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Grab some extra pillows or bolsters and a strap for this practice, which can be done in bed or on the floor. Moving the body with care while doing some gentle breathing or meditation is a great way to wake up or prepare for sleep. It’s also helpful if you have limited mobility or if you’re not feeling well.
To protect your spine from sinking too deeply into the mattress, you may want to place a mat on the bed to create a bit of resistance. Begin and end this sequence by meditating for a few minutes in Savasana, focusing on your breath and the support of the bed beneath you.
Inhale, and lengthen the back of your neck. As you exhale, slowly roll your head to the right until you feel a gentle neck stretch. Inhale to bring your face toward the ceiling, then exhale and roll your head to the left. Move your head from side to side for a few rounds of breathing. Then, with your head centered, slowly lift (inhale) and lower (exhale) your chin to lengthen the front and back of the neck. Do this a few times, keeping the back of your head on the bed, face and jaw relaxed.
Garudasana (Eagle Pose), variation
Bend your knees and place your feet flat on the bed or mat. Raise your left leg and gently cross it over the right. Inhale, and stretch your arms directly out from your shoulders, palms facing up. As you exhale, raise your arms slightly. Cross the left arm in front of the right. If it’s comfortable, wrap the left arm around the right so the backs of your forearms or palms touch.
Another option: Touch your hands to the opposite shoulders like you’re giving yourself a hug. Press into your feet. Take a breath and lengthen the spine. Slowly unwind the arms and legs, then repeat on the opposite side.
Jathara Parivartanasana (Revolved Abdomen Pose), variation
With knees bent, place your feet on the bed close to your buttocks. Press into your feet, lift your hips, move them a few inches to the left, then lower them back down. Lift your knees toward your chest, then lower them to the right. Inhale, lengthen your spine, extend your left arm to the side, and look toward it. Inhale, raise your left arm up toward the ceiling, and exhale to open it out again to the left. Turn your head to follow the movement of your arm.
Continue this dynamic movement a few times, then come back to neutral. Re-center your hips, then repeat on the opposite side.
Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose), variation
Turn and bring your feet to touch the headboard or wall with a pillow or bolster under your hips. For a gentler inversion, you can place a few pillows or bolsters underneath the lower legs. You can also have a small pillow under your head. This is a gentle way to get an inversion of the lower body. Spend a few minutes here and then slowly come back to Savasana.
Lie on your back with your head at the top of the bed or mat. Inhale, and raise your arms overhead until your palms touch the headboard or wall. Adjust your distance from the headboard or wall until you can comfortably extend your arms. Press your hands into the headboard or wall to engage your arms, shoulders, and upper back. Take a few breaths here.
Supported Matsyasana (Fish Pose)
Roll to one side and place a folded blanket or pillow under your upper back. Lie back over the support and adjust your position until you feel expansion in the chest and an opening in the front of your throat. Extend your arms out at your sides. Take a few full, deep breaths here. To come out of the pose, gently lift the head and roll to the side. Then remove the support and lie back down.
Savasana (Corpse Pose) with yoga nidra
Make yourself comfortable for Savasana using supports and blankets. Darken the room or use an eye pillow to cover your eyes. Scan your body from feet to head, noticing each part—your feet, legs, hips, buttocks, abdomen, chest, hands, arms, spine, neck, throat, jaw, mouth, tongue, face, head, as well as the back of the body and the spine all the way up through the neck—without judgment. Spend a few minutes here.