The CDC reports an estimated 50-70 million Americans have some type of sleep disorder. It might be trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, disturbed sleep. Whatever it is, we all need more sleep.
One of the best natural remedies is a little stress relief at bedtime with some light yoga and breathing. It’s free, non-toxic, and addictive in a good way!
So, we’ve put together a perfect bedtime yoga routine for you to try. It will give you some muscle and tension release and promote a relaxed and calming breath pattern.
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Bedtime Yoga Routine
For each of the following six exercises, hold the pose and remember the most important part of this practice is slow, steady, deep breaths.
Here’s how to perform a forward fold:
1) With knees soft, reach hands toward feet and hold onto your ankles or calves.
2) Relax the back of your neck as you place your nose close to your knees.
3) Breath gently and slowly in and out through your nose.
Hold for 30-60 seconds.
Why The Forward Fold is Recommended For Bedtime Yoga
Forward folds are calming in and of themselves. While folding forward the entire body can fall and relax, allowing you to relieve stress from the body.
One of the most common yoga poses, helps to promote a healthy sleep pattern and can also ease headaches.
Here’s how to perform a sleeping pigeon:
1) Begin in a plank position. Tighten your abdominals and pull your right knee toward your right hand placing your right foot as close to your left hand as you can.
2) Keep your back leg long and keep your hips even as you relax your weight through the middle of your hips.
3) Slowly begin to lower your chest over your front shin relaxing forehead on the mat and arms stretched overhead.
Breathe and hold for 30-60 seconds. Slowly lift chest up, step back into plank and switch sides.
Why The Sleeping Pigeon is Recommended For Bedtime Yoga
The sleeping pigeon is a classic hip opener pose that can relieve tension in your low back and hips. Stretching the hip flexors and the front of your thighs allows you to turn inward as you wind down from your busy day!
Here’s how to perform fish pose:
1) Begin in a seated position and place your hands’ palms down under glutes so you are sitting on your hands.
2) Open your chest and shoulders and tighten your abs as you slowly lower your back onto your forearms.
3) Relax your neck and lower your head back until the crown of the head touches the floor. Be careful not to put weight on your head.
4) Breathe, keeping chest and shoulders open.
Hold for 30 seconds.
Why The Fish Pose is Recommended For Bedtime Yoga
The fish pose, also known as a heart-opening yoga pose, allows you to relax and release tension in the chest, shoulders, upper back, and neck.
Give yourself a few minutes to lie down and surrender to the day and open yourself up to self-love!
Lying Big Toe
Here’s how to perform lying big toe:
1) Begin lying flat on your back with legs long and arms by the side
2) Raise your right leg up, bending the knee enough to grab your big toe with the middle and index fingers of the right hand.
3) Holding your toe, gently lengthen your right leg straight up in the air and then slowly lower it down on your right side until the leg is perpendicular to your body.
Breathe and hold 30 seconds. Switch sides.
Why The Lying Big Toe is Recommended For Bedtime Yoga
Lying big toe stretches the backs of the legs, hamstrings and calves, the inner thighs, and lower spine all in one. Allow yourself to stretch and feel length as you pull the big toe to a place where you can relax and deepen your stretch.
For those of us who are found sitting at a desk all day, opening up the hip and low back will have you feeling lengthened and ready for a good nights’ sleep!
Here’s how to perform happy baby:
1) Begin lying on your back and grab your big toes with your index and middle fingers.
2) Gently draw toes down so knee pulls toward shoulders. Keep elbows gently pressing knees open.
3) Close your eyes. Relax and breathe slowly and fully.
Hold 60 seconds.
Why Happy Baby is Recommended For Bedtime Yoga
The happy baby pose should be incorporated as one of your final yoga poses before bedtime because of its gentle calming motion and health benefits.
The benefits of Happy Baby Pose include:
- Opening of the inner thighs, hips, and groin
- Reduces lower back pain
- Eases stress and anxiety
- Improves fatigue
- Lowers the heart rate
By allowing the heart rate to lower before bedtime you will feel relaxed and calm.
Here’s how to perform Savasana:
1) Lay on your back with legs long, feet hip-width apart and arms relaxed by your side with palms up.
2) Let your feet fall into their natural position either outward or inward.
3) Relax your hand and let your fingers curl naturally.
4) Close your eyes. Focus on your breath as you relax each and every part of your body.
Stay here as long as you’d like. Sweet dreams!
Why Savasana is Recommended For Bedtime Yoga
Typically a pose that is done at the end of a yoga class is also great to do before bedtime. Savasana Pose calms the central nervous system, aids in the digestive system, calms the mind, and reduces stress.
Close your eyes, lie on the ground, allowing yourself to surrender to your mat. Savasana will lower your blood pressure and get your body and mind to prepare for sleep.
Lack of sleep has been known to contribute to:
- Higher rate of accidents
- Impaired cognitive function
- Weight gain
- Health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes to name a few
- Lower sex drive
- Higher rate of depression
- Aging skin
…this list is not complete, but I bet it’s enough to get you thinking.
While there are many ways to try to resolve sleep issues, doctors almost always agree that starting with natural remedies first is the best way to go.