1. Lying Spinal Twist
This pose is a great way to stay flexible, and an ideal pose to practice before going to sleep.
Benefits: The lying spinal twist stretches the spine and the shoulders, while strengthening the lower back. This pose also improves digestion and circulation and is also a great pose to relieve lower back pain, neck pain and sciatica.
Practice with caution if: You suffer from high or low blood pressure, diarrhea or have a headache.
- Lie on your back, legs stretched out.
- Draw your right knee into your chest and wrap your arms around your leg, hugging it tightly. Repeat with your left leg. Then draw both knees to your chest, wrapping both arms around your legs. Rock from side to side to massage the back. Release, returning to a neutral position with your legs extended.
- Extend your arms out to the side, shoulders down. Draw your right knee to the chest, keeping your left leg extended.
- Take your left hand to your right knee and draw your right knee across the left side of the body towards the bed. Be sure to keep both of your shoulders down, extending the left arm away from the body.
- Hold the posture for a couple of breaths. Inhale, bringing both knees and head to the center, then repeat on your left side.
Modify the pose: Place a blanket under the knee if you feel like you need some extra support.
2. Thread the Needle Pose
This pose will help loosen up the shoulders, giving them a much needed stretch.
Benefits: Thread the Needle stretches the shoulders and the posterior rotator cuff (the front part of the shoulder). It stretches the oblique muscles (the side abdominal muscles) and strengthens the legs.
Practice with caution if: You have a neck injury, an upper back injury or a migraine.
- Go onto all fours in cat position.
- Take your left arm under the right, placing it away from the body. As you do so, feel yourself deeply twisting through the spine. Keep your shoulder on the bed.
- For a deeper stretch, lift the right arm up towards the ceiling. Hold for a couple of breaths.
- Return to cat position and repeat on the other side.
Modify the pose: If you need extra padding for your shoulder, use a blanket.
3. Reclining Hero Pose
This pose can be a little bit of a challenge, particularly on the spine and knees. But, practiced on the bed with extra cushions for added support should make this pose all the more comfortable.
Benefits: Reclining Hero Pose stretches the abdomen, thighs and deep hip flexors, as well as the knees and the ankles. It is a great way to relieve tired legs and improve digestion.
Practice with caution if: You have knee issues or ankle problems and avoid if you have serious back problems. If you are unsure about whether you can enter the pose or not, seek guidance from a qualified yoga instructor prior to attempting this posture by yourself.
- Sit down on your knees with your glutes to your heels.
- Exhale and lean back onto your hands and then your forearms and elbows.
- Once you have established this foundation, place your hands on the back of the pelvis and release your lower back and upper buttocks by pushing your tailbone down.
- To finish off, recline onto the bed or onto the support of blankets and cushions.
- Take both arms to the side and hold the pose for a couple of breaths.
- To come out of the pose, inhale and press your forearms against the bed. Exhale and bring your chin towards your chest. As you come out of the pose, lead with your sternum rather than your head or chin.
Modify the pose: For extra support, set up a couple of pillows and cushions as shown in the image, fully supporting your spine and head. Use as much height as you need to help you enter the pose comfortably.
4. Legs Up against the Wall/Headboard
A beneficial pose to help your body relax deeply.
Benefits: The benefits of this pose are bountiful. It alleviates anxiety, pain associated with arthritis, digestive problems, soothes a headache, counteracts high and low blood pressure, reduces symptoms associated with insomnia, eases a migraine, alleviates mild depression, respiratory ailments, varicose veins, beneficial for women with menopause.
Avoid if: You have serious eye problems, glaucoma, serious neck and back problems.
- This pose may be practiced against a wall. If doing so, take two folded blankets placing the edges against the wall.
- Sit with your right side against the wall or the headboard and your back against the blankets. Exhale and swing your legs up onto the wall or headboard. Your bottom should be on the blankets or cushions and your shoulders and head down on the bed.
- Keep your shoulder blades open and away from the spine, releasing your hands and arms out to your sides, palms facing up.
- Your legs should be relatively firm, with just enough strength to hold them vertically in place.
- Hold this posture for about 5 minutes. To come out of the pose, slide the legs down the wall or the headboard, bend the knees and slowly sit up.
5. Corpse Pose
Before laying down to sleep, take a few moments in this position, allowing you to feel fully rested.
- From a comfortable seated position, roll down vertebra by vertebra, flexing your knees as you make your way down. Once you're in a laying down position, straighten your legs, allowing them to open naturally.
- Flex your right foot and lengthen the leg, holding for a couple of seconds. Then, relax the muscles in the leg, the ankle and toes. Repeat, this time for the left leg. Allow the calf and inner thigh to release and let your leg turn outwards naturally.
- Lengthen your arms above your head, feeling a deep stretch in your upper body. Bring your arms down by your sides, palms facing up. Spread the fingers wide and relax the shoulders and hands.
- Slowly lift your chin, bringing it toward your chest, stretching the back of your neck.
- Lay back down, relaxing the jaw and softening the tongue off the top of the mouth.
- Take long, deep breaths allowing your body to release any tension.
- Remain in corpse pose for about 5 to 15 minutes and when you are ready, come out of the pose by slowly wiggling your toes and fingers. Roll over to the right side, remain there for a couple of breaths. Then slowly come up.
Modify the pose: Place a blanket or towel under the neck and knees for extra comfort and use an eye cover to help you relax more deeply.