Q: How did you pick these yoga poses?
Liz: For me, these are the ones that have resonated with me over time. The last two (legs up the wall and corpse pose) are traditionally the last poses of a class anyway so it’s nice to finish off the day with those ones. The others like pigeon and cow face, I find they are nice and calming so perfect before bed.
Anything where you’re standing up, it’s almost like you’re getting ready for the day, whereas if you bring it closer to the floor, I always feel it calms me down instantly.
Q: What are the top 5 yoga poses you would recommend to try before bed?
1. Seated pose (Sukasana) with Humming Bee Gesture (Bhramara Mudra) and Humming Bee breath (Bhramara Breath)
Liz: I’d start in a seated position, maybe do a little bit of breath work and hold in a nice mudra (a hand gesture). My choice would be a humming bee gesture as well as humming bee breath or bhramara breath. (See photo above for a beautiful reference!).
As soon as I go into that mudra with that breath and seated pose, I’m better able to find that connection that helps me calm down and feel stillness. The humming bee breath also feels incredibly healing. I was so curious about the effects of humming, that I recently purchased a book called ‘The Humming Effect: Sound Healing for Health and Happiness’. It goes in-depth into the research behind humming and breathing, and how this simple and healing practice can greatly benefit us.
2. Pigeon pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)
Liz: This pose before bed is really great for glutes and getting rid of tension in the lower back. There are so many variations of this pose: you can choose to use supports, bolsters or blocks. Just make sure that it’s comfortable for you and that you do the pose on both sides of your body.
3. Variation of cow-face pose (Gomukhasana)
Liz: This one is really great for releasing tension around the hips. Again, you can sit on blocks if it feels more comfortable for you as well as adding a variation with the arms. For example, depending on what kind of day you’ve had, you can get into cow faced pose (Gomukhasana) and open up through the chest with a stretch in the upper back. Although the opening of the chest is typically more of a ‘morning’ exercise, you might find this variation helpful.
At the end of a long day, I prefer something that feels a bit more nurturing so I opt to lean forward a reach my arms forward too in this pose (pictured). This can feel very cocooning and helps release tension right before bed.
4. Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)
Liz: So this one’s a calming pose as well and great before bed. I like to lay on the floor and sidle my hips towards the wall. Then allow my arms to fall out to the side, palms faced upwards or maybe take my hands onto the stomach to connect with my breath. It feels really calm and relaxing, which is perfect before bed.
5. Corpse pose (Savasana)
Liz: We typically end classes with this pose, which is very fitting for the end of the day and for getting ready for bed. Sometimes it’s better to do this pose on the floor rather than the bed because the hard surface of the floor can be more supportive. But it’s really up to you, especially if you find it more comfortable on your mattress.
For me, it’s a great relaxation at the end of the day and allows your breath to return back to its natural rhythm. It’s a time when I can just focus on my breathing. After all that stretching, it’s nice to feel your body do what it needs to do and when there is no effort required in the breath.
Hopefully after that, you should be able to feel ready for a good night’s sleep.
Q: How long should I hold these poses for?
Liz: It varies on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for more of a yin type of practice (a slower and more meditative practice) that would be appropriate for around bedtime, then you can hold these poses for around 3-5 minutes each, longer if you feel like you need it.
If you’re moving a lot quicker or moving with the breath, you might fire your body up a little bit more so best to take the poses slightly longer I think and working with a longer and deeper breath if you can.
Pictures: Liz Daffen and Unsplash
More in the series:
- An Interview with Liz Daffen: Yoga in Pyjamas, Being Kind to Yourself and Misconceptions about Yoga
- Surrey-based yoga instructor Liz Daffen talks about her nighttime routine and how she winds down before bed
- A Yoga Teacher’s Favourite 5 Yoga Moves to do before Bed
- Breathwork, mantras and humming – yogi tips to help you sleep better.
ABOUT LIZ DAFFEN
Liz has always had an interest in exercise in various forms, from a young age she took part in ballet, horse riding, cycling, walking and Taekwondo, after university she gravitated towards a career in the corporate world. In recent years, on being made redundant she was keen to get back into more movement and exercise, and so embarked on a 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training and hasn’t looked back. Since then she has completed numerous other courses to help bring breathing, movement and mindfulness to a variety of ages groups and abilities. Having experienced first-hand the benefits of yoga and Pilates for physical and mental health she enjoys sharing this with others.
Liz is a warm friendly teacher offering classes that are varied and can be adapted to suit individual’s needs.
“I love teaching to all ages and abilities. Many people say that there not flexible enough for yoga, but we all have to start somewhere, and the wonderful thing about Yoga and Pilates is that it can be adapted for all abilities.”
Come along if you would like to stretch, tone, improve posture, reduce stress and increase overall wellbeing.
Breathing. Movement. Mindfulness.
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