Unwind Your Body & Mind with this Peaceful Yoga Sequence
If you are having trouble falling asleep at night; or just need some chill time, here’s a mellow Yoga sequence you can do to unwind. I also love to do it in my long johns when I get off the ski slopes at the end of the day to stretch out my muscles and recover.
Start in Extended Child’s Pose: From your shins sit back on your heels and stretch your arms forward, relaxing your forehead to the floor. Feel your lower back, hips, waist stretching out as you tap in to your deep ujayii breathing. Stay here 8-10 breaths until you feel calm and connected.
Move forward on to your belly coming in to a Cobra Pose. Make sure the arch is in your upper back, feel your tailbone lengthening back towards your legs and engage between your shoulder blades to keep the tops of the shoulders down away from your ears. If your lower back is tight stay lower in a baby cobra. I love this stretch to open my lungs, relieve my lower back and shoulders and to stretch out my neck. Stay here 3 to 5 breaths, lower down then lift back up 1 or 2 more times. If you want to drop your head forward, take slow neck rolls or drop your head to each side, feel free to do so.
From Cobra lower down on to your forearms to Sphinx. Make sure your elbows are directly below your shoulders. Keep tugging your shoulder blades together and down your back. Lift your tummy in and up and slide your tailbone back towards your heels. Hold here 5 breaths or so then lower down keeping your forearms on the floor.
Tuck under your toes and press in to your forearm as you bend your knees and press back in to a Forearm Downward-Facing Dog. When I’m low on energy, I love doing this variation of Downward Dog. Forearm Dog is a great way to stretch open the shoulders and upper back as well as the hamstrings, hips and lower back. You can always move to a full Downward Dog as well if you feel it will restore you or stay in Forearm Dog for a good 5 to 8 breaths.
Next, bring your right knee forward towards the right side or your right hand and your right foot towards the left hand. Lower you back leg straight down to the floor, lower your forearms down and hold Pigeon for 8 to 10 breaths. Make sure your not sicking in to either hip (you can prop the right buttocks up if your very tight), you can also lower your forehead down to the floor or a pillow. Switch sides.
From Pigeon on the left side, float your right leg around and stack the right ankle above the left knee for Double Pigeon. This is one of my all time favorite stretches! We hold so much junk in our trunk which leads to excess tension in our backs, hips, and jaw even. Double Pigeon (also known as ankle to knee pose) is one of the best hip openers there is. If you can hold 8 to 10 breaths (or more) stay here and allow your hips to fully relax and release. Make sure your shins are stacked exactly one on top of each other and don’t let the top ankle collapse (look for wrinkles on the inner ankle and iron them out by flexing the foot). Repeat on the left side.
Bring both soles of feet together and bend your knees in to a kite shape. Tarasana, Star Pose, is more restorative then Baddha Konasana (Cobbler’s pose) because your inner thighs aren’t getting as deep of a stretch; and you can round your torso forward resting the head neck and shoulders as you breathe in to the lower back, outer thighs and groins. Stay here 8-10 breaths. You can also place a block under your forehead if you want it to be more restful.
Lie down on your back keeping your feet together knees apart and come in to Goddess. You may knee to slide your heels a bit closer to your groins or see what is most comfortable for you. You can prop your outer upper thighs with pillows or blocks if you wish. Lie in Goddess for as long as you wish and watch your breath. If you like, place your hands on your belly you can watch the rise and fall of the abdomen as you breath.
Finally lengthen your legs forward and let them drop out to the sides. Turn your palms up and rest your shoulders down away from your ears. Let the entire body melt in to the floor in Savasana. Let your breath relax, close your eyes, imagine yourself melting in to a deep state of rest. Release in to your own natural state of beauty and bliss.
Kristin McGee is a celebrity yoga and Pilates instructor in New York City. She is the star of over 100 videos, a contributing editor at Health Magazine and a spokeswoman for many brands and causes she believes in. Kristin also appears frequently on television. A proud mom to three, she sure keeps herself busy!