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Need Help Winding Down? Try These 9 Yoga Poses

If you're feeling tired yet still wired at the end of the day, this gentle yoga sequence can help you get a good night's sleep.

Some evenings, even when you find a few quiet moments to yourself, it can feel like you’re too wired from work, errands, dishes, and life to truly unwind. Your thoughts are racing, your body is still tense, and relaxing just doesn’t seem like it’s an option. But sleep is in indispensable part of recovery from running, so being able to relax your body and mind for a restful night is key.

A few minutes of gentle yoga, stretching, breathwork, and meditation can clearly communicate to your body and mind that it’s time to release and relax. This gentle yoga sequence is designed to ensure that you leave the tension behind and fall asleep with ease.

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A yoga sequence to help you wind down

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

Seated meditation with alternate nostril breath

Begin in a comfortable seat. Keep your shoulders over your hips and your seat firmly grounded on the floor. Begin by taking a few deep breaths in and out through your nose, allowing your body to relax deeper with each exhale. Direct your full awareness to the sensation of the breath entering and leaving the nostrils. Sit in stillness for a few minutes, then transition into alternate nostril breathing by curling the first and middle fingers of your right hand into your palm. Place your right thumb against your right nostril to close it as you slowly inhale through the left nostril. Then close your left nostril with your ring and pinky fingers and slowly exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right side and repeat for at least 20 rounds.

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Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

Separate your knees hip distance apart on the mat. Sit back on your heels as you extend your arms forward, shoulder-distance apart, to come into Child’s Pose. Keep your palms and forehead gently planted on your mat and let your chest drop toward the ground. Feel the connection of your body to the earth and breathe into that grounding sensation. Hold this posture for 10 breaths, letting your body relax and soften even more with each exhale.

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Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

Slowly make your way to standing with your feet hip-distance apart or wider. Take a deep breath in and, on an exhale, fold forward over your legs. Keep a deep bend in your knees and let your head and neck relax and hang. You can invite gentle movement into the posture by swaying back and forth or shaking your head yes and no. Let your body be relaxed. Hold for 10–20 breaths.

Reclined Pigeon

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

Gently transition onto your back with both knees bent and your feet on your mat. Bring the right knee into the chest and cross your right ankle to your left thigh. Reach one hand on either side of your left thigh and interlace your fingers behind your hamstring, using the pressure of your hands to gently draw the thigh closer to the body. Keep your right foot flexed as you stretch into the right hip. Hold for five breaths and then switch sides.

Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

From Reclined Pigeon, place both your feet flat on the mat, hip-distance apart, knees pointing toward the sky. On an inhale, press down through your feet and lift your hips off the mat, sliding your block or prop underneath your sacrum. Let your body relax onto the prop. You want to feel comfortable and supported. Rest your arms alongside your body and relax your shoulders. Remain in the pose for 10 breaths.

Waterfall

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

From Supported Bridge, transition into Waterfall by extending your legs up toward the ceiling. You may need to adjust the block or prop so you continue to feel comfortable and supported. Keep a slight bend in the knees and let your legs be relaxed. Gently hold the posture for up to 20 breaths.

Reclined Twist

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

From Waterfall, on an exhale, slowly lower your feet back down onto the mat. Press down with your feet, lift your hips slightly, and slide the prop out from beneath you. Let your sacrum come back down to the mat and bring your knees toward your chest. Take a deep inhale and, on an exhale, lower both legs to the right. Extend your arms out at shoulder height and gaze over the left shoulder. If you like, you can rest your right hand on your left thigh. Remain in the twist, breathing deeply into your midsection, for 10 breaths. Slowly bring your knees back to center and repeat on the other side, turning your head opposite your knees.

Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

Bring your knees back to the center of your chest and reach for the outer edges of your feet, directing your knees toward your armpits and the bottom of your feet toward the ceiling. Keep your low back firmly planted on the mat as you open through the hips in Happy Baby Pose. You can invite gentle movement into the posture by rocking side to side or straightening first one leg and then the other. Hold and explore the posture for 10 breaths.

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Savasana (Corpse Pose)

Photo: Gabrielle Marchese

Bring your knees in toward your chest and hug your shins. On an inhale, squeeze your legs and bring your forehead to your knees, tensing every muscle in your body. Breathe in one more sip of air and, on an exhale, release and lie down. Extend your arms and legs out to the side, taking up as much space as you like and letting go of any attempt to control your breath or your mind. Let your body sink into the mat, relaxing deeply. Stay in Savasana for up to 10 minutes. Come out of the pose slowly.

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From Yoga Journal