A single day can leave us exhausted. Yet so many of us toss and turn at night recounting the events of the day or even going through the next day’s to-do list. Our bodies and minds hold on to so much from day to day. It is important to take time for self-care. Incorporating these few yoga poses before bed will calm your nervous system and release tension to relax the body and mind, and therefore, lead to deeper, more restful sleep.
Yoga Poses for a Good Night’s Sleep
To start, place a pillow or some folded blankets on a chair and place the chair in front of you. Inhale to take your arms up overhead to lengthen the spine and exhale to fold forward at your hips until your forehead rests on the pillow. Rest your arms on the pillow as well and relax them completely. Stay for 10-15 long, deep breaths or for as long as you can comfortably rest. Inverting your upper body this way soothes the nervous system and decompresses the spine.
Now come down to the floor for a low lunge. Bring your front foot on the outside of both your arms in order to let your upper body come a bit closer to the floor. Place a pillow or blanket under your back knee for comfort. As you rest and breath into your hips, you can rest your forearms on the ground or stay on your hands. Whether you spend your day sitting at a desk or up on your feet, this is a wonderful pose to free your hips from tension. As an added bonus, relax your head towards the floor for a neck stretch and slowly move from side to side to loosen any tight spots in your neck and upper back. Take 10-15 breaths on each side, or as long as you can remain relaxed remembering to keep both sides even.
Next, sit down on an evenly folded blanket for cushion under the sit bones. With a nice long spine, cross your legs. The bottom knee will point straight forward and the top will point to the sky. Make sure the top foot is right outside the bottom thigh and you are sitting equally on your sit bones. If one hip is not sitting comfortably on the blanket, extend your bottom leg straight forward and keep the top leg crossed. Inhale to grow tall through your spine and exhale to twist in the direction of your top leg. Hug your top leg closer to your chest with the opposite arm to add a little outer hip stretch. As you stay for about 10 breaths, feel yourself get taller with each inhale and twist deeper with every exhale. Repeat on the other side. This pose will release tension around the spine and help blood circulate throughout the torso.
Finally, bring your blankets or pillow up 3-4 inches from a wall (or the headboard of your bed). Lay down with your sit bones as close to the wall as possible and send your legs up the wall, your tailbone will relax between the blanket and the wall. Your arms can relax by your sides or up over head with your palms facing up as you let your hips relax. This gentle inversion helps slow your system down. Let gravity take over and feel your legs become heavier in your hip sockets. Remain here for 5-10 minutes. To come out of this pose, gently slide yourself away from the wall and off your blankets, roll to your right side and push yourself up with your arms.
You are ready to slip into a blissful sleep.
About the Author
Emily is the Studio Manager and Assistant Director of Training at Dancers Shape. She completed a 200-hour Yoga Alliance certification from The Yoga Institute in Houston, TX in 2012. In summer 2014, Emily wanted to expand her knowledge and completed another 200-hour yoga certification with Austin yogi, Gioconda Parker. This inspired her to continue her education and she is currently working through an advanced teacher training for the 300-hour level with both Christina Sell and Gioconda Parker. Read more about Emily here.