Have a night-time stretch
Most of us think of stretching as a morning activity, to get the circulation going and to warm up tight muscles. However, having a pre-bed stretch releases any muscle tension that has built up during the day, ensuring your body doesn’t hold on to that tension and let it ‘settle’ into the muscles long-term.
Use sound to soothe
We know the benefits of meditation to soothe a tired-but-wired mind, but sound is now seen to have a positive effect on both the mind and body. Sound, or gong, bathing (whereby the vibrational frequencies of the notes played decreases the pulse rate, aids digestion and induces sleep) is proving an increasingly popular way to aid a restful night’s sleep. And if finding a class proves difficult, we recommend taking part in Jasmine Hemsley’s Instagram Live sound baths every Saturday evening (@jasminehemsley). Hemsley also recommends humming. “When I’m over-tired after a full-on week, I lie in bed and hum – not to a song, but I call it hum-breathing, which sounds like you’re humming ‘oms’ on your out-breath. Once you master a rhythm and have relaxed into your hums for as long as you can, sleep comes quickly.”
Clean your skin properly
The main reason we wake up looking gray and pasty after a late night and a lack of sleep is because the cell repair and ‘deep-clean’ of our system only happens when we are sleeping, so if you’re awake, this can’t kick into action. However, ensuring you go to bed (at whatever time) with a well-cleansed face allows the skin to function well and do its overnight job properly.
Take a 30-minute bath
Research shows that relaxing in warm to hot water for half an hour can have a profound effect on our health. “You need to be submerged from the neck down for at least 30 minutes,” explains Chinese-medicine practitioner Annee de Mamiel. “Studies show it lowers both blood pressure and cortisol levels.”
Have an iced tea
But not to drink. Aesthetician Tine Hagelquist has a cup of chamomile tea in the evening, but always freezes the tea bag and pours off a little of her tea to make ice cubes overnight. “I then use either the frozen tea bag over my eyes and to press under the eyes – it is amazing for early-morning puffiness – or run the ice cubes over my face, always working upwards and outwards. You have the calming effect of the chamomile, plus the cold is excellent for firming and tightening the skin.”
Have a healthy ‘shot’
Set yourself and your whole system up for the day with this easy-to-make morning drink: “I blend a chunk of fresh pineapple with turmeric, ginger and peppercorns,” says Hagelquist. “The pineapple has enzymes that help the digestion, plus you have the anti-inflammatory benefits of the ginger and turmeric, and the antioxidant effects of the ginger.”
Take an energizing breath
If you wake up feeling flat, either in energy levels or mentally, doing this quick breathing technique helps take the focus away from your head and into re-energizing the body. “Spend just a few minutes breathing in and out of your nose – if you want to do this at night to relax, breath in through the nose and out through the mouth,” explains de Mamiel. “Then, with each in-breath, scan your body for areas of tension or stress, and on every exhalation think about relaxing that area and releasing the anxiety, anger or tension held there.”
Start your day the Ayurvedic way
Be inspired by the morning practice of Dinacharya, recommends Mauli Rituals founder Anita Kaushal. “Small but easy rituals, when combined, can support a better digestion, absorption and rid the body of toxins,” she explains. “My favorite and most effective Ayurvedic technique to do first thing is to use sesame or nasya oil (an Ayurvedic herb-infused oil) as a detoxifier. Add a drop into each nostril or place on your finger, bring to your nostril and inhale – you are not saturating the areas, just using a touch to clear the sinuses and bring alertness of mind, as the nose pathway is closely connected to the brain. Next, add a drop of oil into each ear (Karana Purana) to gently cleanse the inner ear. If you have time, the benefits of massaging warm oil over the body (Abhyanga) to lubricate the internal organs is excellent in releasing blocked energy, while also nourishing the skin. As the oil is absorbed into the skin, I like to drink a cup of warm water – never hot – with a splash of lemon and chew a cardamom pod or some dried coconut to aid digestive fire.”