Yoga has many uses. It can be a great workout, as well as help increase flexibility, act as a form of moving meditation or as a part of your bedtime routine.
Keep in mind that pre-bedtime yoga isn’t supposed to be a workout. It’s meant to help get you relaxed and ready to fall asleep. If you feel like you’re working up a sweat, it might be a good idea to take it down a notch. But if you’re looking for some gentle, relaxing poses that can help you get ready for a good night’s sleep, keep reading!
Happy Baby Pose
For this pose, lie on your back and grasp the bottoms of your feet, bending your knees in towards your armpits. You can even rock back and forth gently to give your lower back a little massage. This is a fun pose, although it can feel a little weird at first. It’s perfect for opening up the hips and stretching your hamstrings out. Many people carry stress in their lower back, hips and legs, so taking time to loosen those areas up can make you much more comfortable and relaxed. Since this position places your feet higher than your head, you’ll end up feeling calmer and more ready for sleep.
Wide-Leg Child’s Pose
This one is so simple, a child could do it! And they do, pretty frequently. Sit down with your knees under you, then open your knees up, so you’re sitting on the bed with your feet tucked behind you. If you’re feeling any muscle tightness, sit on a pillow. Then, lean forward and try to touch your forehead to the bed, with your arms either by your sides or straight ahead of you.
Even though it’s a simple pose and perfect for beginners, you might be too tight to get the whole way down. That’s OK, just do the best you can. Rest into the pose and let gravity do the work for you. You should feel a stretch through your ankles all the way up to your hips.
Easy Forward Bend
This is a variation on a seated forward bend that can help you ease into it. Sit down with your legs crossed and lean forward, again trying to touch your forehead to the bed. Don’t force it, and sit on a pillow if you’d be more comfortable that way. This helps round the lower spine, relieving tension in your lower back.
Seated Forward Bend
For a transition from the easy forward bend, simply sit up, straighten your legs, breathe out and lean forward again. Instead of touching your head to the bed, aim for your knees. Make sure you only go as far down as you’re comfortable with. You’re getting ready for bed, after all, not a workout. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings and a release of tension in your back.
Sitting on the bed, bend both knees and bring your feet together until your knees are pointing to opposite sides of the room. Slowly roll your spine downward until your back is resting all the way on the bed. Keeping your feet together, allow your knees to drop as far down to the bed as they comfortably can. You’ll feel the lengthening in your groin, thighs and knees — which can be hard areas to stretch — so this is a great one to incorporate into any stretching routine! It’s a good pose for those needing some relief from menstrual pain as well, especially when combined with a pillow. You can also use a strap to do this pose, and it would then be called “reclining bound angle pose.” If you have a belt, loop it around your lower back and ankles, then lie back.
Supine Spinal Twist
Twists are good for digestion and upset stomachs, making it an excellent way to end the day and deal with a big dinner. For this pose, lay on your back and spread your arms to each side. Lift one leg and cross it over the other, allowing your hips to twist up while your chest and upper back remain flat on the bed. If you need to, use one hand to help move your knee over. Turn your head to the opposite direction to deepen the stretch. Hold it for 10 seconds, three breaths or whatever feels right. When you’re ready, switch sides.
This pose is probably the most important one. It’s where you get the opportunity to relax fully. Lie back with your hands open toward the sky. Release your body fully into the support of your mattress, allowing your feet to drop open naturally. Close your eyes and breathe. Scan your body, starting at the toes, and try to release any tension you find. Move all the way up, slowly, and focus on releasing tension anywhere you find it. After completing a full body scan, try to just lie quietly, clear your mind and focus on your breathing. There’s a good chance you’ll fall asleep. If not, you might want to take this as an opportunity to reap the benefits of meditation. You can stay lying down, especially if you’re hoping to fall asleep.
There are plenty of yoga poses you can do in bed. If your balance is good enough, nothing is really off limits! But that doesn’t mean all of them are relaxing and good to do before bed. Keep your practice slow and focus on your breath. You’ll find you can fall asleep easier and faster, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed.