The best yoga poses to improve sleeping provide some combination of stretching your back, hips, neck, and shoulders, while encouraging deep relaxation. Sprinkle these poses into your daily yoga practice two or three times a week or practice them before bedtime to help you wind down in the evenings.
Supine Spinal Twist
A gentle version you can easily practice in bed involves rotating both knees to the side together. If you have very tight hips, place a pillow between your thighs. It will release any added tension on your lower back. For best results, hold for at least five minutes on each side.
Seated Forward Fold Variations
Seated forward bends provide a deep stretch for the hips, lower back, and neck. They can be performed a few ways.
- Wide angle: This type of forward fold also stretches your inner thighs.
- Feet together: With this option, the main focus is on your hamstrings.
- Lotus: This style places more focus on the glutes and hips.
You can practice each variation in one session or alternate between forms on different days. Whichever you choose, hold for two to eight minutes. For the variation in lotus, make sure to switch legs at the halfway point.
Supported Fish Pose
In its traditional form, fish pose works the muscles of the back and opens the chest and shoulders. Supported fish can also provide an opening for your mid and upper back muscles. Perform this move by placing a block either between your shoulder blades or behind your ribcage. Make sure you're resting completely on the block, muscles relaxed. Hold for up to 10 minutes.
Plow pose is an inversion, meaning that it is performed by turning upside down. It is an advanced yoga posture that lengthens the entire back body, from your neck all the way down to your feet. Due to the intensely deep stretch it provides, plow is a great pose to help you relax. Just be cautious. It can put a lot of pressure on you neck and shoulders. Beginners should seek the guidance of a trained yoga instructor before trying this on their own. If you feel confident, aim to stay in the pose for two to five minutes before slowly coming out.
If full plow isn't in the cards for you due to medical concerns or previous injuries, there is a simple way to modify, using a block. Some also use this as an alternative to legs up the wall pose.
Hold for five minutes before making your way out of the pose. Whether you complete the modification or the full expression of plow, make sure to follow it up with a twist to help release your spine before you lay flat.
Pigeon pose usually activates the muscles of your inner thighs, while stretching the glutes, quads, hip flexors, and lower back. You can easily take the core work out of this pose by bringing your forearms to the floor in front of you. Those with more flexibility can rest their entire torso down. Relax on one side for up to eight minutes, then switch to the other.
Improve Your Sleep Through Yoga
Sleep is an important part of maintaining energy and balance on a daily basis. The tension that builds up in your muscles and in your mind can prevent you from getting an adequate amount. Adding yoga poses that improve your flexibility and release the tightness will help you make progress toward resting easily.
If there are days when your schedule is too tight for a full session, practicing just two or three poses before bed can make the difference between lying awake at night and properly dozing off. Just make sure to focus on relaxing as you hold each pose. The more you are able to soften your muscles and clear your mind, the easier it will be for you to fall asleep.