After a busy and stressful day, what should be one of life’s simplest actions can often feel like the most difficult: falling asleep. If your thoughts are racing and your body is tense, getting high-quality, restorative sleep may seem impossible.
Enter the more than 5,000-year-old practice of yoga, which relaxes the body and soothes the mind. To help set you up for a great night’s sleep, we partnered with Sleep Number and asked popular yoga instructors across the country about the gentle poses they would recommend incorporating into our bedtime routines. Their answers, along with illustrated visual aids, are below. Take a look, talk to your doctor if necessary and sweet dreams.
1. Marjaryasana-Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Stretch)
This combination of poses stretches the spine, hips, neck and abdomen, and can help relieve lower back pain. Yoga-teacher trainer Rachel Scott said Marjaryasana-Bitilasana is perfect for “restoring mobility through the hips, spine and shoulders at the end of a long day.”
2. Bālāsana (Child’s Pose)
This zero-impact, resting pose allows you to focus on breath and reflect, said Ashley Josephine Zuberi, a private yoga instructor. “If this is the only quiet time you get all day, savor it,” Zuberi said. “Just 10 deep breaths in Child’s Pose can begin to shift your mind into a calming state, prepping you for a restful night’s sleep.”
3. Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Spinal Twist)
The Reclined Spinal Twist is a “perfect choice for bedtime because it’s a great way to unwind,” said yoga teacher and blogger Erica Rodefer Winters of Spoiled Yogi. “Gentle twists stretch the spine and can help melt tension in the shoulders, chest and upper back.”
4. Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose)
Yoga instructor and artist Mary Catherine Starr likes to practice Viparita Karani before bed, which helps improve blood circulation and relieve stress, she said. Starr, who blogs at Starr Struck, added that the pose is a “great way to get grounded and release tension.”
5. Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Lying flat on your back in Savasana helps stimulate a relaxation response, explained yoga instructor Amy Dannheim, who has a blog and popular Instagram feed. “Your brain gets a chance to relax,” Dannheim said, “and all of the pieces of the day get put back together so you can fall asleep with less stress and more peace of mind.”