There’s no better way to wind down at the end of the day than with a few gentle yoga poses. Here’s an all-levels sequence that can help ensure you have a restful evening by releasing tension throughout your body and quieting your mind. You’ll need a smalls area of empty wall space for this practice.
Remember to breathe easily and steadily. Feel free to take full exhalations (even breathing out through your mouth) whenever the urge arises!
1. Reclining Mountain Pose With Clasped Hands Overheard (Baddhanguliyasana in Supta Tadasana)
- Lie on your back with your legs straight and together. Flex your feet as if you were standing upright. Interlace your hands and stretch your arms overhead with your palms facing away from you.
- Firm your legs and extend from your hips through your legs and feet.
- Extend your torso in the opposite direction. Firm your upper arms in toward your ears and stretch them away from the wall.
- Hold for five to 10 breaths.
- To release, return your arms to your sides.
- Bend your right knee and draw it into your chest. Hold your right thigh with both hands clasped near your knee.
- Straighten your right leg toward the ceiling. If you can’t straighten it easily, use a strap around the arch of your foot and position your leg farther away from you so you can straighten it without strain.
- Keep the muscles in both legs engaged and strong.
- Extend through your left leg and foot and stretch up through your right leg.
- Hold this pose for five to 10 breaths.
- Slowly release your right leg to the floor.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Begin as you did in the previous pose.
- With straight legs, turn your right thigh outward and lower your right leg to the right, in line with your hip.
- Hold for five to 10 breaths.
- To release, draw your leg back up to the center position on an inhalation.
- Exhale, release your leg down and switch to the other side.
4. Windshield Wipers Pose
- Bend your knees and widen your feet to the edges of your yoga mat. Raise your arms overhead.
- Slowly lower your right knee toward your left inner ankle.
- Reach through your right arm to increase the stretch.
- Hold for a few breaths and switch sides.
- Repeat two or three times to each side at whatever pace feels comfortable.
- Begin with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart.Bend your left knee in and place your outer left ankle just above your right knee.
- Draw your right knee in toward your chest. Slide your left hand and forearm through the space between your legs and clasp both hands around the back of your right thigh or the front of your shin.
- Keep your back flat on the mat. Relax your shoulders and broaden across your collarbones.
- As you stay in the pose, draw your right knee gently toward you and gently extend your left knee away from you without forcing but as an extension of the opening of your left hip.
- With an exhalation, release your leg and place your right foot on the floor. Repeat the pose with the opposite leg.
- Roll to your side and into a "tabletop" position on your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows, and shoulders are in line and perpendicular to the floor.
- As you inhale, arch your back and lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing your belly to sink toward the floor.
- As you exhale, round your spine toward the ceiling, drawing the sides of your waistline up and your tailbone in. Look toward your legs.
- Continue for 5-10 times and return back to the tabletop position.
Read: Why We Do Cat-Cow Pose
- From Tabletop, walk your knees back a few inches behind your hips. With your hands under your shoulders, spread your fingers, and adjust your hands so that your index fingers parallel or slightly turned out, and turn your toes under.
- Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor. At first, keep your knees slightly bent and the heels lifted away from the floor. Lift your sitting bones up toward the ceiling. Press the tops of your thighs back.
- Begin to stretch your heels down toward the floor and straighten your knees without rounding in your spine. If you’re stiff in the legs, keep your knees bent and your heels off the floor as you continue to lift your hips up and extend your spine toward your legs.
- Press the bases of the index fingers down into the floor and firm the muscles of your arms. Firm your shoulder blades onto your back and stretch your chest away from your hands and toward your legs. Keep your ears in line with your arms.
- To release, bend your knees back down to the floor.
8. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
- Sit on your heels with your big toes together and knees apart. For stiff hips or knees, place a folded blanket under your hips.
- Reach your arms out along the mat, moving your torso forward and down until your ribs nestle against your inner thighs and your forehead touches the floor. Keep your arms straight. If your forehead doesn’t touch the floor, support it with a blanket or block.
- Move your hips back and down. Relax your neck and back.
- To release, inhale and walk your hands in and raise your torso back up to sitting.
9. Seated Twist (Bharadvajasana I)
- From sitting, shift over onto your right buttock, swing your legs to the left and place your feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the right arch.
- Place your left hand on your right knee, and place your right hand behind you. Inhale and lengthen your torso and spine up. Exhale and twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock close to the floor.
- You can turn your head in one of two directions: continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over your left shoulder.
- Continue to lengthen up on your inhale and twist on your exhale.
- Stay for five to 10 breaths then release with an exhalation.
- Release with an exhalation and return to the starting position.
- Repeat to the left for the same length of time.
- Sit on the floor a few inches away from a wall with one side of your body facing the wall. Place your hands on the floor behind you and swing your legs up the wall as you lower your back down onto the floor.
- Adjust yourself closer to the wall by pressing your elbows into the floor and shimmying forward. If you feel a big stretch in the backs of your legs, move your hips away from the wall by pressing your feet into the wall and shifting your hips back.
- Once you get comfortable, rest here for five to 10 minutes.
- To release, bend your knees, gently roll to your side and slowly press yourself back up to sitting.
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