Yoga and Meditation for Better Sleep During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Yoga and Meditation for Better Sleep During the Coronavirus Pandemic and Beyond | happyfitmama.com

Up until a few weeks ago, I was someone who had zero problems falling and staying asleep. My head would hit the pillow and I’d be O-U-T until my alarm went off in the morning. But then the Coronavirus Pandemic rocked my world. Everything shut down, the stock market tanked, toilet paper became a hot commodity, and nothing was certain anymore. I would find myself mentally exhausted at the end of the day, fall asleep for a few hours and then be wide awake with my mind going non-stop with what if’s and worry. Of course, it didn’t help that I’d reach for my phone at that time and plow through news story after news story wanting to know more but at the same time not wanting to know anymore.

I know I am not alone with this new problem. I’m not trying to stress you out but now is not the time to skimp on sleep. Sleep is one of the best things we can do for our immune system. When you are sleep deprived, your stress levels skyrocket. It’s a vicious cycle that the two feed off of.

Last week, while I was scrolling through my Instagram feed before bed (clearly, I don’t follow the no electronics before bed advice!), I found an Instagram Live guided meditation session from my yoga studio. The visual picture is what got me first – sunset on a lake, with a lantern on a dock. I switched on the volume and immediately heard the sound of the water lapping against the dock. A flash of happy memories and an instant calmness came over me.

As I listened to Bethany for those 11 minutes, I found myself in that in-between state of awake and sleep. I wasn’t thinking of anything but the present and what Bethany was talking me through. When it was over, I felt pure relaxation. And you know what the best part was? I had the best sleep that night. I didn’t wake up once and felt completely rested in the morning.

It’s now part of my nightly routine…after watching Tiger King of course.

If you are interested in meditation apps, HERE are some of my favorites.

Another way to combat insomnia is yoga. I usually do yoga in the morning or after a run. Pre-bedtime yoga has become my new fave.

Yoga is a natural stress fighter. It calms your breathing, lowers your blood pressure and heart rate, reduces tension in the body and clears the mind. Certain postures can ready your body for bed by calming and relaxing the mind and releasing tension.

I’ve started doing these 5 poses below and guided meditation in the evening as part of my wind-down routine. Ready to begin? Hold each pose gently for 10-15 breaths or how ever long feels right for you. Feel free to do these poses anywhere. Even in bed…although a seated forward fold might be a better option than standing.

5 Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

Child’s Pose – The perfect pose for resting and relaxing as you rest your forehead on the ground.

To do this pose: Kneel on your mat with your knees hips-width distance apart and your big toes touching behind you. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, lay your torso over your thighs. Rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or try extending your arms out in front of you.

Standing Forward Fold – This pose is great for relieving headaches but also relieving tension in the shoulders and lower back.

To do this pose: Standing tall, fold forward with a straight back. Tuck your chin in toward your chest, relax your shoulders, and extend the crown of the head toward the floor to create a long spine, straightening your legs as much as possible or keep a bend in your knees to rest your torso on your thighs. Place your hands on the ground or grasp opposite elbows for a Rag Doll position.

Seated Twist – Twists are great for twisting out the belly. The torso holds a lot of stress for most people.

To do this pose: Sit tall on a blanket and cross your ankles. Inhale and lift your spine, and exhale as you take your left hand to your outer right knee. Place your right hand to the floor behind you for support. Inhale and lengthen; exhale and twist deeper. Switch sides and repeat the sequence.

Legs Up the Wall – Stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes to allow the blood to rush back to the heart rather than pool in your lower extremities.

To do this pose: Sit close to a wall, lie back onto the ground, then scoot your buttocks as close to the wall as possible and send your legs up. Rest with your arms by your sides.

Corpse Pose – What better way to ready yourself for sleep than lying on your back, letting the ground support you. Focus on slowing your breathing and clearing your mind.

To do this pose: Lie back, letting your legs and arms relax. Bring your attention to your breath.

*No pics for the last two poses because they are pretty much exactly what the name says. 😉

Are you having trouble with sleep?

What do you do for a better nights sleep?

Linking up with Runners’ Roundup

My Week in Workouts

My week in workouts | happyfitmama.com

Week two of this new reality seemed to go a little bit better. I had a plan, I ran for fun yet pushed myself and I walked SO much. The only thing that I didn’t do? I fell off the burpee challenge wagon. Well, not all the way off…I’m still hanging on. I simply forgot to do them every day. Oh well. At least I didn’t stop completely! One things for certain – I still don’t like burpees.

Monday

30 minutes recumbent bike

Strength training

I’m getting back into the swing of at-home workouts and had a plan of what I wanted to do for strength. I ended up doing a version of the workout below. It was wonderfully sweaty and just what I needed.

My week in workouts | happyfitmama.com

Tuesday

5.7 mile trail run, 11:58 avg/pace, 342 ft elev gain

30 minute Gentle Yoga streaming from Bending Bodhi

We got a surprise snowstorm overnight that left us with about 7 inches of wet heavy snow. We got an even bigger surprise when the power went out. Just when you think you can’t handle anymore shit thrown at you. It seriously felt like the zombie apocalypse was coming. Thankfully, it was only out for about 90 minutes so we had a two hour delay for school and work. 😉

My yoga studio is streaming classes on Facebook live and on their YouTube channel. I wasn’t able to do a full class but happily hit my mat for 30 lovely minutes with my favorite teacher. I can’t wait to be back to the studio. I miss everyone so much!

Later that afternoon, I snuck out to the trails for a sloppy run. The majority of the snow had melted but it left behind big slushy puddles that left my feet frozen but my heart warm. A little trail therapy to make the craziness of the world disappear for a little bit.

Wednesday

Strength training

3 mile run/walk/ride with the fam

I had another day of not wanting to think so I hit up the Peleton app for a fun strength training class with weights. My brain has been on overload lately so it’s nice not to have to think about a workout. Just tell me what to do!

Work was super stressful because of the uncertainty. We are still seeing patients but our schedule is reduced. Every day may be our last day in the clinic. It’s still being worked out but when we do close, I’ll be redeployed to another department in the hospital. They are anticipating the worst and lining up healthy people to take over a plethora of jobs when needed. It’s scary on multiple levels but I also feel this need to help in some way.

When I got home from work, I knew I needed to move. Ron and I laced up with Max for a run/walk while the kids rode their bikes. I’m not going to lie, loving this part of our new routine.

Thursday

7 miles, 8:53 avg/pace, 641 ft elev gain

My races are still on schedule with the first being the 30k Memorial Day weekend. Even if they are cancelled, I’m still going to train for them and do some kind of “race” in its place. Although, I don’t know if I could stomach running a 30k around my living room like an ultra runner in China who ran a 50k. That’s a hard pass for sure!

With that being said, I attacked the in-town hills as best I could. I’m feeling stronger and even squeaked out a PR on one.

Friday

50 minute Yoga Flow at home

Have you ever tried to do yoga at home with your dog? To say it’s complicated is an understatement.

Saturday

6 mile trail run, 10:04 avg/pace, 333 ft elev gain

It was a lovely, chilly morning to pound the single track without ice, snow, or slush. There was mud but it was still relatively hard since it was still below freezing. There’s a section that always catches my breath where the pine trees are tall and the sunlight filtering through is unreal. It warms my heart to see it every single time.

Sunday

10 mile road run, 8:56 avg/pace, 554 ft elev gain

I really wasn’t feeling super motivated to run when I woke up to gray skies. Max really wanted to run with me so I leashed him up for what would be his longest road run yet. I knew he could handle it since his run trot is more like a fast walk than an actual run. And with all the walks he’s been getting lately, he’s in great shape. 🙂

We meandered around town, stopping at the mailboxes or driveways of friends to text a selfie to say hi from afar. It was a low key run but those kind of runs are much needed these days.

How was your week in workouts?

Linking up with the Weekly Run Down.

The Best Fitness Apps and Livestream Workouts for Home

The gyms are closed and we are (hopefully) mastering social distancing. Some of us now have restrictions on going outside. Parks and beaches are being closed. You still want (and should!) exercise but what can you do? Thankfully, there’s an app (and a livestream!) workout for that.

I like to make up my own workouts. I do it for my clients and patients daily. But there are days when I don’t want to think. I want someone to tell me what to do. Those are the days when I turn to a fitness app and livestream workouts for home. There’s so many options and so many really, really bad YouTube channels. I started a random workout I found on YouTube last week and promptly shut it down when the “instructor” kept complaining that the workout was “really, really hard!” So weird and very strange.

Here’s 9 of the best fitness apps and livestream workouts for home that will come in handy for all of us in the upcoming weeks. Happy workouts!

Peleton App

You probably know Peleton because of their home cycling or treadmill workouts but did you know their app has an extensive library of strength workouts (bodyweight and with weights), yoga, meditation, stretching, bootcamp, walking, outdoor running, and other cardio? I didn’t either!

Right now, you can get a 90 day FREE subscription to the app and all the workouts. No credit card needed. I did an intermediate strength workout with weights one morning when I didn’t want to think. I just wanted someone to tell me what to do! The workout was easy to follow with some fun exercises that I don’t usually do. It left me sore for a couple of days after.

FitOn App

I found out about the FitOn app on Instagram because I follow Danielle Pascente. She shares a ton of workouts on her persoanl Insta but FitOn has full workouts like HIIT and strength on demand on the app. In addition to Danielle’s workouts, there’s full list of kid-friendly workouts, cardio, strength, yoga and more. There’s something for everyone and it’s FREE always.

Nike

I’ve only heard of the Nike running app thanks to Sally McRae (aka Yellow Runner on Insta) being a coach on it. When I saw that they dropped the fee on their premium service, I thought I’d check it out. It turns out they have way more than running workouts! Their library of workouts contains everything from bodyweight strength sessions to yoga. In addition there’s also info on meditation, nutrition and sleep.

Daily Burn

Daily Burn is unique in that it picks out workouts for you based on a short survey you fill out when you sign up for the live streaming workouts. You get a schedule of workout videos and nutrition plans. Because of COVID-19, Daily Burn is offering a 60-day free trial for new users.

Core Power Yoga

Craving some power yoga? Core Power Yoga On Demand is offering free classes while their studios are closed. And it’s not just for members. Classes range from 30-60 minutes with a different focus for each class. Currently, 16 classes are available with more added daily.

ClassPass

I don’t have access to ClassPass in my area but it sounds like a great way to try out different boutique gyms and studios. Right now, ClassPass is offering unlimited FREE access to 2,000 on-demand classes to everyone. Not just current members. If you want to take a live class, you do have to pay a fee but ClassPass is being super cool and giving 100% of the proceeds to the studios.

Planet Fitness

You may not think of Planet Fitness when it comes to group exercise classes because they are for the most part, strictly cardio and weight equipment. With the closure of their gyms for the next few weeks, Planet Fitness has begun offering free home work-ins on their YouTube channel. The workouts are 30 minutes or less and some offer fun celebrity cameos.

Headspace

Meditation may not seem like a workout but it is…for your brain and well-being. I know I’ve been turning to meditation more to combat with the endless of amount of stress hitting me hourly. Headspace is offering a collection called Weathering the Storm for free. It includes meditation, sleep and movement exercises to help during this crazy time. In addition, if you are a healthcare worker in the US, you can get Headspace Plus for free at this time.

Flex & Flow

The lovely ladies from the Fit Approach yoga studio, Flex and Flow are offering free online yoga and workouts. You can find their live stream workouts on Instagram Live or on their YouTube channel.

Do you have a fave app or livestream workout?

Linking up with Runners’ Roundup