Yoga is a gentle and restorative form of exercise that is a great way to wind down at the end of the day. According to a national survey, over 55% of people who did yoga at night experienced better sleep. Over 85% of people in the survey said that yoga helped them reduce stress. Because yoga is incredibly customizable and most poses have modifications for all skill levels, anyone can experiment with poses to see if they benefit from them.
Aside from the gentle poses in this bedtime yoga routine, your breath plays an equally important role. Some people like to use a calming yoga breath technique called Ujjayi Breath, or Ocean Breath. Inhale deeply through the nose, close your mouth, and exhale through your nose while constricting the back of your throat. This exhale should sound like an ocean wave, but you do not have to do this type of breath during the routine.
If you struggle to fall asleep at night, the following routine may help relax your mind and body, which may contribute to some much-needed shut-eye. Stretching also keeps your muscles flexible, so you are less likely to experience discomfort while going to bed. Let us know in the comments if this bedtime yoga routine helps you fall asleep.
Standing Forward Fold
Targeting the neck and back, this is a great stretch to help you relax before bed. Stand up straight with your feet hip-distance apart. Breathe in deeply and, as you exhale, hinge at the hips to fold forward. Allow your arms to hang and hands to touch the ground if you can. If that position is not comfortable, place your hands on your shins and bend your knees slightly. You can also place yoga blocks in front of you for support. Hang in this position for at least 20 seconds, breathing deeply throughout.
Legs Up The Wall
Aiming to improve circulation from your legs back to the rest of your body, legs up the wall is a classically relaxing pose. Sit up straight next to a wall, positioning yourself so that your right shoulder touches the wall. Keep your legs extended out in front of you. In one fluid motion, swing your legs up the wall as you lay on your back. Scoot your buttocks as close to the wall as possible and rest the back of your legs against the wall. Rest with your arms out the sides and remain in this position for 20-40 seconds.
This pose works to target major muscle groups, including those in the hips, back, legs, neck, and shoulders. Begin in a tabletop position on all fours, stacking your shoulders over your wrists and hips over your knees. Bring your right knee between your hands and extend your left leg behind you. Slowly come down on top of your right leg, bending it so that it falls to the ground. Extend your arms out overhead, keeping your elbows slightly bent. You can place a pillow under your forearms if that is more comfortable. Remain in this position for about 30 seconds and then switch legs.
Lizard pose targets the hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings, all of which deserve more attention. Begin in a downward dog position and then step your right foot just outside your right hand. Bend the right knee so that you come into a lunge position, dropping your left knee to the ground for support. Lower your body to rest on your forearms, but make sure to keep your back straight and hips square to the ground. Hold for 15-20 seconds and then switch sides.
Happy baby is a very relaxing pose that aims to open up the hips and create more space in the groin and spine. Lie flat on your back and bend your knees as you lift them toward your chest. Keep the soles of your feet facing the ceiling. Reach your hands up to grab the outer side of each food and try to pull your knees toward your armpits. If you can, rock gently from side to side to help massage the spine. Remain in this position for 20 seconds.
Seated Side Bend
If you have tight obliques or a tight neck, this stretch will help loosen you up before bed. Sit up straight in a cross-legged position, placing a pillow under your butt for added comfort. Place your left hand on the floor outside your left hip and extend your right arm above your head. Reach your right arm over to the left as you lean that way, keeping your butt on the floor and shoulders down.
A fitting way to end the routine before you hit the hay, corpse pose helps to calm the mind. If you haven’t brushed your teeth by this point, go ahead and do that because you can do this pose from the comfort of your bed. Climb into bed and lie flat on your back with your legs extended and arms resting by your sides. Close your eyes and focus on your breath, going in and out like waves up and down the beach. Remain in this position for at least one minute, or until you are sound asleep.