Stretching before bed: Eight simple tips to sleep like a pro
Winding down after any day, especially a rough one, can be a challenge. You dim the lights, sip some tea, and read a book to start your bedtime process, but your mind is still be wound up. Perform these few simple tips for stretching before bed to loosen and release those tight muscles you’ve been clenching all day. And combine them with breath work to relax your the mind and activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps slow your heart rate. Try these eight poses on a mat, on the floor, or even in bed.
Side bend with neck rolls
Start in a comfortable seated position. Begin with a few rolls of the head, then rest your right ear to your right shoulder, and gently place your right hand on your head for an added stretch. Repeat on the left side. Then roll your shoulders down and back, and sit up tall. Reach your right hand above your head, and gently bend toward the left to lengthen your right side. Aim to keep your right hip and buttocks on the floor, while also keeping your chest open, rather than collapsing in. Bring your arm back down, and repeat on the left side.
A restorative posture, Child’s Pose relaxes the mind and open the hips. Begin sitting on your feet, with your toes together and your knees spread wide apart. Extend your torso toward the floor while reaching your arms long in front of you. Rest your forehead in the space between your arms and breath. Alternatively, rest your arms back by your sides with palms facing up.
To stretch out the hamstrings and lubricate the hip joints before a deep sleep, start with your feet hip-width apart and stand tall. Fold forward at the hips, guiding your torso toward the floor while keeping your hips in line with your legs (not jutting out behind). Place your hands on the ground, shins, or above the knees. Breathe in to lift slightly and straighten your spine, then breathe out as you fold over. Grab opposite elbows by folding your arms. Let your crossed arms and head dangle and sway your torso side to side.
This inverted, restorative pose takes pressure off the joints, and is perfect for those who stand all day. It also regulates blood flow back to the upper part of your body and improves digestion. Facing a wall, lie down on your back and scoot your body to the wall to lift legs up. Your body will make a right angle, with your legs resting completely or mostly up the wall. You shouldn’t feel any stretching in the hamstrings, but instead should be in an easy position to hang out in for as long as you want. If a blanket is available, fold it slightly and place under your hips and low back for cushion.
Spinal twist with low back stretch
A simple back twist helps to lubricate your spine and get any kinks out before bed. Bring your right knee into the chest while your left leg is extended. Hug your right knee into your chest for a low back stretch. Slowly cross the right leg over your torso to rest on the left side of your body. Extend arms to a T and look right. Bring knees back to center, and repeat on the other side.
This chest opener will release any tension in the shoulders or tightness in the chest that has built up from a long day hunched over a keyboard. Lying on your stomach with your legs and feet on the ground, place your hands in line with your shoulders. Inhale, and slowly push up with your arms to bring your chest off the floor. Only go as high as your body allows while still keeping your hips intact with the floor. Slide your shoulder blades down the back. Return to the floor, and repeat a few times with coordinated breath.
If you have been sitting all day, your body will breathe a sigh of relief in Happy Baby as your hips open and your spine realigns. Start lying on your back, and bring your knees into your chest. Grab the outside of your shins, ankles, or flexed feet, and open your legs and hips to pull your bent knees toward your armpits. Rock slowly side to side for a low back massage.
A true pose to bring your mind and body into rest, Corpse Pose is often the final pose in a yoga sequence. Lying down on your back, let your feet fall out and face your palms up to the sky. Breathe slowly and deeply, perhaps doing a mental body scan to see what areas of your body are still feeling tight or tense. Focus on those areas, breathing into them to relax and settle. Alternatively, place one hand on your heart and one on your stomach to focus on breathing.
Written by Mattie Schuler
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