I've always known that I should do yoga more often than I do. You see, I have one of those jumbled minds, the kind that makes it near impossible to fall asleep. I close my eyes, and my brain takes over, running my to-do list over and over in my mind. Since I complained often about my lack of sleep, a couple of yogi friends insisted that I try yoga before bed. Reluctantly, I gave in. But honestly, I didn't think that yoga would help me tame my wild, ping-ponging thoughts. Still, I made a conscious effort to try to do yoga every night — in the comfort of my own home — for one week straight.
There are so many free options out there on the Internet, so I put "yoga at bedtime" into the search engine and got to work. For the first few nights, I struggled to remember to practice yoga and even more so to summon the energy to move from my couch to the mat. But I set a reminder on my phone and made it happen. I made sure I brushed my teeth and got completely ready for bed before each yoga session, too. That way, I wouldn't rev myself up again before trying to go to sleep.
On that fourth night, I fell asleep right away. And I mean right away.
The length of the videos varied, but they were typically 20 to 30 minutes long. After the first couple of evenings, I didn't notice much of a difference. My body still felt stiff, and I still had a difficult time falling asleep due to my racing brain. But on that fourth night, I fell asleep right away. And I mean right away. The peaceful nature of bedtime yoga finally calmed me. Each session ended in Savasana, a pose in which you simply lie on your back with your hands at your sides. After the other yoga poses throughout the session, your breath should be established and while in Savasana, it gets deeper. So, I let my abdomen and chest rise and fall with each breath. I let go. I relaxed.
I'd lay on my mat and let my mind rest, too. Then at the end of each session, I'd glide into bed and easily fall asleep. I also didn't wake up as often during the night and climbed out of bed on my own the next morning, feeling rested and ready to tackle the day.
It wasn't until the final day that I started to notice my body feeling different. But now, I feel much more limber and less stiff. As a woman hitting the big 4-0 in a couple of years, some days my body feels like the Tin Man. Suddenly, getting up off of the floor after playing with my children became easier, as did working out.
Turns out, my yogi friends were right. Yoga helped me in more ways than I thought, though I'm most thankful for some sound sleep. I won't continue to do yoga every single night, but I will most definitely try to incorporate it into my nightly routine at least three to four days per week. The benefits are noticeable after just seven days, and I'm excited to see how much better I'll feel when it becomes a more permanent part of my life.