This sequence is perfect for draining tension from the body and mind and preparing for a good night’s sleep. It can be done any time in the evening, including right before bed. The spirit of the practice is to let go of the unfinished business of the day, release any grievances, and touch upon gratitude and contentment. Wear comfortable clothes and practice in a dim light (candles!) if possible.
1. Stand in Tadasana with eyes open or closed. Imagine that you are standing in soft rain, being washed clean of any physical or mental stress that may have accumulated like dirt. Soften your shoulders and your face and take 5 slow breaths.
2. Sweep your arms overhead as you inhale, and exhale into Standing Forward Fold. Clasp the elbows, relax the belly, and feel your head get heavy as gravity helps you to lengthen your neck. Imagine that soft rain on your lower back. Take 5 slow breaths.
3. Step into Downward Dog and hold for 5 slow breaths.
4. Bring your knees down into tabletop position and slide your right arm under your left arm for Revolved Child’s Pose. Your left hand is right under your left elbow, and you are resting on the upper back right side of your head. Take 3–5 breaths here and repeat on the other side.
5. Come back to tabletop position. Bring your big toes together and knees apart for Child’s Pose. Then interlace your fingers behind you and lift the hands toward your shoulder blades and the sky. Take 3–5 breaths here with your chin tucked in.
6. Release your arms and come to sitting with both legs straight out in front of you in Dandasana. Draw your left leg back by the inner knee and bring the left foot to the inner right thigh. If you have a bolster or blankets, place them along your right leg. On an inhale, lift your arms overhead. As you exhale, twist your torso slightly to the right and extend down onto your leg or your support in Head to Knee Pose. Turn your head to the side if you are supported, and take 5 breaths. Lift up slowly with your hands on the floor. Switch sides.
7. Bring your feet together in front of you in Butterfly Pose, fold forward, and place your forehead on a block or bolster. Take 5 slow breaths.
8. Stretch your legs out to the sides in Straddle Stretch (Uppavista Konasana) and lift your arms overhead, lengthening your spine. Press your legs down and, as you exhale, bring your hands to the floor (above right). Alternatively, you could use a bolster propped on a block and lower your torso onto your support (right). Either turn your head to the side or place your forehead on your forearms. Take 5 breaths.
9. Bend your legs by lifting from the backs of the knees and bring your feet to the floor, knees together. Cross your forearms and place them on your knees, and rest your head on your arms for Sage Pose. Relax face and eyes, imagine your mind softening and melting, and breathe. When you feel ready, lift your head and roll onto your back slowly, using your core muscles to ease your way down.
10. Once you are on the floor with your feet under your knees, press your arms into the ground and lift your hips into Bridge Pose. Take 5 breaths as you open your heart in appreciation for the day and honor yourself and all your efforts, so finishing the day with compassion for yourself and an open heart.
11. Lower down to the ground, leave the feet as they are, and drop both knees to the left. Roll your head to the right, stretching out your arms. Make sure to keep the space between your feet for this supine twist. Take 3–5 easy breaths here and repeat on the other side.
12. Come into Shoulder Stand via the Plow if you want to. If not, you can skip ahead to Reclining Butterfly Pose. Once in Shoulder Stand, try to keep your elbows in line with your shoulders and your abdomen slightly engaged. Lift your chest toward your chin and press with medium pressure into the back of your head. Relax your face and throat and breathe naturally for 1–3 minutes. To come out, bend your knees and roll slowly from the top of your spine through to your lower spine to the floor.
13. From your position lying on your back, come into Fish Pose (Matsyasana) by pressing into your forearms and lifting your chest, allowing your head to move backward until the crown comes onto the floor. Keep the legs strong and engaged. If this is uncomfortable, try Supported Fish. After 3–5 breaths, relax your whole body onto the floor.
14. Bring the feet together into Reclining Butterfly Pose, unsupported. Place one hand on the heart and one hand on the belly. Inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 7 counts. If this is difficult, inhale for 2 counts and exhale for 5 counts. Repeat this cycle 5–10 times or for as long as you like. Place support under your knees if necessary, or stretch the legs out if you prefer.
15. Finish in Savasana, either flat or with your legs elevated with a bolster or blankets under the back of the knees. Alternatively, lie on your belly in Crocodile Pose, with your heels in and toes out. In Crocodile Pose, you can also place blankets or a bolster under your pelvis and hips for an extra yummy low-back release and a boost to your digestive system. Cross your arms and bow your head onto the arms.
This sequence has been extracted from The Yoga Healer by Christine Burke.