For many of us, sleep doesn’t come easily. Whether you have trouble winding down as a result of stress, a long day, or eating your last meal of the day too late in the evening (which is an actual, scientific concept), you may need a few strategies to make it easier to catch those Zs.
Luckily, there are a few specific yoga poses that encourage the body and mind to slow down, relax, and – with the right surrounding environment – help you get to sleep more easily.
Legs Up the Wall
Also known as waterfall pose, legs up the wall is one of the most versatile, universal, and accessible poses in yoga. Legs up the wall is an inversion by definition – your head is below the level of your heart. Inversions have their own benefits, but legs up the wall specifically is known as a pose that promotes relaxation for sleep.
Its name describes exactly how to do the pose – ideally, with an actual wall to use as a prop (or perhaps a headboard?). Lay on your back and extend your legs up a vertical surface at an angle you find relaxing – most likely wider than 90 degrees. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and evenly, allowing the blood to flow in the opposite direction than it normally does when you’re up and moving all day.
A pose known for helping to relieve tension in the back, happy baby can be done immediately after legs up the wall. The pose allows you to stretch your glutes while simultaneously giving yourself a low back massage – two nice ways to help relax the physical body, especially if back tension is preventing you from going to sleep.
Coming from legs up the wall, bend your knees and draw them toward your chest so that you can reach for the pinky edges of your feet (or your outer thighs if the feet are out of reach). Use your arms to draw your knees down and outside your ribcage and flatten your low back to create a stretching sensation across the glutes. Rock side to side (like a happy little baby!).
Ideally done with the support of a pillow or bolster, child’s pose provides a gentle hip and back stretch to help you ease your body into sleep.
Start on your knees and slowly drop your seat toward your heels, taking your knees as wide apart as feels comfortable in your body with your big toes touching. If you have a pillow available, slide it under your abdomen so that your torso can relax onto it while you extend your arms forward. You can take your forehead straight down or lay with one ear on the pillow, switching to the other side of your head after five slow breaths.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Commonly referred to by its sanskrit name, supta baddha konasana, this pose is done laying on your back with the soles of your feet touching and knees opened wide in a butterfly shape. You can slide a pillow under each thigh to provide yourself with the support you need to fully relax as your hips gently open. Allow your body to relax and breathe slowly in and out of your nose as you hold.
Everything You Need for Your Yoga Practice
While these poses are helpful to practice immediately before bed, a consistent yoga practice is an effective way to relax the physical body and quiet the mind. Having the right tools to get started with or continue your practice is a good way to ensure you return to your mat consistently. Visit our online store for all the mats, props, and clothing you need to support your practice.