Let Master Trainer Clare Walters ease the tension of a tough day and help you lean into a better night’s rest
67% of people say they suffer from disrupted sleep in the UK. Stress and tension are among the leading causes of wakefulness – responsible for all those lost hours staring at the dark ceiling. Thankfully, there is a relaxing fix for poor sleep that will calm your mind and loosen the body.
“You’re aiming for a slow flow so as not to enliven the nervous system,” says Walters. The following postures make up a short Yin Yoga sequence that relieves tension and relaxes the body. Aim for at least 2 minutes in each posture but you could stay longer if it feels right for your body.
This standing forward fold relieves tension along the back line of the body. It will target where you’re most tight so you may feel it in your back or in the backs of the legs.
Stand with your feet hip width apart with a soft bend in your knees. Drop your chin to your chest and roll down through the spine until you’re hanging over your legs. If you need more support, place a bolster underneath the hands.
Sleeping Swan is a great hip opening pose and glute stretch. Many of us will hold tension in the glutes, so giving them a good stretch at the end of the day can be super relaxing.
Start in downward dog and pick up the right leg, draw the knee into the chest and then turn the leg outwards so the knee is pointing towards the right wrist. Place the leg down and wriggle your left leg a bit further behind you. At this point you may wish to place a brick underneath the right side of the pelvis for more support. Reach the hands forward and fold the torso over the right leg, relaxing the chest towards the floor. Again, you may wish for more support here so feel free to place a bolster under the torso. If there’s any tension or pain in the front knee, adjust the angle of the leg by either taking the knee out wider or bringing it in line with the belly button. Repeat on the left side.
Legs up the Wall
This pose is perfect if you spend a lot of your day standing as it facilitates venous drainage and increases circulation.
Sit with the pelvis very close to a wall and lie down. Extend your legs up toward the ceiling and allow them to rest on the wall. You may need to adjust how close your pelvis is to the wall and you may wish to elevate the pelvis with a brick or a bolster.
You might find at the end of the day that you have a stiff or sore back, or maybe when you come to lie down in bed you just can’t find a comfy position for your spine. Taking a reclining twist can help to relieve some of the tension in the back muscles, allowing you to find a comfier sleeping position.
Start on the back with the knees bent and the feet flat on the floor. Push the feet down to lift the hips and shift the hips to the right side of the mat keeping the feet and upper back where they are. Draw the knees into the chest and choose to either keep the knees stacking together or cross the right thigh over the left, maybe even taking a double bind of the legs by tucking the right toes behind the left calf. Keeping the knees into the chest roll them over to the left side of the mat, dropping towards the floor. Extend the right arm out to the side and may look up to the ceiling or out over the right shoulder. If the knees are hovering above the ground, you could place a brick or bolster underneath for support. Repeat on the left side.
Supported Child’s Pose
Forward folding is calming for the central nervous system, but a supported child’s pose has the added benefit of more pressure on the front of the torso, almost like you’re getting a bear hug.
Start kneeling with big toes touching and the knees wide apart and place a bolster lengthways between the knees. Lower the torso onto the bolster and allow the arms to hug the bolster, turning the head to one side. If the hips lift up away from the heels as you lower the torso to the bolster, place a brick or two underneath the bolster to lift it up higher so it can meet your torso as you keep the hips down. Really allow your weight to drop down into the bolster and let go of any residual tension. For even more relaxation, focus the breath into the back of the ribcage and focus on slowing the breath down.