SparkPeople Blogs  •  sleep  •  yoga

5 Yoga Poses to Help You Rest Better

By , SparkPeople Blogger
In addition to the physical benefits of yoga, it has plenty of mental benefits as well. Certain poses can help energize you and others can help relax you.

While I wouldn't recommend a full yoga practice just before bed, doing a few of these gentle, restorative poses before going to sleep can help you rest easier.

You can do most of these poses in your bedroom while wearing your pajamas. You might want to have a mat under you for comfort.

To facilitate your voyage to dream land, turn off the TV and dim the lights. Before beginning, come to a comfortable seated position on your mat and close your eyes. Start breathing in and out through your nose, in long, even breaths. After 10 breaths, open your eyes and begin these poses. You can hold each one for as long as you'd like, at least five breaths.

Child’s pose (Balasana):
Stretches hips, thighs and ankles gently; can help alleviate back pain.
How to:
  • Starting in a kneeling position.
    You have two options to start:
  • Keep your knees together but separate the feet and allow your bottom to rest on the floor. Roll your calves away from your thighs (use your hands) to help you get comfortable.
    For a deeper stretch:
  • Sit back on your heels, shins together. (Place a rolled-up towel between your heels and hips to ease this stretch.)
  • From here, start to lower to the floor. Your belly will rest on or between your thighs, and your forehead will reach towards the mat. (Place a towel or a yoga block under your forehead if it won't reach the floor.
  • Stretch the arms out in front of you to feel a stretch up the length of the back.
  • Stretch the arms alongside the body, with the fingertips facing the toes, to stretch between the shoulder blades.
    TIP: Roll your forehead back and forth across the mat with your arms along your sides to help alleviate sinus congestion.

    Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha svanasana):
    Calms and energizes the body; stretches the shoulders, arches, hamstrings, calves, and hands; strengthens arms and legs; helps insomnia and stress. How to:
  • Come on to your hands and knees. Your hands should be directly under your shoulders, your knees under your hips.
  • Tuck your toes under and push your hips up, your body forming a triangle with your bottom as the peak.
  • If your legs are tight, keep your heels lifted and legs bent if needed.

  • Pull your bellybutton in and let your head hang, moving the shoulderblades away from the ears.
  • Spread your fingers and toes wide and try to keep the weight evenly distributed.
  • To take the weight off your arms and make this more of a restful pose, engage your quadriceps (by lifting your kneecaps).
    TIP: If your arms need some help in this pose, try placing your hands on the seat of a chair set against a wall.

    Head to knee stretch (Janu sirsasana A):
    Stretches the hamstrings.
    How to:
  • From a straight-legged seated position, slide your right foot inside your left thigh, the right knee coming out at least a 90-degree angle.
  • Center your torso over the extended left leg and exhale as you begin to lower to that thigh.
  • Flex your extended foot and reach for your toes (or use a towel as a strap).
  • With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching out in front of you to the wall); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (the chest is getting closer to the floor).
  • Inhale as you roll slowly up and repeat on the other side.
    TIP: If your knee can't rest comfortably on the floor, roll up a towel to support the bent knee.

    Seated forward fold (Paschimottanasana):
    Stretches the spine and the hamstrings.
    How to:
  • Sit on your mat, with your legs extended in front of you, heels slightly flexed and bellybutton pulled to the spine for support.
  • Inhale, sit tall and raise your arms in the air.
  • Exhale, lean forward and reach for your toes. Allow your arms to rest on your thighs, shins or at your ankles.
  • Allow your head to drop and gaze past the end of your nose. Allow your upper body to relax.
  • If you can straighten the legs, flex the feet, and engage the quadriceps (by lifting your knee cap) to keep your knees from locking.
  • With every inhale, feel your spine growing longer (imagine the crown of your head reaching out in front of you to the wall); with every exhale, allow the body to sink lower (the chest is getting closer to the floor).
    TIP: Can't reach your toes? Wrap a towel around your feet and grab either end with your hands to improvise a yoga strap. If your hamstrings are tight, you can bend your legs.

    Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani):
    Stretches the hamstrings gently, allows blood that has accumulated in the feet and legs to re-circulate in the body. Offers a gentle release for the low back.
    How to:
  • Sit next to a wall and lie onto your back, bringing your knees into your chest. (You can also lie in bed and do this pose!)
  • Straighten your legs and place them on the wall while wiggling your bottom closer to the wall.
  • Allow your heels to rest gently on the wall.
  • Extend the arms overhead for an added stretch.
    TIP: This pose is great for anyone who works on their feet. Spend a few minutes in this pose (you can even do this in bed) each night to give your legs a break. Remember this one--it's also great after a long day of holiday shopping!

    Have you tried any of these poses? Will you? Which one is your favorite?

  • Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
      You will earn 5 SparkPoints
    See more: sleep yoga


    MUSICNUT 3/6/2021
    Thanks for the great article! :) Report
    1CRAZYDOG 1/8/2021
    Thank you for these poses! Report
    NANABFITZ 11/27/2020
    THANKS Report
    ROBBIEY 9/8/2020
    good info Report
    Thanks for sharing! I love most of these poses! Some I do and some I don't do! Report
    Thanks for sharing! I love most of these poses! Some I do and some I don't do! Report
    Great information Report
    great article Report
    Thankyou for including modifications. Report
    I need to practice the last one. The others are part of my routine. Report
    I do them on my bed due to disabilities, they still work great that way! Report
    Thanks Report
    Great Article
    i wonder how many times i've done these exercises Report
    Great poses! Report
    I do a few of these when I stretch, but none with the towel. Report
    Great Report
    I love legs up the wall - very relaxing, but I always see more dust bunnies from the floor than I know what to do with. Report
    All these poses help kids as well, especially legs up the wall. Report
    Great article Report
    I have tried the child pose and I absolutely love it. Even through I sleep well every night, I am willing to give a few of these other poses a try. Thank you! Report
    Going to try these tonight Report
    I am excited to try these moves. I have always had an interest in trying yoga and these moves could potentially help some of my biggest issues: lack of flexibility, lower back pain, and insomnia. Thanks! Report
    Im wanting to do more stretching and relaxing exercise. Looking forward to trying. Report
    When I was more active in yoga as a young person, the child's pose was quite my favorite, so relaxing and comforting. Though, now the downward facing dog gives my body and back a really great stretch about any time of day. I love the stretch with putting my legs up on the really gets the circulation going, I always feel better when I get up from that one. My downfall is consistency with yoga currently. I have had a lot of life issues and physical problems and I need to start weaving healthy habits back into my daily living like yoga practice. It has so many benefits that I never knew about as a younger woman. I love the informative blogs and articles here. I am so glad that the East has so much to offer us in helping learn how to take care of our bodies and soul with or without subscribing to their religious practices. I like to be open about cultural differences. The world is a small place. Report
    I will add these to my bedtime routine. Thanks Report
    Thanks for the article. I will try to do these before bedtime instead of earlier in the day. Some good ones to learn too! Report
    I absolutely love yoga. I try to do as much as I can. I will try the poses before bed. I usually do my yoga practice, in the afternoon. Thanks for the info. Report
    I have done some of these poses before but not before going to bed. I will have to give it a try. Report
    I regularly do the downward dog and child's pose. I will try some of the others too. Report
    I am going to try the child pose one before I take my nap today. Hope my big belly doesn't get in the way! Report
    I will add these to my favorites Thanks!!! Report
    I tried the down ward facing dog and the head to knee stretch. I had forgot about using a towel to help stretch and it was so much better especially for a beginner. It was also relaxing. Going to hit the sack now and see if i actually rest better for a change. Report
    I am going to try these tonight, as I have not been very rested lately. Thanks for sharing!! Report
    I will definatly try these poses tonight!!! They would be nice for the morning too, would help you wake up slowly and strech out those tense muscles! Report
    I have only had 1yoga class, but I find some simple stretching on my own is great, too. Thanks for the info! Report
    Childs pose is my favorite anytime. At first it was hard for me because i carry my weight mostly in my hips and belly but once I got warmed up for the stretch I can sit in it for a long time. It feels great on my lower back and shoulders. Downward facing dog is always my favorite for a work out. There is a yoga center in my area and they do power yoga... this is a very typical pose... and its great for a full body stretch. Report
    I haven't had much opportunity to learn about yoga and really want to, so this is wonderful information. I think I'll start tonight. Thanks Report
    I can't wait to get started! Report
    I love yoga! It has relieved my back pain and overall body stiffness without the use of over the counter or prescription drugs. I was introduced to it through a work offered exercise class two years ago and have participated ever since. I've purchased DVDs for at home practice as well. It has relieved stress by allowing me to focus on the moment via poses, deep breathing and relaxation. I do not use it to practice religion but as exercise tool and would recommend it to anyone. Report
    yoga basic positions is beneficial for the health in ways that modern science is just beginning to understand. Even though it has been applied with therapeutic intention for thousand of years, benefits of yoga Therapy is only just now emerging as a discipline in itself.
    More health care practitioners are starting to include yogic techniques in their approach to healing — andmore yoga teachers
    give a therapeutic intention to their teaching. People who have never tried yoga before are starting to consider including Yoga in their treatment plan.

    As science begins to document the importance of understanding the interrelation of all existing things, it looks to Yoga with
    an intrigued eye, for Yoga speaks Unity in every word. As yoga techniques are researched and new data is gathered,it becomes
    easier for science and the medical establishment to understand and accept the benefits of Yoga Therapy. Yet there is still not one consensual definition of the discipline.
    In order to arrive to an adequate definition and to come up with proper standards for benefits of yoga Therapy, it is crucial at this early stage to properly address some delicate professional and ethical issues. At the same time it is important to educate the general public about benefits of yoga Therapy’s benefits and careful use. so this article was really helpful to me.. Report
    Doing yoga on a regular basis is one of the best things I've ever done for myself. You always just need to start with what your body can do and work your way up, just like any other exercise. I hope the commenter who was concerned about Hinduism will reconsider. I don't think I've ever had a Hindu classmate (not that it would bother me). As a matter of fact, most of them are Catholic, including a couple nuns at one point. Many people find that the concentration and mindful focus that yoga brings can actually enhance their own spiritual/faith practice. Report
    i.m thinking of joining a yoga class our gym is starting one..... Report
    I started to practice Vyasa yoga and hatha yoga .... about 3 1/2 mths ago...

    I absolutely love it ... I have learned how to breath better ... my flexibility, balance, strength has greatly improved ...and it helps a great deal with my sciatica ...I too get a lot of tightness from running and spinning ... it has helped with that as well .... I have even learned how to completely let go of everything and just relax ... not for long periods but long enough to feel at peace ... every practice is a challenge and I love that ...

    I recommend practicing yoga to everyone I know .. Anyone can practice yoga ...

    Shanti ..... to all ...:)

    About the last comment..... One does not have to be hidu to uderstand and benefit from is about the person performing the asanas. Report
    I find it appalling at the responses here. No negative input. ODD. I will not do Yoga for any reason. It is Hinduism, their way of worshiping their gods.... Report
    these poses look interesting and not too difficult. i will definitely try them. thank you!! Report
    Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani): Th e last pose is great for migraine headache and also for swelling. I used to use it all the time if I felt a migraine coming on or had swelling. So glad for the reminder! Report