2 Simple Stretches That Will Sleep Like A Baby Tonight
Keeping your eyes open at 4:45 PM takes monumental effort some days. And, in spite of trying to hit the sheets earlier, it always seems like a second wind rolls around at 10 P.M. threatening those well-intentioned plans to get eight whole hours of sleep. If you have a tough time shutting down at night, some strategic stretching could help break your night-owl cycle.
"For many of us, we just don't know how to slow down and unwind.We run around all day, stimulated by work, exercise, and technology. It’s difficult to come down and prepare our bodies and minds for a night of rest," explains Jillian Pransky, director of the restorative yoga teacher training program for YogaWorks and author of Deep Listening (out October 2017). "Practicing yoga and stretching can help us to calm down. It can release excess tension and 'noise' from our muscles and our mind."
Prep for bedtime by quieting your thoughts and practicing these two yoga-formed stretches that just feel oh so good. Focus on your breathing, set your intention, and do your best to clear your mind of the day's stressors. You’ll be ready to tuck in before you know it.
1. Child's Pose — hold for one minute
"Child's pose and other forward bends allow you to retreat from outer stimulus and turn inwards. They are known to quiet the mind, lengthen the spine, and help you come back into your body," says Pransky. Here's how to do it:
- Come to all fours, with your legs and knees comfortably apart.
- Sit back on your heels and fold forward, resting your belly on your thighs completely.
- Place your forehead on a block, blanket, or the mat and release the full weight of your head. Press your palm against the mat and try to create space between your head and your tailbone.
- Hold for one minute.
2. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose - relax here for 5 to 15 minutes
"Legs-Up-The-Wall is a restorative pose that can calm the mind and body, help you release stress and tension, and offer an opportunity to let go," says Pransky. "You'll take the weight and effort out of your legs and off your feet and receive support under your pelvis, spine, and head. You should feel firm support all the way from the back of your pelvis up the torso, out through the arms, and up through the neck and head." Here's how to do it:
- Lie on your back with your bottom up against the wall.
- Extend your legs straight up on the wall.
- Stay in the pose for five to 15 minutes.
If you'd prefer not to have your legs all the way up the wall, there's a modification that's even more zen, believe it or not. "It's often more comfortable to have your calves up on a chair, an ottoman, or over a few folded blankets," says Pransky. To do it this way, "lie on your back and place your calves and heels on the seat of a chair. Your thighs should be at a 90-degree angle, creating a vertical line from your knees to your pelvis."
Try book reading this pose with the first stretch-that's one minute of Child's Pose, then five minutes of the Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose, then another minute of Child's Pose.
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