Get a great night's sleep with our 10-minute yoga workout
Battling a serious Netflix addiction, worried about work deadlines or having money troubles? These things can all get in the way of some serious shut-eye and if you're not getting a good night's sleep, you're not doing your health any favours, not to mention your concentration levels! If you're fed up of sipping hot milk and counting sheep, the good news is that yoga can really help you to relax and unwind. Yoga and meditation have been used for centuries as a relaxation aid and the right yoga poses and stretches can calm a frazzled mind, relieve you of your worries and help you to wind down, naturally.
We recommend switching off your smartphone, dimming the lights and maybe lighting some candles before you start this workout. Our 10-minute workout is all about relaxing stretches to ease tired muscles. Perhaps you've been sitting all day at your desk or have a long, stressful commute home from the office? Then this workout is perfect to practice before bedtime and it's great for complete yoga beginners too.
Cat and Cow
Get onto all fours on your mat (or use a towel) and lengthen your spine as you take a deep breath in to the count of 3 and out to the count of 5. Repeat this deep breathing in and out several times, and as you breathe out, flex your feet and arch your back into 'cow' position. Breathe in and exhale slowly as you move your tailbone back towards your heels and curve your back into cow pose, letting your head drop between your shoulders. Repeat this arching and curving of your back slowly three times, focusing on your breathing.
Thread the Needle
This is a great move to relax your spine and relieve tension in your back, so it's perfect for those who work long hours sitting at a desk. Return to your all fours position with your knees bent, then take your right hand forward and extend your arm, face down towards the mat. Let your left arm 'thread' underneath your body and lower your head to the floor. Your hips should still be high and remain directly above your kness. Press your weight down into your right hand, pushing the knuckles into the floor and lengthening the spine.
Twist your body a little more to the right and use your right hand to slowly twist your collarbone as far towards the ceiling as is comfortable. Remember this is all about slow, relaxing stretching. Hold for a count of 4/5 slow breaths in and out.
Cat and Cow
Now you want to return to the centre of your mat and repeat the cow and cat poses just once. Drop down into Thread the Needle pose, but this time extend your left arm and thread your right arm underneath. We want both sides of your body to feel equally relaxed! This pose helps to relieve tension and pain in the shoulders and neck. Hold the pose for a count of 4/5 slow inhales and exhales.
Return to the centre of the mat, ready for the next pose.
Keeping your hips directly above your knees, reach both hand forwards on the mat and drop your head to the floor between your shoulders. This stretches out your shoulder muscles, which often carry a lot of our stress and tension. Breathe in for a count of three as you reach forward, then exhale and walk your hands back into Child's Pose, with your hips resting on your heels and your forearms on the mat in front of you.
Now, lower your forehead to the floor, placing your hands on the mat in front of you. If you can't touch your forehead to the floor - we're not all that flexible - then use a stack of books or yoga blocks to rest your forehead on. Hold this position for 3 deep breaths in and out, then tuck your hands up behind you, grasp your heels and let gravity pull your shoulders down towards the floor. Breathe in deeply then exhale slowly.
Take your hands back in front of you, palms flat on the mat and use your hands to walk your torso back to an upright position - your spine should feel stretched!
This twist helps to release tension in the spine and core, making a blissful night's sleep a reality! Sit slightly to the left of your mat and stretch your legs out in front of you, keeping your knees bent and soles of your feet on the floor. Start leaning back slowly and use your core muscles to slowly uncurl your body, until you are lying on your back on the mat.
Now, extend your right leg straight up and place your right hand behind your thigh to feel a hamstring stretch - roll your ankle around to intensify the stretch and then pull your leg as close to you as is comfortable, bendind the knee and tucking your leg in towards your right shoulder. This move is not only relaxing for your body, it can help the digestion too.
Take your right knee over your body towards the left side, for a spinal twist. As you do so, take your right hand behind your head and point it towards the right corner of the room, arm extended. Breathe deeply and relax your hands, feet and arm. Hold this for as long as you like as you breathe deeply in and out for a nice shoulder and arm stretch. We like to breathe in and out around 4/5 times to let stress melt away. Now draw your right knee back to your chest, squeeze it then stretch it out long on the mat.
Repeat the spinal stretch with the other leg and feel your whole body relax. This time, when you bring your other leg back into your chest, bring both legs in together towards your chest, drop your knees down to the side onto the mat and roll to your right side, using your right arm as a pillow underneath your head. Place your left palm flat on the mat in front of your chest and press your palm into the mat.
Slow Spinal Roll-up
To get this move right, imagine you are rolling up tightly into a ball. Get back on all fours and lengthen your tailbone back towards your heels, keeping your toes curled under. Walk your hands back towards your knees as you curl your body slowly backwards - your heels should begin to drop to the floor as your body rolls into a ball. Drop your chin to your chest and slowly roll up as your legs straighten. You should now be standing, folded forwards at the hips, with your hands on the mat, facing the floor. You want to slowly curl up your spine and bring your body up - we like to do this with our eyes closed and then slowly open then once we reach the top. Bring your head up slowly, open your eyes and take a couple of long, slow deep breaths in and out.