Bed-top yoga is a name given to yoga sequences developed by several contemporary teachers who have adapted poses from the mat to the mattress. Yoga's many benefits are easier to access when you take your practice where you are so, whether sleepy, under-the-weather or otherwise confined to bed, try your Pranayama and Savasana in your pajamas.
Perform an entire yoga routine without ever stepping a toe out of bed. Bed-top yoga brings the practice to the patient when you are sick, stretches and energizes you to face another day in the morning, and helps you de-stress and get to sleep at night. Certified Bikram and Kripalu yoga teacher Carol Dickman created a bed-top yoga DVD for at-home yogis with mobility challenges, balance issues, or conditions such as illness or elderly frailty that confine you to bed. The routine is based on horizontal and breathing asanas, can be performed in bed or on a yoga mat, and takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Morning Hips, Ankles and Toes
Get the kinks out of your sleepy body before you get up in an easy 10-minute routine from Lilias Folan. Folan began teaching yoga on PBS in 1972 and created her bed-top sequence to stretch arms, shoulders and obliques, relieve jaw tension and target tight hip flexors, cramped toes and stiff ankles to get you up and running for the day. Cincinnati's PBS website hosts the instructional video for free. A regular yoga practice, whatever your fitness or physical ability level, can slow down and help to reverse the aging process, prevent osteoporosis, improve posture, release emotions held in the muscles, remove fatigue, lower blood pressure and soothe the nervous system, according to Folan.
Stretch your spine by lying supine in bed, no pillow, right arm extended to the side, palm facing the headboard. On the inhalation, raise your arm toward the headboard without bending your elbow and press your left foot strongly toward the footboard. Hold for several breaths, lower the arm on the exhalation and change sides. Then do a few curls on your comforter by drawing your right knee to your chest on an exhalation. Grasp your knee with both hands to deepen the stretch and, on the next exhalation, bring your forehead to your knee. Inhale, release the curl and repeat several times before you switch sides. Mattress curls wake up your digestive system, work your abs, send fluids to your cervical disks and improve the flexibility of your spine.
Sweet Dreams Yoga
Pranayama, yoga breathing, helps beat insomnia as it slows you down. Exhaling through your nose for a count of six and then inhaling for a count of three slows your heartbeat and calms mind chatter. "Yoga Journal" recommends trying it for five to 30 minutes as you are falling asleep. Let the day go in Savasana, Corpse pose, flat on your mattress with a thin pillow or none at all so you "melt" right into the bed. Release all the tension in your body by allowing your arms and legs to fall open naturally as you talk yourself through a body scan, starting at your toes. Let toes, insteps, heels and ankles relax and work your way up to the crown of your head, remembering fingertips, elbows, eyes and even eyebrows. Doing this every night trains your body in a new habit of falling easily to sleep.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .