Taking time to wind down in the evening is an imperative part of a good night’s rest. Things like putting your phone away early, a cup of tea, reading a book and good stretching all are great ways to prepare the body for sleep. Creating space in the body and stretching the muscles is a great way to relax the body and mind for a full night’s rest. If you have trouble sleeping, or are just looking to improve your bedtime routine, evening stretches are a great idea for you. Here are eight of the best poses and stretches to do before bed.
Separate your knees hips width distance apart on the mat. Sit back onto your heels as you extend your arms forward, coming into balasana, child’s pose. Allow your chest to be heavy and keep your palms and forehead planted on the mat. Feel the connection of your body on the earth, and breathe into that grounding sensation. Hold this posture for 10 breaths, allowing the body to soften deeper with every exhale.
Seated forward fold
Come to a comfortable seat with your legs extended long out in front of you. Invite a gentle bend into the knees and with a straight spine, begin to fold forward over your legs. Stop folding when your spine begins to round. Reach for your feet or place your hands on the mat beside your legs and breathe here for up to 20 breaths.
Transition onto the back. Keep both knees bent and the feet planted on the ground. Bring the right knee into the chest and reach for the right thigh, using the pressure of your hands to gently encourage the thigh closer to the body. Keep your right foot flexed as you stretch into the hip. Hold for five breaths then switch sides.
From bridge pose, transition into waterfall pose by simply extending the legs up toward the sky. You may need to adjust the prop underneath you to feel supported. Keep a slight bend in the knees and allow your legs to be soft. Relax deeply and hold the posture for up to 20 breaths.
Come to lie down on your back. Bring both knees into the chest and allow your spine to heavy on the ground beneath you. Take a deep breath in and drop both knees to your right. Extend your arms out at shoulder height and bring your gaze over to the left. Take long, deep, and continuous breaths into the mid section as you relax deeper into the twist. Hold the posture for 10-15 breaths. When finished, engage your core as you bring the knees through the center to switch sides, repeating the same thing on the left.
Reclined bound angle pose
Come to lie down on your back. Bring the souls of your feet together and let your knees splay out wide. You can add support under the knees if the pressure is too much for your body. Place one hand on your heart and one hand on your belly as you breathe here, stretching the inside of the hips. Hold for 20 breaths.
Happy Baby Pose
Once you have finished the supine twist on both sides, bring your legs in toward the chest and reach for the outer edges of your feet, directing your knees toward your armpits. Keep your spine firmly planted on the mat as you open up through the hips. You can invite gentle movement into the posture by rocking back and forth on the spine or straightening out one leg and then the other. Hold and explore the posture for 10 breaths.
Extend your arms and legs out long, taking up as much space on your mat as you want. Let go of any breath control or attempt to control the mind and allow your body to melt into the mat, relaxing deeply. Stay here for up to 10 minutes, gently coming up when you are finished to transition into sleep.
Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.