Though drinking cold-pressed juices, having a regular exercise routine and removing toxins from your beauty products are all essential for living a beautiful, healthy life, there’s one thing that is an absolute must: getting enough restful sleep. And while you likely have your evening routine down to a T – a brief bout of meditation, herbal teas and prepping your lunch for the next day – there’s one thing you can add to bring things to the next level. What’s that, you ask? A series of stretches to do before lights out.
If you’re starting to picture nighttime acrobatics to rival Cirque du Soleil, fear not. There’s nothing too crazy that’s necessary to ensure you have a good night’s sleep. Regular stretching helps to melt away the tension that builds during the day, as well as all worries and stress. Stretching your hips in particular is an incredibly useful tool to remove all the emotional backup that forms with a hectic working lifestyle. If you engage in some gentle, restorative stretching before you hit the hay, you’ll help your body enter a state of relaxation, priming you for the best sleep of your life.
So when you’re ready to catch some ZZZs, we’ve got a little stretching sequence for you to get you in the mood. For maximum relaxation, you will need to start by connecting to your breath, as we become so disconnected from it during the day. Take a few deep, indulgent inhales. When you exhale, imagine the breath going into your muscles. This will help you loosen up and get into the right mental state. After your breathing exercise, it’s time to stretch. Ensure you hold each pose for at least 30 seconds and for up to five minutes, depending on how limber you are.
Ready? Let’s get stretching!
Melting Heart Pose: This is one of the poses we love best in the evening, as it lengthens and aligns the spine. It’s a terrific stretch for your shoulders and your chest and will help decrease anxiety, tension and, most importantly, insomnia.
Happy Baby: If you’ve ever been to a yoga class, you’ve probably done Happy Baby. You may feel a little silly when you do it, but you shouldn’t! It’s wonderful for opening up your hips, which, as we mentioned before, is incredible for releasing both emotional and physical tension. Looks like those babies were onto something after all!
Forward Fold: Our hamstrings are often terribly tight, and this classic pose is perfect for releasing tension there. Additionally, it will help you rebalance and re-center after being upright for the whole day. You’ll fix your alignment and quiet your mind.
Cat and Cow: This is a wonderfully restorative stretch that will help shake things back into place so that you can fall into bed rejuvenated and relaxed. Cycle through a few of these to get your blood moving.
Rag Doll: Many of us spend our days hunched over a computer, and our neck, shoulders and backs suffer for it. Engaging in a little rag doll will release tension here, as well as in the hips, and will ease emotional tension as well.
Candlestick: If you’re not quite ready to do an unsupported candlestick, then you can rest your legs up against the wall whilst you lie on your back. A gentle inversion will help you unwind and relax to finish your evening stretching practice.