Yoga doesn’t always have to be a vigorous, get your blood pumping workout, although many of us love the feeling those classes give us. The next time you find yourself tossing and turning, try one of these yoga poses that top teachers around the world practice to help them start snoozing.
Can’t fall asleep? Too much on your mind? Body won’t be still and let you rest? There are yoga poses that are known to calm the body to help you sleep better at night. Setting up the conditions for calm and making these poses part of your nightly ritual can help you get a good night’s sleep.
If you’re searching for relaxing yoga poses to help you sleep better, consider the eleven poses described below. Try them as a sequence or pick and choose the ones that feel the best to you. Begin your evening yoga practice by setting up the conditions for calm: make your space dark, make your space quiet or put on soothing music, keep yourself warm but not hot, and get prepared to settle in for awhile. Sweet dreams and namaste!
1. Deep Breathing (Pranayama)
Start off your bedtime session by sitting in a comfortable position and breathing in and out through your nostrils, lengthening the exhalation as much as possible. You will instantly feel relaxed and experience a calmness take over your restless body and mind.
2. Plow Pose (Halasana)
Lie on your back and bring your legs up and over your torso to reach the ground. The focus of your weight should be in the center of your back, just below the shoulders, which is an important pressure point. This leads to deeper breathing and relaxation.
3. Hero Pose (Virasana)
Sit with your legs folded underneath you. The tops of your feet should be flat on the floor and your spine should be straight. If you feel your knee is being strained, you can place a pillow between your feet and rest your behind on it. This pose calms you down and leads to complete relaxation of your body as it stimulates pressure points on the top of your feet.
4. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This posture improves blood supply and eases anxiety. Lie on your back and keep your arms straight. Inhale and bend the knees and raise your legs and buttocks. Bring your hands to your hip to support the buttocks. Elbows remain on the floor. Aim to straighten your legs vertically upwards and as you breathe normally, remain in this position as long as comfortable. Then, exhale, bend your knees towards your forehead and slowly your buttocks and legs should return to the starting position.
5. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Lie down on your belly and place your chin on the floor. Place your toes on the floor too with knees touching the ground. Place your palms on the ground below your hips, lift your head a little and lift up your upper body, thighs and legs off the floor. Your body should be balancing on your belly. This asana strengthens your spine and relaxes your body and mind.
6. Child’s pose (Shishuasana)
Sit on your heels with your legs folded under you. Keeping your hips on the heels, bend forward, and lower your forehead to the floor. Keep the arms alongside your body with hands on the floor, palms facing up. Gently press your chest on the thighs and hold. Slowly, come up and sit on the heels. This deeply relaxing pose calms down the nervous system.
7. Seated Twist Pose (Bharadvajasana)
Sit in the thunderbolt pose (Vajrasana), bending your knees and hips resting on heels, with the big toes together. Flare out your heels. Place your left hand on the right knee. Inhale. Exhaling, twist to the right side taking your right hand behind your back to grasp the waist on the left side. Hold this pose, breathing normally for a few seconds. Return to your centre. Repeat on the left side. This pose is instantly relaxing as it stretches your spine.
8. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Sit on the floor with your legs out in front of you, keeping your knees slightly bent. Inhale and sit up tall. Then, exhale and reach for your feet. Bend your knees as much as necessary to keep your back flat. The hamstring stretch leads to gentle relaxation.
9. Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
Sit on the floor with legs stretched out in front of you, keeping your spine erect. Bend the right knee and place it on the left thigh. Now, repeat the same step with the other leg. When both legs are crossed and feet are placed on opposite thighs, place your hands on the knees, keep your head straight and spine erect. Practice gentle and long breathing. This pose will instantly calm you.
10. Butterfly Pose (Badhakonasana)
Sit with your knees bent and the soles of your feet together. With a straight spine, fold forward over your legs, resting your hands on your feet, your knees, or on the mat in front of you. This will stretch your lower back and hips, relaxing you.
11. Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
Nothing can relax you like the Shavasana. Lie down flat on your back. Extend both legs and both arms out straight. Let your ankles loose on the sides and your palms should face up. Rest here for a little while. Feel free to drift off if you sleep on your back. Sweet dreams!