A myriad — and we mean myriad — of scientific studies show stretching is really, really good for us in almost every single way. Whether improving sleep quality, quelling symptoms of insomnia, helping with weight loss, leading to reduced pain, or generally leading to a more comfortable existence, stretching is crucial. Especially before bed.
When bedtime comes, though, a lot of us just want to snuggle under the comforter and doze. Rolling out a yoga mat, or even just sitting on the floor after you’ve changed into your pyjamas, isn’t necessarily the motive. That’s why we asked our pal Amber DiPietro, holistic health coach, yoga teacher, and founder of Pravasana Holistic Health & Wellness, to design an easy stretch routine to be done before bed! And with our Original Pillow and Four Position Pillow as your only props, no less.
Starting in a comfortable seated position, begin to bring your attention to your breath. Place one hand on the belly, focusing on deep inhales that expand your belly, and controlled, complete exhales. This will help you calm your mind and connect to your body, and start your journey into relaxation.
Move into these poses, holding each for 30 seconds to 5 minutes.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Come on to all fours, bring the knees a little wider than hip distance apart and the big toes to touch. For a more restorative pose, place your pillow under the belly, chest, and face to rest on. Relax the hips down towards the feet, and reach and relax the arms forward.
Supported Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)
From a seated position, extend the legs forward, place the pillow on your lap (it’s okay to have a bend in the knees, remember that you’re relaxing!), and rest your elbows on the pillow or your chest if your hamstrings permit.
Optional: you can also place the Four Position Pillow (or a small rolled towel or blanket) under the knees for less pressure and more relaxation.
Reclined Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Laying on your back (you can utilize the Coop pillow vertically, supporting your lower back to your head), bring the soles of the feet together, allowing the knees to fall open, resting your hands by your sides, or one hand on your heart and one on your belly to stay connected to your breath.
Optional: you can also place the Four Position Pillow underneath the knees if you feel too much pressure on the outer hips or inner thighs.
To come out, place your hands outside of your knees and gently assist them up.
Knees to Chest Pose (Apanasana)
Laying on your back, hug your knees into your chest, keeping the spine long, and the shoulders relaxed.
Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana II)
From knees to chest pose, place one hand on the outside of the opposite knee, guiding the knees to twist toward that side of the body, keeping the shoulders placed on the bed or the mat. Allow the knees to fall gently toward the bed (or mat). If a full twist is not possible, don’t fret! Simply place your pillow underneath your legs for support. Repeat on the other side.
Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
From the lying position (you can use your headboard or your wall for this for a more relaxing posture), lift the legs up into the air, keeping a gentle bend in the knees. Place your Four Position Pillow under your low back and the hips to further relax the pose.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
To complete your routine, come to a comfortable lying position — let the feet fall out naturally, the hands resting by your sides, palms can be up or face down, and bring your attention back to your breath, noticing the rise in the belly as the same way you started. If the day’s chatter comes into your mind, bring notice, and let it pass, finding a sense of peace and serenity. You can stay here for 5–10 minutes or as long as you want. When coming out, be gentle with yourself, invite gratitude, and start your journey to rest.
Have a good night
Going to bed relaxed, calm, and comfortable is one of the best ways to get a good, restful sleep. Repeat this routine nightly, and you’ll begin to feel the effects of gentle before-bed stretching on both your mind and your body.