Good news for yogis and sleep enthusiasts alike: You can take your practice to bed.
And there is good reason to do so. The ancient practice of yoga promotes a bounty of mind and body benefits, including things like strength and flexibility, stress relief and even a sunnier disposition -- benefits you'll take into your day or into sleep, depending on when you do it.
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"People underestimate the power of those few minutes before we get out of bed and rush into our day," says Vyda Bielkus, co-founder of Boston's Health Yoga Life. "In those moments, we can set up some clear intentions and choices."
According to a 2013 survey from IDC, most of us aren't giving ourselves a morning moment to be mindful: 89 percent of smartphone users between 19 and 24 years old reach for their cell within 15 minutes of waking up. Swapping that phone-checking habit for a a few artful stretches could be your ticket for a better day or a more restful slumber (63 percent of people 18-29 take their devices to sleep with them).
"Quieting the mind brings us back to center," the yoga instructor says. "Yoga is a great way to unwind from stress or greet the day."
Before you get moving atop the covers, there are few things to keep in mind. Know that you won't be able to go as far in a posture on the bed as you will in a yoga studio. A floor's hard surface offers more support and resistance for stretch. And take note of the sensations in your body: If anything hurts or feels too intense, plop yourself into child's pose (see below) to recover. Now, check out these nine mattress-approved poses below.
Reclining Goddess Pose
Lie with the soles of your feet touching. You can keep your arms by your side or stretch your hands above your head -- whatever feels best. Bielkus says this is a good pose to do before you go to sleep, as it'll settle the mind and help you unwind.
This is an especially soothing meditative posture, one that Bieklus calls a "time out for adults." "Doing this inversion will ease tension in your legs," says the yoga instructor, who recommends the pose or anyone who's active on their feet all day or may have over done it at the gym. Turn your hips toward the wall and kick your legs up and lean rest them vertically against it. "People who have a hard time meditating may find this as an easier way to clear their minds," Bieklus adds. Tight hips? Put a pillow under your seat to ease any discomfort.
Sit up on your bed and fold forward, reaching for your heels, toes or shins. "Wherever your hands land is fine," Bielkus says. If you feel tight in the backs of your legs, be sure to bend your knees. This move is great for winding down: It is relaxing and cooling. Be sure to focus on your exhale -- it'll deepen the stretch.
Easy Supine Twist
Try this move before you get out of bed in the morning: It'll awaken your spine and prepare you for the day ahead. While on your back, hug your knees to your chest. Hold your legs behind the knees with your right forearm and bring your knees to the bed on your right side. Now, gently look left. Repeat on your other side.
While lying flat on your back, bring your hands underneath your hips. Lift your chest and heart above your shoulders and stretch your head back. Bielkus says this pose is energizing, so do it as the sun comes up.
Happy Baby Pose
This pose is mentally calming while physically stimulating, which makes it perfect for a day when you have a lot on your plate. Lie flat on your back with your feet in the air and grip the outside of your feet with your hands. Open your knees a little wider than your torso, then bring them up toward your torso. Gently rock in a way that feels comfortable, while pushing your feet into your hands as you pull your hands down to create a resistance. "Find a still point in your body and focus on driving the rail bone down," Bielkus says. "This will elongate the lower back and allow the hips to stretch. It gets the blood flowing."
This simple, calming pose is easy to do in bed. Kneel on the mattress and allow your big toes to touch. Separate your knees as wide as your hips (or as far as is comfortable) and lie down between your thighs. Stay here as long as you like -- this pose is restorative
This pose may look like sleeping, but it's really a practice, as Bielkus describes, of consciously resting. "This is an awesome state for the mind to be in. It's about awakening within the self." Lie on your back with your arms by your side, with the palms facing upward. "This is when you come out of your human doing and come into your human being," the instructor says. "It's about fully being present." This pose is quite versatile: Do it as a wind-down before bed to empty your thoughts so they don't keep you up or night, or use the time in the morning to set an intention for the day ahead.
Pigeon pose is an intense leg stretch that'll open your hips and leave you feeling revitalized. With your hands shoulder-distance apart, come onto all fours. Bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer right leg is resting on the bed. Make sure your left leg is in line with its own hip socket and that your left foot is laying flat. With an exhale, fold forward over your right knee. Stay here for as long as you need, then repeat on the other side.