15 Minutes of Bedtime Yoga for Stress Relief

A lady meditating before her bedtime

There is plenty of scientific evidence proving the effectiveness of Yoga for Stress relief and better mental health. It is not difficult to fit easy, quick, and calming bedtime yoga into your routine. 15 minutes right before bedtime is all you need to unburden, sleep well and wake up re-energized.

Struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, and lack of sleep? Not many among us can claim to be completely free of these ailments. In fact, we tend to forget that these are not mere tendencies but proper ailments. 

 Stress, anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders have as deep physical and biological roots as mental branches. In the midst of the omnipresent phone and computer screens and the draining demands of economic, social, and even family lives, sleep often becomes the first collateral damage of the onset of stress. 

Experts often recommend yoga for stress relief and mental wellness. Let us go step by step to try and understand stress, insomnia, yoga as a remedial therapy. 

What is stress?

In the simplest words, stress is any pressure or tension exerted upon or within any object. Applying this to human beings describes the anxiety or tension our minds and bodies feel during difficult or adverse situations. Stress is usually thought of as strong, sharp, and often difficult to ignore physical and emotional sensations like fear, anger, hate(for self or another), panic attacks, and so on. 

What are the types of stress and their symptoms?

The American Psychological Association has listed three types of stress:

  • Acute stress: An immediate pressure situation triggers anxiety, sadness, migraines or even palpitations, stomach churns, or chest pains.
  • Episodic acute stress: Feeling the symptoms of acute stress and anxiety very often, but not all the time. 
  • Chronic stress: When symptoms of stress become more or less a permanent state of mind. The sudden-bouts symptoms may transform into permanent respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, and other illnesses of this type.

Most of you while reading this might see yourself in the list above. There is no need to feel self-conscious or sad about yourself. Don’t give your already stressed mind another stress shot. The number of Americans going through stress, anxiety, depression, and other forms of mental health is humungous. 

Let’s throw up some data here to put you at ease and remind you that many fellow Americans and many more folks worldwide share your conditions. We can then go on to what you can do about stress, anxiety, and insomnia with some simple, easy steps.

How does yoga help to relieve stress?

Thank god for Alternative therapies! Several among us hate that feeling in the pit of our stomachs right before a deadline or the general sense of sadness and hate in a world that just doesn’t seem right for us.

We know this is a mental health issue. But medication, pills or antidepressants? The thought of mental health medications scares most of us. 

Here, research [1]National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Wellness-Related Use of Common Complementary Health Approaches Among Adults: United States, 2012 suggests that alternative therapies like yoga come in like a ray of pure, side-effect-free sunshine. 

It’s proven that engaging in physical activities and exercises has a positive effect on the minds of people struggling with stress and other mental health conditions. There is a simple reason for this: feelings are not external to the body. 

After all, the brain is what processes the emotions you struggle with, and it is an organ of your body: a physical, biological organ connected in flesh and blood to all other body organs. 

So don’t beat yourself up. It’s not all those bad life choices you made. Bad food choices, maybe! But it’s all okay, natural, and heal-able. 

Stress symptoms are the body’s way of working up energy reserves to save you from a situation it perceives as dangerous. The simplest and nontoxic remedy for the body’s response is to trick it into calming some parts of your body while diverting the energy into others. 

Yoga hits at the deepest, most primal physical and mental stress roots. Yoga incorporates highly relaxing stretches and poses that relieve the tensed body and slow down your breathing. This signals your brain that there are no lions behind your back to run from, so you can breathe easily. 

Which is the best type of yoga for stress relief?

Hatha yoga is the most general and commonly known form of Yoga. It is the most preferred form of Yoga for beginners. Since it is slower and more comfortably paced, it is ideal for people who need less exertion and more relaxation. Slow-paced, non-exertive styles like Hatha Yoga and Yin Yoga work very well for people seeking stress relief.

Yin Yoga is a wonderfully contemplative and relaxed branch of yoga that can help calm your mind. The philosophy behind this practice encourages the idea of non-striving. That makes it a perfect antidote for the fast-paced, over-competitive, modern life-induced stress.

Yoga Nidra, Pranayama, and guided meditation can help those who exert their bodies too much and too little. They provide minimal exertion to the body and focus entirely on relaxation, balance, and mindfulness. 

Most forms of yoga incorporate elements like breathing exercises and meditation within their routines. You can always speak to your guide to tailor your practice to suit your mental health needs.

Calming with 15 minutes bedtime yoga for better sleep

Studies [2]Mayo Clinic: Prenatal yoga: What you need to know and surveys prove that people who practiced yoga saw considerable improvements in their sleep quality. But what about:

  • People, who are too busy to sign up for those yoga classes? 
  • Pregnant women who have heard about bedtime prenatal yoga but are unsure how safe it is to try out those contorted postures on a hard floor with only a mat for cushioning.
  • Kids who are either too stubborn to join yoga classes or those that are already overburdened by their academic pursuits.

The answer is Bedtime Yoga!

Research has found that bedtime yoga is steadily catching up as an easy, convenient, and safe form of Yoga practice. It involves different types of yoga poses that can provide stress relief. 

It is easy to make up time for because you obviously will go to bed at some point. It is extremely safe and comfortable thanks to the use of cushioning like pillows, bolsters, and so on. You can even do some of the poses on the bed. 

By incorporating simple relaxing stretches and a lot of breathwork, bedtime yoga routines guarantee a good sleep. It soothes both the tense body and mind to provide a reliable solution for stress and insomnia. 

Bedtime yoga poses for sleep and stress-relief

Spare a minute or two to sit or recline on your bed comfortably. Remember, this is not a pose. Comfort is the first and last criteria. It’s okay to feel twitchy or not find a steady, comfortable position your first few times.

Just relax. 

Now take a deep breath to the count of three and hold that breath inside for the count of four.  Exhale from the core to the count of five. 

Do this relaxation technique for a minute or two, and then start your poses. 

Butterfly Pose

If you are already seated, move your legs such that your feet are a foot away from your groin. Your toes and heels need to be touching each other. If you look at your legs, they should be making a soft diamond shape. 

Your arms can relax and find a comfortable resting position on your sides. Rest the palms on the floor beside your hips. 

Repeat the breathing exercise mentioned above. Hold this pose for a minute or two.

Reclining Bound Angle Pose

This is an extension of the previous pose. Stretch your legs forward from your butterfly pose and then lie down on the floor straight.

Still focusing on your breath, try to bring your legs back towards your groin/tailbone.  This can be a little more difficult in a lying-down position. So, remind yourself not to bend your knees till it hurts. Just bend your knees until your toes can comfortably touch each other. 

Add cushions under your knees if you are tight and feel a need for a bit of tilt or lift. Make sure the cushions aren’t too thick.

Focus on your breath. Hold the position for 2 minutes.

Legs up the wall Pose

Now move to the nearest wall and sit down facing it. Lie down on your back while slowly raising your legs against the wall. The wall should provide good support to your legs.

If you find yourself too stretched, allow for a little space between your buttocks and the wall. This will provide a slight angle that will ease the tension the pose might cause your beginner’s muscles. 

Focus on your breath. Hold the position for 2 minutes.

Child’s Pose

Now come back to lying flat on the bed. Bend your knees slowly while holding them apart from each other. 

Pull the knees close until the thighs are resting on the sides of your torso. 

Let your toes slowly touch each other. Use your hands to grip your legs around the ankles to give you control to hold the position. 

Focus on your breath. Hold the position for 2 minutes.

Child’s Pose II

Move back to the seated position. Now kneel down and sit with your body resting on your calf muscles. Your big toes must be interlocked (this in itself is a yoga pose). 

Now stretch your arms and bend forward as far as your body can bend. By the end, your belly must be comfortably sunk into and resting on the thighs, with the arms extended forward. 

Keep your head downward facing.

Focus on your breath. Hold the position for 2 minutes.

Cobra Pose

You can easily swing from the previous position to the cobra position. Slowly releasing the bent knees one by one and laying them straight. You should find yourself lying flat on your belly now.

Slowly raise your head in a graceful arching motion. Your palms flat against the floor on either side act as pillars propping you up and supporting you as you hold the position.

Focus on your breath. Hold the position for 2 minutes.

Corpse pose

Slowly come back to the starting position. Roll over and lie down flat on your back. 

Let your legs be a comfortable distance apart from each other. Your hands should be lying straight with palms resting flat on the ground. 

Focus on your breath. Hold the position for 2 minutes. 

Continue in this position for longer until you find yourself sleepy enough. 

FAQs

Studies have shown that yoga therapy can help to alleviate symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. Yoga makes you focus on your breathing and physical movements. This way, Yoga can release accumulated tension in the body, making the people practicing it feel lighter, healthier, and relaxed.

There is a lot of fear around prescription drugs for mental health issues such as depression, stress, and so on. Studies have shown that most people prefer natural, alternative therapies like yoga and meditation for their conditions. A few studies have recorded better results in groups that practiced only yoga for mental health against groups that used prescription drugs.

A study has observed that 2-3 months of regular yoga practice is required to show a visible impact on relieving stress and anxiety. 

There is enough evidence to prove that Yoga helps people get better sleep. This will require regular practice since the results take a while to show up in physical and mental fitness, relaxation, and therefore sleep.

Yes, it is, if it is tailored to your physical needs. Prenatal yoga requires adaptation to the pregnant woman’s ongoing trimester. 

Certain moves and poses can be bad at certain times. Otherwise, Prenatal yoga is completely safe. There is a good reason for its increasing popularity after all.

Whyever not? The only rule here is to keep it calm, gentle, and relaxing. So your favorite heavy metal rock band can rest for a bit. 

The internet will provide you with any amount of music for sleep and relaxation. Switch to ambient music. Try Tibetan chants or the deep sonorous Buddhist bowls. 

This next suggestion doesn’t sound as spiritually glamorous: but try White noise. The sound of rain, breeze, even fans humming away, ASMR audiobooks, etc.

References

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