Feeling stressed? Busy at work, or not able to work due to the lockdowns? Are you feeling stressed because of the pandemic? Well, you are not the only one. Everybody experiences stress every now and then, and these days even more so. The need to decompress and relax at the end of the day is therefore greater than ever. Yoga is a way to relax and help you sleep better, which benefits your health. This is why, in this blog, we go into bedtime yoga: the 7 best poses so you can sleep better.
Yoga is becoming more popular every year, especially now that many people find it difficult to do other types of sport. There also seems to be an ever growing number of yoga varieties, like poweryoga, flowyoga and bikramyoga. Although all these types of yoga can be great for various goals, today we want to talk about bedtime yoga. Bedtime yoga isn’t an actual specific type of yoga, but a sequence of yoga poses that will benefit your sleep greatly. Research has shown that people who practiced yoga for 8 weeks, slept better and longer than people who didn’t. This is extra good in these times of stress and disease, as we all know that a good night sleep will heal your body and boost your immune system. After reading this blog, you will be able to fall sleep better and sleep better in general. Let’s dive right in!
Yoga and Breathing
Breathing is the first thing we do when we enter this world, and the last thing we do when we leave our body. It is the essence of life.
Breathing in provides valuable oxygen to our bodies and removes carbon dioxide by breathing out. Breathing influences most processes in the body, like functioning of your organs, brain and muscles. Breathing also influences our state of mind and our thoughts.
Yoga breathing is the basics of yoga in general. Called Pranayama, it focusses on your breathing techniques to optimize the effect of yoga and therefor your physical and mental health, as well as your spiritual and emotional health. Yoga breathing has great effects on your body, as it relaxes your muscles, increases your energy levels, lowers your blood pressure and reduces stress.
Benefits of Yoga
Yoga is associated with many health benefits. Combined with the fact that it is fun to do, it is easy to understand why yoga is so popular these days. Especially in the modern world, where business is about targets, people are glued to screens and stress is everywhere due to a pandemic, yoga will help you relax and decompress.
Here are some of the great benefits of yoga:
- Yoga can have a positive effect on your sleeping pattern. It will help you ease your nerfs and ensure a better and quicker sleep.
- It will improve your strength, flexibility and balance.
- It will benefit your general health and especially your heart health and blood pressure.
- Yoga can help you relief pain.
- It can provide you with better moods and more energy.
- It can help you in your spiritual quest.
A few extra benefits, worth mentioning are:
- It does not have to take a lot of time, as you can do short as well as longer sessions.
- It is inexpensive to do yoga, if you do it all by yourself and learn from the internet.
- There is a form of yoga for everybody and you can mix it all to suit your own needs, making it very versatile.
- You can do yoga everywhere you want. You can do it at home, in your garden, in nature, in a hotel; wherever!
The only thing you will need for these bedtime yoga poses is a yoga mat and some comfy clothes. This will give you more comfort and makes sure you don’t slip. A yoga mat doesn’t cost you an arm or a leg and can easily be found for 20-30 dollars.
Combine yoga with a healthy lifestyle and you are golden!
Bedtime Yoga Poses
Below you will find some of the best asanas (yoga poses) to help you become super relaxed and sleep like a baby. You can do these asanas as one great bedtime yoga workout, which takes about 15 minutes. You can extend this by taking more time per pose.
An important not before starting with our poses: we mention the optimal pose, but if you are less flexible or something doesn’t feel good – or if you can’t reach certain pose, do not worry! Just do what feels good and right for you! In time, you will become more flexible and you can bend or stretch further.
Focus on your breathing and clear your head of the daily stress and issues. The yoga poses are all about you and your connection to the earth.
The butterfly pose is a widely used Asana in Yin Yoga. It is very relaxing for your hip area, where a lot of stress is stored, just like your neck and shoulders.
Sit on the floor, inhale and bend your knees outwards, so that the soles of your feet touch each other. Pull your feet as close to your body as possible with your hands as you exhale. Inhale while holding your feet and extend your back as long as possible. Stay in this position for several breaths.
Cat & Cow Pose
The cat & cow combines two asanas into one smooth movement (vinyasa), that “follows” your breathing. This vinyasa is very good for the flexibility of your back and prepares your back for the following asanas. The whole movement focusses on coordination of your breathing with the movement.
Start this movement by going down on all fours (hands and knees). Place your hands on the mat at shoulder width and spread your fingers, while aiming them forward. Your feet are pointing straight back. Lift your pelvic floor and pull in your belly button. Your shoulders are away from your ears and you are looking at your hands.
Now to go to the cat pose, curl your tailbone under your body and retract your belly button whole looking at your knees. Curve your back, like a cat can do, hence the name.
To go to the cow pose, you now push your tailbone up, while you lower your back and lift your head upwards.
Switch these postures in one smooth movement, to the rhythm of your breathing.
The child pose is another great pose to help you relax. It will reduce stress levels mentally, as well as physically. Doing this pose, stretches your knees, ankles, thighs and lower back, while it relaxes your back, neck and shoulders. That’s a lot of great benefits, making it a great bedtime yoga pose.
Put your hands and knees on the mat. Spread your knees as wide as the mat itself and keep the top of your feet on the mat. Now lower your belly to a resting position between your thighs and put your forehead on the mat. Relax your shoulders. Stretch your arms in front of you with your palms down and your fingers touching the mat. If this doesn’t feel right, you can also bring your arms alongside your thighs, lie them on the floor with your palms facing up.
Stay in this pose as long as you like and as long as feels comfortable. You can reconnect yourself with your breathing while doing this pose for optimal relaxation.
Head To Knee Forward Pose
The Head to knee forward pose is a good pose for stretching your hips, hamstrings and groin muscles. It is a great asana in our bedtime yoga workout as it also helps with stress-relieve and helps you calm your mind.
To start the head to knee forward asana, begin seated with both legs extended in front of you. Then bend your left leg and draw the sole of your left foot to the inside of your right thigh. Your left knee should remain on the mat. Now bring both hands forward and try to reach your right foot, while exhaling. If you are very flexible, you can touch your hands underneath your right sole. If you are less flexible, just go as far as you can and try to reach the toes of your right foot with your hands. While folded down, breathe slowly for 5-10 breaths and then, while inhaling, return to the starting position. Repeat the asana with your other leg.
Legs Up The Wall Pose
Take a few minutes to relax with this easy and wonderful pose. It is a refreshing pose after a long day of sitting, or if you are tired or stressed. By lying like this, the blood flow moves more to your upper body, causing relieve for your legs and boosting blood to your heart and brain. It provides a boost of energy and reduces headaches. Combine this asana with gentle breathing and you will feel more relaxed in minutes. Sounds great right!
To start this pose, sit sideways with your right side against a wall, or tree, or closet, depending where you are. All you need to do is exhale and move your legs up onto the wall, whole lowering your shoulders and head toward the mat. Lie like this for several minutes until you feel all decompressed.
A few notes. Depending on your flexibility, you might want to move away from the wall a bit more, so the stretch on your hamstrings and back is slightly reduced. You might also want to try and put a folded towel under your lower back, to make the pose even more effective. To enhance the pose even more, you can lift your butt and legs even more by placing your hands underneath and pushing them from the floor.
The plow pose also helps you sleep better and it reduces stress on your back and neck. It is slightly more advanced than most of the other poses we have shown, but completes a great bedtime yoga workout, as it is considered to be very relaxing and calming.
You start this asana by lying on your back. Put your arms next to your body, with your palms facing down. Now bring your legs up, while pressing your forearms down for leverage, to an angle of 90 degrees. Lift your butt of the ground and try to bring your legs over your head so that your toes touch the floor behind your head. Lastly, move your hands together, so your fingers can interlace. Your hips should be above your shoulders.
Maintain this pose for 5 deep breaths.
To come out of this pose, move your hands again the side of your body and slowly lift your feet from the floor. Roll your back and feet back to their normal position, while keeping your legs straight.
Important note on this pose: do not look around the room or move your head while you are in position. This can be dangerous for your neck. Keep your neck straight and your eyes upward.
As the name suggests, this pose is all about just lying on the floor like a corpse. As this may seem to be the easiest asana, it is widely known the be one of the hardest. The strange thing is; many people just don’t know how to relax! Ask them to bend their bodies in strange positions and it’s all good, but ask them to just lay down and relax and people start having troubles. This is the reason why so many people struggle to lie down and fall asleep.
This pose is all about simply lying down and come to yourself and connect with the earth.
Lie down on your back, with your knees slightly bent. Extend your arms to the sides and keep your head centred. Let your breathing be smooth and steady. Relax every single muscle in your body. Feel the relaxation of the muscles in your face, like your cheeks and your lips.
Stay in this pose for as you feel comfy.
We hope that you like this bedtime yoga session and the different poses. It might take a bit of time to learn the poses well, but it is worth the effort. Try to relax while doing these poses and focus on your breathing. A bedtime yoga session is all about relaxing and afterwards you will have no problems falling asleep!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.