There’s a time at the end of most days where a transition occurs. You shut your laptop, or close your rings, or finally get the kids in bed, and it’s time for a shift from productivity mode to rest.
Making that transition can be personal. Maybe you change into your favorite sweats, make a cup of tea, slowly cook a favorite meal, meditate, or do something else to change the channel on your state of being.
But it also can feel difficult when so much of our labor—whether for work or for our families and personal lives—occurs at home. Which is why, if you’re looking for a way to shake off the day and move into a state of self-care, we humbly suggest a good stretch.
Stretching at night has benefits for both your body and mind. It can create space in joints that have been condensed from staying in one position all day, and release endorphins that promote relaxation and calmness.
“Stretching should be an important part of your evening routine,” yoga instructor Claire Grieve previously told Well+Good. “Regular stretching helps to melt away daily tension, stress and worry. Stretching your hips is particularly useful for clearing the emotional junk from the day. Stretching in a passive, restorative way will prime your body for sleep by helping you to enter a state of relaxation.”
If that sounds like a good plan to you, try this seven minute end-of-day stretch routine led by trainer Kat Atienza, the founder of Session in Brooklyn. Your hips, along with your back, sides, and glutes, will get some delicious opening and lengthening.
“All of these movements are really great to help you stay active and mobile and release any tension that you might be holding onto at the end of the day,” Atienza says.
You’ll start with some exaggerated shoulder rolls and shrugs in which Atienza prompts you to “really articulate,” meaning you should make the motion intentional and big. Then you’ll move down the body with stretches for your lats and the upper/mid section of your back, AKA the thoracic spine. Then Atienza leads a mini flow of stretches through your hips, quads, and hamstrings in a series of runners’ lunges, with a literal twist to hit that thoracic spine again. She rounds that out with some love for your lower body in a “juicy” 90-90 stretch, and ends with some relaxing knee hugs that will help you find relief for your lower back.
Expect to feel long, loose, and warm, and ready for wherever the night takes you. Hopefully, it’s somewhere cozy.