You may have an arsenal of skincare and beauty products at your fingertips—but nothing can truly replace the glow of a good night’s sleep. So today we’re sharing 3 yoga poses to help you rest better. Practice these moves just before bedtime and wake up to radiant skin and a less cranky morning. Just remember: only go as far as you feel comfortable going, and listen to your body every step of the way. If at any time a pose feels too intense, back off and slowly work towards standing straight again.
1. Forward Fold
Benefit: folding forward increases circulation to the head, which calms the mind, relieves stress, and reduces anxiety. This pose also stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips and helps to straighten the spine after a long day of slouchy sitting or standing.
A. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Exhale and bend forward with a flat back (keeping your torso in one straight line). Place your fingers or palms directly under your shoulders and lengthen your spine. Rest your gaze just in front of your fingertips and be cautious not to strain the neck. Modification: if your fingers or hands can’t reach the floor, place them on your shins or slightly, gently, bend your knees.
B. To deepen the posture, with a slight bend in the knees, walk your hands towards your feet. If you can go deeper, place your palms on each side of your feet or grab the backs of your ankles or calves. Modification: if you cannot grab your ankles or place your palms down, hold on to opposite elbows and hang with a gentle bend in the knees. Stay here for the duration of the pose.
C. Grab the back of your shins and lengthen the spine with every inhale. On every exhale, bring your torso a bit closer to your legs. Eventually the alignment should be nose to shin, with a long flat back and your shoulder blades relaxing down the back. Breathe deeply for 30 to 60 seconds.
2. Bound Angle Pose
Benefit: bound angle pose (or butterfly pose) helps open up your hips and release tension from the day. Stretching your hips, knees, and inner thighs can help alleviate stress since we tend to tighten these muscles under pressure.
A. Come into staff pose—sitting up nice and straight with your spine lengthened. Put your hands on each side of the hips, fingers facing forward, legs together, straight out in front with flexed feet.
B. As you exhale, slowly bring your legs closer to the torso and place the soles of your feet together. Cup your ankles and keep your spine as long as possible.
C. Inhale deeply, then with a lengthened spine, fold forward. Breathe deeply for 30 to 60 seconds. Modification: do not fold forward if bringing the soles of your feet together is challenging enough. Place a blanket or pillow under each knee if it’s too difficult to open up your hips further.
3. Thread the Needle
Benefit: this is another hip opener that gently stretches your hip flexors, inner thighs, and knees. Lying supine also helps to elongate the spine and neck in preparation for bed.
A. Lie on your back, gazing up at the sky. Bend your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor.
B. Bring your right knee toward your chest. Gently place your right ankle on your left knee. Flex your right foot to keep your muscles engaged, preventing injury.
C. Slowly bring your left knee towards your chest. Loop your hands around your left thight (you’re threading the needle!). Clasp your fingers behind your thigh, if possible. Breathe deeply for 30 to 60 seconds, then repeat on the other side.