The Huffington Post | By Kate Bratskeir
Re-blogged from The Huffington Post
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.
"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.
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
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."
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.