5 poses to help you sleep plus a soothing sleepy time drink recipe
After returning from a recent trip to London I experienced five days of insane jetlag! You know the drill; wide awake at 2am, getting through the morning with coffee and then ready for bed by 2pm. And that weird, spaced out feeling you have when you’ve dragged your body across multiple continents… I’m feral if I don’t get at least 7 hours of continuous, good quality sleep so needless to say those five days were a struggle (more so for the people around me!) I gradually managed to coax myself back in to a normal sleeping pattern with the help of these yoga poses. This a great sequence to do before bed to help relax your body and calm your mind; really focus on pushing your thoughts to one side and take 10 to 15 breaths in each pose.
Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-legged standing forward bend) Stand with your feet about one leg length apart, feet turning inwards. As you inhale lift your chest and then exhale, folding forward from your hips whilst spreading your arms and resting your fingertips on the floor. To make this pose more restorative you can rest your head on a block. To release inhale, engage your core, bend your knees, push your feet into the floor and slowly come back up to standing on the exhale.
2. Gentle Seated Twist Sit cross-legged on the mat and exhale as you place your right hand on your left knee and left hand behind your sacrum. Gently twist your torso to the left, allowing your gaze to follow, looking over your left shoulder. Breathe deeply, then return to centre and repeat on opposite side.
3. Supta Baddha Konasana (reclining bound angle pose) Place a bolster or folded blankets lengthways on the mat. Begin in Baddha Konasana with the soles of your feet pressed together and your knees out to either side. Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as is comfortable, then take hold of your big toes keeping the outer edges of your feet firmly on the floor. If you cannot quite grab the toes, take hold of your ankles. Lower onto the elbows and then lie back along the bolster. Place the hands beside the body with palms facing the ceiling. For a stronger stretch into the shoulders take the thumbs into the creases of the elbow and place the arms above the head. Whilst in this posture keep the soles of the feet together, gently move the pubic bone towards the navel and draw the chin towards the chest to lengthen the spine. If your neck and shoulders are tight you can support your head on a folded blanket. To release inhale placing the hands beside your body, exhale to come up onto elbows, then release to sit upright. Take hold of your knees and gently bring them together.
4. Viparita Karani (the fountain of youth) This pose is your Crème de la Mer! Said to reverse the effects of aging, it increases blood supply to your vital organs and is a calming pose which lowers blood pressure. Sit on the left side of the mat with your right hip to the wall. Pivot around so that you’re lying along the mat with your legs raised up the wall, buttocks on the floor. Keep your knees and feet together with your feet flexed towards your face, relaxing the shoulders and tucking your chin to your chest to lengthen your neck. Close your eyes and rest your hands on your belly. Stay in this one for up to 10 minutes, then release by bringing your knees to your chest and carefully rolling to your right side.
5. Savasana. It makes sense to end with this one! Lie on your back, place an eye pillow over your eyes (I’m obsessed with Pikkie’s range of scented eye pillows), allow your body to completely relax
Non-alcoholic hot toddy recipe (or Hot Not Toddy)
You can’t beat a nice warm drink before bed. And even though it’s technically Spring, the Melbourne evenings are still chilly enough to warrant a soothing cup of bedtime warmth. When I was still living in London I used to love a hot toddy with whiskey; it helped me to survive the cold British winters! This non-alcoholic version is especially good if you’re feeling under the weather due to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial elements:
Ingredients (makes 2 cups)
4 cups boiling water
2 Tbsp honey
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 lemons, juiced
1 lemon, sliced
Pinch of chilli flakes or cayenne pepper, if you like a kick!
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
Place the ginger, chilli or cayenne and 2 star anise into the tea infuser section of a tea pot. Pour the boiling water over the infuser and leave to rest for around 5 minutes, before removing the infuser from the teapot.
Divide the lemon juice between 2 large mugs or heat-proof glasses and add 1tbsp of honey to each.
Divide the hot toddy mixture from your tea pot between the two mugs or glasses and stir to combine
Add a couple of slices of lemon and a cinnamon stick to each mug