There are no shortcuts on the journey to a healthy physique—but there are certain high-efficiency exercises that come pretty close. We seek them out in One-Move Wonders, our series about the quick hitters that deliver major results in minimal time, straight from some of the best trainers and fitness experts around the world.
While we're all about efficient exercises that whip us into shape, let's not discount another (very) important part of health and well-being: sleep. A lot of us don't get enough of it, though on some nights, it's not for lack of trying—there's nothing worse than leaving the office utterly exhausted, only to feel oddly wired once you finally land in bed.
Sometimes, it's just a matter of altering certain habits, like resolving to turn off your phone an hour before bedtime or taking your three daily cups of coffee down to two. But there are also certain actions you can take to help facilitate that sleepy feeling—and it might be as simple as stretching.
Since a sweaty Vinyasa session at Y7 Yoga tends to make us snooze like nothing else, we thought it only appropriate to ask co-founder Sarah Levey for her go-to pose before bed. She gives us the lowdown below.
Levey recommends Baddha Konasana, or Bound Angle Pose, as the ultimate stretch to unwind from the day and prep your mind and body for some heavy-duty shut-eye. "It stretches the inner thighs, groin, and knees and relieves pressure from the sitz bones and low back. This is especially important for those of us who spend our days sitting at desks," she explains. "This pose also relieves anxiety and stimulates the kidneys and abdominal muscles as well as blood flow." Since sleep is prime time for your body to detoxify and reset, a stretch that helps optimize this is ideal—in addition to putting you on the fast track to dreamland, of course.
Here's how to do it:
- Begin by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. As you exhale, bring both knees in toward the body and drop your knees out to each side as you bring your feet together.
- Tuck your feet as closely to your pelvis as possible. Sit up tall, making sure that you are sitting firmly on the ground. If possible, grasp each big toe with your thumb and forefinger. Inhale and bend from the hip, lengthening the torso over your legs.
- Stay here about 10 to 15 breaths.
Need a visual? Watch Levey in action below. (Just note that while she's just demonstrating the form, you'll stay folded for several breaths when putting the stretch into practice.)
Our final tip for ultimate relaxation: Before doing the move, dab some lavender essential oil on your wrists, since the scent has been scientifically shown to ease the mind and body. That, and make sure your bed is ready for crash-landing.
What's your best tip for falling asleep quickly? (Asking for a friend…)