A focused and gentle evening yoga program relaxes the body and stills the mind, while still working and stretching the muscles. Yoga is one way to get more sleep — and reach your weight-loss goals. Test subjects in clinical studies consumed hundreds more calories when they didn't get a full eight hours of sleep. The links between healthy sleep and weight loss are well documented by the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," the University of Chicago and other research institutes. Try yoga to help trim pounds.
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The Moon Salutation is the evening answer to Sun Salutation, the wake-up series of yoga poses that infuse the body with powerful energy to kick-start the day. During Moon Salutation, the poses are slow, smooth, deep stretches with full inhalations and exhalations. Triangle pose flows into Pyramid pose, and every stretch releases tightness and tension. Moon poses open the chest and pelvic area, release the lower back and encourage the mind to be still. There are 20 steps to a Moon Salutation, and each can be modified for a beginner. The series starts with Prayer pose — folded hands in a standing pose — progresses through stretches to the sides, back and front, adds some modified lunges and squats, and finishes in a return to Prayer pose.
Nature of Night Asanas
Evening yoga may be a good habit born of necessity. If you have no time for exercise during an overcrowded day, your evening workout is your ticket to fitness. For cardio conditioning and power yoga moves, plan that part of a yoga session for early evening. As you get closer to bedtime, you will want to work with deeply relaxing poses that balance rather than energize the body. Use forward-leaning asanas for a pre-bed yoga routine. A Seated Forward Bend with the torso stretched over the extended legs, head down toward the knees or resting on them, and arms on the floor alongside the legs, pointing forward, stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings and relieves stress.
Yoga and Healthy Sleep
A few nighttime yoga poses will help to relax the body and drain away tension. Supported Downward Facing Dog allows a complete tension release of the head and neck by using a cushion under the crown of the head. Viparti Karani uses a cushion under the hips as you lie on the floor, arms outstretched and legs straight up resting against a wall. Child pose, with the body curled over the knees, face down on the floor, is a relaxing part of every yoga cool-down period.
Yoga and Weight Loss
ABC News has reported on several studies that confirm the links between weight loss and yoga. Yoga creates long, lean muscles. That’s good news for looking and feeling fit on a diet. But the best news is that the muscle keeps on working for you even when you’re not working it. Muscle burns fat whether it is engaged or at rest. The higher the proportion of muscle tissue you have, the more fat you burn. The strengthening and lengthening aspects of evening yoga practice help you to lose weight while you sleep.
Best Poses for Evening Yoga and Weight Loss
The yoga practice of mindfulness increases awareness of the body and its responses. That awareness is good for your diet. When you are aware that you grab a snack for quick energy when you're tired, you can decide to get more sleep. When you remember the heavy feeling from an order of fries or the espresso buzz that keeps you from sleep, you can make healthier choices. Yoga poses that enhance mindfulness and relaxation might include Uttanasana, a standing forward bend in which the head and torso fold down as close to the front of the legs as possible, with the fingertips beside the feet or the palms flat on the floor by the ankles. Uttanasana helps to reduce fatigue, anxiety and stress. Savasana, or Corpse pose, is a long relaxed stretch with your back on the mat, legs extended and arms down along the sides. In Savasana, you are as close to sleep as you can get while still fully awake.