Did you know that carrying out specific body stretches and deep breathing exercises can help you sleep better at night? If you struggle with sleeping well at night, yoga may enhance the quality of your sleep. Researchers from a review study discovered that adults who engaged in yoga practices had a better quality of life and sleep than others who did not. Improved sleep reduces stress, promotes your mental wellbeing, and empowers you to execute your daily activities without fatigue. So, what are the best yoga poses for sleep?
Below are the recommended yoga poses for better sleep, their importance, and how you can perform each one.
How Does Doing Yoga Before Bed Helps You Sleep?
Performing exercises before sleep can improve your sleep by engaging in low-intensity activities coupled with deep breathing. One of the prevalent causes of insomnia is anxiety, and yoga helps eliminate this through mindfulness (A state of your mind focused on the moment). Mindfulness keeps you from thoughts that provoke anxiety and stimulates the release of a hormone called Melatonin from the brain. Melatonin reduces sleep disturbances associated with insomnia, according to sleep researchers at
the University of Glasgow. When you practice yoga a few minutes before sleeping, your melatonin levels increase, and this helps you sleep better.
The 15 Best Yoga Poses To Help You Sleep
Even though studies prove that yoga improves sleep, there are some exceptions. For instance, if you perform high-intensity exercises in the evening, your heart rate increases, affecting your ability to fall asleep. However, low to moderate aerobic exercises reduce anxiety and improve your mood to aid in falling asleep quickly.
Here are the best restorative yoga poses for sleep.
Hero Pose (Virasana)
It is one of the common yoga poses for good sleep that requires a peaceful environment, a yoga mat, and comfortable clothes.
- Kneel with the back of your heels on the yoga mat.
- Sit on the space between your heels.
- Use a cushion to support your buttock if you have some discomfort.
- Place your hands on your knees and sit up upright.
- Maintain this position for some minutes and take several deep breaths.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
It is a body stretch that relaxes the strain in the lower back and spine muscles. Child pose also improves the mental wellbeing and mood of individuals. A clinical trial study revealed that study participants with mood disorders who practiced child pose yoga significantly improved their psychological well-being. Consequently, sleep quality improves because of optimal mood and emotional wellbeing.
- Kneel with the back of your heels on the yoga mat
- Sit on your heels with your two knees spaced apart. You can use a knee pillow as support.
- Lower your chest to touch your thighs and your head towards the mat.
- Use support (pillow) to rest your head.
- Slide your hands backward with your palms facing up to touch your legs.
- Holding this position for some minutes, take a deep breath multiple times.
- Rise to rest and repeat as often as possible
Figure Four Against the Wall (Modified Sucirandhrasana)
Figure four body stretch helps relieve lower back tension and strengthen the muscles of the hips and buttocks. However, figure four pose is unsuitable for individuals with knee and hip pains.
- Lie on your back with your hips facing the wall.
- Rest your foot on the wall at 90°
- To stretch your right side, lift your right ankle and cross it on the left knee. Hold this position for some seconds and breathe deeply.
- To stretch the left side, raise your pelvis, lift your left ankle, and cross it on the right knee. Hold this position for some seconds and breathe deeply.
- After completing the stretch, bring your legs down gently.
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
This yoga pose aids blood redistribution, which reduces leg and ankle swelling. It also helps to relieve anxiety which results in better sleep.
- Lie on a yoga mat with your hips facing the wall.
- Raise your legs and rest on the wall.
- You could place a cushion to support your place if you experience discomfort.
- Spread out your hands with palms facing and place them by the side.
- Take slow, deep breaths while assuming this position for a few minutes.
Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Jaṭhara Parivartānāsana)
Supine Spinal Twist enables you to relieve distressing lower back pain that prevents you from falling asleep.
- Lie down on your back and then stretch out your hands.
- Bend the right knee and cross over to the left leg but close to the left knee.
- Apply gentle pressure to push down the bent right knee using your left hand.
- While assuming this twisted position, breathe deeply for some seconds with both shoulders placed down.
- Bend your left knee and repeat the same steps to twist the left side.
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
This body stretch relaxes the tension in your lower back and improves the muscle tone in the lower legs. In addition, it reduces anxiety and aids better sleep.
- Lie down flat on a yoga mat.
- Gently bend your knees together close to your chest.
- Put your hands inside your legs and reach for your toes
- Hold your big toes using a toe lock.
- As you widen your legs at the hip, raise your legs until they are upright.
- Keep your shoulder and head flat on the mat
- Hold this position for some minutes and take deep breathes.
Reclining Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
It is a yoga pose that helps calm your nerves and improve your emotion.
- Sit erect with your legs pointing forwards.
- Gently fold your knees outwards and bring the soles of your foot together.
- Place both elbows on the floor behind you to help you lean back, and then slowly lie on the yoga mat.
- Stretch out your hands with your palms facing upwards and take a deep breath slowly.
- Hold this position for some seconds while you breathe deeply.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This is one of the common yoga poses for sleep in bed with your pillows.
- As you lie on your bed, keep your legs straight, wide apart, and your hands stretched out with palms facing up.
- Relax your whole body, breathe deeply and gently.
- Focus your mind on your breathing when you exhale.
- Hold the position for some minutes.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
It helps stretch your back and exerts a calming effect strong enough to make you fall asleep.
- Sit up and stretch out your legs.
- Bend forward till your head touches your knees and reach to grab the soles of your feet.
- Take deep breaths as your stay in this position for some minutes.
Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
Lizard pose stretches the muscles in the inner thighs, stabilizes your mood, and helps your mental wellbeing.
- Put your face down and all your limbs on the yoga mat. (Downward facing dog posture).
- Place your left foot on the outer part of your left arm.
- Put your elbows, arms, and forearms on the mat.
- Take deep breathes while you stay in this position for some minutes.
- You can use a cushion to support your elbows and forearms if you feel discomfort.
Restorative Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
The bridge yoga pose relieves chronic low back pain and calms your nerves.
- Lie flat on your back, bend your knees and place the sole of your feet flat on the yoga mat.
- With your knees standing parallel to each other, lift your hip to a level you can maintain and keep your shoulders down.
- Extend your fingers towards your heels and clasp them together.
- Hold this posture and breathe deeply.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
It stretches your leg muscles, relieves neck pain, and reduces anxiety.
- Stand with your feet wide and some inches apart, then inhale deeply.
- Exhale and bend your forward at your hips.
- Bend more until your palm reaches the floor, and your forehead touches the knees.
- Maintain this position for some minutes and breathe deeply.
Plow Pose (Halasana)
The plow pose decreases the tension in your neck and keeps you calm.
- Lie flat with your hands on the floor raise your knees towards your chest.
- Use your hands pressed firmly on the floor to lift your hips with your knees still bent at your chest.
- Raise your legs till it forms a straight line from your heels to your shoulder.
- Stay in this position and breathe deeply
- Lower your feet behind your head, so your toes touch the floor and point towards your head.
- Stretch your hands straight and clasp them behind your back
- In this final position, take some deep breaths
Child Pose (Shishuasana)
This yoga stretch relieves tension in your back and reduces anxiety.
- Knee on the yoga mat with your heels backward and the knees touching each other.
- Bend forward until your chest touches your thighs, and your forehead rests on the yoga mat.
- Stretch your hands forward and slightly apart.
- Stay in this posture and breathe slowly for some minutes.
Sleeping Butterfly (Suptabhadrasana)
This yoga pose strengthens the inner muscles of the legs.
- Sit upright and bring your legs together with your feet touching each other.
- Pull your feet together towards your hips.
- Place your hands on your ankles.
- Drop your knees slowly to touch the floor and feel the stretch.
- Stay in the position for some minutes and breathe deeply.
Breathing Techniques for Sleep
Breathing relaxes your nerves which helps you sleep well. Here are some effective breathing techniques you can carry out to improve your sleep.
Practice steps include:
- Sit up with your mouth closed and breathe in and out through your nose.
- Focus on the breathing process through your nose.
- Block your nose with your index finger and thumb for a few seconds.
- Release your nose and take a deep breath in and out again.
- Repeat these steps as often as possible.
Three-part Breathing Exercise
Follow these practice steps:
- Take a long deep breath in.
- Exhale slowly and focus on how it feels in your body.
- Repeat the steps and ensure you exhale longer than you inhale.
Here are the practice steps:
- Sit up on your bed and breathe in for four seconds
- Hold your breath for four seconds.
- Exhale for four seconds
- Repeat the steps above.
Easy Hand Massage to Help You Sleep
Hand massage enhances the quality of your sleep because it reduces your anxiety and relaxes you. Hand reflexology is a special type of hand massage you can perform before bedtime. This entails applying firm pressure on the pressure point of the hand.
To perform hand reflexology, use your right thumb to apply pressure on your left wrist(the point just below the crease or line on your palm) and gently massage that point for 1-2 minutes.
Yoga before bed relaxes you and calms your nerves, so you can sleep better at night. These body stretches relieve body pains that prevent you from falling asleep after a stressful day. Practicing yoga poses such as hero, corpse, happy baby, plow, etc., eliminate anxious thoughts that keep you awake at night. In addition, practicing breathing exercises such as box breathing and three-part breathing at your bedtime helps you sleep well. Apart from practicing yoga before sleeping, drinking apple cider vinegar before bed has potential health benefits in promoting your physical and mental wellbeing.