The final hour before bedtime often determines how peaceful and nourishing your sleep will be. For a more restful sleep, try establishing a relaxing bedtime routine including some gentle yoga stretches. Stretching combined with deep breathing has a relaxing, calming effect as it loosens muscles and improves circulation.Move slowly, connecting with the breath. Focusing on and slightly lengthening the exhale enhances relaxation. Hold each pose gently, without straining for several minutes (or as long as you like) while connecting with the sensations of the body. Notice where there is tension and allow those areas to get some extra care as you breathe into them, letting go.
You don’t have to use the full sequence. Pick and choose what works for you and add whatever movements make you feel good. Make sure not to push or strain. This is a time of relaxation and postures don’t have to be perfect. And as always, seek out a yoga instructor for questions or help.
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This is a great stretch for tight hips. Standing, lift one knee up onto your bed. Adjust your leg so your shin is parallel to the edge of the bed. Inhale, reach upward and flex your foot. Then exhale as you gently fold forward. Breathe here and let go of tension. When ready, lift your torso, and switch sides.
These postures release tension and nourish the spine. Sit with knees up and feet flat on the bed. Let your knees fall to the right and place your right hand on the bed behind you for support. Inhale, open the left arm straight out to the left, opening the chest. Exhale, draw the arm around towards the back of the bed. Repeat slowly, moving with the breath x 3.
These postures are relaxing and cooling and offer a full stretch of the entire back of the body. Sit up and gently straighten your legs in front of you and flex your feet. Keep knees bent if hamstrings feel tight. Inhale, reach upwards, lengthening the spine. With a flat back, hinge forward from the hips with your exhale, leading with the chest. Reach toward your feet and place hands on your toes or shins. Breathe here and let your exhale be the focus. Allow each out-breath to release tension and move you a little deeper.
Bring legs into easy (cross-legged) pose. Sitting tall, inhale the shoulders up and exhale the shoulder blades together and down. Repeat as you like.
Bring hands in front, arms straight and clasp. Kepping clasped, gently pull the hands apart, releasing the shoulder blades. Then make fists and roll the tension out of your wrists.
Sitting in easy pose, gently bring one elbow down. Lean over and stretch your other arm straight out over your ear. Either hold this pose, with deep breathing and repeat on the other side… or you may want to flow right and left, exhaling to center and inhaling with each side stretch.
This is a soothing restorative pose. From all fours, separate your knees aas wide as is comfortable, and bring the big toes together. Sit hack on the heels, lifting the spine upward. Then, drape forward and down between your thighs. Extend the arms forward to further lengthen the spine. Linger here and release.
This pose relaxes the mind and body and stretches out the muscles in the hips, legs and back. 2 options: First, while still in legs-up-the-wall pose, slowly bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together and draw them down. Or, lie down flat and roll your shoulders back, pulling the shoulder blades together. Slowly bend your knees, bring your heels together and towards the buttocks. Inhale, drawing your knees open. Rest your arms next to your body, palms up or on your belly. Close your eyes and breathe, focusing on the exhales. Relax here as long as you like. Use a pillow for support under your knees or thighs, if needed.
THis pose is about conscious resting, being deeply relaxed yet fully present and aware. Lie on your back, legs out, feet shoulder width apart. Arms by your side, with palms up. As you lie still, let your body soak in the poses of your relaxation practice. Close your eyes, and focus on your breath with a thankful heart. This can be a time for meditation and prayer or simply releasing and clearing the mind.