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We’ve all heard that vigorous exercise should be avoided before bed, but adding in some light exercises to our evening routine can be an amazing way to release stress from the day and prepare our body and mind for a good night’s sleep.

Stress and a busy mind are two of the biggest factors that will prevent you from having a restful sleep, and light to moderate exercise is the perfect antidote. You can help to increase the relaxation by dimming the lights, playing soft music, lighting a candle, or adding in any other elements that you find relaxing.

Try the following exercises, stretches, and breathing techniques before bed to ease anxiety, improve your health, and get a better night’s sleep.

Shoulder rolls and neck circles

Ease tension from your shoulders and neck (two places we most commonly hold stress) with a few sets of gentle shoulder rolls and neck circles. Slowly circle your shoulders forward and back and then follow with slow neck rolls in both directions, making sure to take deep, relaxing breaths as you go.

Planks

Yes, you can do planks before bed! While intense exercise isn’t great before bed, you can practice some moderate toning exercises. Planks are a great evening exercise because they work and tone your entire body while being low impact and not overly vigorous.

Child’s pose

The perfect evening stretch, child’s pose helps to decompress your spine, open your low back, stretch out your whole body, and it’s very grounding, which is perfect for unwinding at the end of the day.

You can choose between a wide legged or close legged child’s pose, depending on your range of motion and comfort. This should be a very restorative and restful pose, so don’t push past your comfort zone.

Legs against the wall

Another amazing restorative yoga pose, legs against the wall helps to stretch your hamstrings and lower body, reduce any swelling in your legs, and improve circulation.

Simply lie down on the floor next to a wall and place your legs up the wall so your body is in an L shape. If it’s more comfortable, you can place a folded blanket or small cushion underneath your hips.

Stay in the position for a few minutes while you focus on taking slow and gentle inhales and exhales.

Seated side bend

Sitting cross legged on the floor or your bed, gently lean of to one side, stretching your opposite arm up over head. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and you’re feeling a nice opening along the entire side of your body. Repeat on the other side.

This is a great stretch to release side, shoulder, and neck tension.

Seated spinal twists

Another great seated exercise is the spinal twist. Due to our modern lifestyle, we typically sit and move in rigid, linear movements, so including some spinal twisting and making sure you’re moving your spine in all of its natural directions is very nourishing for your spine and your entire body.

Sitting cross legged, gently twist your torso in one direction and hold and then repeat on the other side. Make sure your movements are gentle and you aren’t yanking on or forcing your spin into an uncomfortable position.

Shaking

This is an exercise that comes from Qigong, and it may seem funny if you’ve never heard of it, but it’s a great way to release excess tension and stress, relax your mind and body, and boost your lymphatic system.

All you need to do is stand upright in a relaxed stance and slowly begin bounding and shaking your body. Less is more, and a gentle shaking is better than an overly vigorous one. Follow what feels good in your body and practice for any amount of time that feels right for you.

This is also a great exercise to practice any time throughout the day.

Box breath

This is a very simple and very relaxing breathing technique that is great to do in bed right before you fall asleep. You’ll gently inhale to a count of four, hold in for a count of four, exhale for a count of four, and hold out for a count of four.

Repeat as many times as you’d like.

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