Struggling to fall asleep at night? Finding it difficult to switch off your thoughts and sleep? Stress leaving your body feeling tense and stiff? We have the right answer for you - practice yoga before bedtime! Practicing gentle and restorative yoga helps you wind down for the day, releases tension from the mind and body, helping you sleep better. There are many props you can use for extra support such as bolsters, blankets and blocks to help induce better relaxation. Focusing on the breath throughout by taking deep, slow breaths will activate the parasympathetic nervous system, and the rest and digest response. Practice the below poses before bedtime to enjoy restful sleep.
Yoga poses to sleep better
An easy backbend, the Sphinx pose gently stretches the spine and eases tension accumulated in the lower back. After a long day of sitting in front of a laptop in a forward-bending position, the Sphinx pose provides a counter-movement and relaxes the back.
How to do Sphinx pose:
- Lie on your stomach with legs straight.
- Come up on your elbows and place your chin on your palms. This will raise your upper body just a little bit, giving you a gentle backbend.
- Stay here and keep breathing for a few minutes.
Known as Balasana, the Child’s pose is a very relaxing posture. It often works as a counter-pose for several intermediate-advanced yoga postures. Child’s pose relaxes the back, massages the abdominal organs and improves blood circulation to the brain. It induces calmness in the mind and body.
How to do Child’s pose:
- Kneel down on your mat with your knees about hip width apart.
- Now slowly bend forward bringing your forehead on the mat. Your arms should be stretched out in front of the body.
- You can also place a cushion below your forehead.
- Stay here for a few slow deep breaths and then gently come back up.
Reclined Cobbler’s pose
Also a very relaxing posture, this yoga pose is called Supta Baddha Konasana. It relaxes the lower back, stretches the hips and groin and eases tension from these regions.
How to do Reclined Cobbler’s Pose:
- Lie down on your back. Now bend the legs and bring the feet as close to the groin as you can. Join the soles of the feet together.
- Relax the hand beside the side of the body.
- Now slowly try to bring the feet closer to the groin if you can.
- Keep your attention on the stretch in the groin, inner thighs and back.
- Stay here for a few slow, deep breaths. This will help you relax in the posture.
Viparita Karani is a great posture for anyone in an upright position for a long duration. So if your job involves a lot of standing or walking, Viparita Karani is highly recommended. It reduces the swelling and tension from the feet and ankles, which tends to occur after standing for a long time. It also encourages blood circulation from the lower body back up towards the heart.
How to do Legs-up-on-the-wall pose:
- Lie down with your buttocks close to a wall and legs falling to one side. Now slowly lift the legs up along the wall. Adjust your position to make sure you are as close to the wall as possible. Make sure you are comfortable.
- Now relax the throat and head. Keep the arms on the side of the body or above your head - whichever is comfortable for you.
- Stay here for a couple of minutes. Try to take slow, deep breaths.
- To come out of the posture, slowly drop the legs to one side and push yourself away from the wall.
Seated forward bend pose
Known as Paschimottanasana, this posture activates the parasympathetic nervous system, releases stress, improves digestion and eases stress from the back.
How to do Seated forward bend pose:
- Sit up with the legs stretched out straight in front of you (Dandasana). Keep the spine straight and toes pointing upwards.
- Inhale, raise both arms above your head and stretch up. As you exhale, bend forward from the hip, chin moving toward the toes. Keep the spine erect. Focus on moving forwards towards the toes, rather than down towards the knees.
- Place your hands on your legs, wherever they reach. Do not try to force yourself closer to the thighs if it is difficult. If you can, grab hold of your toes and pull on them to help you inch forward a little. You can also grab your calves if that’s where you’re comfortable.
- Breathe in, keep your head straight and lengthen the spine. As you exhale, gently try to take your naval closer to the knees. Engage your core and try to use your breath to go deeper into the posture.
- Release the grip; inhale, raise both the arms up and lift the chin and chest as well
- Breathe out, lower your arms and come back to Dandasana.
Sleeping in the flapping fish pose (Matsyakreeda) on your left side in a curled position induces better sleep and aids in digestion too. The body feels more relaxed and comfortable, and back pain, stiffness and stress is also released.
Practicing these yoga postures in Ujjayi or Victorious breath will help induce deeper levels of relaxation. Ujjayi breath has a tranquilizing and calming effect on the mind and body, and is very stress relieving. If you’re struggling to fall asleep or experience disturbed sleep very often, take out 10-15 minutes before bedtime to do these yoga poses. Within a few days you will start noticing your sleep quality is improving and you’re sleeping a lot better!