Sleep is by far one of my favourite parts of the day, and one of the most important things we can do for our bodies. But sometimes our nights aren't as sleep-filled as they should be, and stress from the day lingers.
That's where these stretches come in. Do them before bed to wind down, and be sure to ease into them so you don't strain your muscles. Hold each position for at least 30 seconds, and remember to breathe.
You'll be surprised by how much better you sleep after just a few minutes of pre-bedtime stretching.
Standing Roll Down
Stand tall with your legs and feet in parallel, reach your arms above your head, and take a big inhale. As you exhale, slowly articulate your body down towards the mat. Holding your core in, reach the arms and top of your head to the floor and hold. You should feel a stretch and release in your hamstrings and lower back. Roll all the way back up to standing vertebrae by vertebrae. Repeat 3 to 5 times.
Seated Forward Fold
Sitting with your legs long in front of you reach your arms up above (without lifting your shoulders up with them). If this feels too tight on your back and legs, slightly bend your knees or prop your bottom up on a block or a rolled mat to take some pressure off those muscles. On an exhale, fold your body and reach for your toes. Hold here and breathe, then roll back up to a tall seated position. Repeat 3 to 5 times. (If you have tight hamstrings, add these 3 gentle stretches to your routine.)
Lie on your back and cross one ankle over the opposite knee. Make sure the knee stays turned out and hips stay on the mat, squared under your shoulders. If this is enough of a stretch, hold here. If you can stretch more, gently grab under the hamstring of your uncrossed leg and hug into a tighter figure four position. Make sure your lower back and pelvis stay on the mat. Hold here, and then switch sides.
Diamond Forward Fold
Sit with the soles of your feet together in a diamond shape. If this feels too tight in your hips, simply make your diamond bigger by moving your feet farther from your body. Holding onto your ankles, fold in half and bring your head down by your toes without lifting your legs and knees up. For the most effective stretch, make sure you're sitting tall and don't roll back into your pelvis and sit bones. Repeat 3 to 5 times.