FOUR BEDTIME HIP OPENERS FOR BETTER SLEEP
We cannot get our most restful sleep when we go to bed with pain in the low back or hips. The muscles of the hips, including the the abductors, adductors and psoas, are responsible for holding us up and moving us in the world. They can be compressed from sitting or overworked during a day full of activity. If you're having trouble falling or staying asleep, doing a few yoga poses can relieve some of that stress.
Before climbing into bed, stand with your feet slightly wider than hips distance apart, feet turned outward at a diagonal. Squat down between the feet, knees pointed upward. If needed, place a block or pillow under the sitting bones for support. Press the hands into the earth in front of you, with the spine long. The elbows can press gently back into the knees, opening the muscles of the inner hips. Stay here for around 10 breaths, feeling a stretch in the hip adductors and low back.
Benefits: Malasana opens the hips and releases pressure in the low back. When taken as a restorative pose, malasana can feel grounding and soothing to the nervous system. The squatting motion increases the depth of your exhalation, preparing you for a good night's sleep.
Sit on your heels with a pillow or two placed longways behind you. Walk your palms back so that you gently rest on your pillow stack, with the backs of the hands resting easily on the bed beside the hips. The pillows will support your head and spine while the reclined position will stretch the psoas, quads and abdominals.
Benefits: The psoas runs from the base of the spine and down the front of the hips. Whether the psoas is overworked or compressed from prolonged sitting, the muscle can cause both low back pain and tightness in the hips. Stretching out the front body will allow for this muscle to relax, feeling an instant release of pressure on the low back and hips.
SUPPORTED SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA
Lie down on one pillow longways so that it supports your spine, head and neck, while allowing your sacrum and gluts to rest on the bed. Allow the knees to fall open with the soles of the feet together. Place the hands palms up beside the hips and roll the shoulders down the back, allowing the heart to open toward the ceiling. Breathe into the low belly for a few moments and enjoy the support of your pillow as you relax deeper into the pose.
Benefits: Supta baddha konasana will assist in opening the hip adductors in addition to the abdominals and chest. The heart opener is also know for improving circulation, relieving stress and soothing mild depression.
Lie on your back with knees bent and feet resting on the bed. Lengthen the spine from the tailbone up to the crown of the head, keeping both sides of the neck long. Let the knees fall over to the left, resting a pillow underneath them for support. Feel a gentle opening sensation in the outer hips and gluts, the muscles responsible for abduction. Let the twist unfurl up the length of the spine as you spend around 10 breaths here. Repeat on the other side.
Benefits: Reclining twists ease the muscles of the outer hips and along the spine, and also aid in digestion. Twists massage the organs in the stomach, bringing fresh blood flow with the release of the pose.
When you're ready, settled back into a restful position for sleep. Your pillow should support the neck, but not close off the front of the throat. Unless there are preexisting injuries, pregnancy or other contraindications, sleep on your back with the spine long and legs extended. Wake up refreshed!