Poses that include folding, twisting and moving slowly with the rhythm of the breath are wonderfully calming for body and mind. Before sleep yoga is a slow practice. Here you don’t work on your flexibility and range of motion. Instead you focus on getting as comfortable as possible and sinking into the pose for deep relaxation.
During the day, all the stress, physical from bad posture and emotional from life situations, accumulates around the spine. These poses work on relieving that tension from the spine. Allowing the body and mind to quiet down and relax for a deep and restorative sleep.
Whether you’ll choose to do just one or all six of these poses is up to you. You can benefit from the child’s pose equally as from the resting half frog pose.
To get all benefits out of each yoga pose before sleep follow these simple steps:
- Once you take the position, adjust yourself until you are comfortable.
- Breathe deeply and slowly. Inhale on the nose and exhale on the mouth.
- Starting from toes and all the way up to the head, shift your attention from one body part to another and relax where you notice tension.
- Keep in mind that the longer you stay in the pose the deeper you sink into it and more relaxed you become.
Yoga poses for sleep are beginner’s level, so even if you’ve never done yoga in your life, you will easily do all six of them.
CALMING YOGA POSES BEFORE SLEEP
Legs-up-the-wall Pose Before Sleep
How to do legs-up-the-wall pose?
- Place a folded blanket or a pillow 5-10 inches from the wall.
- Sit with your side (left or right) against the wall.
- Carefully slide your legs up the wall, while laying your back on the floor.
- Adjust the blanket so it supports your lower back just until the tailbone.
- If you feel the stretch in the back of your legs move a little bit away from the wall.
- Rest your arms where it feels most comfortable, on your belly, by your sides, or maybe with interlaced fingers under head.
- Keep legs straight or bent slightly in knees, or switch between straight and bent, whatever feels more comfortable in the moment.
- Keep the position anywhere from 5 minutes up to 20 minutes. Adjusting yourself as needed, to always feel comfortable.
Why is legs-up-the-wall pose so relaxing?
After a long day there is nothing better than to kick up your feet and rest. This is the yogi equivalent of laying on the couch with your feet up on the coffee table, with added bonus.
When you lift your feet above the level of heart and head the blood can circulate with more ease.
With improved circulation more oxygen flows through your body.
More oxygen reaching muscle tissue results in reduced tension in muscles.
Because the body and mind are connected, physical relaxation leads to mental relaxation.
This in turn allows you to fall asleep easier and have deeper sleep.
Also if you have lower back pain this pose will relieve it wonderfully.
Cow-Cat Pose Before Sleep
How to do cow-cat pose?
- Get on hands and knees in tabletop position.
- With knees hip-width apart, stacked under the hips. And wrists shoulder-width apart, stacked under the shoulders.
- On inhale slowly arch your back toward the ground while lifting your sitting bones and chest up toward the sky. This is a cow pose.
- On exhale slowly round your back toward the sky, while relaxing your head toward ground, without pushing your chin to chest. Tuck your tailbone, gently pushing it forward. This is a cat pose.
- Slowly switch between cow and cat pose, holding your breath for a few seconds between changes. Repeat 10-20 times.
Why is a cow-cat pose so relaxing?
Moving through cow and cat poses will improve the blood flow through your spine, improve flexibility of the spine and strengthen muscles supporting the spine.
Cat pose works on releasing tension in your neck created from prolonged sitting or standing with bad posture.
While cow pose improves posture, releases tension in your lower and middle back.
Slow movements of the body, in rhythm with the breathing, release stress and relax the body and mind that lead to sleepiness.
Head-to-knee Pose Before Sleep
How to do head-to-knee pose?
- Sit with straight back on the floor.
- Extend your right leg straight in front of you, flex the right foot.
- Bend your left leg and bring the sole of your left foot in towards the inner left thigh.
- With straight back, eyes looking forward, push with your chest towards the right leg.
- Bend your right knee slightly, if needed.
- Stretch arms towards the right foot and if possible hold it with both hands. You can gently massage your foot by making small circular movements with fingers.
- Relax your head on/towards the knee.
- If it feels good try gently swaying your upper body from side to side.
- Hold the position for 10-20 deep breaths or as long as it feels comfortable.
- Switch legs.
- If you find this pose difficult, try sitting on a pillow or a folded blanket.
Why is head-to-knee pose so relaxing?
Most full body folds relax the body and mind. Head-to-knee forward bends relieve tension, lower blood pressure and bring a sense of calmness.
The stretch will relax muscles and relieve tension in the lower back and neck. While foot massage will help you to deepen your relaxation.
Those that have issues with the sciatica nerve, should do head-to knee-pose daily, it improves circulation and reduces pain.
Supine Twist Pose Before Sleep
How to do supine twist pose?
- Lay on your back with legs straight and arms on the sides.
- On inhale bend your right knee while lifting the foot off the ground and swinging the leg over the left leg and down to the ground.
- Stack your hips.
- Lay your left hand on the right knee to keep in place.
- Extend your left arm to the side so the wrist is in line with the shoulder.
- Turn your head to the left.
- Breathe calmly and keep the pose for 10-20 breaths or as long as it feels comfortable.
- Repeat the same on the opposite side.
Why is a supine twist pose so relaxing?
Twists bring feelings of balance and evenness in the body.
While in supine twist your diaphragm will be contracted, after the fold you will feel the inner need to breathe deeply. This deep breathing will bring about deep relaxation in the body and calmness of the mind.
Spinal twist stretches, strengthens and relaxes muscles around the spine. This helps to alleviate pain from bad posture and prolonged sitting/standing. Tension in the spine area creates uncomfortable sensations throughout the body. Supine twists relieve this tension and enable relaxation for deep, restorative sleep.
Child’s Pose Before Sleep
How to do a child’s pose?
- Sit on your legs with knees hip-width apart and toes together.
- Slowly fold your upper body over your legs.
- Stretch arms straight above your head and lay them on the floor.
- Rest your forehead on the ground.
- Relax your whole body and breath deeply.
- Hold this pose for 20-30 breaths or as long as you need and feel comfortable.
- If you find this pose difficult, try with a pillow under your head.
Why is a child’s pose so relaxing?
Child’s pose is one of the most soothing and calming yoga poses. The combination of full-body fold and stretch of the lower back muscles stimulates deep relaxation of the spine that starts from the tailbone and goes all the way up to the top of the neck.
This relaxation of the spine brings calmness to the mind.
Resting Half Frog Pose Before Sleep
How to do resting half frog pose?
- Lay on your belly, with arms folded under your head and head resting on them.
- Move the right leg out to the side and bend the knee 90°. Knee should be in line with the hips and ankle should be in line with the knee.
- If it feels good you can flex your right foot so the toes point to the right.
- Close your eyes and breathe deeply.
- Rest in this pose for a few minutes.
- Then do the same with the left leg.
- If you find this pose difficult, try with a folded blanket or a pillow under the knee, or under your upper body.
Why is resting half frog pose so relaxing?
Resting half frog pose is relaxing because it communicates with the primal part of the brain responsible for feelings of danger or security. When the brain gets the signal that vital organs, located at the front of the body are protected by the ground it feels safe. This feeling of safety relaxes the whole body.
This is also a restorative pose that improves your posture and enables good circulation.
When life gets chaotic it becomes really hard to relax and fall asleep. The last thing you want is to lay in bed and rethink every aspect of your life. But that is exactly what happens. All the tension is keeping you awake and thoughts like a whirlpool spin out of control.
These yoga poses are so powerful, they have the ability of releasing the built up stress and tension to help you relax and restore calm.