The best yoga poses for sleep

December 23, 2020 6 mins read
The best yoga poses for sleep

What are the best yoga positions for sleep? A little yoga before bed can go a long way when it comes to helping you sleep better at night.

Whether you are an aspiring yogi, a regular on the yoga mat or you’re simply looking for ways to help you fall asleep, here are the yoga poses (asanas) we recommend you practise before bedtime to help you fall asleep faster and improve the quality of your sleep.

What is restorative yoga?

Restorative yoga won’t make you sweat or challenge you like hot yoga, vinyasa yoga or a power yoga class. Instead, restorative yoga poses are gentle, static and will help you relax, which will then help you fall asleep. You can even do the yoga positions in bed if you want to.

Props like pillows, blankets and bolsters are often used to support the body during a restorative yoga sequence. You can use your pillow to support your head when doing poses that require you to lie on the ground and cover your body with a blanket during the poses to help you stay warm and comfortable.

Restorative yoga poses are often held for 3 minutes or longer, but if you want to keep your yoga routine short, 30 seconds is enough to get the benefits from each pose.

Breathing deeply while doing yoga will increase the relaxation and sleep-promoting benefits you will get from this sequence.

Ready to flow into a good night’s sleep? Here are the yoga poses we recommend:

1. Child’s pose (Balasana)

illustration of yoga child's poseDoing child’s pose will help your spine and hips relax and can help reduce pain and tension that can make you feel uncomfortable when trying to fall asleep.

It can also help you calm and quieten your mind before bed, making it easier to drift off into a deep slumber.

Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Spread your knees apart (slightly wider than your hips) and bring your feet together until your big toes touch.

Breathe in deeply and as you exhale, lower your hips down and rest your weight on your heels.

If your hips are too tight, you can bring your knees closer together. Breathe in and as you exhale, drop your belly down between your thighs, bring your forehead to the ground and stretch your arms out in front of you.

Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to three minutes. Keep breathing deeply throughout the pose.

2. Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani )

illustration of yoga pose legs up the wallHaving your legs elevated above your head can help calm your body down. It also helps improve blood flow and circulation.

This pose is as easy as its name suggests. You want to find a wall, then sit facing the wall. Next, bring your behind as close as possible to the wall, lift your legs up, and rest them against the wall. Your goal should be to form a 90° angle with your body. You can place a pillow underneath your head for support.

Stay in this pose for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

3. Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana)

illustration of yoga pose forward foldThe seated forward fold is one of the most popular stretches practiced around the world, for a good reason. You will get a good stretch in your spine and the pose can help you tune into your breathing and relax.

Simply sit with your spine straight, with the crown of your head pulling towards the ceiling. Keep your legs stretched out in front of you, with your thighs, knees and feet together. Flex your feet. Next, gently fold forward, draping your belly over your thighs. Bring your forehead as close to your knees as possible. Reach your arms out in front of you, either grabbing onto the outsides of your feet, your ankles or your shins, depending on your flexibility. Relax into the pose.

You can place a pillow between your belly and thighs for added support.

Stay in this position for 30 seconds to 3 minutes.

4. Happy baby (Ananda Balasana)

illustration of yoga pose happy babyThis pose might look or feel funny when you do it, but we think there is a reason why many babies are happy to lie on their backs while holding their feet. It is one of the best hip openers you will find.

You can store a lot of tension in your body, especially in your hips. Doing yoga poses that will help your hips open up and relax can help you relieve some of that stored tension, help you feel calm and make it easier to fall asleep.

To get into the happy baby pose, lie on your back, and as you exhale, bring your knees to your chest. Your thighs should be pressing into your belly. Next, grab onto the outsides of your feet and use your hands to help you pull your knees out to the sides of your body. Your knees should be slightly wider than your torso. Bring your knees towards your armpits. Flex your heels.

Make sure that you keep pressing your lower spine towards the ground when doing happy baby pose. Breathe in deeply and with each exhale, try to relax and sink deeper into the pose.

5. Supine twists (Supta Matsyendrasana)

illustration of yoga pose supine twistsCan you say Supta Matsyendrasana fast five times in a row? The Sanskrit term for this yoga pose might be a tongue twister, but it is a great yoga pose to practice when you want to improve sleep. Twisting poses are believed to help improve digestion. Having a large meal or one that is difficult to digest before bed can interfere with sleep quality and make it harder to fall asleep. Remember this pose the next time you have indigestion before bed.

Begin by lying on your back and bring your left knee into your chest. Keep your right leg straight. Now, place your right hand on your left knee, twist your upper body to the left and bring your left knee over to the right side of your body. Try to keep your left shoulder on the ground when doing this pose.

You can place a pillow under your left knee for added support.

Stay in this position for 30 seconds to 3 minutes. Repeat with the right leg.

6. Corpse pose (Savasana)

illustration of yoga pose corpse poseArguably everyone’s favorite yoga pose, corpse pose has probably put more people to sleep than any other asana. Countless yogis will confess to having fallen asleep at the end of a yoga class while in corpse pose. If you have fallen asleep at the end of a yoga class, you know how relaxing this pose can be, especially when there is soft music playing in the background or you are guided through a meditation by your teacher.

For extra sleep-promoting benefits, you can listen to a guided meditation recording before doing corpse pose to help you relax even more.

To do corpse pose, all you have to do is lie on your back, with your legs stretched out in front of you, spread apart. Let your feet relax out to the side. Gently place your arms by your sides, palms facing up or down. Close your eyes and take deep breaths in and out, making sure that your belly expands as you inhale.

If you are doing this routine in bed, you can stay in corpse pose until you doze off.

There are many benefits of doing yoga beyond just helping you sleep. Yoga can help you reduce stress and anxiety, help you lose weight by reducing cortisol levels, keep you mobile when you are more advanced in age and improve your quality of sleep. Getting good quality sleep is one of the most important keys to a quality life.

Make this yoga sequence part of your evening routine, and experience the sleep-promoting power of the asanas for yourself.