Taking the time to stretch before bed could be the key to getting a truly restful, restorative night’s sleep. Practicing yoga before bed helps to release physical tension, counteract the stresses of the day and calm the mind, which is exactly what you need before you curl up for the night. Try this routine to boost your sleep quality before your head hits the pillow.
Extended Child’s Pose with a Twist
I love this variation on Child’s Pose because it relieves some of the deep tension in the lats and QL.
- Bring your big toes to touch and split your knees apart about hip distance. Sink your hips down towards your heels.
- Walk your hands forward and reach your fingertips to the front of the mat. At the same time, pull your hips back to create a stretch.
- Take a deep inhale and as you exhale, walk your hands as far as you can to the right. They may end up over the edge of your mat.
- Take at least 3-5 large breaths into your side ribs and walk your hands back to center. Repeat on the left side.
This pose is amazing for stretching your pec minor muscle, which tends to get tight and can round the shoulders forward.
- Lie on your belly with your arms reaching out to your sides in a T shape.
- Make sure your arms are in line with (or just slightly above) your shoulders.
- Roll to your right side. Continue to walk your right fingertips away from you as you roll onto your side.
- Bend your left knee and place your left foot behind your right leg.
- If you’d like to make it more intense, bend your left knee as well.
- For even more intensity, take your left hand behind your back and clasp your fingers together. Tip: You need to reach higher than you might think to find your right hand.
- Hold for 1-5 minutes and then switch sides.
Paschimottanasana (aka Seated Forward Bend)
A yummy classic to stretch your hamstrings and lower back.
- Sit up tall on your mat or a couple of folded blankets, extending your legs out in front of you.
- Flex your feet. Engage your legs by lifting your kneecaps and roll your inner thighs to the floor.
- Inhale. Reach your arms up alongside your ears and lengthen through your spine and the sides of your waist.
- Exhale. Fold forward, hinging from your hips. Catch your feet or use a strap looped around your feet.
- Imagine reaching your heart towards your big toes as your draw your shoulder blades down your back. It’s better to maintain a flat spine rather than strain trying to pull yourself deeper. Feel free to softly bend your knees to take pressure off your back if you are really tight.
- Hold for 1-5 minutes.
This pose helps to relieve tightness in the outer hips as well as the hip flexors.
- From Downward Dog, draw your right knee into your chest as you shift forward into plank. Place your right shin parallel to the front of your mat (without forcing anything) and flex your foot.
- Draw your right hip crease back and allow your left outer hip to roll forward.
- Look back at your left leg and make sure that your hip, knee and ankle are all in one straight line.
- If your right hip is lifted off the mat, grab a pillow or blanket and wedge it under your hip so that you have support.
- Walk your hands forward and fold. Hold for 2-5 minutes and then switch sides.
A great pose for opening up the front body, a few minutes in the pose calms the nervous system as it stretches the thighs, hip flexors and belly.
- Bring your big toes together and split your knees wide apart. Sit down on your heels and begin to lean back.
- Keeping your knees pressing down, lift your hips and lengthen your tailbone to your heels. Set your hips back down.
- If it feels good, stay there or if you feel like you could go deeper, continue to walk your hands back until you are lying down. You can even reach your hands overhead and grab your elbows.
- Hold for up to 3 minutes and then come out. Watch out for your knees lifting; keep them pressing down onto your mat to protect your knees.
This pose stretches your inner thighs, hamstrings, and back.
- Lie on your back. Bend your right knee into your chest. Flex both feet and reach through your heels.
- Loop your strap around your right foot. Inhale, and as you exhale, straighten your right leg and reach your right heel to the ceiling.
- Keep your left leg straight and your left foot flexing. Roll your left inner thigh to the floor and attempt to push your thighbone to the floor.
- Take both ends of the strap into your right hand. Place your left hand on your left thigh to remind it to press down.
- Turn your right leg out from the hip socket and take it over to the right to stretch your inner thigh, keeping your left thigh pressing down. Take 5-8 breaths.
- Inhale and bring your right leg back up. Transfer both ends of the strap into your left hand. Take a big inhale and as you exhale, cross your right leg over your left leg coming into a twist.
- Keep your right knee in line with your right hip. If it’s too difficult with your leg straight, try bending your right knee. Hold for 5-8 breaths and then switch sides.
Angela Kukhahn, Fabletics Master