Sleep is the elixir of life but we are a chronically sleep-deprived society. The way we prepare for sleep is very important because the quality of sleep we receive shapes our emotional, mental and physical health. A mindful movement routine can be a gentle and restorative way to regulate your nervous system, consciously process the day’s events and shift from a state of chaos into calm. These seven postures are a great remedy for anyone feeling stress, anxiety or tension in the mind, body or both. Use this relaxation practice to decompress, release and nurture your nightly habits so your sleep helps you thrive, not just survive.
1 CHILD’S POSE WITH PILLOW SUPPORT Begin by connecting to your breath, centering yourself. Take knees wide and lower hips towards your heels. Ease your torso down onto a pillow in front of you (place one also under bottom to alleviate knee tension if needed). Stretch, soften, hug, bend or straighten your arms. Turn your head to one side, hold three to five minutes and switch.
2 SEATED SIDE-BODY STRETCH Expand throughout your torso, neck, shoulders, back, and obliques. In cross-legged position or any seated variation, inhale to lift up tall, lengthening the spine. Exhale, extend your arm overhead, palm down, fingers spread. Place the opposite hand either on your knee or resting on the bed. Repeat on both sides.
3 LEGS UP THE WALL Shimmy into this for the restorative break your body (and mind) craves. Get yourself close to the headboard, positioning your legs vertically up the surface to form an L-shape with your torso. Place a pillow under your head or pelvis for extra comfort or try bringing the soles of your feet together for more stretch. Breathe!
4 DOWNWARD DOG MODIFICATION Alleviate pain and stiffness in your upper body and posterior chain. Stand with feet hip-distance apart. Bend knees, generously hinging at the hips and place hands actively on the bed. Lengthen your arms as you walk backwards stretching from hands to hips and hips to heels. Let tension dissolve in the neck, jaw and face.
5 SUPINE TWIST Draw your knees together into your chest. Exhale, lower to one side, either guiding knees with your hand or stretching arms out wide in line with your shoulders. Add a pillow between or under your knees for increased comfort. Soften and unclench. Repeat on both sides, moving slowly as you transition.
6 FIGURE 4 Stiff hips with a side of lower back pain? Lay on the floor (or in bed) bending both knees to 90 degrees. Place right ankle over left thigh. With the tailbone pressing downward, hold your crossed foot with one hand and knee with the other. Exhale, bring your shin closer to your chest. Repeat on the left.
7 SAVASANA Laying on your back with a pillow under your knees, rest your arms and hands wherever they feel comfortable. Let exhalations be longer than inhalations, notifying your nervous system that you are safe. Inhale for a count of four, hold breath for a count of seven, and exhale for a count of eight. Sweet dreams and namaste.
Interested in trying this fully guided, full-body relaxation with Jess? Link here to listen to Jess as she helps you ease into a deep slumber: Embodiedliving.ca/relax
Photography by Jessie McNaught
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