6 Easy Yoga Poses that you can easily do in bed

These days if you give me the option between:

(a) a long lie; or

(b) a long luxurious yoga practice;

I am going to choose (a) every single time.

Once upon a time, when my son (who is now 10) was about 18 months old, I would set my alarm for 5.30 am every morning. I wanted  to make sure that I had completed a full vinyasa flow yoga practice with umpteen complex sun salutations, standing poses, twists, forward bends, backbends and inversions, pranayama and meditation before he woke up. The whole practice would take at least 90 minutes.  It seemed imperative at the time to spend at least 5 minutes in headstand.

Now with 2 children to get to school on the during the week mornings and many classes of my own to teach early on weekend days my yoga practice has become shorter and (possibly) more efficient. I shake my head at the indulgence of headstands these days.

If you are a parent and you have a hectic life like mine, here is my top tip for getting your yoga on while you have some time.

Do your yoga practice in bed.

Advantages:

Your bed is comfy and there are no small people, pieces of lego or food crumbs in it (hopefully).

The mattress is thicker than your yoga mat and you have pillows and blankets at the ready as yoga props.

Getting out of bed is when the crazy starts to happen – arguments, elaborate breakfast smoothie requests, notes to be completed and returned with money to school etc.

Enjoy the moment with some gentle and very effective yoga poses. This sequence would

1. Supta Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)

This is an amazing reclining/supine hip opening pose that quickly rejuvenates you by encouraging the hip and groin areas as well as opening up the chest.

Sit on your bed with a couple of pillows behind you. Bring the soles of your feet together and slowly lean back into the pillows. You can also put pillows/cushions under your knees. Let your arms rest at your sides or overhead if that feels comfortable, palms upwards. Relax and let gravity pull your thighs down towards the comfy support of your mattress.

Stay in this pose for about five minutes.

Sit comfortably on your bed. Interlace your fingers, pams away from you and stretch your arms out in front.

Inhale: life your arms to the ceiling and expand your ribcage, chest and upper back. Exhale and place your hands behind your head. Bring your elbows out to the sides opening your chest.

Blog 2

2. Side Bends Seated

Side bends stretch out your ribs helping you to breathe more freely and stretch the side muscles from the neck down to the pelvis, opening up the chest and upper back. Fabulous for realigning the spine after a night’s sleep and for toning the waist.

Sit comfortably making sure that both of your sit bones are pressing into the mattress. Inhale deeply feeling the ribs open like venetian blinds, Exhale and lift up to bend to the right. Bring your right hand down, palm to the bed and walk your fingers out. Hold the stretch for 3 breaths, inhale and come back to centre. When you are sitting upright again, exhale and repeat on the left side. Repeat two to three times each side.

Blog 3

A slightly more intense version of the same side bend can be found in Parighasana (Gate Pose) shown here and described here

Blog 1

3. Cat-Cow (Marjariasana in Sanskrit)

A  great spine revitalizing sequence and a good centring yoga exercise both for preventing and relieving back pain as well as activating abdominal muscles and stimulating the digestive system.

In a quadriped (four point kneeling) position soften your elbows, inhale. As you exhale, move your tailbone towards your pubic bone, pubic bone to belly button rounding the lower back. Let your eye gaze go to your knees.

Cat

Inhale. Move your ribs and chest forward to lengthen your spine and lift your eye gaze to look forward and slightly up.

Cow pose

Exhale. Repeat.

4. Bennitasana/Semi-Prone Shoulder and Chest Stretch

I always wake up feeling like my left collar bone has been smooshed into my neck. This is my without fail go to morning yoga pose.

Lie on your  belly and stretch one arm out to the side at shoulder height.

Keep the hand open with the palm facing down  and the whole of the straight arm pressing down into the floor. Bend the opposite elbow while drawing the hand inward toward your trunk.

Push into the opposite hand and begin to roll open to the side of the extended arm. You can also step the top foot up and over the bottom leg to intensify the stretch.

This is a good place to stay—pushing into the opposite hand to intensify the stretch or you can reach the opposite arm up and behind you, letting it hang as you allow gravity to open up your chest shoulder  or tucking the finger of that hands under your ribs. Hold for 3-5 minutes to soften the connective tissues/fascia in the chest and shoulder to improve mobility of the shoulder and arm.  –

 

Chest opener

5. Bridge Pose pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Bridge pose strengthens your glutes/butt and upper hamstrings and stretches the fronts of the thighs. This in turn helps to take the load off your lower back which can get thrown about a bit while you toss and turn in your bed at night.

Lie on your back. Bend your knees and keep the soles of your feet on the bed, heels digging down. Flatten your lower back by pressing your belly down into the mattress.  You will feel your tailbone start to rise off the mattress as you do this. Press into your heels and lift your hips off the bed drawing your tailbone to your pubic bone, pubic bone to belly button as you curl up to your shoulder blades. Hold this pose for as long as feels good. Lower down slowly, vertebrae by vertebrae until your hips are back on the bed. Repeat 3-5 times slowly and luxuriously.

Bridge

6.  Supine Spinal Twist – Supta Matsyendrasana Variation

This asana opens your chest and hips and very gently opens your spine while encouraging your abdominal muscles to engage.

Lie on your back with your knnes bent to your chest. Stretch your arms out to the side at right angles to your body.

Join both knees together and bring them to the right side of your body. Turn your head to the left. Hold as long as you can. Then fire up the left side of your belly to bring your knees to centre and then over to the left hand side of your body. Turn your head to the right.

It can feel really nice to put a pillow under your knees as you drop them to the side and to slowly bring your knees closer to the armpit in the twist.

Supine Twist

By now you will be ready for your breakfast and a wonderful day 🙂

Namaste.

————————————————
CREDIT:

The inspiration for this post came by way of an email from the lovely people at Casper Sleep. . They claim to make awesome mattresses that aren’t just for sleeping but so supportive that they can be used for yoga (and probably mat pilates). Although this is not a mattress that is available yet in Australia, it is one that I would like to try out. Night time yoga and then sinking into savasana on a mattress which one reviewer describes as like ‘sleeping on a cloud’ sounds luxurious and decadent.

They asked me if I would help them with their newest project “Bed-time Yoga Poses”. They are going to collect their favourite poses and sequences assemble a post for their blog (http://blog.caspersleep.com/) in due course.

I Shall Play This Only Once

Sitting on the sofa last night the news is clearly and crisply delivered:

‘Margaret Thatcher has died from a stroke’.

My husband turns to me with a look of what? Relief maybe or just a weary cognisance of the machinery of inevitability chewing steadily forward.

This morning an email from my mum with a link to an article pounding irresponsible persons from congregating in George Square to mark her passing. They unleashed the horses and police in riot masks at us there, once upon a time in the days when university education was still paid for by the State and we still felt that activism could make a difference.

There was a time when the very mention of her name brought up an irrational anger in me.

My days of anger are mostly behind me now. Yesterday morning and well before the news broadcast, however, I was irrationally out of sorts. A young woman running for the traffic light nearly barrelled into me as I crossed the road heading towards the yoga studio. Stuck between her forward trajectory and a slightly stationery car, my shoulder instinctively turned and I buffeted her physically away from me.  An entirely over the top defensive movement – she gasped in shock more than pain (I hope).  As I walked away I looked at the reaction. Why on earth suddenly was I so frigging angry?

Not that I am blaming Maggie or her demise for my actions. I can choose how to feel, how to behave. I am a grown up and a yogi after all or so I would like to think.

How can you possibly blame one woman for the wreckage of social justice, the slow dissolution of the welfare state? She was probably no more than an emetic for the aspiration of greed.  A crusader for salvation through home ownership, a pinup girl for free market forces the zeitgeist she brandished like an axe polarised allegiances more effectively than any war ever could.

It is clear to me now that I was always going to be one of those destined to stand on the outside watching as others cranked the wealth machine inside still and dusty corporate factories.

Today I live in a suburb that is a veritable Australian shrine to her legacy. Multi-million dollar homes built by self-made men and women. Amongst these people I am a renter, a lower caste to each and everyone one of my neighbours. Renting is a dirty word round these parts. Such is my destiny that it is more likely than not that I will never own my own home either in part with the bank via a stonking great mortgage or outright. How will that change my life? All I know is that not to have the same goals of acquisition as others puts me in the precarious position of relying on charity in my dotage or hoping my kids will put me up (and put up with me).

Maggie did not create the schism that places on either side of the wealth divide but she grabbed a palette full of residual fears and anxieties and painted a broad social canvas of indifference and self service with it.

I will never say that I am happy that someone else is dead. Death is but a dissolution of a life force that chugs on unabated in her absence. I will only be happy when that frissure that she worried open is filled or the carapace onto which I  presently cling splits away entirely letting me drift away with it.

Maybe true freedom will follow?

RIP Margaret Thatcher

The Parable of the Iron Lady

Losing My Bottle in Backbends

Mostly I like to think of myself as strong and fearless.

Sometimes I am and sometimes I am shit scared.

This week I looked a fear in the face and

Iyengar drops back into Urdhva Dhanurasana

 

ran away from it.

My nemesis in yoga is upward bow or wheel pose – the sanskrit name is Urdhva Dhanurasana.

The entry level in wheel pose is to push up from a bridge pose, which looks something like this:

Both bridge pose and wheel pose rely on two main things – leg strength and butt strength. Rodney Yee counsels that you should not attempt wheel pose unless you can support it with strong glutes and deliciously open hip flexors.

I am rather partial to Rodney Yee so I have given heed to his advice.

For a long LONG time I would go no higher in Wheel Pose than the version above.

Anything higher than that would crunch into my lower back and cause me a huge amount of discomfort.

I learned to deal with my ego.

The ego used to encourage me (with Gollum like whispers) to try to drop back into wheel from standing. A bit like this…

I can’t of course because that is crazy yoga voodoo.

Haha.

What I have done, day by day is to push up from bridge pose into this position.

Yoga Pose Weekly - Bow Pose

 

 

This week, quite by accident, I found myself in a position where I was in a deep back bend against the wall on blocks. It looked a bit like this

It felt good.

It actually felt awesome.

‘Walk your hands up the wall’ my teacher suggested lightly.

I did.

‘Now walk them back down the wall to your blocks’.

I sort of did until I was about an inch of the way away from the blocks. The block stared up at me. I growled back at it. There we were, immovable object meets immobile yogi.

The block won.

Later I wondered why I find it so hard to trust my own judgment.

I guess it is a common problem.

_____________________________________
Post-script: If you fancy conquering your own better judgment there is a useful blog tutorial by Annie at Supportive Yoga here here

20130202-211129.jpg

Photo credit above: Chauncey Harrison ‘The Elegant Klutz’