Yoga is a very spiritual and ascetic exercise that is widely practiced for health and relaxation. A common misconception of yoga is that you have to be flexible and coordinated to participate. However, that is not the case as there are many easy and relaxing poses that can be adapted and performed by any beginner yogi.
Since yoga aids in relaxation, it’s no surprise that it’s a restorative way to wind down after a long day. There are certain yoga poses that help you relax your body and get into a restful mindset for a good night’s rest. If you are in search of a new nightly routine, yoga for sleep is a great place to start. Check out some of these simple yet effective poses to gain a better night of sleep.
1. Child’s Pose: Balasana
Balasana is one of the more well-known poses that stretches your spine, shoulders and neck. It encourages blood circulation to the head which helps with tension relief and relaxation.
Start by kneeling on the floor, touching your big toes together. Then separate your knees hip-width apart and exhale till your torso sinks onto your thighs. Stretch your hands forward, palms to the floor. Keep your forehead on the floor and stay there for about 5-10 breaths. You can also gently roll your forehead from side to side to give yourself a light forehead massage for optimal relaxation. Release the pose by slowly sitting upright.
2. Standing Half Forward Wall Bend: Ardha Uttanasana
This stretch lengthens the spine and stimulates the abdominal organs and belly, which is said to improve digestion and get your body ready for rest and relaxation.
Begin by standing about a foot away from the wall, feet hip-width apart. Then bend over and press your hands against the wall with your palms at the height of your hips. Step back until your back is straight and your torso and arms are parallel to the floor. Make sure to keep your feet shoulder-width apart. Press down into your feet and lengthen all of your limbs. If need be, you can adjust your distance to the wall. Stay there and breathe deeply for about five breaths before slowly walking your feet back to the wall and standing upright.
3. Legs up the Wall: Viparita Karani
This simple pose is said to help ease symptoms such as anxiety and insomnia. It also helps ease tension and recirculate the blood flow in your feet and ankles if you are on your feet all day. Feel free to add a bolster or towel under your lower back to increase the inversion.
Start by laying your back down on the floor and extending your legs one by one up the wall. Once your legs are resting on the wall, extend your arms at your sides with the palms facing up. Close your eyes and breath steadily as your shoulders sink toward the floor. You can stay here for as long as you feel comfortable, around five minutes.
4. Reclined Bound Angle: Supta Baddha Konasana
The full version of this pose is slightly more advanced as it requires more flexibility, but it’s a very easy pose to modify with blocks or rolled up blankets under your knees. The pose allows gravity to pull you into a stretch that lets you release, breathe and improve circulation.
To begin, lie on your back with your legs and arms outstretched. Then bend your knees and draw your heels in toward your body and press the soles of your feet together. Allow your knees to drop on both sides and your arms to fall open at your sides with palms facing up. Lengthen your spine along the floor and stretch your tailbone toward your heels. Naturally breath for 1-10 minutes before drawing your knees up so you may roll out of the pose.
5. Corpse Pose: Savasana
Typically the last pose in a yoga class, the Savasana is the easiest and most relaxing pose of them all. The pose is basically just laying on your back, but it puts breathing and your mind at practice.
Lie on your back and place a pillow or folded blanket under your knees to allow your legs to rest. Close your eyes and allow your body to feel heavy (add a weighted eye pillow for ultimate relaxation). Practice relaxing your body starting from the soles of your feet to the top of your head. Turn your awareness inward and breathe as you normally would. Do your best to calm your mind and possibly go into a meditative state.
For optimal results, pair these nightly yoga stretches with meditation to find your inner peace. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced yogi, yoga is suitable for anyone trying to find a way to stretch, relax, and ultimately gain a good night of natural sleep. If you are interested in more yoga poses to strike before bed, check out Casper’s infographic below!