The science of sleep is well-studied, and we all know the power of rejuvenating rest. But when the time comes, it can sometimes be challenging to calm the body and mind as we prepare for bed.
To create the perfect evening routine, we need all the help we can get. Whether it’s to speed up the time it takes to fall asleep or improve the quality of sleep overall, yoga can be a valuable part of your nighttime toolkit. Just a few minutes of gentle yoga can go a long way in combating sleep disturbances, boosting your well-being, and supporting your mental health as you wind down.
In this article, we offer a simple bedtime yoga routine with adaptable postures that anyone can follow. From fitness enthusiasts to older adults, these poses will help relax your nervous system and set the stage for a good night’s sleep. Let’s dive in and see which poses work best as you practice yoga for sleep.
1. Legs up the wall (viparita karani)
The legs-up-the-wall pose is meant to improve circulation in the body and reduce swelling in the lower extremities by raising your legs in the air. Position yourself near a wall and sit closely with your hips touching the base of the wall. You can lay down a blanket or pillow to protect your lower back before swinging your legs up so they lay flat against the wall.
With your legs vertical, keep your arms relaxed and take deep breaths as you release tension throughout your body. You can sit in this pose for five minutes or more and enjoy the calming effects of this relaxing pose. This is a great pose to use after eating, as it can aid digestion and alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort.
If you work on your feet or live an active lifestyle, this pose is perfect for promoting blood flow throughout the body and preparing your mind for sleep.
2. Child’s pose
Child’s pose is a nice way to restore balance after doing a mild inversion pose like viparita karani. Start in a tabletop position and gently lower yourself back so you sit comfortably on your calves with your knees spread apart.
Bring your torso down to the floor and reach your hands out in front of you as you breathe and deepen the forward stretch. Hold the pose for several minutes or as long as you need to achieve a gentle stretch in the spine and hips.
The purpose of this pose is to provide a grounding effect while taking tension off of the back, shoulders, and hips. You can focus on different areas of the body to target joints and muscles that may feel stiff or tense. Child’s pose is simple and relaxed, and can help soothe the body and mind as part of your evening routine.
3. Corpse pose
What better way to prepare yourself for bed than lying flat on your back? Corpse pose is all about being still and bringing your body and mind into alignment. Lie down facing up with your arms by your sides, visualizing points of contact with the ground as you breathe deeply and relax.
Corpse pose offers a great opportunity to come back to the present moment and enjoy the inner peace that each breath brings. There is no pressure to stretch or strain the body — simply focus on your breathing pattern and relax each body part, starting from your toes all the way up to your face and the space above your head.
4. Happy baby
Many of us hold tension in the hips and lower back, especially if we spend most of our days in a seated position. The happy baby pose aims to reverse some of the tension built up from the sedentary lifestyle by opening up the hips with a gentle stretch.
Start by lying down on your yoga mat or a comfortable surface, and bring your knees to your chest. Use your hands to slowly spread your knees apart while keeping your feet flexed. The goal is to target tension in the hips and groin while focusing on steady, deep breathing.
You may not have much flexibility in this area at first, but continued practice will allow for better mobility and range of motion. It’s a simple and fun way to unwind before bed and sleep more soundly.
5. Reclining bound angle (supta baddha konasana)
The reclining bound angle pose sounds more complex than it is. Start in corpse pose and try to bring the soles of your feet together so they gently press against one another. Meanwhile, extend your arms slightly so that they rest on the ground at a 45-degree angle from your torso.
The pose is highly effective at stretching the groin and relieving knee and hip tension. It’s a more relaxed “hip opener” that pairs well with happy baby and other gentle poses. As always, focus on your breathing and let the weight of your knees do the work. You don’t need to apply additional pressure for this restorative yoga pose unless it feels comfortable.
6. Standing forward bend
Performing the standing forward bend pose is as easy as reaching down and touching your toes from a standing position. This is easier said than done, of course, so go at your own pace and don’t push yourself beyond your current level of flexibility.
You can ease into this position by first reaching for your knees, followed by your ankles, before going for your toes. Use your breath to guide your movement forward. Eventually, you’ll be able to fully “collapse” your torso to touch the tops of your thighs and comfortably hold your feet. It's ok if you can't completely straighten your legs or reach the floor— the most important thing is getting your abdomen to rest gently on your thighs. Once releasing your hands towards the ground, you will begin to feel your spine separate and a calming release of tension.
This pose will restore blood flow to the head and relieve tension in the back, perfect for a relaxing evening routine.
7. Bridge pose
Don’t be intimidated by the bridge pose — it’s safe and comforting when done correctly and modified for your ability level. Start by laying down flat and bringing your knees up in the air, with your feet directly underneath. Slowly raise your hips off the ground and think about pushing your pelvis up to the sky.
Push your hands and feet into the ground to support your lower back and use your breath to slowly move up and down. The pose has a strengthening effect and increases blood flow while also keeping you relaxed and centered.
8. Figure four
Also known as the reclining pigeon pose, figure four helps stretch the outer part of the leg and can reduce tension in the muscles of the lower back. Just lie flat on the ground, facing up, as you bring one leg up to rest your foot on the opposite thigh. You can then grab onto that thigh and lean back to give a satisfying stretch to the hips and outer leg.
This stretch focuses only on one side of the body, so remember to switch sides to stay balanced. The lower body holds more tension than you might think, making this pose an essential inclusion in your evening regimen.
9. Lizard pose
If you’ve ever done a sun salutation or a traditional yoga flow, the lizard pose will be instantly familiar to you. There are numerous ways to enter this position, but it’s wise to take it slow and play it safe for your bedtime yoga routine.
Start by standing up straight and extending one leg forward while maintaining your balanced and staying centered. Bring your foot further forward while leaning your torso down to the floor and deepening the stretch in your hamstrings and groin. Even if you can’t achieve a deep stretch, every bit counts in your practice.
Remember to switch sides so that you get the balancing effects of the lizard pose and reduce tension on both halves of the body.
10. Cat-cow pose
The cat-cow pose is a fun and easy way to loosen the back and practice various breathing patterns as you ease into the evening. Start in a tabletop position with your back flat, then move into the “cat” phase of the pose by pushing your hands and tops of the feet into the mat, letting your spine curve toward the ceiling. Slowly transition into the “cow” phase by returning to neutral and then arching your back while looking upward, keeping your shoulders pulled down.
You can alternate these phases with your chosen breathing pattern, working out any remaining tension or discomfort in your back. This pose helps lengthen the spine and ensures you feel loose and relaxed for a good night’s sleep.
What are the benefits of yoga for sleep?
With ten great poses to choose from, you have a well-balanced repertoire of bedtime yoga poses to choose from. These poses can be mixed and matched in any order, so get creative and create a routine that works best for you!
Meanwhile, remember the benefits of yoga for sleep so that you stick with the practice and get the most from your practice. Here are some of the top benefits you can expect.
Soothes nervous system
The nervous system governs our bodies and minds with electrical signals and transmitters, but there are two sides to the story. While the sympathetic nervous system affects our “fight or flight” response, the parasympathetic nervous system brings the body into “rest and digest” mode.
As you might suspect, a good night’s sleep requires the parasympathetic nervous system to be in control — slowing heart rate and relaxing the muscles.
With a gentle yoga routine and other beneficial evening rituals, you can shift into parasympathetic mode and find it easier to fall asleep with fewer disturbances.
Supports sleep quality
Falling asleep is just one part of the challenge in sleep hygiene. You also need to support your body’s ability to navigate the various stages of sleep, including deep sleep, REM, and more.
You probably know from experience that each night doesn’t guarantee restorative and adequate rest. With a calming yoga routine and a successful shift to the parasympathetic nervous system, you can get better quality sleep that truly makes a difference.
You’ll know the signs when you finally get restful, rejuvenating sleep. You’ll feel refreshed, recovered, and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead of you that day. This allows you to perform your best during your waking hours, exhaust your energy, and get even better sleep the following night.
Supports healthy blood pressure
Your sleep habits not only affect how you rest and recover, but they also have implications for health markers like blood pressure and others. Sleep problems can result in increased blood pressure as your body has less time to regulate and recuperate after the day.
Even if you don’t have health issues presently, it’s never too early to start taking preventive measures. Do your part in supporting heart health by prioritizing sleep and reducing your heart rate with calming yoga before bed.
The bottom line
Yoga is such a valuable and versatile part of your health toolkit, that it should never be overlooked. While many yoga classes may emphasize agility and exercise, yoga for sleep is the exact opposite — the goal is to calm down, relax, and wind down completely.
As you construct your ideal evening routine, remember that yoga is just one piece of the puzzle. Supplements like a Broad Spectrum Sleep Tincture include CBN and CBD, which can support sleep with endocannabinoid system support. Full Spectrum Sleep Gummies contain trace amounts of THC, offering the synergy of the entourage effect with additional soothing benefits.
With the right approach and other sleep hygiene techniques like breathwork and meditation, you’ll soon have the perfect evening ritual for sleep success.