Adding gentle stretches into your bedtime routine helps calm your nervous system, preps you for a restful night of sleep and decreases worries and anxieties from your day.
As a personal trainer and yoga teacher, I’d love to say that I get on my mat to practice yoga every night before bed, but that usually doesn’t happen!
When I’m already winding down for the night, setting up my mat and getting down to the floor in my PJs can feel less like relaxation and more like a chore.
Below are six stretches I do in my bedroom, with no extra prep! They’ll only take a few minutes; all you need is yourself and your bed, and you’ll be ready to drift off to sleep when you’re finished.
Stay in each pose for about eight long breath cycles. If you find your mind worrying about your day or running through tomorrow’s to-dos, practice pressing “pause” on those thoughts and refocus your attention on your breath and how these poses feel in your body.
1. The sleepy pigeon
- Stand next to your bed.
- Bend one knee and set your shin onto your bed.
- Inhale and lengthen your chest up toward the ceiling.
- Stay here or fold forward over your bent leg for eight breath cycles.
- If you’re folding over, you can reach your arms forward or bend your elbows to create a pillow underneath your forehead.
- Repeat on your other leg.
Tip: If you want to go deeper into this pose, you can step your standing leg farther away from the bed once you’re folded forward.
2. The standing L
Stand next to your bed.
Lift one leg up onto the bed in front of you and flex your foot.
- Check to make sure your hips and your shoulders are facing forward in the direction of your front leg.
- Take your hands to your hips, inhale to roll your shoulders back and lift your chest.
- Exhale and stay here or place your fingertips on the bed and crease forward at your hips; you can continue your eight breaths here or fold forward over your front leg.
- Repeat on your other leg.
Tip: If your bed is too high/too low, you can also do this on the seat of your couch or a chair.
3. The restful down dog
- Place your forehead on the edge of your bed and let your head rest there.>
Reach your arms forward and walk your feet back until they’re directly underneath your hips.
- Bend your knees as much as you need to, so that your back is parallel with the floor.
- Press your palms down into your bed and slide your shoulder blades down your back so that you feel like your arms are engaged.
- Draw your hips back (like you’re sticking your butt out) to lengthen both sides of your waist.
- Take eight deep breaths here.
Tip: Make sure your back isn’t over-arching. Think about drawing the front of your rib cage up toward your back and take full deep breaths into your back.
4. The hanging hip
- Lie down on the edge of your bed so one side of your hip is almost hanging off the bed. This position is precarious! You might want to hold on to the edge of the bed over your head, your backboard or your night table while you do this.
- Let your leg hang off the edge of your bed. Place your other foot on the bed and bend your knee.
- Stay here for eight breaths and repeat on the other side.
Tip: This position might tip your pelvis into an anterior pelvic tilt (creating an arch in your back and a big space between your lower back and your bed). To counter that, move your pelvis posteriorly (tuck your pelvis like you’re shortening the gap between your back and the bed, and draw in your abs).
5. The simple twist
- Lie on your bed.
- Bring both of your knees in towards your chest.
- Take both knees across to one side.
- Turn your head in the opposite direction and extend your opposite arm out to that side as well.
- Take eight breaths here and repeat on your other side.
Tip: Your hips might sink down, depending on the firmness of your bed. Be gentle with this twist. If it feels too intense, put a pillow underneath your knees.
6. Lullaby savasana
- Lie on your back and get comfy!
- Extend your legs and let them relax.
- Place your hands on your lower belly.
- Silently count out eight breath cycles as you feel your body rise and fall underneath your hands.
- If you notice your thoughts wandering to what happened today or what’s going to happen tomorrow, let those thoughts go and come back to counting your breaths. Start from one if you forgot where you were!
Tip: You can use this as a transition to drift off to sleep, so get under the covers before you start this one.