Do this Stretch Flow
For the third day of sleep week, we spoke to the lovely Sarah Callaham from @the.body.method, who kindly took us through a quick stretch flow. Rest and relax your mind and body with this gentle movement series, guaranteed to encourage a better sleep ritual.
- Start kneeling on all fours, so your hands are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips.
- From there push your hips back, so that they are sitting on your heels (if this is painful or restricted in your knees, roll up a blanket or a towel and place it in the creases of your knees, or keep your hips up a bit off the heels).
- From here you can choose to sit with your toes touching and your knees together, or with your knees spread out wide, enabling your torso to fall between them. Extend your arms long on the floor above your head and focus on breathing into all 3 dimensions of your torso – back ribs, sides, and belly.
- Stay for 5-10 breaths and then repeat.
With each inhale see how full and wide you can get and with each exhale see how heavy and relaxed you can be. Breathe intentionally and deeply for 5 breaths, and then resume normal relaxed breathing allowing your body to become as heavy as possible. Possible variations for stretching the sides- walk both hands along the ground over to the right side, feeling the stretch all down the left side of the body.
Seated Wide-Legged Forward Fold
1. Sitting on the floor with your legs extended long, spread your legs as wide as they will comfortably go. If you have tight hamstrings and are not able to straighten your knees while sitting up with a perfectly straight spine (or have any low back issues) roll up a yoga mat, blanket, or take a pillow, and place it under your sitz bones to give you a bit more lift and space for your hamstrings to elongate.
2. Once you are upright, with your legs outstretched wide, bring your hands to the floor behind your bum, or prop if you are using one, and straighten your arms – like a kickstand - to help you lift your chest up towards the sky.
3. With this nice, long spine either stay here and feel the stretch on the backs of your legs and inner thighs, or start to hinge at the hips forward towards the floor. You can use your hands behind you to help keep your chest long.
4. Once you feel like it is appropriate, bring your hands forward to the floor between your legs.
Your goal is to keep the spine and legs long in this position, not necessarily bringing your head to the floor. It will all depend on your flexibility. To help relax and soften, feel free to relax your neck and let your head come down towards your chest. The softening around the skull will help to decompress the nervous system.
Downward Facing Dog
1. Start kneeling on all fours, with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, curl your toes under, lift your knees off the ground, and press your hips up and back towards where the wall meets the ceiling behind you. You are aiming to bring the weight of your body back over your feet, not forward over your hands. So in other words, you are going more in the direction of bringing your chest towards your thighs. Keep your knees bent. The goal is to make your spine long, not to straighten your legs.
2. From here if you would like to pedal your feet, by bending one knee and straightening the other leg, (so you feel a stretch more down one side than the other) that is perfectly fine, as long as it feels appropriate. Once you have had enough, bend your knees, and push yourself back into a child’s pose.