Mindful May Week 2: Relaxing Bedtime Rituals + A Bedtime Yoga Sequence
Welcome to week 2 of Mindful May and Happy Mother's Day! I just finished a delicious unsweetened almond milk latte that Matt made for me and a couple of salted chocolate coffee energy balls so I am caffeinated and READY TO GO. My energy level may not be entirely appropriate for the topic of Week 2: setting a screen-free bedtime ritual (including a bedtime yoga sequence!). However, I AM pumped about Mindful May as well as the idea of potentially getting a little more quality sleep this week.
Before I dive into plans for Week 2, let's check in with how Week 1 has been going. Did you try meditating? Did you love it or hate it? Shockingly, I kind of like it! In the intro to Mindful May I discussed that if I didn't like the habit of the week I could stop it after those 7 days. This is, after all, about being mindful not forceful. Meditating before going to bed has been helping to quiet my mind and help me fall asleep much faster, so I plan on continuing Headspace for now.
Have you tried any of the extra Mindful May activities? My brain clutter list has been helping me continue to knock off little things I needed to do. I finally had my annual wellness exam and I started to regain control of my garden by taking out my thriving weeds.
I've also been really savoring any time outside and taking more walks with Matt and Jameson where I leave my phone alone. You know what I've noticed? Spring is the best. I feel like a need a soundtrack of the birds chirping over the soft hum of a lawn mower in the distance that I can play in the winter. Also where can I find a candle that smells like a combo of blooming flowers and freshly cut grass? Also can you tell that I get extra chatty when I'm caffeinated?
I want to take a moment to be clear: I am very much a work in progress with mindfulness. While these short moments of meditating and being more mindful have felt great, in reality I still am not getting enough sleep and I'm spending way too much time on my phone. I'm having so much fun with this blog, but one downside is I'm becoming even more attached to social media and time on my computer or phone. I need to make a conscious effort to just. put. it. away. That (finally) brings us to the focus of Week 2.
Creating a Screen-free 30 Minute Bedtime Routine
This week I'm committing to turning off any screens 30 minutes before bedtime. Instead of being on Instagram or even writing a blog post late at night, I'm going to enjoy thirty minutes of whatever relaxing activity I want. I use the "Bedtime" feature on my iPhone's clock so that it alerts me when it's 30 minutes before my set bedtime. I also have turned on the "Downtime" feature so that from 9:30 pm to 5:00 am my phone won't let me use any apps other than Headspace.
I plan to take at least 10 minutes before bed to do all the yummy bedtime yoga poses that feel good. I might be crazy and throw in some foam rolling and/or a foot massage, too. All of these things feel amazing and I'm always surprised at how much tension it releases that I don't even realize I'm holding onto. And yet I tend to not make time to do these things. Why? Likely because I always feel like I "don't have time" and yet I waste time on my phone more often than I'd care to admit. No more excuses.
Now, I realize that having thirty minutes at the end of my day to devote towards mindfulness may sound like an unrealistic luxury to you. Whether you're a parent or working crazy work shifts or having other commitments, do what works for you. Stretching for bed is a great way of activating the parasympathetic portion of your nervous system. In other words, sending the message to your body that it's time to chill. I'm sharing a quick yoga bedtime sequence I created to do before bedtime. These are the stretches that feel good to me to release tension I tend to get in my upper back and shoulders and to help with tight hamstrings (as you can see in the photos). Of course, these are just suggestions. Do whatever modifications or poses feel best to your body. Namaste :-)
Quick Bedtime Yoga Stretch Sequence
- Standing forward bend, relax neck, nod yes and no, rest hands in creases of elbows and gently sway side to side.
- Slowly roll up to stand.
- Stand with arms stretched overhead, grasp left wrist and bend to right side stretching the left side body. Take a few deep breaths, stretch arms overhead, and then grasp right wrist and bend to the left side to repeat. Stretch arms over head one more time, then bring down to rest at your side.
- Grasp hands behind back and lift for standing chest stretch, then with hands still bound forward bend. Take a few breaths, then release to standing forward bend.
- Step left leg back into runner's lunge. Take a few deep breaths.
- Lift right arm for side twist. Breath.
- Set arm down to go back into plank, then repeat for opposite side.
- Slowly lower to belly. Transition to sphinx or upward facing dog.
- Transition to downward facing dog. Take the time to breath and alternate bending the knees to stretch the hips and hamstrings as needed.
- Take a rest in child's pose.
- Move up to table top then walk arms forward into puppy pose.
- Move back to table top, stretch right arm up to the sky and then thread it under the left arm for thread the needle. This is an amazing stretch for the upper back. Repeat on opposite side when ready.
- Gently transition onto the back. Grasp right knee to chest then transition to supine spinal twist. Repeat on opposite side.
- Finish in whatever final resting place feels right: reclined bound angle, shavasana, or legs up the wall are all nice options.
That's a whole lot of words so for those that are more visual, I made the graphic below.
How is Mindful May going?
What are you going to focus on for Week 2?
What activities help you to unwind before bed?