When I was cleared to work out after Liv’ s birth, I couldn’t wait to get back into sweaty interval training. Finding my personal max and soaked in sweat sounded like a dream to me. After P’s birth, I couldn’t wait to Orangetheory and Spin again. (Hopefully I’ll be back at OTF in the new few weeks as my hand gets stronger!)
After my recent hiatus, I had one thing on my mind: yoga.
I was craving a fiercely heated room, finding my way into familiar poses, and soaking it all in during savasana. I still haven’t been able to take a class -push-up and plank feel great but I’m not quite ready for a full practice- but I’ve been incorporating bits of yoga into my daily life. Maybe it’s a reminder to stay in the present moment (instead of rushing through the “what-ifs” in my brain), or a few deep breaths to center myself. It might be a quick flow with Liv (she’s a big yoga fan), or a simple stretching routine before bed.
This is the perfect way to wind down after a long day. It only takes a few minutes to stretch your muscles, become mindful of your breath, and ease your way into sleep. I find that setting a timer for 5 minutes to stretch and breathe helps me fall asleep faster, and as an added bonus, I’ll tack on 5-10 minutes of meditation. Afterwards I feel peaceful, centered, and ready to crash out.
5-Minute Bedtime Stretches
Start in a comfortable seat with your legs crossed and hands on your knees. As you inhale, fill your belly, and arch your back, bringing your chest forward. As you exhale, draw your belly in and round your spine. Repeat 5 times, taking long, even breaths.
2) Neck stretches
Remain seated. Take an inhale and as you exhale, let your left your right ear fall towards your right shoulder. Make sure to keep both shoulders pressing down. Inhale back to center, and exhale to bring the left ear towards the left shoulder. Complete 3-5 on each side.
3) Overhead reach
Remain seated. Inhale to bring your right arm up overhead, close to your ear. Keep your shoulders pressing down. As you exhale, bring your right arm up and over to the left side, slightly bending your left arm to support you. Inhale back to center, and exhale to bring your left are up and complete on the other side. Optional: extend one leg out towards the side where you are reaching. (So if your right arm is up, your left leg is out.) Complete 3-5 on each side.
4) Spinal twist
Bring one knee in towards your chest, and extend the opposite leg straight in front of you. Whichever leg is out, use the same arm to “hook” your elbow in front of your knee. Take a big inhale to lift the crown of your head and decompress your spine, and exhale to gently twist. Go easy with this one. Hold for 5 breaths on one side before switching to the other side.
5) Fish pose
Extend both legs in front of you and point your toes. Bend your elbows straight behind you, and keep your fingertips pointing forward, and place them directly under your hips. As you inhale, lift your chest, and exhale to gently take your gaze towards the ceiling, or back behind you. Take 3-5 deep breaths.
6) Forward bend
Keep your legs extended in front of you. Inhale to bring your arms up overhead, keeping your shoulders down. As you exhale, fold forward, reaching towards your shins, ankles or toes. Bend your knees as much as you need to.
7) Optional: meditation
Take 5-10 minutes to sit and breathe. If it helps you, think of a mantra as you meditate. Also, don’t try to fight any random thoughts that come into your brain. Acknowledge them, and try to let them go. More meditation tips here.
8) Savasana orrrrr go to sleep 🙂
Lie on your back with your feet apart, and palms facing up. Focus on taking deep breaths. Maybe go to sleep. 🙂
What’s your favorite way to wind down at the end of the day? A glass of wine and some reading usually do the trick for me. 😉