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Yoga Poses for Sleeplessness

Nadia Santiago
Woman practicing yoga

If you find yourself lying awake at night, you may find that practicing certain yoga poses can help you overcome sleeplessness. They can help prepare you for bed by loosening the muscles in your back and hips, as well as helping to relax the muscles of your face and shoulders.

Preparation Poses

Incorporate a few key poses into your pre-bedtime routine to make it easier for you to nod off when you climb in the sack.

Seated Forward Bend

The seated forward bend stretches your hamstrings, lower back, and neck, which are shortened and tight after a long day sitting at the office or working with an electronic device. It can be performed wide-legged or with your feet together. To prepare for sleep, rest your torso on a bolster, which is a thick pillow that is made for use in yoga classes. If you don't have one, a pillow or a stack of pillows works just as well.

Seated Forward Bend

Supported Twist

In yoga, the spinal twist is a basic flexibility pose designed to stretch the mid-back and hips. It is often used to ease sciatic pain. The supported version requires the use of a bolster. A thick couch cushion or body pillow would be a sufficient replacement.

  1. Begin sitting facing one side, with your legs tucked underneath you, weight shifted onto your right hip.
  2. Pull the bolster close so that it is touching your hip.
  3. Twist to the right, placing one hand on either side of the bolster.
  4. Lower your torso so that your body rests on top of it, chest facing down.
  5. Turn your head to the left so that your right ear rests on the bolster.

Hold this position for five to ten minutes, then switch to the other side. Set a timer just in case you fall asleep in the restorative twist.

Reclining Bound Angle

Reclining bound angle is an iyengar pose that is great for lengthening the inner thighs and groin. It is also thought to help increase fertility. When you perform this pose before bedtime, lay back on a bolster or a firm stack of pillows and place yoga blocks underneath your thighs for comfort.

Reclining Bound Angle

Feet Up the Wall

Feet up the wall pose helps you decompress by assisting in blood circulation. It also provides a great stretch in the hamstrings and back.

  1. Begin sitting sideways on the floor, feet in in front of you, one hip and shoulder flush to the wall.
  2. Simultaneously lay back, lift your feet off the floor and rotate your body so that you end up with your bottom against the wall from sits bones to heels.
  3. Turn your palms up to face the ceiling and relax.

Hold for five to ten minutes. When you come out if it, hug your knees into your chest first to prepare your back for the transition.

Poses to Practice in Bed

Poses that require little to no effort and can be held for long periods are perfect for practicing in bed and can even be held while sleeping.

Half Frog Pose

Half frog opens the hips by stretching your inner thighs and providing a minor twist.

  1. Begin laying on your belly, on top of a pillow or straight on your mattress.
  2. Draw one knee up to hip level and out to the side of your body, so that your hip, knee, and ankle create a 90-degree angle.
  3. Turn your head in the same direction as the knee that's bent.

It's okay to fall asleep in this position. Just be sure to switch sides when you wake up or begin on the other side the next day. Make sure to move out of this pose slowly. Your back may feel a bit tender from the stretch.

Supported Half Frog pose

Restorative Side Fetal Pose

Side fetal position, as its name implies, mimics the position of a baby in the womb. For that reason, it is thought to be a naturally comforting pose, perfect for falling asleep. It's also very simple. Just lay on your side and hug your pillow. The bigger the pillow the better, so that you can wrap your entire body around it.

Restorative Side Fetal Position

Corpse Pose

Corpse pose, also known as savasana, is simply laying on you back with your palms facing the ceiling. The goal is to fully and completely clear your mind of thoughts, so that you can bring your attention to your breath. If your back is tight, place a pillow underneath your knees to reduce the tension on your spine.

Corpse Pose

Relax Yourself to Sleep

The key to reducing your sleeplessness through yoga is releasing the built up tension in your muscles and joints. All you need to get started are a few makeshift yoga props, such as pillows and a brick or block, and a willingness to relax. For best results, it may be helpful to pair your yoga routine with progressive relaxation or a guided meditation, such as AM & PM Yoga Meditations by Gael Chiarella, to clear your mind. You may even want to attend a restorative yoga class, so that you have more poses to draw from.

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Yoga Poses for Sleeplessness