Sequence for Sweet Dreams

We all go through phases of not sleeping well. Whether we are affected by moon cycles, shifts in seasons, changes in life, or stress at work, the occasional feeling of " I didn't sleep at all, where is my next cup of coffee coming from" isn't foreign even to the most balanced of people. The following is a twenty minute sequence that can be done before bed to help clear out stagnation and process elements from the day that may be keep you from falling asleep or staying asleep. It is designed to move energy from your head to you feet to get you grounded and ready for a peaceful night's sleep.

Neck stretch
targets: muscles of the neck, upper back, and shoulders. Releases tension in those areas
Start seated comfortably either on the floor or the edge of the bed. Gently drop your right ear toward your right shoulder and drape the right hand to the left side of the head. Turn your left palm up toward the ceiling and gently reach through your fingers. Stay for 30 seconds. Slowly roll your chin down toward your chest, take a full breath in and on a natural exhale lift the chin parallel to the floor. Switch sides.

Cross body shoulder stretch
targets: muscles of the shoulder girdle to release tension in neck, shoulders, and upper back
Remain seated and cross your right arm across your chest. Bend and hook the left arm around the right and draw the arm into the chest. stay for 30 seconds and switch sides.

Half Forward Fold
targets hamstrings, postural back muscles, gently opens chest, improves posture
From sitting, come to stand with your feet 4-6 inches apart. Hinge from the hips and place your hands onto your shins. Found down evenly into your feet and bring your heels, knees, and hips into alignment. Press your shins into your hands and from the connection of your hands to your legs draw the collar bones forward. Lift the chin slightly away from the chest and send your gaze down past the tip of your nose. Stay for 1-2 minutes

Forward Fold
targets hamstrings,calves, and hips, opens the back body, opens the lungs, stimulates liver and kidneys, calms the brain
From your half fold, release the hands to the floor (if the hands do not reach the floor, place them onto yoga blocks or stacks of books). Press the hands and feet down into the ground to lift the hips, release the neck and allow the head to hang heavy towards the floor. Stay for 1-3 minutes

Rag doll with hands interlaced
targets chest and shoulders, opens the lungs, relieves stress, quiets the mind
From your forward fold bend your knees and rest your chest and abdomen on your thighs. Reach the arms behind you and interlace them at the webbing scrub the knuckle up towards the ceiling as the head hands down toward the floor. Stay for 1 minute

Cat/Cow
targets the spine and abdomen, creates mobility in the spine and massages abdominal organs, integrate front and back body
Lower to hands and knees on the floor. Stack your hips over your knees and the shoulders over the wrists. Breath in to lift the heart and the tail bone, arching the spine to come to cow. Breath out to curl the tail bone down and release the head between the arms, rounding the spine. Take 5 rounds

Sphinx
targets front body, moves energy through chest and throat, resets sacrum
From hands and knees slide forward onto your abdomen. Prop yourself up onto your forearms and bring your elbows under your shoulders. Press down into your hands to lift and spread through the collar bones. Point back through your toes and press the toenails (pinky toe included!) down into the floor. Drag the floor toward you to bring your chest through the gates of your arms. Hold for 2 minutes

Bharadvaja's Twist
targets spine and abdomen. stretches spine, shoulders, hips, massage abdominal organs, relieves stress, lower back pain and sciatica
From the floor, bring your hands under your shoulders and push up to sit back on your heels. Side saddle yourself off your calves to the right, your feet will outside the left hip, lift your arms into the air and on an exhale twist to the right. Place your left hand to the floor outside your right thigh and your left hand back behind you. Root down into your right buttock and finger tips, spiral your ribs around the spine as you roll your shoulders back, lift the sternum and broaden the collar bones. Turn your chin to the left should and send your gaze past the end of your nose. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release and come to center sitting on your heels and then switch to the other side.

Child's Pose (variation)
targets hips, thighs, and ankles. Opens lungs in the back body. Calms the brain and relieves stress.
From sitting on your shins bring the big toes together and the knees wider than your hips. Fold forward from the hips between your legs. Reach the arms forward. Inhale into the back torso, widening and lengthening the spine, exhale release a little more deeply into the pose. This variation keeps the spine neutral while providing the calming benefits of the forward fold. Stay 1-3 minutes (if you have difficultly sitting on your heels place a folded blanket or towel between your tights and calves.)

Seated Forward bend
targets hamstrings, opens lungs, calms the mind, cools the body
From child's pose swing the legs out in front of you, reach through the heels and flex your feet. If you have trouble sitting up with the legs straight out in front of you sit up on a folded blanket or pillow. Walk your hands toward your feet, when you have gone as far as you can comfortably go press your palms into the floorand "Drag" the floor toward you as you lengthen your heart towards your feet. Soften your gaze down. Stay for 1-3 minutes

Star Pose (Tarasana)
targets hips and inner thighs, releases groins, lower back and hips, quiets the mind
From your seated forward bend bend the knees and bring the soles of your feet together to create a big diamond shape. Round the spine forward and thread your hands under you calves that the forearms rest on the floor. send your gaze to the floor. If there is tension in the inner thighs, support the knees with pillows of blankets. I also love this pose with the forehead resting on a block or folded blanket. Stay 1-3 minutes

Rub some lavendar oil on the soles of your feet and take savasana in bed. Bring your attention to your breath, following the exhales until you drift off to sleep.

milan