Yoga Poses to Relax Before Bedtime – Do you toss and turn when you go to bed, your mind racing and body tense? Do thoughts and worries keep you from unwinding and drifting off to sleep? You’re not alone! Many people struggle to calm their bodies and quiet their minds before bedtime. The result is frustratingly sleepless nights.
But don’t lose sleep over your insomnia! There is a simple practice that can help you relax and prepare for a peaceful night’s slumber: yoga. Certain gentle yoga poses are remarkably effective at reducing stress and anxiety before bed. Just a brief, 10-15 minute sequence can make a big difference in how easily you fall asleep and the quality of sleep you get.
Ready to catch more zzz’s? Then unroll your yoga mat and get ready to om your way to dreamland with these calming, sleep-inducing poses!
How Yoga Promotes Better Sleep
Before we get to the nitty gritty of the poses, let’s look at why a brief yoga flow before bed helps you fall asleep faster and sleep more soundly.
First, yoga reduces your body’s physiological signs of stress and anxiety. It:
- Lowers your heart rate and blood pressure
- Reduces cortisol levels (the stress hormone)
- Slows your breathing rate
- Activates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for relaxation and regeneration
In other words, yoga chills you out, physically and mentally. When you’re more relaxed at bedtime, you drift off to sleep more quickly.
Second, yoga also:
- Stretches and loosens tight muscles: This reduces discomfort that can keep you awake.
- Regulates circulation: Allows blood to flow more freely so your limbs don’t feel restless.
- Cools down body temperature: Signals your body it’s time for bed.
Finally, focusing on soft breathing and entering a meditative state while holding yoga poses calms your mind. It quietens distracting thoughts so you can unwind.
When you combine mental calm with physical relaxation and body cues for sleep, you have the perfect recipe for restful slumber!
Now, let’s look at 5 different yoga poses that will help you reap all of these sleepy-time benefits.
5 Yoga Poses For Better Sleep
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is a beginner-friendly pose that offers an excellent full body stretch. It gently opens the hips, thighs, and ankles while releasing tension in the lower back. This pose is very calming and soothing.
Here is how to do it:
- Kneel on the floor. Keep your big toes touching behind you, knees hip-width apart.
- Exhale as you sit your hips back over your knees and ankles.
- Lower your chest toward your thighs and reach your arms forward. Allow your torso to fall gently over your legs. Rest your forehead on the floor.
- Relax your upper body. Let your belly press against your thighs. Keep your arms extended or rest your forearms on the floor by your head.
- Hold this pose for 1-3 minutes, breathing deeply. Focus on relaxing your body fully.
- To come out of the pose, press your palms down and slowly sit up.
- Gently stretches hips, thighs, ankles
- Releases tension in lower back
- Calms the brain and soothes the nervous system
- Encourages mind-body connection
Try doing 2-3 rounds of Child’s Pose before bed to ease tension and quiet your mind. The gentle stretch it provides will help your body unwind.
2. Legs Up The Wall (Viparita Karani)
This relaxing inverted pose improves circulation in your legs and reduces overall fatigue. It also calms the mind and eases anxiety. Just a few minutes can make a big difference in how relaxed you feel.
Here’s how to do Legs Up the Wall:
- Sit sideways next to a wall. Lie on your back and turn so your legs swing up the wall. Your sitting bones should be as close to the wall as possible.
- Move your hips toward the wall if necessary so your legs are straight up. Press your heels into the wall.
- Rest your arms by your sides, palms facing up. Relax your upper body, neck and head.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Hold this pose for 2-5 minutes.
- Bend your knees into your chest when ready to come out of the pose. Gently roll over to your side and use your arms to push yourself up.
- Improves circulation in the legs
- Reduces swelling in feet/ankles
- Calms the mind
- Decreases anxiety and irritability
- Eases symptoms of stress and mild depression
Practice Legs Up the Wall at bedtime to reduce any mental and physical tension left over from your day. This inversion will leave you feeling relaxed and ready for sleep.
3. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
The seated forward bend is a soothing stretch for your entire back body. It gently elongates your spine and hamstrings while releasing tension to relax your body. Holding this pose also calms the mind and relieves stress.
Follow these instructions:
- Sit on the floor with legs extended straight out in front of you. Press your heels into the floor and flex your feet.
- Hinge forward at the hips. Reach your arms forward and keep your spine long. Go only as far forward as feels comfortable. Place your hands or fingertips on the floor.
- Focus on lengthening your spine as you hinge forward. Don’t force or strain. Only bend as far as your flexibility allows.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute as you breathe deeply.
- To release, slowly roll up one vertebrae at a time back to an upright seated position.
- Stretches the hamstrings, calves, and spine
- Stimulates the liver, kidneys, and digestive system
- Releases tension in the back, hips, and spine
- Calms the mind and relieves stress
The seated forward bend allows your entire back body to release built up tension and tightness. Include it in your pre-bed routine for a good lower body stretch to relax your muscles.
4. Reclining Big Toe Pose (Supta Padangusthasana)
This restorative pose gently stretches your hamstrings and calves to relieve tension before bedtime. It’s also very soothing and therapeutic for reducing anxiety.
Here are instructions on how to do it properly:
- Lie on your back. Bend your left knee and lift your left foot off the floor. Keep the right leg extended. Take a strap and wrap it around the ball of the left foot.
- Straighten your left leg toward the ceiling. Flex the left foot. If your leg doesn’t fully straighten, keep it at a comfortable angle. Use the strap to help extend the reach.
- Hold your leg up for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Focus on breathing slowly and fully. Keep your upper body, hips and extended leg relaxed against the floor.
- Slowly release your left foot down and switch to your right leg. Repeat.
- Do 2-3 repetitions per leg.
- Stretches the hamstrings and calves
- Reduces anxiety and irritability
- Promotes overall sense of calm
- Helps distract a busy mind
The reclining big toe pose will gently lengthen your leg muscles to prepare for rest. It also strongly encourages relaxation of both the body and mind.
5.Savasana (Corpse Pose)
No yoga practice is complete without Savasana! This classic pose allows your entire body to fully surrender and relax. It lets your mind unwind so you transition smoothly into sleep.
Here’s how to do this meditation-like pose:
- Lie flat on your back with your legs comfortably apart and your arms resting by your sides, palms facing up.
- Close your eyes and relax your face, jaw, and tongue. Scan your body and intentionally release any tension.
- Breathe slowly and deeply. With each exhale, feel your body sinking heavier into the floor.
- Remain in the pose for 5-10 minutes. When ready to come out of it, gently stretch your limbs before rolling over to your side and sitting up slowly.
- Promotes total mental and physical relaxation
- Releases stress and tension from the entire body
- Calms the mind and nervous system
- Prepares the body and mind for sleep
Make Savasana the last pose of your bedtime routine. By fully relaxing your body, it allows for a peaceful transition into restful sleep.
Adding this short sequence of yoga poses to your pre-bedtime wind down can make a huge difference in how well you sleep. The physical benefits of stretching tight muscles and improving circulation pair perfectly with yoga’s soothing effects on the mind and nervous system.
If you frequently feel too stressed or anxious to fall asleep at night, give these 5 poses a try. The combination of gentle stretching and mental unwinding will set the stage