Transitioning from the work day into the evening can have its difficulties. Communicating to our bodies and minds that it’s time to relax and unplug is easier said than done. A day of high stress and hyperactivity can leave our minds racing and our bodies feeling tense even when the day is done. Calming practices like yoga and meditation can help us transition into the evening in a relaxed and centered way so that we can find deep rest and prepare the body for sleep. Try this soothing evening yoga sequence to help your mind and body relax and unwind.
Find a comfortable seat. You can sit on the ground or on a block, blanket, or cushion. Keep your spine long and upright and relax the shoulders away from the ears. Take a few cleansing breaths, breathing in through your nose and taking long audible exhales out of your mouth. Return to your natural breath, directing your entire awareness to the sensation of the air entering and leaving your nostrils. Become curious about that sensation and where in your body you feel the breath the strongest. When you notice that your mind has wandered, redirect your awareness back to the sensation of the breath. Do this as many times as needed during your practice, sitting in this meditation for up to five minutes.
Child's pose (Balasana)
Separate your knees hips width distance apart. Sit back onto your heels as you extend the 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.
Butterfly pose (Baddha Konasana)
Come out of child's pose on an inhale. Find a seated position, bringing the souls of the feet together coming into baddha konasana, butterfly pose. Create a diamond shape with the legs and keep the spine long as you fold forward. Breathe into the sensation in the hips and hold the posture for 10 breaths.
Supported bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
On an inhale, come out of baddha konasana and gently transition onto the back. Grab a block if you have one. If you don’t, a blanket or pillow will work as well. Place the feet hips width apart on the mat, knees pointing toward the sky. On an inhale, press into the feet and lift the hips off the mat, placing your prop underneath the sacrum. Let the body relax onto the prop beneath you, gently opening up through your heart. Keep your arms long down at your sides and breathe into the pose for 10 breaths.
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.
On an exhale, slowly lower your feet back down onto the mat. Press into the feet to remove the prop beneath you. Let your sacrum come back down to the mat and bring the knees into the chest. Take a deep inhale, and on an exhale lower both legs to the right. Extend your arms out at shoulder height and gaze over the left shoulder. Hold the twist, breathing into the mid section for 10 breaths, then slowly come through center and repeat on the other side.
Happy Baby Pose (Anadnda Balasana)
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.
Bring your knees in toward the chest and wrap your arms around the legs. On an inhale, squeeze the legs and bring your forehead to the knees, starting to tense every muscle. Breathe in one more sip of air as you engage the entire body and on an exhale release your grip, coming to lie down on the mat. Extend your arms and legs out long, taking up as much space 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 resume your evening.
Gabrielle Marchese is a certified yoga instructor.