4 Easy Bedtime Yoga Poses

Bedtime Yoga

A couple weeks ago, I was approached by Casper Sleep to share my favourite bedtime yoga poses. If you aren’t familiar with Casper, it’s an awesome mattress company based in New York City. I personally hadn’t heard of Casper before, but I was hooked as soon as I visited their website. As a company, they’re doing a lot of things right, like offering a great-looking product, free shipping, and awesome branding. They also have a really funny and informative blog that dives into all kinds of different facets of sleep – think eye masks, lucid dreaming, and of course bedtime yoga!

To me, “bedtime yoga” means a few simple, relaxing poses I can do in bed, mostly because a lot of the time I probably forgot to stretch before getting into bed and am now too lazy to get back up. They have to be able to be done comfortably in my (currently) single bed, without any unnecessary equipment, because the equipment would probably be halfway across my apartment, not in the bed where I plan on staying until morning.

All of the following poses can be done while half asleep in your cozy bed, and require only a wall.

Reclining pigeon pose with a wall: Lie on your back with your feet toward the wall. Put your left leg up against the wall, forming a triangle with your leg, the bed and the wall. Place the right foot across your left thigh, with your knee pointing out to the right side. If this is enough of a stretch, stay here and breathe into it. If you’d like more of a stretch, start to slowly bend your left leg with your left foot against the wall. It should look something like this, but with a wall against the left foot. Keep your right foot flexed the whole time to prevent strain on your knee. After a few minutes, switch sides. This is an awesome hip opening pose! Tip: each day, alternate which leg you start with. I always find that after doing the first hip, I have much less patience for the second hip and so I spend less time on it, so alternating helps me stay balanced.

Happy Baby pose: Lie on your back. Grab the outsides of your feet with your hands and spread your knees wider than the width of your torso. Keep your lower back flat on the bed and start to gently pull your feet towards your armpits. Breathe, and hold the pose for a few minutes.

Legs-up-the-wall pose: Sit sideways alongside the wall on your bed, with one of your shoulders touching the wall and your hip as close to the wall as you can manage. Swivel to lie down on your back and stretch your legs up the wall. If you have tight hamstrings, you can start lying down and scoot inwards until you feel a nice stretch in the backs of your legs. Stretch your arms out to the sides or in cactus arms and relax. This pose is very restorative, slows your heart rate and calms your mind. I like to do this one while trying to meditate or practice gratitude. You can watch an awesome video of how to do this pose from yoga guru Kathryn Budig here.

Gentle spinal twist: Lie on your back with both legs stretched out. Bend your left knee into your body, then gently twist so that the left knee goes across your body to the right. Keeping both your shoulders on the mattress, hold your knee in place with your right hand, and turn your head to look over your left shoulder. After a few minutes, switch sides. This pose is very relaxing, and always makes me feel ready to sleep.

I don’t always remember to stretch before bed, or even when I’m in bed, but I love having these poses in my back pocket to stretch out that hip tightness and back pain from sitting all day, and calm and quiet my mind before I doze off.

Please note: this is not a sponsored post and it contains no affiliate links. All opinions are, as always, my own. Also, as I’m not a yoga teacher yet all of the above is a distillation of all the yoga classes I’ve taken and what I’ve learned myself in books or online. Be gentle, and make sure to ask your own yoga teacher if you have any trouble or pain! 

Strawberry Chia Jam

Strawberry Chia Jam

In the past year or so I’ve cooked in so many different kitchens: in my old apartment, at my friends’ houses, in hostel kitchens throughout Europe, here in Korea, and of course in my lovely yellow childhood kitchen at home.

This week, my family is saying goodbye to our home as we move on to the next adventures in our lives. It’s a hard thing, saying goodbye to a house – and a kitchen – that has held so many incredible memories. Our dark wooden table and our green-topped island are at the heart of almost all the good times we had in that house. Painting sloppy designs on sugar cookies with coloured icing. Making my mom laugh until she cried. Hitting our heads on the beautiful stained glass lamp above the table. Playing Monopoly and always losing to Lindsay. Playing Scrabble for hours. Doing puzzles even though the lighting was horrible. Reciting the old kitchen table rules we had all those years ago, even while breaking them all. Crying real tears. Doing homework. Getting into big fights. Making pizza by hand all together. Trying and failing and succeeding at countless recipes. Having long heart-to-hearts when things were confusing and scary. Walking downstairs to the entire kitchen being decorated as a Mexican fiesta or a 1950’s diner for your birthday. Riding a bike around the island. Doing the dishes quietly after a big meal. Making mimosas on Christmas morning.

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When I left for Korea, I was so nervous and caught up that I barely remembered to say goodbye to my house. It’s probably for the best, since given more time I’d probably have dwelled too long on the sadness of the thing and focused less on the beauty of it. Those years were so special, and the house is now so special because it was ours. But we brought that magic and that energy to our space, and we can take it with us when we go. We can continue making up new traditions and trying new things, and we can still be us, just in a new space and in a different way. Those memories don’t go away just because we’re moving on.

Obviously I will miss my house in so many little ways because it was my home. I will miss the late-afternoon light, the creak of the basement door, the way our dog’s nails skittered on the hardwood when he was excitedly running towards us, the way people’s voices downstairs sounded from my room, the stubborn front door that only the people who knew us the very best could open properly, carrying groceries inside from the car on Saturday mornings, sitting on the barstools watching my mom cook dinner, and so many other things. But I’m also so excited for the future: to see what my mom’s next home is like, and what my home will one day be like, and to see what kinds of memories I’ll make in new places.

This post is clearly not much about jam, but this is what happened today when I sat down to write. If you came here for jam however, you shall not be disappointed by this recipe. It’s one of the easier things I’ve made, yet very delicious and with the perfect texture. You can find the recipe over at Guinea Pigging Green today here or the original recipe directly at Oh She Glows here.

30 Days of Handstands

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I’m over on Guinea Pigging Green today sharing my thoughts on our 30 day handstand challenge. About a month ago, Laura and I challenged each other to do a handstand a day, take photos of ourselves (shameless selfies) doing so, and share them with each other. Of course, true to form, we stopped keeping track of the days pretty soon after we started and we didn’t always take a picture. I for one didn’t even do a handstand every day, and I have no idea if I did 30 days worth of handstands, let alone consecutively.

That being said, the experience was a very positive one, and I’m very happy that we decided to take on this challenge. My handstand has come a long way since the beginning of this challenge, and while I’m nowhere near my freestanding handstand goal, I’ve gotten much closer than I was before. I can now hold my handstand – on a good day – for at least 3 seconds, and that’s with good form and no wall. When I started the challenge, I had to use a wall to kick up against, but of course when you do that you get the infamous “banana back” (which just means “bad form”) and it’s not a very sustainable posture.

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I’m happy to report that my form is better than ever, thanks to all the safe falling I’ve been doing. The absolute best thing for my handstand practice has been to do it outside on grass or sand. I’m lucky to live in Busan where there are beaches everywhere, since sand is probably the most forgiving surface you could find for handstand practice. It helps me not be afraid so I can tumble as many times as I need to – nowadays, that means into a wheel pose. It means that I can kick up gently into a handstand and hold it for longer because I’m not using the wall which can throw me off balance.

Another thing that’s really helped me in this journey has been to learn to breathe deeply as much as I can while upside down. I have a tendency to hold my breath as soon as I get my legs in the air, but breathing helps you regulate your balance which is something I didn’t know before I started this journey.

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If you read my blog, you probably know how much I love challenges, especially short ones. This one, all things considered, was really easy but of course there were still days that I didn’t get it done. Happily, I did get it done more days than not, and ended up learning quite a bit along the way even though I still have a long way to go. I don’t know what my next short-term challenge will be, but I love the 30 day format and I’m sure I’ll be using it countless more times in the future.

You can read more of my thoughts on this challenge over at the Guinea Pigging Green blog today right here.

Fresh Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce

Summer Rolls

I posted a “recipe” for summer rolls – aka non-deep-fried spring rolls – a few years ago, but I recently developed a new favourite ingredient combo (this time fully vegan) so I thought they’d be worth posting about again. I’ve been taking these into work with me lately and even though they often fall apart by dinnertime, they’re so tasty that I usually don’t even mind. It’s like mini packages of salad! So fresh and so clean.

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My current favourite mix of ingredients is tofu, leeks (or green onions), peanuts, red pepper, tofu and sweet chili sauce. I don’t need to handhold you here – just chop them all up! It’s all raw, so this is a very easy meal to prepare. Soak your rice paper wraps in warm water for around ten seconds, then spread them out on a flat surface and pile everything on! Like so:

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Then you want to tuck up the bottom, fold in the sides, and roll it all up like a burrito. It gets easier and tidier with practice, but sometimes I still end up with a floppy mess. One time, I just wrapped the whole mess in another rice paper, which was surprisingly an excellent fix!

DSC_3431I’ve been eating these with a homemade peanut sauce, which really makes them that much better. I usually half this recipe and season it to taste (since I don’t have sesame oil at the moment). It has good proportions though, and the resulting sauce has a great texture.

DSC_3532Yummy, right? This is exactly the kind of food I want to eat when it’s really hot outside. No standing over a hot stove please! My apartment doesn’t need to be stuffier than it already is.

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You could definitely customize this “recipe” in any way you want to! Different vegetables, maybe even some fruit like pineapple or mango, and fresh herbs would of course be wonderful. I’m sure I’ll be mixing it up quite a bit as the summer progresses. Happy eating!