7 Yoga Poses for Encouraging Sleep

People turn to yoga for many reasons- fitness, health, spirituality, and inner peace. However, one inevitable benefit of yoga is relaxation. By incorporating certain poses into one’s evening routine, one can create a bedtime ritual that prepares the body and mind for rest.

Below is a series of poses that can help a yogi ease their way into a peaceful night’s sleep.

  1. Sun salutation. Deep, controlled breathing is at the root of all yoga practice. Though this exercise brings to mind the start of day, an abbreviated version will get the blood flowing for the rest of the poses and put one into a yoga mindset. Flow from hands at heart, to a high reach, to a toe touch, to downward dog, and then repeat in reverse, ending in a standing position.
  2. Seated twist. Twists stretch muscles deeply, removing built-up tension from the day. For this pose, sit comfortably cross-legged on the floor. Placing the opposite hand gently on the knee, rotate the spine toward the knee without bending forward. Breathe deeply for one minute, then switch sides and repeat.
  3. Cat pose. To stretch the rest of your back muscles, get on all fours in “table top” position. Alternate between an arched back with lowered head and a curved/rounded back looking slightly toward the ceiling. Exhale with the arch and inhale in the curve.
  4. Happy baby. Ever seen a very young child discover his feet? If yes, happy baby is already a familiar pose. Change positions and lie on the back. Bend the knees, reach down, grab the feet and pull the knees up into the armpits. Rock from side to side slightly for the added benefit of a little self-massage on the lower back muscles.
  5. Child’s pose. This aptly named pose mimics the fetal position. It can be hard on knees and foreheads, so consider doing it on the bed itself. Curl up, face down, with the knees tucked in towards the chest. Extend the arms forward or back toward the feet, whichever feels right. Rest the forehead gently on the ground and tune in to the breath for three minutes.
  6. Savasana (corpse pose). This pose takes its macabre name from its near-hypnotizing effects- more than one yogi has fallen asleep in a studio while practicing it. Lie in a neutral position on the back, with palms facing up. Stop tracking the breath and instead focus on the individual muscles of the body. Begin with the toes and relax every muscle, working up to the pelvis, ribcage, fingertips, collarbone, and finally mouth, eyes, and forehead. Stay in savasana for five minutes — or until sleep comes.

Yoga is a personal journey. Never push oneself beyond individual abilities, just stretch as far as one’s body is comfortable going. Practice this series of poses in a dimly lit bedroom with no distractions to experience the full effect and focus one’s mind inward for rejuvenation.

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