my back.
* sit with your left hip touching the headboard
* lay back and swing your legs up so they are vertical along the headboard
* try to keep your backside as close to the headboard as is comfortable
* place your arms out to the side, over your head, or on your chest; whatever feels best

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I've included a few snapshots of these poses in action.  Please note, however, that yoga selfies are infinitely difficult.  Yoga photos taken by a 7-year-old are just marginally better but will have to suffice:

When you do Toes Pose II, you'll straighten your shoulder much better than I'm demonstrating, right?  A nice long line, not the hunch I've got going on.  Also, as you can see, my headboard is not quite ideal for legs up the headboard.  If yours is much taller, you might enjoy this pose from the comfort of your mattress; I'll stick to my usual wall for greater stability.

Have you ever tried yoga from your bed?  What poses would you include in a bedtime yoga routine?

** A key note: I am not a yoga professional nor do I play one on TV.  I've enjoyed learning about yoga through friends and various online resources, but I am not trained to offer advice on the subject.  Instead, I am simply sharing what I've found works well for my body.