We all want a good night’s rest, but it doesn’t always come easily. With such busy lives, it’s a wonder that we have sleep issues. You would think we would be so exhausted that our bodies would immediately find rest. Ever wonder why? After a long day, your body and mind has been through a lot. Though we may be tired – the busy lives we live create a constant sense of chaos within us. This chaos is hard to manage, control and let go of in the midst of every day hustle and bustle. So, we are left with a lot of physical and mental tension that needs to be released. These 10 yoga stretches are great to incorporate in your evening routine so you can truly rest and reset.
Block Down the Spine (3 min each)
This is just one of those things that makes me feel taller after doing it. Every part of your spine matters – from cervical, to thoracic, to lumbar, it houses your spinal cord as well as helps bring blood and nutrients to the brain. Breathe deeply and consistently while in these variations to create space between the vertebrae.
3 min – Upper back w/block vertically placed between shoulder blades
3 min – Middle back with block horizontally placed at tips of shoulder blades
Begin to bend the left knee and bring the sole of the foot to the earth. Set up your right leg so that the ankle crosses over the base of the left thigh and flex the foot. Reach through the legs with the right hand and to the outside of the leg with the left. You can hold onto the hamstring, shin or you are welcome to use a strap.
Okay, okay…I made up the name sleepy pigeon. And no, this is not an actual pose. More of an “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up…but I kind of like it-pose”. So bear with me. from reclined pigeon (whichever variation), begin to roll onto the left side body. If you are holding the shin with the left leg extended, keep everything the same. If you are in traditional reclined, hold onto the right ankle/calf with the left hand until the foot stamps onto the earth on the left side.
From your sleepy pigeon, grab onto the right ankle with your left hand (if it’s not there already) and reach the right arm out to the right side about 90 degrees from the body. If your left leg is straight slide it up until it tucks in to support the right ankle. Take an inhale and let the exhale guide your gaze over to the right.
*Repeat these poses on the other side before moving on
Banana Pose (2 min each side)
Make your way onto your back. Begin to take the left heel over to the upper left hand corner of your mat. Then, move the right ankle over to meet it or cross it over the left. Keeping your hips grounded, begin to scoot your shoulderblades to the left so you create the shape of a banana with your body. You can reach the arms overhead here if it feels nice.
*Repeat on the other side before moving on
Outer Hip Release (3 min each side) – Wide Leg Fold (2 min/4 min)
From a table top or plank position, begin to draw the left knee over to the right tricep and then thread it straight through onto the right side. Set your outer leg and left hip all the way on the ground, keeping the right toes tucked behind you. Starting with arms straight begin to move your chest forward and down to surrender into the pose.
From your outer hip stretch, lift back up to the hands and then rotate your legs into a wide leg fold facing the back left hand corner of the mat. The first time through, hold this pose for 2 minutes about halfway down (top photo). After you repeat the outer hip release on the second side, fold completely into your wide leg fold for 4 minutes.
*Repeat these poses on the other side before moving on.
Legs up the Wall (5-10 min)
One of my all-time favorite ways to end the day is spending a bit of time in legs up the wall. I like it because it reverses the downward, heavy energy of the day and leaves you feeling light and ready to rest afterward.
Find a wall and sit with it at one side of you. Begin to lay back onto your spine and then swing the legs up the wall. Allow all of the goodness of your practice and the release in the legs to begin to settle in and through you as you rest here for several minutes letting everything relax.
Namaste, friends! Sleep well.
Questions, comments, or requests? Leave me a comment below!