Below yoga sequence should be used as a guide by yoga teachers to create their own yoga class plans
Yoga at Night: Nighttime Yoga Sequence
Why should one practice yoga before going to bed, when there is hardly any energy left in the body? When we talk of night time yoga, it is not about burning those extra calories that were gained during the day; nor is it about setting the digestive system right or just relaxing the nerves and limbs in order to sleep well.
Night time yoga is about connecting with oneself from deep within, while also relaxing the body. It is about taking the practice of yoga 'off the mat', while practicing yoga in everything we do, every single day of our lives.
When we say night time yoga, it means that is the time to ask questions related to your day whether the basic rules of Yama and Niyama were followed, if one was true to their conscience with thoughts, words and deeds. Irrespective of the yoga practice done during the day, one must out of habit make this sequence of night time yoga as a ritual to stay grounded and connect with our roots and the earth around us.
The entire day's stress and pressure are mostly carried and felt at our neck, shoulder and feet. By the end of the day, it is this part of our body that feels the maximum strain and heaviness. Unknowingly going to bed with this strain and stress gives us uncomfortable sleep and one wakes up feeling tired and low the next day.
The sequence for night time yoga is aimed at relaxing the neck, shoulders and the legs, while connecting to the breathing, keeping the body light and disconnected from you. When one learns to detach the mind from the body in a particular pose, they can learn to connect with the inner consciousness.
Note: Nighttime Yoga should be done just before going to bed and there should be a good three hour gap between dinner and the practice.
Yoga at Night: Nighttime Yoga Sequence: Yoga Poses, Cues, Steps, and Breathing instructions
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A. The day always ends feeling exhausted and tired both physically and mentally. With guided breath which is slow and soft, this sequence will help you to come out of the stiffness and stress both from the body and the mind and induce a better sleep with a clear consciousness.
B. The feet takes all the weight of the body and with the day full of physical activities the feet feel completely heavy and tired. So to begin with, relaxing the feet along with the entire leg is the first thing to start with.
C. Inhale and place yourself comfortable on the floor on your feet in a squat position. Keeping the distance between the feet more than hip distance apart, push the hips downwards and balance the body on your feet and hips.
D. Bring the arms in front of you in Namaste and hold the balance of the body. If this pose is difficult to balance, then placing a few yoga blocks, one below your hips and the other in front of you to place your hands on for better support, can be done.
E. Once comfortable, close your eyes and stay connected initially with your body and the breath and slowly move your mind away from the body and stay focused only on the breath.
F. Inhale and look straight, and as you exhale push the elbows outwards throwing the hips wider and raise the chest out and upwards. This will also open the chest muscles and increase the flow of oxygen or prana.
G. Learn to not put the entire body weight on the feet, as the idea here is to give relaxation to the feet and the legs with the blood flow and keeping them relaxed.
H. Remain here for about 12 breaths, in Malasana or Garland Pose, if possible. Focus on detaching the mind away from the body. With practice, one would feel the body being light and the pose becomes easy to practice.
A. Moving from the Garland Pose, place the knees and the shin on the floor and balance the body and take a few breaths here.
B. Then inhale and hold both heels with your hands from behind and as you exhale, place the crown of the head on the floor close to the knees, while raising the lower back upwards.
C. The practice of Sasangasana or Rabbit Pose, helps to unwind the day, reducing the stress at the shoulders and the neck, while staying focused with breathing.
D. Placing a blanket below the knees and the crown of the head can be added for additional support.
E. Remain here in this pose taking 10 slow breaths, and as the breathing happens slowly take your mind away from the body and stay disconnected with the body position. Focus on breathing and watch the thoughts and understand them.
F. Focusing slowly on the thoughts running by will help you answer questions, keeping you always grounded. And with the fresh flow of blood towards the brain, the nerves calm down and this relax feeling helps one to think clear too.
A. Moving from the practice of Sasangasana or Rabbit Pose, connecting with the thoughts, relax and sit down in Vajrasana for a few breaths.
B. From Vajrasana, bring your body in supine and extend the entire body from the crown to the tips of the toes and completely lie flat on the back.
C. Inhale and placing the hands below the hips close to the lower back, take a few breaths. Inhale again and raise the head upwards and backwards and bring the crown of the head on the floor behind you while expanding the chest and the shoulders upwards.
D. Here in Matsyasana or Fish Pose, the entire spine is stretched backwards taking the weight at the crown of the head. This pose activates the Vishuddhi Chakra. This chakra governs the thoughts, emotions and purification. Working on this chakra before going to bed will remind you of what kind of emotions were expressed by you that day.
E. With slow breathing remain here completely focusing on the thoughts and the breath and gradually disconnecting the mind from the body and remain here for about 10 breaths or more.
A. Relax the body from the practice of Fish Pose, and take a few breaths to get the blood flow to normal.
B. Now inhale and bend the legs at the knee and with another inhalation, placing the hands below the lower back at the hips, raise the legs up slowly lifting the hips and the back off the floor.
C. With complete exhalation, extent the legs upwards stretching the spine and balancing the body at the shoulders and the neck in Sarvangasana or Shoulderstand Pose.
D. The flow of blood in the opposite direction helps to relax the nerves and improves the nervous system. The improved nervous system will help to connect with the thoughts and the mind.
E. Considered as a difficult pose, one could use blankets to be placed below the shoulders and the head, or one could use the wall to stay longer.
F. Remain here in Shoulderstand Pose for about 24 breaths, and with each breath go deeper with the mind connection while taking the mind away from the body. With practice one can learn to let the body loose and supple, allowing you to stay focused for longer duration at the pose.
G. Initially the body will move a lot and there could be imbalance in the pose, but work at it and stay focused to the breath alone and watch the magic this pose can do to you. Considered as a very powerful pose, the healing of the mind begins here in this pose.
A. Release slowly from Sarvangasana, and bend the legs at the knees first and place them on the forehead and take a few breaths.
B. From here inhale and bring the legs stretched out behind you and place them on the floor stretching from the hips backwards.
C. Here in Halasana or Plough Pose, the deep stretch of the legs from the lower back, helps to reduce the stress around the legs improving the blood circulation.
D. Contracting the abdominal muscles, use them well enough to go deeper into the pose, and pull yourself backwards with the legs and downwards with the arms which are interlocked at the fingers and placed on the floor.
E. Remain in this powerful pose of Halasana for about 24 breaths, and use support for the shoulders and the head with blankets. As in this pose, breathing plays an important role, with the chest and the abdomen compressed along with the wind pipe, the body will take time to adjust here.
F. With slow breathing which will be with full awareness, slowly move the mind away from the body keeping the body loose and supple. A stiff body will not allow you to stay in the pose for longer causing uneasiness.
G. Activating the Third Eye Chakra and the Throat Chakra, this pose gives you the time to connect to your thoughts and the inner self. A good time to check your actions done, your words spoken and work on the thoughts.
A. Release the legs from the Plough Pose, and slowly bending them come back to placing the feet on the floor while bending the knees.
B. Inhale and exhale slowly here to relax the lower back and the neck.
C. Now with another inhalation, raise the feet off the floor and bending the knees hold the toes with your hand and press the thighs close to you in Ananda Balasana.
D. A wonderful pose which brings you back to reality as to how we were born and who we are. Remain here in Balasana, for about 10 breaths or more, closing your eyes and connecting with the simplicity of the pose, which also helps to relax the hips and the entire spine.
A. Moving in the sequence is Supta Baddha Konasana.
B. Release the legs from Ananda Balasana or Happy Baby Pose, and place them on the floor bringing the feet together in Namaste while bending the knees.
C. Remain here in Reclining Bound Angle Pose or Supta Baddha Konasana, for 24 breaths and as the breathing goes slow and deep, stay connected to the breath without falling asleep.
D. Supta Baddha Konasana, connects us to the root chakra and reminds us of who we are. It is also considered as the Earth Element or Prithvi, it reminds us to stay grounded in our thoughts and actions. It marks a time to connect and ensure our roots are strong with our actions and words, thus making the entire body with all the elements stay focused and in harmony.
A. Now the entire body is prepared to go into deep sleep with a conscious effort of relaxing the nerves, the limbs, the thoughts, the mind and the physical part of the body.
B. Placing the knees on the floor towards the left, and throwing the hands on the floor at shoulder level, maintain the distance between the knees and the legs and relax in Supine Windshield Wiper Twist Pose.
C. This pose though simple in practice is considered to help in preparing the body for meditation, and hence should be done just before going to bed ending the day to stay calm and focused.
D. In Supine Windshield Wiper Twist Pose, practice deep inhalation and hold the breath for 8 seconds while pulling in the tummy and throwing the chest out, and then slowly exhale relaxing the tummy and the spine.
E. Repeat this for about 12 breaths, inhaling, holding and exhaling. This practice of breathing will make you connect deeper inside you answering all the questions that arise with this practice. It is always good to hear the questions from within and work at finding answers to them.
F. Ending the sequence here, remain here in this pose even after 12 rounds of breathing and wait for the body to communicate to you that it is ready to fall asleep.
G. Rub the palms and place them on your eyes and go to bed feeling fresh and yet ready to relax comfortably in deep meaningful sleep.