16 Poses for Better Sleep • Yoga Basics

Are you having trouble falling asleep? Do you wake up in the middle of the night and can't get back to sleep? Yoga isn't just a great way to relax before bed – there are many poses that can help you fall asleep and stay asleep. Just a few minutes of deep, mindful stretching with slow, deep breaths can make a big difference in the quality of your sleep. Be careful that not all asanas are equally relaxing. Hence, to a successful, calming bedtime routine, knowing the best yoga poses before bed is imperative.

What is bedtime yoga?

Bedtime yoga is the practice of calming and calming postures that mainly focus on stretching and relaxing the major muscle groups from the shoulders to the feet before going to sleep. Bedtime yoga releases tension and allows your nervous system to relax, which will help you fall asleep faster and wake up refreshed in the morning.

Why practice yoga before bed?

A bedtime yoga routine not only improves your general well-being and quality of life – it helps you relax your mind and body and prepare for a deep, restful sleep. Yoga poses are very effective for relaxing the mind and body and reducing worries and anxieties. Just holding a gentle stretch with deep breathing can improve the quality of your sleep and wake you up refreshed and energized. Several medical studies have shown that yoga can improve the quality and quantity of your sleep by relieving stress, calming your nervous system, and helping you control your breathing.

Promoting a good night's sleep is one of the most underrated benefits of yoga. Sleep is important to our wellbeing. It helps our metabolism, recovery, and physical and mental health. Without sleep, we are at risk of terrible, or even fatal, health. But when we don't get enough sleep, we find it harder to reduce stress and stay focused.

It may take a week or two to see the effects of yoga on the quality of your sleep. A regular nightly session has the fastest and most powerful effects on improving sleep and reducing stress. Be patient with yourself, but also know that if you don't succeed immediately, you may need to experiment and adjust your routine.

When to practice yoga for sleeping

For the best quality of sleep, Practice poses and breathing exercises at least an hour before bed to prepare your body for sleep. If you suffer from chronic insomnia, it is best to practice simple poses in bed so you can transition straight to sleep from practice. If you don't have any sleep problems, you can practice evening yoga earlier, just make sure you don't practice on a full stomach. If you wake up in the middle of the night, consider practicing a few poses in your bed to encourage yourself to go back to sleep.

What kind of yoga should I practice before bed?

The best style for the evening should include gentle yoga poses and meditative breathing. A general hatha yoga class can work well, but for the most calming effects, try a gentle, invigorating, or yin class. If you love practicing more vigorous styles like hot yoga, bikram, power, flow, or vinyasa, make sure you practice for several hours before bed and balance your practice with gentle stretches and relaxing poses towards the end.

If you are new to yoga, we recommend reading our beginner's guide on how to get started with a yoga practice before bed.

Which poses are best for sleeping?

Doing yoga before bed can help calm your mind and body, and help you get a deeper, more restful sleep. With so many options, it's hard to narrow down which poses are best for a deep, restful sleep. Focus on restful poses, gentle stretches, and relaxing poses. These are primarily hip openers and forward folds, but twists and side bends also have a calming and balancing effect. Overall, choose simple and easy beginner asanas that make you feel good and allow you to take deep breaths. Hopefully you will find benefits and cures by practicing some of these poses for sleep.

  1. Cat / cow – Flow between these two positions to release tension along the spine and balance the nervous system. Repeat this a few times until your body feels calm and you feel that the body is warmed up and ready for more intense poses.
  2. Downward dog – This classic asana strengthens the upper body and is a great stretch for the muscles in the legs and back, especially for those of us who sit at work all day. Down Dog helps balance the mind and emotions and is perfect for practicing letting go of a long day at work.
  3. Child's pose – This is a simple but very calming stretch for the back of the legs and lower back. Hold this position for several breaths to rest, integrate, and enjoy the benefits of your practice.
  4. Sphinx pose – This gentle back bend helps decompress and release tension in the lower back while opening the chest to encourage emotional relaxation. It has a slightly energizing effect, so place it at the beginning of your nightly sequence.
  5. Pigeon pose – This is a great hip opening stretch to take away the stress, worry, and anxiety of a long day at work. You will quickly get in touch with your emotions as you hold this grounding pose and take a deep breath. So get out early if you feel this is making your routine anxious.
  6. Dolphin pose – This pose is great for the physical and emotional release of anger and frustration held in the shoulders and upper body.
  7. Sitting forward bend – This calming asana is good for stretching and releasing tension in the lower back and hamstring muscles. It also stimulates digestion and calms the mind.
  8. Sitting head-to-knee pose – This is a hip opener and hamstring stretch that is suitable for all learning levels. It helps balance the energy in the hips and spine.
  9. Sitting yoga seal – This posture provides a deep stretch of the chest and chest muscles to harmonize emotions and increase lung capacity. It also stretches the spine, stimulates digestion and promotes detoxification. The full expression of this pose has a stimulating effect on the brain, so add this early in your sequence or skip it if it's too energizing.
  10. Leaning hero – This is a powerful and deep stretch of the hamstrings and hip flexors, so move slowly and carefully into this asana. Place a yoga block, folded blanket, or pillow under your chest to add a gentle heart opening to calm the emotions.
  11. Back rotation – This is a simple stretch that is very effective in releasing tension from the back and helping the spine maintain healthy alignment. This is a perfect pose to practice after a long day of sitting, driving, or other activities that put strain on your lower back.
  12. Plow pose – This is a difficult form to practice. So if you are a beginner it is best to have a yoga teacher teach you this pose. Shifting your body weight onto your shoulders gives you a pleasant relief as well as a stretching of your neck, back and legs. This also promotes healthy blood and lymph circulation.
  13. Back-bound angle – This hip-opening supine position is best placed at the end of your sequence. Here, take several slow deep breaths to feel your diaphragm expand fully and focus on releasing the tension to loosen yourself deeper into the stretch.
  14. Happy baby pose – This is a great pose to end your exercise as it prepares you for sleep by calming the mind and is an excellent stretch for the inner thighs and hips. Allow yourself to be playful and let go of the gravity of the day by exploring the movement in the legs and rocking left to right to massage the spine and release tension in the lower back.
  15. Knees to chest – This is a simple and accessible asana to help relieve tension in the sacrum and hip flexors. Also known as the wind-relieving pose, while maintaining this form, deep breathing massages the abdominal organs, which can help with digestive problems.
  16. Corpse pose – Make sure to finish your sequence with this deeply relaxing pose. You may want to switch from your yoga mat to your bed while holding this position for 10-15 breaths and feeling all the tension and worry of the day melt away.

Use a breathing technique

Incorporating a simple yoga breathing exercise into your evening routine has a powerful relaxing effect on your central nervous system. When we are stressed, we breathe faster and into our chest, which increases the stress response. Slow diaphragmatic breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body and prepares it physiologically for sleep. You can incorporate pranayama into poses or practice these breathing exercises separately. Dirga Pranayama (three-part or full breath) and Sama Vritti Pranayama (equal breath) are the two most calming techniques.

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