6 Evening Yoga Poses + Printable Routine
Do you ever make it to the end of a long day feeling tense, stressed and wound up?
Living in a world that’s always go, go, go can definitely leave us stressed and overstimulated. When combined with sitting at a desk all day (an unnatural + almost unavoidable part of the modern lifestyle!) we have a recipe for stiff joints and shortened, tense muscles.
Do You Need To Unwind?
I probably don’t need to tell you that living a sedentary lifestyle is damaging to our health. As humans, we were simply not made to sit for the majority of our waking hours! Sitting hunched over a laptop not only contributes to tight hips, but can also lead to poor circulation, slouched posture and stiff shoulders.
Throughout the course of a day, meetings, deadlines and social interactions can also transform us into a ball of stress and put our nervous system on high alert. As a result, our muscles become tense and we can develop muscular holding patterns. That is, we start to habitually tense or stiffen certain muscles – most commonly in the neck and shoulders. An overactive nervous system can also interfere with our digestion, either speeding things up or bringing it to a screeching halt!
Rituals that Balance Body and Mind
One way that we like to unwind after a long day is with some simple yoga stretches. Not only can yoga help to relieve muscular tension, but a dedicated nightly practice can also ease an overstimulated nervous system and clear unwanted mind-chatter. The end result: a balanced body and mind… and a restful sleep!
Below we’ve included a simple nightly routine with poses intended to restore and rejuvenate after a long day. These poses focus on opening the hips and chest (which can become tight + stiff throughout the day!) to improve mobility, posture and flexibility. To help your mind unwind, be sure to focus on long, deep breaths while performing this routine. Focussing on the breath and taking your time will allow you to really sink into and absorb each stretch into the body.
As part of your unwinding ritual, allow around 10 minutes each night to complete these poses. As a handy guide, we’ve also provided a (free!) printable copy of our evening yoga routine that you can download here! We’ve also included an extra pose in this download (our favourite for lengthening and stretching the lower back!) so you won’t want to miss it!
Related: How To Sleep Better | 5 Natural Tips
#1 – Downward Dog
A key pose in any yoga routine, downward dog is perfect for “waking up” the ankles, calves, hamstrings and foot arches. This pose also opens up the hips and shoulders, while strengthening the entire upper body.
To do this pose, begin by standing (with big toes touching!) and fold forward to bring your hands down onto the floor. Walk your feet backwards keeping them hip distance apart, and push your hips upwards to form an inverted “V”. If your heels do not touch the mat you can keep them raised. Then, elongate you spine and broaden your chest by pressing your palms into the mat and enjoy a nice longgg stretch!
Stay in this position for at least 5 breath cycles (or longer!) before you move onto the next pose.
#2 – Pigeon Pose
If your hips are feeling a bit stiff, then it’s time to open them up with pigeon pose! This move is excellent for increasing the range of motion in the hips (how the femur moves in the hip socket) as well as lengthening the hip flexors which often become shortened by sitting. This move also stretches the groin, inner and outer thighs… and oh boy, it feels good!
To move into this pose from downward dog, lift your left leg high and then bring your left knee deeply forward behind your left wrist. Then place your left foot under your right hip so your shin is angled towards your foot. Straighten your right leg and slide it behind you so that your right thigh touches the floor – also making sure your right leg is straight. From this position, make sure the weight on your hips is equal. Depending on your flexibility, you can stay sitting up or fold forward – either resting your forearms on the floor or touching your forehead to the mat.
Stay in this pose for 5 breath cycles and repeat with the other leg.
#3 – Low Lunge
Here’s another juicy hip opener! The low lunge is also great for increasing range of motion in the hips. This move also stretches out tight quads while hitting the groin and hamstring muscles.
From downward dog, step your right foot forward into a lunge and drop your left knee to the floor. Ensure that your right knee is directly above you right ankle, and slide your left leg back slightly. Rest your right hand on the right knee and bring your left arm to the floor for stability.
Stay in this pose for 5 breath cycles and repeat with the other leg.
#4 – Seated Twist
After a long day, we love adding in some twisting movements… they can actually feel quite invigorating! Not only are twists great for maintaining healthy spine mobility (by lengthening the spinal rotator muscles) but they can also support healthy digestion. If you can imagine – sitting doubled over at a desk can compress our organs and interfere with our digestive processes. Twisting movements are thought to ‘massage’ the visceral organs allowing things to run smoothly.
Coming into a seated position, bring your legs out in front of you. Bend your right knee and rest your right hand on the floor behind you. Now, exhale and twist to the right, bringing your left elbow to the outside of your right knee. Turn and look over your right shoulder and relax your face and jaw. If comfortable, on each exhale you may find that you can twist a bit deeper.
Stay in this pose for 5 breath cycles then repeat on the other side.
#5 – Bridge Pose
Our next move is perfect for opening up the chest while stretching the back, spine and hip muscles. As a bit of an all-rounder, bridge pose is also great for engaging and strengthening the glutes, hamstrings and abdominal muscles.
Begin by lying on your back and bending your knees so that your feet are flat on the floor and hip distance apart. Lift your hips off the floor making sure to squeeze your glutes. With your arms by your sides, roll your shoulder blades under to really lift and open up your chest.
Hold this position for 5 breath cycles, breathing slowly and deeply before you carefully come out of the pose.
#6 – Child’s Pose
For our final feel-good move we have child’s pose! This pose is great for stretching the lats and chest while relaxing the entire body. While doing this pose, be extra mindful of your breathing and become aware of the sensations in your body. Drawing our attention away from the mind and into the body can help to calm the nervous system and relieve the day’s stress.
For this move, come into a kneeling position with your knees tucked and your big toes touching. Allow your forehead to rest on the floor and stretch your arms out in front with your palms on the floor.
Stay in this position for 5-10 deep breath cycles.
Get Started Tonight
Dedicating just 10-15 minutes each night to this simple yoga practice will help to ease stress and muscular tension, balancing the body and mind. What better way to prep for a deep, restful sleep! To get started tonight, don’t forget to pick up a free printable copy of this routine below!
Click to download our free, printable evening yoga routine!