Do you struggle to get to sleep at night or find yourself waking up multiple times? If so, incorporating certain yoga poses into your evening routine could help you wind down and improve the quality of your forty winks.
Better sleep is just one of the many benefits of yoga, yet one of the most common reasons people start the practice. But how does yoga improve sleep quality, and what are the best asanas for this purpose?
Read on to discover the fascinating connection between yoga and sleep. I’ll also share the top yoga poses that help alleviate sleeping problems that you can put together into a short sequence tonight!
How Does Yoga Improve Your Sleep?
Yoga is well known for relaxing the body and calming the mind, two vital components to getting a good night’s sleep. However, studies have found that yoga doesn’t just improve your sleep quality; it can also help manage sleep-related problems like insomnia.
The reason for this is partly due to the mindfulness aspect of yoga. A separate study found mindfulness practices like yoga and meditation can help to improve sleep disturbances, particularly among older adults. In addition, the physical exercise aspect and breathing awareness and regulation in yoga play an essential role.
Still, certain yoga styles may be better than others when it comes to improving sleep quality.
In general, slower styles like Yin, Restorative, or a Slow Hatha flow are excellent at calming the nervous system and stimulating the “rest and digest” response. These are more calming than dynamic yoga styles such as Vinyasa and Ashtanga.
What’s more, did you know that the best time to practice yoga depends on the style? For example, you may assume that it’s best to do yoga in the evening if you want a restful night’s sleep.
However, doing a fast-paced power flow just before bed is not advisable as it will likely energise you more than relax you. Instead, it’s best to do your “yang” yoga practice in the morning and then end the day with a gentler, slower flow.
Top 5 Yoga Poses For Better Sleep
As you may know, different asana groups have different benefits. For example, backbends are known to be energising, so you should limit these when practising before bed. Likewise, inversions, arm balances, and core work tend to be more invigorating than relaxing, so it’s best to add these to your morning practice.
So, which yoga poses are best for bringing you into a restful, “ready-to-sleep” state?
Generally, forward folds and most seated and reclined postures are the most pacifying.
Here is a short pre-bedtime yoga sequence you can try:
1. Child’s Pose
When you’re in a Vinyasa or Hatha class, many yoga teachers will tell you that Child’s Pose is your resting pose and the asana to go to if it all gets too much. This is because this gentle posture evokes a sense of calm, security, and stability.
As a forward fold, it relaxes the spine, nourishes the back muscles, and soothes the nervous system. Then, as the forehead touches the ground, it also helps to calm a busy or anxious mind.
You can do the Child’s pose with the knees together or wide apart. The former adds gentle pressure to the abdominal muscles, stimulating digestion. So, this pose will be super helpful if you eat dinner late at night. The latter variation gently opens and stretches the hips, relieving tension in that area, such as pre-menstrual cramps.
2. Seated Forward Bend
Seated Forward Bend, also known as Paschimottasana, is another super calming forward fold that helps your body and mind relax. It’s particularly good at easing any accumulated lower back, neck, or shoulder pain from your day’s activities.
This pose doesn’t just relieve physical tension, though. Energetically, it works to reduce feelings of stress and anxious thoughts that may keep you awake at night.
There are many variations, including using a strap to create an active stretch or resting your head on a block for a passive one. If doing this to prepare for bed, I recommend the latter as it is extra calming for the nervous system.
3. Legs Up The Wall
If you only do one yoga pose before bed, make it this one! Legs up the wall may look like a simple posture, but it is one of the most beneficial and underrated. It’s particularly delightful if you spend a lot of your day on your feet, as it reverses the blood flow from the legs, soothing swollen and tired feet and ankles.
As the blood moves down the legs, it passes the hips and replenishes the abdominal organs. Eventually, it sends a fresh flow of blood and oxygen to the brain, quieting the mind and relieving any headaches or mental tension.
4. Reclined Spinal Twist
Sometimes, our busy lives mean we eat late and attempt to sleep on a full stomach. Unfortunately, this not only makes getting to sleep difficult and uncomfortable, but it can also cause bloating and stomach pain.
Twists are well known for improving the digestion process. This reclined easy twist gently stimulates peristalsis, wave-like muscle contractions that move food through the digestive tract. The reclined position is also calming for the mind and nervous system, making it one of the best evening yoga poses.
5. Reclined Bound Angle Pose (or Butterfly)
The multi-beneficial yoga posture always feels fantastic at the end of any yoga practice. It stretches the hip and groin area, opens the heart, and improves general blood circulation.
Known as a restorative backbend, it calms the mind and nervous system, relieving symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. The supported version practiced in Yin Yoga is extra restful. This variation involves laying over a bolster, allowing your muscles to relax and your body to melt toward the ground.
Once you have tried these five postures, follow this 30-minute yoga flow for better sleep, with a full explanation of how the sequence was created.
Final Thoughts On Yoga For Sleep
As mentioned earlier, Yin is one of the best yoga styles for improving sleep quality and treating sleep disturbances. In Yin Yoga, you move very slowly and perform mainly seated or reclined poses. As you hold these replenishing postures for some time, you focus on breathing deeply, which creates a grounding, soothing energy.
So, if you want to improve your sleep and experience more rest and relaxation, check out the brand-new Yin Deck. The deck features 60 Yin postures with beautiful images and supportive cues. It is designed for all levels, so whether you’re a beginner or a pro, you can create endless sequences that will help you experience the best sleep of your life!