Ready to sleep but find yourself tossing and turning? With open eyes you check the time to find out, shit it’s 3.00a.m. I know the feeling. Insomnia can be the worse, and lacking in sleep can become a big problem.
With less than 6 hours of sleep a night, the issue not only lies in the groggy or irritable feeling you’ve the next day. Public Health England said this could also mean you’re 12% more likely to die prematurely due to diseases like diabetes and stroke.
That’s where yoga comes in. Practicing a bedtime yoga routine has a profoundly calming effect on both your mind and your body. It helps slow down your heart rate and allow for a little headspace from your buzzing day.
It is the most soothing and relaxing practice bringing you more than just a restorative night of sleep but helping you declutter your mind in the long run and boost your spiritual well being.
What Kind of Yoga Should You Do Before Bed?
Sleep disorders are commonly rooted in built up stress and the influence of blue light from your computer or smartphone screen right before bed. Your goal to find better sleep is to fix a routine that will fully relax you as opposed to an energizing practice.
Your best option hence, is a sequence of gentle and basic bedtime yoga to help you sleep – the flow should be slowly paced and the focus should be placed on your breathing. Leave the hardcore yoga poses to another day, just gentle twists, stretch and poses to wind down.
To those who are looking to do yoga for sleep disorders or just to improve the length and quality in your sleep, here are 10 simple relaxing bedtime yoga poses for beginners.
(p.s. It’s not just for the night time, Murali Doraiswamy recommends this for daytime practice suggesting that it is best done in early morning, a peaceful natural setting and with exposure to sunlight. This will also help aids sleep at night.)
1. Head To Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
Just like what it sounds like, the Head to Knee Pose can give your hamstrings and lower back an amazing stretch. This will help release the chronic tension from daily desk jobs which disrupt sleep, as well as alleviate your lower back pain from all that sitting.
1. Extend your knees straight in front of you and keep your back straight.
2. Bend your right knee and place the sole of your foot into your left inner thigh to open the hip.
3. Inhale as you sit up tall, and exhale when you stretch out to bring your head down to the knee.
4. Stay here for 10 breaths, then sit up and switch sides to repeat this pose.
It doesn’t matter where your head lands or if your fingers touched your toes, but most importantly, make sure your head touches your leg.
2. Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani)
Another literal evening yoga pose, you can do this yoga pose in bed with your legs up against a wall. This before bed yoga move promotes reverse blood flow which can help relieve your tired leg muscles, dislodge any stress build up in the feet and calves that can cause night cramping, and aid digestion.
Pretty sweet for one pose. All you have to do is:
1. Sit on one side and put your bum to the wall.
2. Roll onto your back and stretch your legs up the wall.
3. Spread your arms out to your sides.
4. Close your eyes and relax into the pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths.
Notice as your belly expands on your inhalation and contracts as you exhale.
4. Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Also known as “Half Lord Of The Fishes Pose”. Wow, really? This yoga before bed benefits by opening your shoulders and hips while stretching out your neck and spine. It is helpful to relieve backache, fatigue, menstrual discomfort and sciatica. All things that can interrupt a rewarding night’s sleep.
1. Start out by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you.
2. Bend your right knee and place your foot flat on the floor in front of you.
3. Lift it, cross it over the left leg and bring the foot back down flat on the floor on the other side.
4. Now, Bend your left knee tuck the foot under your bum on the right.
5. Stretch out your left arm and press the tricep against the inside of your right knee, twisting the body to turn and look over your right shoulder.
6. Breathe. With each breath, extend the stretch a little higher
7. Hold it for between 30 seconds and one minute, then mirror and repeat on the other side.
Do not further round and take not to never strain the neck when doing this move.
5. Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
This before bed yoga can help to stretch out the spine in a way that allows the spinal discs to recover, free from the burden of supporting your weight. What’s more, it strengthens the abdominal muscles and lengthens the intercostals, allowing you to breathe more easily. In order to do the reclined spinal twist:
1. Lie on your back and bring your knees into the your chest.
2. Extend your left arm in line with the shoulder, with your palm facing up.
3. Slowly rolL your knees over to the right side until the right knee touches the floor.
4. Let the weight of your right arm fall across your tucked legs to add more stretch.
5. Turn your head to the left to stretch out the neck.
There is also a variant of this stretch where you straighten your outside leg to exaggerate the twist on the intercostal muscles. Breathe deeply into the stretch for ten seconds, then repeat it on the other side.
6. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Definitely a posture to best illustrate the benefits of yoga for sleep insomnia or deep relaxation, this is also known as the “Folded Butterfly”. The stance help stretches your inner thighs, groin, knees, as well as your upper and lower back – areas which are rarely used.
This can help in relaxing the body and calming the mind. It is simple:
1. Sit down and bring the soles of your feet together in the shape of a diamond
2. Let your knees relax down towards the mat, inhale and sit up tall
3. Exhale and fold forward and relax your upper body, arms, neck and head
4. Relax into the pose for 5 to 10 deep breaths
5. Come out of the pose by taking a deep breath in and exhale, gently sitting up and bringing your legs out in front of you.
7. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Nothing can be more adorable than this giggly baby pose. Although the physical flexibility we have as infants may be beyond us, practicing this post can help unwind the tension we have on our tight adult hips and groins, as well as putting a smile on your face.
1. Lie comfortably on your back.
2. Bend your knees to your chest and hold onto your toes.
3. Separate your feet and knees wide and keep your feet flexed and extended out.
4. If you like, you can also gently rock from side to side, giving a deeper release to your inner groin
5. Remain in this pose for 5 to 10 full breaths and release the grip on your toes and slowly extend and lay them straight down on your bed.
8. Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
A classic restorative structure. This is one of the evening yoga poses that ladies might fancy because it can help you relax your hip and groin resistance. Fun fact for the ladies, it is also known as the Nighttime Goddess Stretch.
1. Lie on your back with your knees bent
2. Place the soles of your feet together and open to form a diamond shape
3. Rest your arms on the bed
If you feel any strain, elevate your legs by placing a pillow underneath each knee.
9. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Another of my favorite pose from yoga for relaxation and sleep, the child’s pose will give you a peaceful and tranquil feeling from the time when we are still in our mother’s arms. It help stretches the upper and lower back, glutes, knees and ankles which will relieve anxiety, stress and fatigue.
1. The instructions are simple:
2. Come to all fours, and bring your feet together.
3. Sit back on your heels and rest your forehead on the bed.
4. Bring your arms at your sides with your palms facing upward.
5. Stay in this pose for 5 to 10 breaths.
6. Come out of the pose by taking a deep breath in and bring your palms to the bed and press up to a kneeling position on exhalation.
What’s more. This especially helps with releasing the tension across your upper back and shoulders which will help with your sleep quality.
10. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Don’t worry, this isn’t exactly what it sounds like. You might think this looks similar to the ‘spread eagle’ but don’t be deceived. Getting into this state is a process. It is not your average bedtime yoga for beginners.
1. Start sitting on the floor with your knees bent.
2. Put your weight on your forearms and roll your pelvis forward, place it on the floor, then stretch your legs out one at a time.
3. Make sure they’re symmetrical, and your feet are evenly turned out.
4. Bring your chin toward your chest and roll down your back, vertebrae by vertebrae, until you are lying flat.
5. Raise your arms up to the ceiling and let them slowly come down to your sides. Breathing throughout.
This is the best yoga to fall asleep but doing so puts your body into a state of prone relaxation that distributes weight evenly and makes you mindful of a mundane task – meditation in action. What’s more, rolling down the back and extending the neck in this way can help relieve tension headaches.
How Long Would This Bedtime Yoga Routine Take?
Your nighttime yoga flow should be around 15 to 20 minutes, though it is not a must to do all the poses in the list. Listen to your body and if you feel like finishing this half-way, feel free to do so.
But no matter if you take 5 minutes or 20 minutes, make sure to do this before bed yoga every night of the week at a designated time, so it can become a part of your bedtime routine. Habits are very good for soothing our mind, and evening yoga poses to induce sleep are ever more so beneficial.
So before you slowly drift to sleep and get a lovely night rest. Good night!