There’s never been a better time to reconnect with your body and mind for a better night’s sleep. How? Through movement. Our bodies are made to move and the importance of movement is well known. The problem is that we are no longer hunting, gathering, roaming and climbing like our ancestors. Instead, most Americans sit 13-15 hours a day – and that was before we ever heard of social distancing.
For many of us right now, self-isolation means a lot of time spent just hanging around, perhaps on the coach, in bed or sitting at a desk trying to study or work from home. Our busy daily routines that used to keep us moving are on hold. This inactivity can have a negative effect on our physical and mental health, and interfere with a good night’s sleep.
So let’s do something about it! See this challenging time as an opportunity to move like you’ve never moved before. Helping to improve your health, spiritual life and quality of sleep.
Make it fun with yoga
When it comes to fun, yoga might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But have you tried it? If you are self-isolating, this is a perfect time to get started. Not only is it actually fun to do, yoga – and its meditative qualities – brings tranquility, helping to see things in a more positive light. And by helping to reduce anxiety, yoga also helps you sleep better.
Think of yoga as an opportunity for self-discovery as you get in touch with your body and connect with your inner self. Releasing your mind, body and creativity so that you can experience more fun and joy throughout the day.
Not for me, you say? Well, think again. Yoga is for every body. All of us can benefit it.
“Making your first move into yoga is easy,” says Mariell Ehlin, an inspirational yoga teacher in Sweden. “Just get into the right frame of mind. Yoga is personal – it’s for you only. There’s no prestige and no worries about having to do it perfectly. It’s not about being serious – but being sincere. Be curious and playful. Enjoy it. And keep it simple. All you need is your body – and an open mind and heart.”
Here are more yoga tips for beginners from Mariell to get you moving like never before:
- Make it a morning routine.This is the best time to establish new healthy habits, like yoga. Your mind is light and fresh. Yoga sets the stage for the day. Gives you purpose and a chance to reflect on how you want your day to be, and some of the qualities you’d like to see more of in your life. What time works best for you? Then stick with it, every day.
- Create a private space for yourself – A special, peaceful spot at home, reserved for your yoga, free from distractions so that you can clear your mind and focus. Clean, uncluttered and simple.
- Start small, take it easy. There’s no need to rush things or push yourself too hard. Let it flow naturally. Start with a 5-minute session and gradually increase to 15-20 minutes.
- Treat yourself afterwards. Pat yourself on the back. Prepare a special breakfast, for example. Chances are the positive after-effects of your yoga session are enough of a reward! What beats feeling good?
- Keep a yoga journal. Reflect on each session. Write about your thoughts and experiences. This is a great way to keep track of your progress and see how far you have come.
- Listen to music. A matter of taste and preference – play your favorite tunes to get your good vibes going! Or simply enjoy the sound of silence.
Once you get into the swing of yoga and make it a part of every day, who knows what you will want to do next… perhaps an online Tango course. Or why not make a music video together with your family like the Family Lockdown Boogie.
Mind your back – and your sleep
With anti-gravity stretches
Spending a lot of time in front of the screen? Whether sitting on the couch or at your desk, sitting takes its toll. Gravity weighs us down. Slumping our posture, as we wonder what’s causing our neck, shoulder or back pain. And making a good night’s impossible.
What can you do about it? Check out Mariell’s anti-gravity stretches – moving your body in all the right ways. Do them often and whenever you feel the need. Focus on your body and your breathing, relax and take your time. Also perfect as a warm-up for your yoga session.
Get on all fours – your hands and knees on the floor, your back forming a tabletop. Inhale, as you look up. Drawing your chest forward as you drop your belly toward the floor and point your tailbone toward the ceiling. Exhale, as you lower your head between your shoulders. Round your back and tuck your tailbone in, as you lift your belly button toward your spine. Repeat several times (see image 1-2).
- Chest opening
From the all fours Cat-Cow position, walk your hands forward and stretch your arms and fingertips away from you as you lower your chest toward the ground. Keep your hips right above your knees. Hold for 5-10 seconds and breathe slowly and deeply (see image 3).
From the chest opening position, slide forward so that you’re on your belly. Place your hands slightly in front of your shoulders. Hug your elbows in. Spread your fingers, pressing the floor away from you as you lift your chest off the ground. Hold this position a few seconds while breathing slowly and deeply (see image 4).
Performed regularly, these simple stretches will help you get the most out of your day – and your sleep.