How Openfit Live Trainer Jennifer Winds Down With Yoga
Even if your body thinks you’re ready for bed, your mind might have a different idea. The ability to wind down both is necessary for sleep. Enter yoga, an accessible and feel-good way to end your day and start your bedtime routine.
“In yoga, we are trying to decrease the sympathetic response, that fight or flight, and increase the parasympathetic response,” says Openfit Live Trainer Jennifer Fuller, RYT 500. “So we are decreasing anxiety and stress and reducing the cortisol levels.”
Fuller created a simple sequence of six poses to get your mind and body primed and ready for bed. She recommends holding each pose for 90 seconds to two minutes, except for the last one. And, if you’re not ready to be perfectly still, go ahead and fidget (as long as you’re continuing to breathe).
“Allow yourself to move,” Fuller says. “Give yourself permission, and move with your breath.”
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Relax into this pose on your mat, as you open your hips and stretch the spine. Child’s Pose is a great one to help you start to turn inward at the end of the day.
- Start on all fours, with your hands directly below your shoulders and your knees hip width or wider. Bring your big toes together.
- Exhale and sink your hips back toward your heels. Rest your belly between your thighs and your forehead on your mat.
- Extend your arms out in front of you (palms down, to stretch the whole back) or along your sides (palms up, to stretch between the shoulders).
- If desired, slowly rock your head side to side for a forehead massage.
2. Seated Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana) With a Forward Fold
Also known as Butterfly Pose, this forward fold variation opens up the hips and stretches the inner thighs and glutes.
“We store a lot of stress and tension in the hips,” says Fuller. “This is a great way to loosen up those areas where we might be storing some emotional and physical stress.”
- Sit on the floor with your butt bones directly beneath you. (This keeps you from tucking your tailbone.)
- Bring the soles of your feet together, letting your knees fall to the sides. The outer edges of your feet should touch.
- Draw your heels as close to your groin as is comfortable.
- Place your thumbs on the balls of your feet, and wrap the rest of your fingers around the tops of your toes, as if holding an open book.
- If needed, slide two blocks or rolled up towels under your knees.
- As you inhale, slowly and gently begin to fold forward with a straight spine.
3. Reclined Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
For the rest of the poses, you’ll stay on your back on the mat. First is reclined hand-to-big-toe pose.
“We are creating a sense of grounding and moving into the back body,” says Fuller, as you stretch your hamstrings, glutes, and hips.
- Lie on the mat with your legs stretched out in front of you. Bring your right knee toward your chest.
- Extend your right foot up as you straighten your leg as much as possible. (Keep your knee bent if your leg is tight.)
- Reach for your foot or behind your thigh, but keep your left leg extended out straight on the mat. (Don’t let it lift!)
- As you exhale, slowly and gently bring your right leg toward your face to stretch your hamstring.
- Repeat the pose on the other side.
4. Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Reclined spinal twist helps you (literally) unwind from the day. This pose continues to help you feel grounded and relaxed, stretching the shoulders, chest, and spine.
- Start on your back on the mat with both knees bent, feet flat.
- Let both knees fall to the right side, resting on the mat or a pillow or bolster. Spread your arms out wide like a T, in line with your shoulders.
- Keep your left shoulder flat on the floor and your hips stacked.
- Look to your left to complete the twist.
- Bring both knees back to center and repeat on the other side.
5. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
- Start by lying on your back on the mat.
- Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall open toward the edges of the mat.
- If this strains your knees or hips, place pillows under each knee.
- Fuller recommends placing your left hand on your heart and your right hand on your belly to really stay connected to your breath.
6. Legs Up the Wall Pose
The final pose, as Fuller says, is the ultimate pose for unwinding. Legs Up the Wall is a gentle inversion that refreshes your lower body.
“It’s a great way to end your day and come into this great place of calm and relaxation,” says Fuller.
- Sit next to a wall with one hip touching it.
- As you start to recline, turn so that your legs go up the wall and your butt is as close to it as possible. Your body will make an L shape.
- Rest your hands by your sides or extended out in a T shape.
- Hold for five to 10 minutes.
- To come out, bring your knees to your chest, roll to the side, and scoot away from the wall.