Drift Off to Sleep With This Yoga Sequence
If you're having trouble settling down before bed, then unroll your mat and give this gentle yoga sequence a whirl. These poses are designed to bring your senses inward and to stretch the areas that are most prone to tension, so your mind and body will feel relaxed and ready for sweet slumber. Brush your teeth, slip into your jammies, turn down the lights, and start stretching.
Relaxed Down Dog
This easy version of Downward Facing Dog allows you to target the back more than the hamstrings.
- Come onto your hands and feet in Downward Facing Dog.
- Bend your knees, lift your heels off the mat, and allow your spine to arch, pressing your navel toward your thighs.
- Stay like this for five breaths.
Seated Heart Opener
This relaxing pose will gently stretch your abs and neck.
- Begin seated on your shins in Hero Pose.
- Interlace your hands behind you in a double fist, pressing the heels of your palms together. Pull your pressed palms toward the floor, opening through the chest and shoulders.
- After five breaths, release your hands.
Soothe your tight lower back and hips with this pose.
- Sit on the floor, bending both knees and bringing the feet together. Use your hands to open your feet up like a book.
- Lengthen the spine, drawing the belly in. Relax your shoulders and slowly begin to fold forward, drawing the torso toward your legs.
- Keep your hands on your feet, pressing your elbows against the inner knees, or extend your arms in front of you to encourage the spine to lengthen.
- Listen as you take five deep breaths.
Pigeon pose is a relaxing way to loosen tight hips, and here's a variation that will also gently stretch your quads, spine, and shoulders.
- Sit on the floor with your right knee bent and your left leg extended straight behind you in Pigeon Pose.
- If this feels comfortable, then bend your left knee and reach for the top of your foot with your right hand. Wrap your left arm around your lower back, wrapping your fingers around the top of your right thigh.
- Breathe deeply for five breaths, gazing over your left shoulder. Gently release and switch sides.
Seated Spinal Twist
This pose offers an even deeper spinal twist.
- From Extended Twist, maintain the twist to the right as you bend your right knee and place your right foot to the left of your left knee.
- Bend your left elbow and press it firmly against your outer right thigh, increasing the twist even further.
- Enjoy this pose for five breaths. Then repeat this sequence with the left leg.
It's time for a soothing backbend to stretch your abs, chest, neck, and shoulders.
- Lie on your belly and walk your hands in so your torso lifts off the ground. Keep your hips and legs resting on the floor and your shoulders relaxed away from your ears.
- Lower your head back between your shoulder blades to stretch the front of your neck. Stay like this for five breaths.
This is one of the most relaxing yoga poses you can do.
- Sit back between your heels, exhaling as you lower your belly between your knees.
- Relax every part of the body, holding for five deep breaths.
The ultimate hip stretch, this pose will also relieve tightness in your lower back. You can even do this one in bed!
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and hold onto your feet, ankles, or backs of the thighs.
- Gently pull your legs toward the floor, holding still or gently rocking side to side. Hold here for five breaths.
Bound Half Wheel
This relaxing pose will increase flexibility in your spine while stretching your shoulders and neck. Plus, it's very calming to watch your lungs expand and contract as you breathe.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your heels close to your bum.
- Press into your feet, lifting your hips off the floor. Reach for your ankles, place your hands under your lower back, or interlace your hands together in a double fist, breathing here for five breaths.
Legs Up the Wall
Not only will this pose instill a sense of calmness, but it'll also give you a slight release in your lower back and a stretch for your hamstrings. You'll need an uncluttered space at a wall and a bolster, blanket, or pillow.
- Place a folded bolster, blanket, or pillow against a wall.
- Sit down as close as you can to the wall, next to the blanket. Lie down on your back, place your feet on the wall with your knees bent, and scoot your body over so that your bottom and lower back are on the blanket.
- Adjust your body so that your bum is touching the wall, and then place your feet straight up, resting your heels on the wall. You can keep your arms by your sides, or rest your palms underneath your head.
- Close you eyes and allow your entire body to relax, feeling gravity pulling you down as the wall and blanket support you.
- Hold like this for several minutes or longer.
Lying Spinal Twist
Here's a relaxing way to increase side-to-side spinal flexibility.
- Lie on your back, bending the knees into the chest.
- Extend your arms out in cactus position with your elbows at right angles, palms facing up.
- Slowly lower both knees to the left. Rest them on the ground and turn your head to the right.
- Hold here for at least five breaths, feeling your spine lengthen and twist. You may even hear some "cracks."
- Use your abs to lift your knees back to center. Slowly lower both knees to the right, and look over your left shoulder.
- After five breaths, release, and head into your final pose.