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Favourite nighttime yoga pose

This is the yoga pose you've been dreaming about. If I had to choose one yoga pose to squeeze into my evening routine, this would be it.

A good book in one hand and a cup of peppermint tea in the other. For me, there's no better way to tune out and relax before going to bed. Except perhaps some Yoga Nidra and my all time favourite bedtime yoga pose.

Every night before getting my beauty sleep, whether I'm on the floor, on the couch or lying in bed, I ALWAYS lift my legs into the air. Yes, this pose is included in my previous blog: 8 evening poses to help you sleep.

If you don't have a wall, grab your yoga block, bolster, cushion or pillow and slide it underneath your tailbone. Perch your sitting bones right on the edge to encourage your hips to hinge, bringing the toes over your face to find delicious length in the hamstrings and calf muscles. I like to place one hand on my heart and one on my belly and practice deep breathing here. Keep a soft bend in the knees, relax the head, face and shoulders, and feel the spine lengthen out, as your feet take a huge sigh of relief. Literally, "take a load off".

Depending on how good my book is, I may forget my feet are getting the full cooling affects from the ceiling fan, until a little tingling sensation in the tips of the toes reminds me I've been elevated for at least five minutes.

Raising the legs above heart level allows the body to receive better blood circulation as it repairs itself from a day of running around or sitting. The pull of gravity causes symptoms of tired legs, sore backs, and poor circulation as the blood fights to travel up in the body towards the heart and brain.

Besides just feeling amazing, here are a few of the many other benefits leg elevation can give you before bed.

  1. Raised leg poses have been practiced in yoga as an avenue to drain old blood from the feet to improve blood circulation.

  2. As the body’s longest nerve, the sciatic nerve can wreak havoc and pain when inflamed. This nerve follows the spinal cord down the back into the buttocks and then down both legs. Putting our legs in the air can help to minimise lower back pain, by reducing sciatic nerve irritation caused by continual compression or inflammation.

  3. Remember the time pre-Covid and disembarking after a long flight? I'd always look down to see two very tired and swollen ankles staring back at me. This is your body telling you to put your legs in the air and drain away the fluid and associated tension. As soon as you elevate, pressure is taken off the veins and can reduce swollen ankles, allowing for better blood flow from the tips of your toes to the heart and the rest of the body.

If your legs are loving this new addition to the nighttime routine, why not try sleeping with your legs slightly elevated thanks to the simple aid of some pillows? Just a thought.

As the blood circulates around your body, you will feel more relaxed, and you can look forward to a deep, peaceful and rejuvenating good night's sleep ahead.

Sweet dreams.

Louise FitzRoy is the Principal of Activ Life, a leading health and wellness company based in the Cayman Islands. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: Best yoga poses to relieve sciatic pain and How can I keep up a regular yoga practise?

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