Unfortunately for us, this is proven to be a terrible way to facilitate a good night's sleep; those screens, in fact, cue our brains to remain alert and awake, even if we want to fall asleep or are exhausted after a busy day. A better way to wind down before closing your eyes at the end of the day is with some simple, restful yoga poses. Try performing the following four poses before you turn out the lights and you'll likely experience a more restful sleep.
With all of these poses, mindset and breathing are key. Take deep, purposeful breaths that originate from your belly, not your upper chest, and keep a calm, half-closed gaze. Or, close your eyes entirely!
1. Eagle-Armed Pose
Many of us tend to hold a lot of tension in our upper backs; consider it a side effect of hours at a computer. Loosen those muscles with this pose. Extend your arms in front of you, shoulder height, palms facing down. Cross your right arm over the other at the elbow, then bend your elbows. If you are able, hook your left fingers to the base of your right palm. Keep your elbows at shoulder height, and push your palms away from your body to deepen the stretch. Breathe into your upper back.
2. Seated Butterfly Pose
Continue the stretch in your upper back and involve your hips and thighs in the process with seated butterfly pose. Bring the soles of your feet together in front of you, letting your knees fall gently outward. Join your hands and grasp your feet, keeping your arms straight as you traction your upper body forward.
3. Seated Neck Stretch
With your legs in the position described above or crossed, whichever you prefer, interlace your fingers and place them gently on the back of your head. Do not round your upper body forward - instead, simply look down, drawing your chin to meet your chest, while keeping the rest of your spine, from your tailbone to your upper back, straight. Keep your shoulder blades down and drawn together on your upper back. Remember to breathe, and don't crank down too hard; it is your neck, after all!
4. Legs Up the Wall Pose
It may seem a bit odd, but this is likely one of the most restful and rejuvenating poses you can do! Scoot your butt as close to the wall as possible (you can do this on the floor as well, if that's easier), and simply extend your legs up the wall. Our legs are, other than when we are sleeping or in a handstand, always below our hearts, subject to the pull of gravity. By putting your legs up, you encourage gravity to draw stale blood out of your lower extremities, and give your legs - which work hard all day holding you up - a much-needed break. Interlace your hands behind your head or simply form a T with your arms.
As mentioned, breathing is truly critical to obtaining the full benefit from all of these poses. Breath deep and from your lower belly. Keep your eyes gentle and soft, or close them all together, and most importantly, put your electronics away!