Ready for a better night’s sleep? Practice the following 8 poses each night before bed to help melt the day’s stress away and ease into a peaceful slumber.
Start standing with your feet hip-width distance apart. Keep your legs as straight as possible as you fold forward at the hips and exhale fully. Slide the middle and index fingers of each hand between your second toes and big toes, then curl them underneath your big toes and close the grip by wrapping your thumb around your other two fingers. Press your toes into the floor and gently press your fingers into your toes as you breathe deeply and focus on extending the fold with each exhale. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Benefits: Relieves stress and anxiety; quiets the mind; lengthens and strengthens hamstrings
Continuing from the big toe forward fold, release your fingers from underneath your toes. On an inhale, slowly life your torso up halfway until your back is flat and your torso is parallel to the floor. On your next exhale, release back into the forward fold, letting your neck and arms hang towards the floor, relaxing completely. (You can also cross your arms by grabbing your elbows, as pictured.) Breathe deeply and focus on extending the fold with each exhale. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Benefits: Reduces anxiety, fatigue and stres; quiets the mind; stretches your hamstrings
Start kneeling on the floor with your big toes touching behind you and your legs a little wider than hip-width distance apart. Exhale as you reach your arms out in front of you and place them on the floor while slowly bending your torso forward and lowering it towards the floor between your thighs. Continue to breathe deeply as you focus on releasing into the pose more deeply with each exhale. Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Benefits: Quiets the mind; relieves stress and fatigue; can help relieve back pain; stretches the hips, thighs and ankles
Release from child’s pose by slowly coming up to all fours, making sure that your knees are in line with your hips and your wrists with your shoulders. On an exhale round your spine towards the ceiling as you let your head naturally fall towards the floor. (Don’t push your chin to your chest.) As you slowly return to the starting position, move through the motion by lifting your chest and head towards the ceiling and sinking your stomach towards the floor for the “cow” portion of the pose. On your next exhale slowly transition back to “cat.” Focusing on your breath, slowly move back and forth through this sequence for 30 to 60 seconds.
Benefits: Relieves stress; stretches the torso and neck; massages the spine
Following the cat/cow sequence return to a neutral, flat back position on all fours to start. Walk your hands forward and curl your toes under so that the tops of your feet are flat on the floor. On an exhale, shift your bottom halfway back towards your heels. Press your palms into the ground lightly to prevent your elbows from touching the floor. Slowly release your forehead to the floor and relax your neck. Focus on breathing deeply and hold for 30 to 60 seconds.
Benefits: Reduces stress; stretches the spine and shoulders
Roll over onto your back and on an exhale gently draw your knees into your belly. Keeping your knees bent extend your legs out so that the soles of your feet face the ceiling. On an inhale, reach up to grab the outsides of your feet and open your legs slightly wider than your torso. Making sure that your shins are perpendicular to the floor, create a gentle resistance by flexing your feet and pulling down gently with your hands. Focus on breathing deeply and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. (You can also massage your lower back by rocking gently from side to side.)
Benefits: Quiets the mind; relieves stress and fatigue; stretches the groin and spine
From happy baby pose, draw your legs back together and gently hug your knees towards your belly. Let your arms rest at your side and open them up to a “T” position. On an exhale, let your knees slowly fall to the right, using your right hand to gently push them towards the floor. (Don’t force them, only stretch as far as feels comfortable.) Turn your head to the left, fixing your gaze towards your left palm. Focus on breathing deeply and hold for 30 to 60 seconds. Return to the start position and repeat the stretch on your left side for another 30 to 60 seconds.
Benefits: Enhances breathing; eases neck and back tension; soothes nerves and quiets the mind
Release from the reclining twist by returning to the center. On an exhale extend both legs out letting them rest on the floor in a neutral position and so that your feet are relaxed and turned outward. Soften the lower back and relax your entire torso; your head should be resting comfortably and your arms extended at your sides with your palms facing up. This pose is about total relaxation so make sure to pay attention to your entire body and don’t forget to soften your jaw and forehead, too. Close your eyes and clear your mind. Focus on your breath and stay here for 60 seconds or more.
Benefits: Relaxes the entire body; quiets the mind; relieves stress and fatigue; lowers blood pressure