An evening practice is wonderful for calming the mind and preparing your body for deep rest. In this evening practice, you will focus on looking inward. Forward bends and hip openers help relax you and set the mood for sleep. This short practice can provide a really beautiful end to a busy day. Simply slow down and tune into your body and breath. Sweet dreams!
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Come onto your mat on your hands and knees. Separate your knees a little bit wider than your hips and draw your toes together so that your lower legs look like the letter V. Now lower your hips back towards your heels and rest your forehead on your mat. Walk your fingers forward so that your arms are straight out in front of you and rest your forearms on the floor. Close your eyes here and rest for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Let go of your day mentally and allow yourself to be present in your body.
Get more cues for Child’s Pose.
Come back onto your hands and knees and line up your wrists under your shoulders, with your knees under your hips. Keep your hands shoulder-distance apart, with your knees hips-distance apart. This two-part pose is meant to stretch your spine and the muscles around your spine. On an inhale, drop your belly towards the floor, creating a backbend, and lift your sit bones and the crown of your head up towards the celling. On your next exhale, move your spine in the opposite direction, rounding your mid back towards the ceiling and shift your gaze towards your navel. Repeat these two movements with your breath 5 more times.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
On your last inhale pause, walk your hands one hand print forward and tucking your toes under in the back lift your hips up and back. Press down with both hands firmly and keeping your arms straight look back at your legs and petal your legs to stretch your hamstrings and calves. If you are tighter in your shoulders take your hands a little wider and turn them out slightly towards the edges of your mat, and if your hamstrings are tight take your feet a little wider and keep your knees a bit bent. Hold it here for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Get more cues on how to do Downward-Facing Dog.
From Downward-Facing Dog, walk your feet forward and around your hands to a squatting position. Have your feet almost as wide as your mat with your toes turned out towards the edges of your mat. If your heels don’t come all the way down to the floor, keep your heels lifted with your hands on the floor for support. This pose is great for opening your hips. You can walk your hands forward and round your spine to get a deeper stretch in your back body. Take a few breaths here.
See also How Yogis Squat.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana) Holding Opposite Elbows + Spinal Twist
From the squat, lift your hips up and straighten your legs. Rotate your feet so that they are pointing forward and fold over your legs, letting your head hang down. If you have tight hamstrings, keep your knees slightly bent. Otherwise, straighten your legs. You can have your fingertips on the floor or you can take hold of opposite elbows and gently sway side to side. After a few deep breaths here, reach down with your fingertips and take an inhale extending your spine forward. If you can’t reach the floor you can us blocks under your hands. Taking a spinal twist, bend your left knee and reach your right hand up towards the ceiling. Broaden across your collar bones, lean your head back, and open up across your chest. Take five breaths here and switch sides.
For Pigeon pose, start on your hands and knees. Walk your hands one full hand print forward and then take your right knee forward and to the right to touch the inner edge of your right wrist. You knee should be to the right of your torso. Move your right foot forward in front of your left knee, and, now, slowly shift your left knee back in space until you can’t move it back anymore. Lift your chest up on an inhale and then gently fold forward on an exhale. Place your forearms down on the mat and stack your hands. You can rest your forehead on the back of your hands. Relax your jaw and eyes and focus on your breath here, specifically on the exhale. Stay for at least five breaths and then move to Downward-Facing Dog to switch sides. Pause in Downward-Facing Dog for just a breath, noticing the difference between your two sides. Release down onto your hands and knees and repeat the same thing on the second side.
Star Pose (Bound Angle Pose)
Come to a seated position on your mat. Draw your feet together and move your heels out in front of you for that your legs create the shape of a diamond. Round your spine forward and aim your head towards your feet. Do not worry if your head and feet are far away from each other. You can practice this pose wherever it is comfortable for you just by closing your eyes and breathing into your back body. If you feel any discomfort in the backs of your knees try shifting your feet forward or back a bit and that should help. Take five to ten deep breaths here.
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)
Lifting up from star pose, draw your knees together and extend your left leg straight out in front of you. Bring your right foot up towards your upper inner left thigh (imagine a seated Tree Pose). Turn your upper body towards your straight left leg, and, on an inhale, lift your chest up. As you exhale, extend forward over your left leg. Try to walk your hands towards your front foot, but, if that’s not available, take a strap or towel around the base of your left foot and hold it with both hands. Do not overextend: if you feel any pulling in either your low back or hamstrings, back out gently. Stay for a few breaths, and then switch sides.
Reclining Twist with Wide Feet + Windshield Wiper Legs (IT Band Stretch)
Come onto your back, bend you knees, and take your feet as wide as your mat. Turn your feet out towards the edges of your mat, and, like windshield wipers, let both legs fall to the left side at the same time. Place your left hand onto your belly, and reach your right hand out on a diagonal up and away from you. You can stay here, or, to increase the stretch, place your left foot onto your right knee. Use your left foot to bring your right knee forward and down towards the floor. Take five breaths here and switch to the second side.
Savasana with Prop Under Knees
Coming back to center, place a bolster or a pillow under your knees. Place it high enough up that your heels can rest on the floor. Lower all the way down and separate your feet wider than you hips, with your arms resting a slightly away from your body. Rotate your hands, with palms facing the ceiling, and close your eyes. If you feel chilly, cover yourself with a blanket, and cover your eyes too if you desire. Allow your body to be heavy on the floor, and intentionally relax all your muscles. Give yourself permission to surrender and let go of the day. Honor yourself and your practice and thank yourself for making the time to get on your mat today. Remain here for a minimum of five minutes.
See Claire Mark’s other daily sequences: