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8 Yoga Poses To Do Before You Go to Bed

8 Yoga Poses To Do Before You Go to Bed

The benefits of yoga are well documented. It is not only valuable for your physical body, but it is extremely meditative and therefore, great for your mind as well. In this way you will experience a double benefit from this practice.

No matter what kind of yoga practice you decide to undertake, make sure you do your homework. Determine which poses and positions are right for your body and which are not. There is a ton of information available on the Internet from yogis and other yoga experts that will help you as you invigorate your life with this practice.

I love yoga because it is very challenging physically and mentally. As a professional athlete, I use yoga in the off-season to train my body and mind. I enjoy the physical adversity this practice offers. At times it can be more difficult than any other physical training exercises I have done for my sport.

I mainly utilize a yin yoga practice, especially now while I am in-season. I find it helps me to rehabilitate my body. I try to do two to three sessions of yin yoga stretching per week. I have found it very beneficial to do this practice in the evening before I go to bed. It is a great way to meditate and clear the stress from my body and mind as I detach from the day. I often have my best nights of sleep after a yin yoga session.

The following is a short yin yoga session that should take you approximately 30-40 minutes depending on how long you hold each position. Suggested time lengths are given for each pose, as well as a detailed description of each pose. It is important that you don’t rush into any of these positions. Yoga is about being patient with yourself and where you are with each position. Do not try to force yourself into the position; rather, slowly fall into it. You will gain flexibility for each pose as you hold it for longer stretches of time. As you hold each pose longer and longer, your body will become more flexible. Slowly work your body into each pose.

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1. Nadi Shodhan Pranayama

This is a breathing exercise to help you calm and focus your mind before you begin your practice. Using your thumb and whichever other finger you want (ring, index, etc.), you are going to go through some alternate nostril breathing. Cover one nostril with your thumb while inhaling through the open nostril. Then cover this nostril with your other finger and exhale through the other nostril. Breathe in again, cover, and exhale. Continue until your feel relaxed and ready to practice.

For more guidelines on this pose click here.

2. Child’s Pose

Suggested length 3-5 minutes. Begin by getting into table top position on your hand and knees. Keep your hands and knees about shoulder-width apart. Then you need to bring your big toes together and form a triangle within your knees as you separate them. From this position gently extend your arms in front of you while sitting your rear towards your heels.

For more guidelines on this pose click here.

3. Half Pigeon

Suggested length 3-5 minutes for each leg. I have yet to do a pose that stretches out my hips like Half Pigeon. From the table top pose you are going to lift one leg off the ground (it doesn’t matter which leg you start with) and bring it to the front of your body. The other leg will straighten behind you. The goal is to keep the hip of the front leg on the ground as much as possible. As you position your front knee you can also press into the toes of your back knee in order to position your back leg. Repeat with the other leg.

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This pose takes a lot of practice in order to get a very deep stretch so in the beginning you will want to keep your elbows on the mat. As you gain flexibility you can place your head on the mat and stretch out your back leg behind you.

For more guidelines on this pose click here.

4. Supta Baddha Konasana

Suggested length 3-5 minutes. This pose is a great way to stretch out your groin. Begin by lying on your back with your knee bent. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as possible with your feet and knees together. When you get into a comfortable position slowly allow your knees to separate and fall to the ground until you feel a stretch on both sides of the groin.

For more guidelines on this pose click here.

5. Caterpillar Pose

Suggested length 3-5 minutes. This is a forward fold in which you straighten your legs as much as possible in front of you and gently bend forward. If your hips are very tight and this isn’t possible, then it is ok for you to keep the slightly bent in front of you. It is also suggested that you sit on something such as a yoga block, blanket, or pillow if you feel tightness in your hips. It is very important that you don’t rush this pose because it can cause a lot of strain on the lower back.

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For more guidelines on this pose click here.

6. Sphinx Posture

Suggested length 3-5 minutes. Being by lying on your stomach with your elbows bent to the side. From this position you gently lift up your torso by pushing your hands against the ground. Make sure your elbows are directly under your shoulders. You should feel slight pressure in your lower back. Relax your shoulders and don’t tense up your back and upper body. Soften everything and stay relaxed.

For more guidelines on this pose click here.

7. Viparita Karani

Suggested length 3-5 minutes. This is a very simple inversion pose that drains lactic acid from the legs. Place your hips on the base of a wall. Then lie flat on your back and raise your legs to the wall overhead. For extra support, use a block, blanket, or pillow underneath your sacrum.

For more guidelines on this pose click here.

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8. Shavasana

Suggested length 10-15 minutes. This is the finishing pose. You need to lie on your back and extend your legs to the ground. Place your arms and hands comfortably at your side. Allow your feet to fall to the side if that is comfortable for you. Stay in this pose for as long as you wish.

For more guidelines on this pose click here.

Featured photo credit: Koreaboo via quietly-image-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com

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Published on February 14, 2019

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

15 Fitness Goals That Will Help You Live a Healthier Life This Year

Starting such a journey is never easy and you must remember this is not a crash diet, it is a lifestyle. Don’t panic and think you have to do it all at once as this will most likely overwhelm you. You may also find yourself giving up because crash diet are not sustainable.

The best approach is to make simple changes to your daily habits and over time, you will notice all your bad habits have turned into good habits.

Accordingly to a study by Phillippa Lally, a health psychology researcher at University College London, on average, it takes more than 2 months before a new behaviour becomes automatic — 66 days to be exact.[1] And how long it takes a new habit to form can vary widely depending on the behavior, the person, and the circumstances.

Here are 15 fitness goals to help you on your journey:

1. Drink More Water

W.H.Auden said it best when he said ‘Thousands Have Lived Without Love, Not One Without Water’. With any diet, the most important thing to remember is to stay hydrated. Drinking water will support your body with digestion, transporting nutrition to your body and even help improve cognitive function.

Ideally, you want to drink about half your body weight in ounces per day i.e. if you weight 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water a day.

Hopefully, by following this rule, you will be able to maintain a consistent consumption of water per day.

2. Add Some Lemon & Apple Cider Vinegar to Your Water

It is recommended we sleep for about 8 hours a day, this means we spend about 8 hours per day dehydrated. Therefore, hydrating your body first thing in the morning is absolutely necessary.

The best way to achieve hydration is by starting your day with a glass or even two of water. For that extra boost, add lemon juice and ½ teaspoons of apple cider vinegar. The lemon and apple cider vinegar will help your body with detoxifying, cleansing and digestion

3. Stop Drinking Your Calories

Yes, keeping hydrated is important but try to avoid high calorie drinks such as soft drinks, speciality coffee and juices as they are full of fast acting sugar.

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Really push yourself to stop drinking such drinks and before you know it, you will notice the benefits.

4. Start Stretching More Often

Always remember to stretch! The benefits are vast and the repercussions of failing to stretch can be dramatic.

Do yourself a favour and always stretch before and after a workout. This will promote a healthy cool down, improve flexibility and reduce next day aches. Failure to stretch can lead to injures and muscle damage.

So, the next time you work out, don’t forget you dedicate a few minutes to stretching before and after your workout. You will thank me for it later!

Here’re some simple stretching exercises you can start trying:

15 Static Stretching Exercises to Totally Enhance Your Workout Routine

5. Add in Some High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT)

You may have heard about HIIT training because it is the big thing right now and believe me when I say ‘It works!’.

The benefits include lower body fat, increased stamina, leaner muscles and fantastic hormonal benefits.

HIIT is where you perform an intense exercise, for a very short time frame (about 30 seconds) followed by a slower exercise for about 90 seconds.

Performing a HIIT routine for 1-3 times a week will lead to great results.

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6. Focus on Your Breathing When You Work Out

For the most part, breathing is second nature to most of us. But when exercising, you may find yourself holding your breath and this is not good.

It is important to consciously take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, this will fill your lungs with oxygen.

7. Build More Lean Muscle

We all want to have lean muscles because not only does it look good, it has great health benefits:

  • Improved posture
  • Reduced body fat
  • Improved metabolism
  • Strong bones
  • Protects and improves joint health
  • Improves stamina

Learn more about building muscle in this guide:

How Long Does it Take to Build Muscle and Increase Fat Loss?

8. Decrease Body Fat

This may seem like an obvious one but it is one of the most important steps to a healthier you. Reducing your body fat has a lot of benefits such as:

  • Improved joints and tendons
  • Lowered risk of diabetes
  • Reduced risk of heart disease
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Better performance and endurance
  • Improved appearance and confidence
  • Better hormonal profiles in your body

Remember, it is not a race to see how quickly you can decrease your body fat, a healthy weight loss is around 1-2 pounds a week.[2]

Crash dieting or pushing yourself too much in the gym can lead to you achieving an unrealistic target, and you may find yourself gaining all the weight you have lost.

Think of it as a lifestyle and take it slow and steady.

9. Eat More Greens

What you eat is the most important factor in a healthier living plan. It is important to ensure you are getting as many nutrients and vitamins from the food you are eating as possible.

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Focus on dark, leafy greens as they will provide you with a wide array of vitamins, minerals, nutrients and antioxidants – all of which you body needs!

Don’t forget to avoid processed and manufactured food. They are usually high in fat and have minimal vitamins.

10. Start Eliminating Sugar

Another top goal you can start immediately is reducing the amount of sugar you consume. It also won’t cost you anything, save you money and improve your health in the long run.

There’s no surprise we eat too much sugar and this should be one of your top goals moving forward (eliminating or drastically reducing sugar).

Cutting out liquid calories is a great way to start. If you’re looking for something sweet, turn to fruits or even dark chocolate.

11. Allow Yourself to Rest and Recovery

The workout is where you go to breakdown the muscle tissue and it builds back through proper nutrition, rest and recovery. It might be tempting to go to the gym for two hours every day as hard as you can to achieve your goals but that’s not the most effective approach.

If you don’t allow for proper rest and recovery, it can set you back a few steps. Your body is more prone to injury and even illness as you can weaken your immune system from all the progressive intensity the body is facing.

12. Get More Sleep

When you are deprived of sleep, you make it next to impossible to achieve your health and fitness goals. Lack of sleep can increase stress hormones in your body and over time these can lead to a lot of inflammation and chronic diseases.[3]

Make sleep a priority to let your body heal and rejuvenate. A good approach is 7 to 8 hours. Also, allow yourself some wind-down time and a pre-bed routine to help get more consistent sleep every night.

13. Focus on the Habit and Not the Result

It’s easy to get caught up in trying to achieve a certain look or shed time off of your mile, but the more important focus is on the habit that will bring you those goals.

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Don’t look at the scale, the tape measure, or the body fat percentage. Focus on the habits that will lead to those achievements.

Don’t compare yourself to where others are, you’re right where you need to be.

14. Take Your Fitness Outside

This may be hard depending on the weather you experience, but the more you can be outside exposed to fresh air and sunlight, the better.

Being stuck in the gym doing cardio while staring at a wall won’t do much for your mental stimulation.

Try to challenge your body more by getting outside. Hiking is great and also just running and walking. Give yourself more mental stimulation and a constantly changing environment. It also beats breathing in that recycled gym air.

15. Do at Least One Pull Up

This is a great last goal to focus on because it’s a great test of strength and to see how you are progressing with your fitness.

If you haven’t been able to do one, you know what a challenge it can be. Having the goal of doing at least one pull up will not only show you how far you’ve progressed but is a great way to become dedicated and motivated.

The Bottom Line

It will become more attainable through the year if you’re consistent with your fitness. Set yourself a concrete timeline as when you want to accomplish some or all of these goals. In fact, start making one of these goals happen this month!

This guide on achieving goals will be helpful for you:

How to Set Goals and Achieve Them Successfully

Featured photo credit: ivan Torres via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Phillippa Lally: How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world
[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Losing Weight
[3] Unity Point: The Scary Truth About Sleep Deprivation and Chronic Diseases

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