In this evening yoga practice, you can let yourself slow down and tune into your body and your breath. As you take yourself through some quiet forward bends and hip openers, you’ll notice that you ease tension—physical as well as psychological—and settle into the mood for sleep.
Begin on hands and knees. Bring the knees mat width apart, the big toes to touch and sit back towards your heels. Walk your hands forward and bring your forehead to rest on the mat, a block or a blanket. Close your eyes, bring your attention to your breath and allow yourself to be present in your body. Settle in and stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Come back to hands and knees, bringing your wrists beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. This pose is meant to stretch your spine and the muscles around it. On an inhale, slowly release your belly toward the floor and draw your chest forward as you lift your sit bones and the crown of your head toward the celling, creating a slight backbend. On your next exhale, move your spine in the opposite direction, rounding your mid-back toward the ceiling. Move between the two poses using your breath to guide your movements, flowing between the poses about 5 times.
Downward Facing Dog
From hands and knees, step your right foot back followed by your left so that you are in a plank pose then lift your hips up and back. Keep your arms straight as you look back at your legs and pedal your legs, bending one knee and then the other, to stretch your hamstrings and calves. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
From Downward Facing Dog, walk your feet to the front of the mat. Remain in a forward bend, keeping the knees bent. You can rest your fingertips on the floor or a block or you can take hold of opposite elbows and gently sway from side to side. Allow your neck and shoulders to release and let your head hang heavy. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Forward Bends with Twists
Release your fingertips to the mat or a block, inhale, and lift halfway to lengthen through your spine. Keep your left fingertips on the mat and reach your right hand toward the ceiling. Lean your head slightly back, and broaden across your chest. If it’s comfortable, turn your gaze toward your right thumb. Stay here for 5 deep breaths. Switch sides.
From Standing Forward Bend, come to a squat with your feet as wide as the mat and turn your toes slightly out bringing your hands together at your chest. Stay here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
From Squat, come into a Standing Forward Bend and walk yourself back to Downward Dog. Bring your right knee forward to touch your right wrist. Move your right foot forward in front of your left knee and bring your right ankle toward your left wrist to any extent that is comfortable. Lower your left knee and inch it back until it’s a comfortable stretch. You may find it more comfortable to have a blanket or pillow underneath your right hip. Inhale and lift your chest, exhale and gently fold forward on an exhale. Place your forearms down on the mat and get comfortable and bring your forehead to rest on your forearms.
Relax your jaw and eyes and focus on your breath here, specifically on the exhale. Stay for at least 5 deep breaths and then move to Downward-Facing Dog. Pause for several breaths, noticing the difference between your sides. Repeat on your left side.
Come to lying on your back with your knees bent. Bring the soles of your feet to touch and let your knees fall towards the mat. Bring your hands to rest alongside your body with your palms facing upwards. Allow your eyes to close as you focus on your breath.
From Butterfly Pose bring the hands to the thighs to bring the knees back together so that you are lying on your back with your knees bent. Bring your arms to a T shape at shoulder level. On an exhale let the knees fall to the left, keeping your shoulders on the mat. Hold for 1-2 minutes. Bring your legs back to centre and repeat on the other side.
From Reclining Twist, bring your knees back to centre before bringing the legs out long with your arms resting away from your body at a slight angle, palms facing the ceiling. Close your eyes. If you feel cold, cover yourself with a blanket. Allow your body to be heavy and sink into the mat. Intentionally release all your muscles Give yourself permission to surrender and let go of the day. Take a moment to thank yourself and appreciate that you made the time to get on your mat for an evening yoga practice. Remain here for at least 5 minutes.