A Gentle Practice to Wind Down Before Bed

Wired at bedtime? Calm your whole body with this set of soothing breathwork and stretches from Sara Ivanhoe.

Hi, I’m Sara Ivanhoe—yoga director at the University of Southern California where I teach a five-week course on sleep. What I’m going to be teaching you now is a short sequence of gentle movements and breathing techniques to help you wind down at the end of the day and prepare for sleep.

You don’t need anything special for this practice. If you want, you can grab a pillow off your bed or off the sofa to sit on. I’ve got a nice big cushion, but as you can see, I’m not in yoga clothes or even on a yoga mat. You just need a nice, comfortable place where you know you can spread out. 

A Gentle Stretch Sequence for Sleep

1.  Begin by sitting comfortably—sit up tall and allow your eyes to close.

2. Take a few deep breaths in and out through your nose. 

3. Set your intention to let go of the day, to practice releasing and relaxing on command and giving yourself permission to sleep.

4. Now, please allow your eyes to open and interlace your fingers. Turn the palms of your hands away from you and reach your arms up over your…

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  • Mindful Staff
  • July 13, 2023


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About the author

Sara Ivanhoe

Sara Elizabeth Ivanhoe, M.A. is the Director of YogaUSC, a cross-departmental program at the University of Southern California, and a Lecturer in USC’s Mind Body department teaching Sleep for Peak Performance. She is beginning her doctoral work at the Graduate Theological Union, where she will study to earn a PhD in Yoga Philosophy. Sara has been teaching yoga since 1995, she completed 4, 500 hr. teacher training programs, and has been the Yoga Spokesperson for “Weight Watchers,” “Yoga for Dummies,” “Crunch Yoga,” and appeared as a series regular on “Dr. Drew’s Celebrity Rehab” as the therapeutic instructor. She served as the yoga columnist for Health magazine for three years and has written and appeared in almost every yoga and health publication. Most recently, she partnered with Oprah Magazine to co-create “Just Breathe,” a brand of yoga breathwork and meditation. Ongoing, Sara also serves as the Yoga and Meditation Strategist for Glo, an online mindful movement class provider.