Yoga for Better Sleep
The first time I tried yoga before bed, I followed a short video that allowed me to sleep through the night for the first time in months. That amazing experience inspired me to take my practice from
wishful thinking sporadic to a part of my almost everyday routine.
All evening yoga practitioners need a go-to set of poses. At the end of the day, I have no brain power left for creating flows. Favorites that slow our bodies and brains. Nothing beats a few simple poses at your own pace. During evening yoga, I focus on the breath and simply feeling the sensations of my body. This is more important than contorting into a particular shape. If you just put your limbs in the poses but don’t breathe, you’re not fully practicing yoga, and you might as well skip the entire thing, slacker miss the mental and emotional benefits.
I use yoga to relax and slow down my mind. Throughout the day, my thoughts race all over and create a buzzing anxiety. Practicing yoga makes me focus on my breath and the present moment. This slows my thoughts and makes my brain a tolerable place. Yoga helps me fall asleep quicker and sleep through the night.
If you seek a calmer mind, relaxed muscles, instant enlightenment or better sleep, try my short bedtime yoga sequence.
Disclaimer: I am not a yoga teacher. I hold no certification of specialized knowledge about yoga. I have only my experience as a practicing yogi obsessed with technique. Secretly, I’m just some crazy yoga lady on the Interwebs, so you can’t sue me if you spontaneously combust or injure yourself while practicing the following yoga poses.
First, find a comfortable seated position. Put your hands on your knees and just breathe. Let go of all the things your brain is obsessed with at the moment. Trust me, if they’re important, they’re probably not, they will exist when you’re done with yoga and sleep. Focus on the air coming in, then the air going out. When you feel ready, come into Downward Dog with bent knees.
Shake your head “yes” and “no” to release tension in your neck. Walk the dog by bending and straightening opposite legs. Try matching your movement to your breath. Bend one knee as you breathe in, bend the other as you breathe out. Take the bend in your knees as deep or straight as you want. Remember your purpose of relaxation, not creating a particular shape. Find a movement that feels comfortable to your body. Hold for at least 5 breath cycles.
Step one foot between your hands, lift your chest and bring your hands to your knee. Drop your hips forward into Low Lunge. Keep your chest wide open. Tuck your pelvis under and engage your lower abs but only a little. It’s bedtime, people. Breathe for at least 5 breath cycles on each side, relaxing into your hip on each exhale.
Step both feet together and lift your hips for Ragdoll Pose. Bend your knees deeply and allow your upper body to melt out of your hips towards the floor. Release all tension in your neck, face and arms. Shift your weight forward towards your toes. Fall over from lack of body control due to Zen relaxation. Stand back up. Relax for at least 5 breaths.
Sit down on the floor for Supported Forward Fold. Just as it looks, stack as many pillows as you own want on your lap. Make sure your toes point towards the ceiling. You should feel a gentle sensation in the back of your legs, not an intense stretch. Just to be safe, add more pillows. Breathe. Relax. Stay in this pose as long as you want.
Fold up a few pillows or roll up a blanket and place them under your upper back. Put padding under your head so it does not crank back towards the floor. Allow your arms to fall open to the sides. You should feel a slight opening of your chest, but still breathe deeply and easily. If the stretch is too intense or breathing becomes difficult, remove some padding.
In this photo, I have one pillow folded in half under my torso and another pillow lengthwise under my torso & head. Find the level that feels comfortable to you. Stay here, I bet you can guess what to do with your lungs, as long as feels comfortable.
Finally, remove the padding from under your chest. Bring your feet together and allow your knees to fall to the side into Reclining Bound Angle Pose. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach. Feel your body rise and fall with your breath. Feel the floor solid under your back. Stay here as long as you please. Try not to fall asleep on the floor.
Namaste and sweet dreams.
Please share: Do you have a favorite set of yoga poses or bedtime routine that puts you right to sleep?