I am a sucker for routines. I spend a lot of time editing, evaluating, and creating the perfect mourning routine to wake up to and set my day right. Currently, I wake up to 10 minutes of meditation, followed by writing down three things I am grateful for, then some form of movement. I like having a mindful and quiet start to my day, as I think it sets me up best to be productive for the rest of my day.
I recently had a conversation with my friend where they were discussing the importance of both morning and night routines. It suddenly dawned on me that I do not have an equally meticulous evening routine. I don’t even really have an evening or pre-bed routine at all, simply I try to put my phone down by a certain time and usually have a cup of warm chamomile tea. I had a bit of a lightbulb moment where I realized that cultivating a strong and consistent evening routine is essential because it prepares me best for a good nights sleep, which in turn, prepares me for the following day.
Even if you are not a routine oriented person, I think some form of gentle stretching in the evening is great for relaxing the body and releasing any tension that the body may have collected during the day. I compiled some of my favorite relaxing yoga poses to build a mini sequence that I am planning to do in the evening to wind down from my day. While I titled this “5-minute”, it can really be as long as you like as most of these stretches can be held for an extended amount of time. This sequence can also be done post-workout to help stretch out the legs and back. I recommend that this sequence be done on a yoga mat or any soft carpet.
Begin in a table position with hands stacked under shoulders and knees stacked under hips. Inhale, arch the spine, lift the chin and tail bone towards the ceiling. Exhale, round back and release the chin and pelvis. Repeat 3 times. Cat-cow.
Inhale, begin to slide the left knee towards the left wrist and stretch the right leg out behind you so the hips are level and even. Exhale and stay seated or begin to fold the torso over the left leg. Hold for 3 breaths. Pigeon pose. Inhale lift the torso and slide the left knee to stack back under the left hip. Table position.
Inhale, begin to slide the right knee towards the right wrist and stretch the left leg out behind you so the hips are level and even. Exhale and stay seated or begin to fold the torso over the right leg. Hold for 3 breaths. Pigeon pose.
Inhale, lift the torso and slide the right knee to stack under the right hip. Table position. Exhale, bring big toes to touch behind, knees set to mat width, and hips sink back to the heels. Arms can be stretched out in front or relaxed at the sides. Forehead rests on the mat. Childs pose.
Inhale lift the torso and sit back on the heels. Arms lift overhead and reach through the crown of the head. Exhale, right hand drops to the right side of the mat or a block and left arm reaches overhead, keeping length in the spine. Gaze can come to the left finger tips. Inhale, lift both arms overhead, exhale left hand drops to the left side of the mat or a block and right arm reaches overhead, keeping length in the spine. Gaze can come to the right finger tips.
Untuck the legs and stretch them out in front. Inhale, lengthened the spine, reach arms overhead, then begin to fold over the legs, reaching through the tailbone and the crown of the head. Hands can grasp the legs, the feet, or a block. Hold for 5 breaths. Forward fold.
Inhale, lift the torso and begin to walk the legs out to the sides, forming a “V”. Lengthen the spine and begin to fold forward, either reaching the arms out in front or resting on the forearms. Gentle rounding in spine. Hold for 5 breaths. Wide angel forward fold.
Inhale, lift the torso and exhale to slowly lie down on the back. Inhale, tuck both legs and hug to the chest. Hold for 1 breath. You can rock gently side to side here. Release the left foot to the mat, stacking under the left knee. Cross the right leg in front, right foot resting on the left thigh. Exhale, begin to release the legs to the left side of the mat, with the right foot on the mat and the right knee pointed towards the ceiling. Arms stretch out to the sides and gaze over the right shoulder. Hold for 3 breaths. Supine twist.
Inhale to lift back to center and unwind the legs. Tuck both legs and hug to the chest. Hold for 1 breath. You can rock gently side to side again here. Release the right foot to the mat, stacking under the right knee. Cross the left leg in front, left foot resting on the right thigh. Exhale, begin to release the legs to the right side of the mat, with the left foot on the mat and the left knee pointed towards the ceiling. Arms stretch out to the sides and gaze over the left shoulder. Hold for 3 breaths. Supine twist. Inhale to lift back to center and unwind the legs.