MOVEMENT

Seven Self-Care Stretches Before Bed

By Lashaun Dale

Anytime is the perfect moment to refresh your bedtime routine, whether the time has changed, the seasons have changed, a new year has begun, or you’re finally. That includes ending screen time and mealtime well before you plan to hit the hay. A hard workout is not recommended just before bed, but there is movement that can help you have a more restful night’s sleep. Try the sequence below for better slumber.

Perform each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds (each side).

Cat-Cow

  • Begin in a tabletop position, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips with a flat back.
  • Engage your abdominal muscles and round your back, sending your spine toward the ceiling and your head down, much like a cat stretching.
  • Keeping your abs engaged, arch your back, pressing your ribs toward the floor and your tailbone to the ceiling, and lift your head while holding in your abdominal muscles.
  • Repeat, alternating between cat and cow.

Runner’s Lunge With Rotation

  • Begin in a modified plank position with your knees and toes on the ground, hands under your shoulders.
  • Step your right leg forward so your knee is under your right armpit, and place your right foot outside your right hand.
  • Place your right hand on your lower back and rotate your chest over your right knee to open up toward the ceiling. Follow the movement with your eyes to gaze up.
  • Hold and then release and repeat on the opposite side.

Squat to Hamstring Stretch

  • Begin standing with your feet wider than your hips.
  • Lower your hips into a low squat. Place your hands on the floor in front of your feet, then slowly straighten your legs as much as you are able to send your tailbone toward the ceiling.
  • Release your head toward the floor and feel the stretch in your hamstrings.

Knee Hugs and Circles

  • Rest on your back with your head and neck relaxed, core slightly engaged, and hug your knees to your chest.
  • Make small clockwise circles with your hips to massage your lower back as you hug your knees in. Reverse the circles.

Side-Lying Thoracic Rotation

  • Lie on your side with both knees touching and your hips and knees at 90 degrees.
  • Place your hands together as if you are praying. Take a deep breath, and rotate by pointing your chest to the sky and lowering your top hand all the way toward the floor on the opposite side of you.
  • Hold this position for 30 seconds. Breathe out through your nose and in through your nose. Expand your ribs as you breathe.
  • Return to the start and then lie on the other side and repeat.

Three-Way Down-Dog Peddler

  • Begin in an extended plank with your hands under your shoulders, toes on the ground.
  • Send your hips up toward the ceiling, keeping your legs and arms straight and press your chest toward your thighs in Down Dog.
  • Pedal your feet here for a few reps.
  • Turn your toes in toward one another and your heels out, and pedal here for a few reps.
  • Turn your heels in toward one another and your toes out, and pedal here for a few reps.

60-Second, Three-Part Breaths

  • Lie on your back, feet together, eyes closed.
  • Place one hand on your chest, the other on your belly.
  • Breathe in through your nose, filling up your chest, then ribs, then belly.
  • Release the breath through your mouth, pressing the air from your chest, then ribs, then belly.
  • Repeat for 60 seconds.

Photo credit: Studio Firma, Stocksy
GIFs: Tom Casey, box24studio.com

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Author

Lashaun Dale

Lashaun Dale loves yoga and fitness and finds magic in movement, music and mobs of people. She holds degrees in International Relations, Philosophy and Applied Anthropology, as well as an MPH from the School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York. With two decades of group fitness programming experience, Dale is former editor-in-chief of 24Life magazine, a regular contributor to SELF and Women’s Health and Fitness, as well as popular blogs and podcasts. She’ll teach yoga anytime she is given an opportunity to get her om on.

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