Yoga poses for a good night’s sleep
Ease into a good night’s sleep with these yoga poses that you can do just before bedtime in time for sleep. Many of the poses here are introverted in nature, encouraging the mind to calm and quieten.
Props can feel especially nice to use towards the end of the day, helping to support your body so you can completely relax. Favourites include bolsters and pillows, but blocks, blankets and even a yoga strap can come in handy too. Pull on some loose pyjamas and enjoy these gentle stretches before you slip into a soothed slumber.
As ever, these poses are intended as a general guide and have not been written with pregnancy or specific health conditions in mind. If you have any concerns, chat with your doctor before starting an exercise regime and always come out of a pose if you feel pain or discomfort.
Yoga poses for sleep
Child’s pose (Balasana)
This pose encourages us to turn inwards. It can be helpful for encouraging a steady focus on the breath, helping the mind to settle.
- Begin on your hands and knees. Take your knees almost as wide as the yoga mat and bring your big toes to touch behind you.
- Gently sink the bottom back towards the heels and lower the forehead down to rest, either on the floor or on a block. Having a support under the forehead will help to support your lower back.
- Reach your arms out in front of you towards the top of the mat. Alternatively, have your arms down by your sides if it feels better for the shoulders.
- Stay here for five to eight breaths.
- To come out of the pose, bring the hands underneath the shoulders and gently roll yourself back up to sitting, your head being the last to rise.
Top tip: Place a bolster or firm cushion in between your thighs to rest the upper body on for a more restorative version.
Standing forward fold (Uttanasana)
This pose helps to stretch the muscles of the back of the body. Move slowly and mindfully here – if at any point you feel dizzy, lower yourself onto your hands and knees, and come to rest.
- Stand with your feet hip-width apart, spending a moment to spread through the toes and ground down through the feet.
- Gently bend your knees and, keeping a long spine, hinge forward at the hips.
- Slowly fold your upper body down over the legs, bending the knees as much as you need to bring the hands onto the floor. Matain a connection between the rib cage and the thighs.
- You can choose to keep your hands on the floor by the sides of your toes, or take your opposite hands to opposite elbows and gently sway from one side to the other.
- Hold for three to five breaths, before bringing yourself down to the floor on your hands and knees.
Legs up the wall (Viparita karani)
This pose is a lovely one for helping to calm the mind. What’s more, it can feel incredibly restful for the legs and is excellent for soothing limbs after a busy day rushing around. You can use a wall, but you can also take this pose against a chair or even the side of your bed, with your shins resting on top.
- Lie on one side, with your knees bent, moving your hips as close to the wall as feels comfortable.
- Gently roll onto your back, lifting your legs up against the wall.
- Place your hands wherever comfortable – placing one hand on the heart and another on the belly may feel soothing at this time of day.
- Rest here for five to ten breaths, or longer if you prefer. It can feel nice to rest here for several minutes.
- To come out of the pose, gently bend your knees in towards your chest, and slowly roll back onto your side. Push yourself back up to sitting.
Top tip: Cover yourself with a blanket and place an eye pillow over your eyes for a truly restful pose. If you don’t have an eye pillow, a flannel will work just as well.
Reclined bound angle (Supta baddha konasana)
- Lie on your back and bend your knees, bringing your heels in towards your bottom.
- Bring the feet together and, keeping the soles of your feet together, gently begin to open your thighs out to the side, so your legs are in a diamond shape.
- Place the hands and arms where you feel most comfortable – maybe hands out to the sides, or resting on the belly.
- Stay here for five to eight breaths.
- To come out of the pose, bring your hands underneath the thighs to support the legs and slowly bring your thighs back together, grounding down through the soles of the feet. Gently roll onto one side and slowly push yourself up to a seated pose.
Top tip: This can feel like a big stretch for the legs and hips, so I recommend placing a support under the thighs (such as pillows, or bolsters) for a more restorative, soothing pose. The more supported you feel, the more your nervous system will calm.
Corpse pose (Savasana)
Savasana is often taken as the final resting pose in yoga classes but, if you’re ready for bed, there’s no reason why you can’t take this one lying down under the covers!
- Get comfortable and begin to settle down.
- Bring your awareness to the crown of your head. Gently start to scan down through your body, checking for any areas of tension. Work through each body part, all the way down to your toes. Feel your body softening and releasing into the bed.
- Once you’ve completed your journey, gently guide your awareness back to the breath, noticing the gentle ebb and flow of your inhale and exhale.
- Sleep well!
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