This short series of six restorative yoga poses is designed to relax your body and your mind, preparing you to drift off into a blissful sleep.
Once you’re bedroom basics are all set and you’ve finished your nightly ‘unwind’ routine (scroll down for my ‘bedroom basics checklist’ and tips for creating a blissful unwind routine), roll out your yoga mat beside your bed or in the lounge room and practice the following routine. Aim to hop into bed directly after your sequence. If you don’t have a mat you can use a towel, or even do this sequence in bed.
Here’s my favourite bedtime yoga sequence to help you sleep:
1. Constructive Rest Pose
Use gravity to release tension in your psoas (muscle) to ease digestion, lower back pain, anxiety and more. To move into this restorative pose, lie on you back, legs bent, feet hip-width apart, toes forward. Use a cushion or low stack of books under the head, if desired. Rest the arms to the sides, palms gently facing down or up, which ever resonates with you more. Slowly soften your whole body, counting 7 slow, easy breaths.
2. Reclining Bent-Leg Stretch
This is a great pose to ease out tight hips before bed. It can also help to ease headaches, lower back pain and menstrual cramps. To move into this pose from constructive rest pose, clasp your hands around the right knee and draw it toward the chest. Lengthen the left leg along the mat, foot flexed. Take 7 breaths here, then gently swap sides and repeat on the left side.
3. Legs up the Wall
Otherwise known as Viparita Karani (in Sanskrit), this pose can help to calm the nervous system, regulate blood flow and aid digestion. Most of all, it’s a class favourite to relieve tension from the legs. To do this pose, sit side on to the wall, then swing your legs up against the wall, gently lowering your back and head to the floor, keeping legs straight up against the wall. Hands rest loosely beside the body. Enjoy this pose for 3 – 10 minutes before moving on to the next pose. Avoid this pose if you have serious eye problems and be careful not to strain your lower back or hips.
4. Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Also known as ‘Supta Baddha Konasana’ (in Sanskrit), this is another juicy, restorative hip opener. It can also help to increase blood circulation in the abdomen, aid digestion and calm the nervous system. From legs up the wall pose, take the knees apart and bring the soles of your feet in to touch each other. Use a rolled doona, blanket or cushions under the knees for support. Pop a pillow underneath the head. Savour at least 5 minutes here. Avoid this is you have a knee injury, lower back pain or are pregnant.
5. Child’s Pose
Known as ‘Balasana’ (in Sanskrit), this pose invites you to gently stretch out the lower back and gives you a beautiful opportunity to tune inwards and connect with yourself. By focusing on your breath and how you’re feeling, this pose can help to calm the brain and slow busy thoughts. From reclining bound-angle pose, gently roll onto your side and into a seated position. Move your props to the side and kneel on the mat (with your knees together or apart, whichever feels more comfortable for you) and stretch forward over your thighs until the head meets the floor (use a cushion or yoga block if needed). Stay 3 minutes or more, breathing easily. Again, avoid this is you have a knee injury or are pregnant.
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5. Basic Rest Pose
The infamous ‘Savasana’ (in Sanskrit) is often many people’s favourite pose and the one that most classes end with. From Child’s pose, stretch out along the floor and gently roll onto your back (you could also do this last pose in bed and then drift off to sleep!). If you want to use props for comfort, pop a pillow under your knees, head and cover your eyes with an eye mask to allow for complete comfort and darkness, allowing the whole body to sink into relaxation. Allow the breath to lengthen and deepen naturally. Stay in this pose for 10 minutes or more.
Don’t miss my ‘bedroom basics checklist’ and top tips for an ‘unwind routine’ below!
So tell me – do you have a bedtime yoga sequence that you do? Do you love these poses, or would you like me to suggest some alternatives? Reach out via the comment section below, I can’t wait to hear from you!
My ‘Bedroom Basics Checklist’ For A Good Night Sleep:
- Save your boudoir for sleep and sex – that’s it!
- Choose a high quality, supportive pillow and mattress that will keep your head and neck in line with the rest of your body such as those available from Ergoflex Australia.
- Splash out on cosy linen and PJ’s that you love – create your ideal environment and feel great.
- Make sure the room is dark when it’s time to ‘hit the hay’, a ‘just-right’ temperature and whisper quiet. If this means using an eye mask and ear plugs, then give it a go and see how that impacts your sleep.
- Absolutely no phones, laptops, tech devices etc in the bedroom – they need rest too so charge them overnight elsewhere, such as the kitchen.
- Try sleeping on your left side – this activates the right side of the brain which is associated with more passive activities.
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Tips For Creating An Evening ‘Unwind’ Routine:
- 6-8pm – Enjoy a nourishing dinner, prepare for the next day and/or begin to unwind. You can source your healthy dinner recipes here.
- By 9pm – Quit the TV and all other screens (the light omitted from these messes with the brain’s natural signals for sleep). If necessary you can do simple activities such as folding the washing or colouring-in, though nothing taxing.
- 9-10pm – Reserve this last hour for activity such as light reading, journaling, gentle conversation, a warm bath or cup of herbal tea. Consider burning calming essential oils or incense – learn more about the benefits of essential oils here. If necessary you can do simple activities such as folding the washing or colouring-in, though nothing taxing. Use your last 20 – 30 minutes to unwind with the slow and gentle yoga sequence noted above.
- Aim to be under the doona by 10pm. According to Ayurvedic principals our energy levels follow a circadian biological clock. In this 24 hour cycle, 10pm-2am is seen as an ‘active’ cycle and ideally you want to have wound down by then.
If you still can’t get to sleep:
- Get up, move into another dark room for 15 minutes.
- Do something boring – cut your nails, water your indoor plants, set the table for breakfast. Just don’t interact with technology or bright screens.
- Meditate on your own or listen to a recorded meditation. For more information, read this article I wrote about guided meditations. It also contains links to my (free) guided meditations. You many also find it beneficial to integrate meditation into your daily life if you don’t already – try this ‘Beginner’s Guide To Meditation’ to get you started.
- Be compassionate with yourself – know that you are resting and eventually, sleep will come.
If the situation persists, see your preferred health care professional. They will be able to work closely with you to address the situation with a holistic approach including areas such as with diet and supplements, to help address this problem with you.
Do you have any activities you do to help get yourself to sleep? Share them in the comments below and help us create a well-rested and healthy community.
P.S. Do you know someone who might like to try the bedtime yoga sequence or might find the additional tips helpful? Share it with them now via one of the big share buttons below.