Having trouble getting eight hours of shut-eye? Steal these secrets from some of the country’s top teachers.
Keep your bedroom cool and dark. Aim to go to sleep at the same time every night. Don’t sleep with a TV playing in the background. While these tips are great, you’ve likely heard ‘em a million times before and have tried all of them—and you’re still not getting the shut-eye you need.
Setting up a well-planned nighttime ritual to prepare your mind and body for sleep can help you get high-quality rest, which is important for everything from weight control to controlling blood sugar to keeping you in a good mood. So, who better to ask about bedtime routines than yoga teachers? Calming and centering techniques are their areas of expertise, plus many of them teach early-morning classes, which makes regular sleep schedules extra-important.
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Here, 10 yoga teachers share with us their exact night-time routine that helps them get high-quality sleep.
1. Wind down with lavender, an immunity shot, and Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose
Brittanee Greenhaw, yoga instructor at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in San Diego, California, takes self-care seriously at night. Her multi-sensory wind-down rituals start with an immunity shot. She uses fresh-pressed ginger root, 10 drops of grapefruit seed extract, 3 drops of oregano, and dilutes the mixture with coconut water. She also likes to have Yo-Yo Ma Cello music playing in the background, but switches to classical music closer to bedtime. Some of her other go-to rituals: Showering using a lavender body scrub, using a jade roller to reduce inflammation of the face and lymph nodes, applying a magnesium body cream, and massaging lavender oil into the arches of her feet and then putting on cozy socks to increase the absorption and keep her feet warm. Right before bed, she stays in Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose for 11 minutes (it’s a balancing number, she says!), turns off the lights, puts an eye mask on, and drifts off to sleep.
2. Calming yoga flow, a bedtime tonic and journaling gratitude
Prior to bed, CorePower Yoga’s Master Trainer Emily Schmookler moves through a calming yoga flow. Here’s her sequence: Standing forward fold, squat and curl, toe stretch, crescent moon into half splits, table top with a couple cat-cows, child’s pose, and seated forward fold. Then, she rolls onto her back and does some gentle twists and movements to stretch her hips. She also drinks a night-time tonic to unwind. It includes Life Spa’s Ojas Milk, 1/4 teaspoon of ghee, 1/2 teaspoon of honey, and Four Sigmatic Reishi Mushroom Elixir. “This tonic is an Ayurvedic rejuvenate and aids in nourishing your depleted energy, calms your nervous system and helps to rebuild your immune system,” Schmookler says. Her night-time routine also includes writing down three things she was grateful for during the day.
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3. Soak in an Epsom salt bath
Teri Wilkinson, yoga instructor, Ko’a Kea Resort & Spa in Kauai, Hawaii says she takes a 10 to 15 minute hot bath before bed. “I put in 1 cup of Epsom salt and 1 cup of baking soda to allow my muscles to relax and loosen up, my body to detox, and to clear my mind from my day.” She then drinks a cup of Celestial Seasonings’ Sleepytime extra. The valerian root in the tea, she says, helps her sleep deeply for about seven hours.
4. Do restorative yoga stretches and listen to melodic tunes from around the world
Each night before bed, Kirkland Shave, program director at Mountain Trek Fitness Retreat and Health Spa, and a certified yoga instructor, does 15 minutes of restorative yoga stretches. He finishes his stretching session with a short Chi Kung energy circulation practice, and makes some prayers of gratitude. “After, I turn my phone onto airplane mode, put in my noise-cancelling earbuds, tune into some melodic East Indian ragas, or Japanese Koto and Shakuhachi music, and lay atop a few spikey balls in bed, placing them along my neck and back,” he says. The balls place isolated pressure on imbalanced connective tissues to increase circulation, and also reduce muscle fatigue and soreness, he says.
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5. Use an old-school alarm clock
Since Lauren Larry, a yoga teacher in Manhattan, Kansas, teaches 5 a.m. classes, she makes sure she’s in bed early and doesn’t get disrupted. “I banish tech from my sleeping space,” she says. In fact, she even relies on an old-school alarm clock. Without tech in the bedroom, Larry says, she doesn’t get caught up in the news or a tweet storm.
6. Stone diffusers, tea, and p.m. poses
Carolena Coley makes Bedtime Tea by Yogi and sets up her Vitruvi stone diffusers with a lavender and sandalwood essential oil blend before bed. “As I am drinking my tea, I practice mindfulness with my senses for grounding; what I can feel, hear, see, smell and taste,” says Coley, Yoga in the Vineyard instructor at Spa Terra at The Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa Valley, California. “Then, I take a few minutes to acknowledge my day with my gratitude practice.” In addition to Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose, she also does a Reclining Bound Angle Pose, and stays in this pose for five minutes, placing one hand on her heart and one hand on her belly. “I connect with my heartbeat and my breath, breathing in and out for a count of eight,” Coley says.
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7. Have a go-to song for bedtime
Remember nursery rhymes? It’s good, too, to have some soothing melodies that signal bedtime when you’re an adult. Kelly Clifton Turner, yoga instructor and Director of Education for YogaSix, often does 5 to 10 minutes of Legs-Up-The-Wall before bed. She also listens to a favorite song. (“Soul Lotion,” by Cadet de’l’espace, and “Cease To Know,” by Eluvium are currently in rotation). “There is an almost Pavlovian response when I hear those songs,” she says.”I settle right down.” If thoughts enter her mind while she’s relaxing (i.e. “What time is my first meeting?”) she thinks to herself: “This isn’t the time to spend on that.”
8. Mediate and make a to-do list
“I set a meditation cushion on my practice mat, close my eyes and face east in my studio and take the time to meditate, reflecting and reviewing my day,” says Karen Newton, a yoga teacher at Sage Yoga Studio, which is the on-site studio of Prairie Guest House in Fishers, Indiana. During her meditation, she plays relaxing music. “After my 30-minute meditation, I will write out my to-do list for the following day,” Newton says. Knowing she has an agenda for the next day brings about calmness.
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9. Count your breath
Some nights, no matter what you try, it’s hard to fall asleep. When that happens, try this technique, courtesy of Jennifer Reis, a teacher at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health.
● Lie down, get comfortable, and close your eyes.
● Become aware of your breathing.
● Slowly count the exhalations backward, starting with 10. Keep your focus solely on the breath.
● If you lose track while counting, begin again with 10.
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10. Enjoy a sound bath and a book
Love relaxing with music at night? Spotify has a “sound bath” playlist, points out Erin Motz, the co-founder of Bad Yogi, which offers online yoga classes. In addition to listening to the calming sounds, Motz also likes to read before bed, but she makes sure it’s light reading and not too riveting. She also practices 8-4-8 breathing to calm down the central nervous system and prep the body for sleep. Some of her go-to p.m. poses: Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose, Supine Twists, and Pigeon Pose.
So, will you be incorporating any of these techniques into your own sleep routine?
6 Yogi Dads Inspiring Us This Fathers Day
Here are six yogi dads who inspire us to continue to cultivate deeper and more meaningful relationships with the children in our lives through their sacred fatherhood. Thank you, dads!
1. Jah Sun
“If you’re seeing this, it means you have a father. I had one too. He’s was a brilliant chemist of a top firm in NJ. Seen him twice my entire life. I’m thankful he made me. Truly! As much I longed to see him more as a kid, The Universe knew what I needed and having him more fully in my life could’ve been more damaging. Who knows? Doesn’t matter. What I do know it that’s it’s perfect – as is – and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t be me otherwise. So, today, I’m not simply offering up some generic “Happy Father’s Day” to all fathers. Because being a “Father” takes very little skill, 3 minutes behind a school bleacher at age 15-16 (some start younger than that) – if we’re keeping it real like adults. I’m raising the bar. Elevating the standard. I’m unwilling to continue to celebrate the bare minimum. Honoring men with zero, or little connection to their children and send money like they’re paying a car note. In and out, when it suits them, like a revolving door at a hotel. Instead, I’m standing up to SALUTE ALL DADS! Men who are there, present and CONSISTENT for their children (and being with Mom is not a requirement to be available for your baby). MEN who have taken up the mantle to raise another man’s child (that they left behind), and became Dad for them. I stand up and SALUTE ALL MOMS doing double duty as BOTH parents. I was a single dad for 5 years, so I don’t empathize – I sympathize because I did it too. Real life experience. The pain of that hurts on levels many can’t comprehend. So, I see you, and I’m proud of you! For the True DADS of all genders, skin colors and geographical location – SALUTE! Keep up the amazing work. Our children deserve nothing less!”
2. Aubert Bastiat
“3/8/2019. Today I’m celebrating Cairo’s 1 year on this earth. Today I’m celebrating beautiful @divinedavana who I love more everyday. Today I’m celebrating my mother, my sisters and the Sacred Feminine in all Her expressions.
I celebrate not by word alone but by holding the highest vision and I do so through love, intention and action. Although it’s only been a year since Cairo was born truly this last year has been the most EPIC of my entire existence. It was after becoming a father to Cairo at 33 that my vision became grounded to this earth in such a way that the manifold expressions of my service to this world crystallized into a singular focus – anchoring the Sacred Masculine to this earth. Because there is no greater gift that I can give to my family, community and this world than embodying the Sacred and anchoring it to this earth through every aspect of my life.”
3. Alonzo Nelson Jr. M.Ed
After 9 months and 41 hours of labor, my princess has arrived. April 10th at 6:43pm, Harper Renee Nelson made her grand entrance into my life. Fatherhood is my new favorite job. Sorry math!”
4. Brian Delmonico
I didn’t know what to expect when Mia Luna was born. Like any new parent to be I received a love blast like nothing else I’ve ever experienced before. Holding her, calming her, changing her, smelling her, and loving her is a feeling I don’t think I could ever put into words. [The first two weeks of her life] changed my world, and brought new meaning to every moment of my life.”
5. Adam Jackson
“Listening to music with Noah makes me hear it differently. I can hear it for the first time through him. We’re doing a little dance here. I want to show him everything. I can’t wait for him to show me everything.”
6. Peter Maldonado
My favorite girl. Being a dad to such a gentle delicate little kid like her comes with challenges. Sometimes I have no clue what I’m “supposed” to be doing with her. I just make sure she’s fed, clean, and genuinely happy. I feel like she teaches me way more about life than I teach her. Grateful that recovery has enabled me to be the best dad I can be to this kiddo. Because she’s pure love and deserves the best.”
5 Yogis Share The Lessons They Learned From Traveling the World
The Western Yogi's Guide to Traveling Through India
From the must-see places and pilgrimages to top tips on how to stay healthy on the road, here’s what you need to know before you plan your trip.
I started practicing yoga in a crowded New York City gym, my mat so close to the student’s next to mine that I couldn’t tell whose sweat droplets were whose. Like many Americans, I was introduced to yoga as a physical activity—I considered it a complement to the triathlon training I was doing at the time—and thought of it as only that for the first five or so years I practiced.
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Then, I started practicing with a yoga teacher who dropped lessons about yoga’s lineage into her classes. That led me to another instructor, who taught me even more about this ancient practice, the origins of which date to pre-Vedic times (1500–500 BCE) and are widely believed to have morphed into the Hatha Yoga that spread during British colonial rule of India and that Westerners practice today. The more I learned, the more I realized that eventually, I’d want to make a pilgrimage to yoga’s birthplace so I could understand more fully the practice I’d come to love.
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I had that chance three years ago. What I learned is that, similar to my journey on my yoga mat, a meaningful trip to India can’t just be about taking. Rather, it should be about studying up on the places you’ll visit and cultures you’ll experience, connecting meaningfully with the people you meet when you’re there, giving back through seva (selfless service) work, and, most important, staying open to learning. It’s my sincere hope that this guide will help you do just that.
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