Stop counting sheep! Ease yourself into a restful night with this simple bedtime yoga sequence to help slow down your sympathetic nervous system.
Every day, we are faced with new challenges, past worries, and future anxieties that can make it hard to fall asleep . . . and to stay asleep. Follow this simple bedtime yoga sequence to slow down the body, the mind, and help you get a better night’s sleep.
As a yoga instructor, my biggest word of advice is to take the restorative approach when doing these poses. In other words, completely relax into each yoga pose and simply focus on your breath.
Try to meditate while you practice the poses and let your mind stop working for just 25 minutes before bed. You will notice a positive shift in your sleep, but also in your outlook on life as well.
Practice This Restorative Bedtime Yoga Sequence Before You Go to Sleep:
To enjoy the added restorative aspect of this bedtime sequence, you will need:
If you don’t have access to these yoga props, you can substitute a thick book and a big pillow – and we’ll also provide tips for practicing certain poses without props. In other words – we’ve got you covered. 🙂
This yoga pose is a great hip flexor opener. If you are a runner or sit at a desk all day, this pose is perfect for you (but will feel wonderful for everyone).
How to Practice Lizard Pose:
- Start in Down Dog, or in Table Top position
- Step your right foot to the outside of your right hand
- Drop your back knee down to the mat, and bring both arms inside of your front leg
- Allow your head to hang heavy and focus on your deep breathing
- Remain for 3 minutes, and then switch sides
To get the full restorative benefit, I recommend using a yoga block to rest your forearms on, or if that is too much of a stretch, you can also place your palms on the block to bring the floor up to meet you.
Whichever variation you choose, try to relax in this posture by continuing to breathe deeply and focusing on the breath.
Standing Wide Legged Forward Fold
This posture is not only a great way to stretch your hamstrings before bed; it can also be very calming with your head resting on a yoga block.
How to Practice Standing Wide Legged Forward Fold:
- Turn to face the long side of your mat and take a 4-foot step (or as wide as feels comfortable for your body)
- Grab a yoga block and rest it on the tallest side. (If you don’t have a block, allow your torso to hang freely and grab opposite elbows)
- Bring your forehead to the block and rest your third eye directly on top
- Hands can either be on the floor, dangling, or resting on your lower back
- Remain in the pose for 2 minutes, and then slowly rise back to standing
This gentle inversion is very beneficial before bed because your head is below your heart so the blood is rushing to your brain, helping to clear and calm your mind.
Supported Seated Forward Fold
In Sanskrit, this seated forward fold is called Paschchimottanasana, and paschima means “west” because it stretches the entire back side of your body.
Adding support for your head in this pose with a yoga block or a bolster makes it restorative. By allowing your upper back to round, you might feel tension release from inside your shoulder blades.
How to Practice Supported Seated Forward Fold:
- Sit up straight with your legs straight in front of you
- Begin to hinge at your hips as you fold over your legs
- Don’t worry about keeping your legs straight or your spine flat – allow your back to round and place a block or bolster (or stack block on top of bolster!) on your shins to rest your forehead on
- Hold this pose for 2 minutes, and then slowly inhale your spine back to an upright seated position. Option to make fists and gently tap the sides and top of your legs
Notice the opening you feel in the upper back and continue breathing into that space behind your heart.
Supported Reclining Hero
This yoga pose can be a little intense if you have tight hip flexors and if you have any knee or ankle injuries or cartilage built up in your knees and ankle joints.
How to Practice Reclining Hero:
- Start kneeling and spread your knees a bit wider than hip-distance apart
- Slide your block / bolster / or pillow beneath your seat and then lower your hips down until you’re sitting on top of it
- If this feels intense, you can stay sitting upright. If you feel it’s accessible, you can begin to lean back
- If you lean back, you can rest on your palms or forearms (if you’re on your forearms you have the option of dropping your head back)
- Stay here for 10 deep breaths and then slowly come out
Reaching your back to the floor is not the goal – you can stay propped up on your palms or forearms until you feel a nice, gentle stretch. Remember – these postures are meant to be restorative!
Reclining Hero is a nice bedtime yoga pose for opening the front side of your body, letting love pour into your soul right before a good night’s sleep.
Supported Bridge Pose
Bridge Pose is an excellent bedtime yoga pose because it helps relieve lower back pain and also helps you feel calm and balanced once you come out of it.
How to Practice Bridge Pose:
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and bring your feet close enough to your booty that you can touch your ankles
- Arms stay by your side as you begin to lift your hips toward the sky
- Slide your block (on the lowest setting) or bolster / pillow directly beneath your tailbone
- Rest your hands either next to you, above your head, or on your stomach – whatever feels natural
- Remain here for 2 minutes
- When you’re ready to come out, lift your hips to remove your prop and then slowly lower down one vertebrae at a time. Hug your knees into your chest for a breath and then release
You should feel supported in this posture, not using any strength at all. This is a great posture to compliment all the previous poses.
With all the forward folds and backbends thus far, a simple twist will feel so good on your lower back.
How to Practice Reclined Twist:
- Start by lying on your back with both legs straight in front of you, arms by your side
- Bring your right knee into your chest, and keep your left leg straight
- Take your left hand and pull your right knee across your body toward the left side of your mat
- Once your knee hits the floor (or comes to rest on a block or pillow), send your gaze skyward or if it feels ok on your neck, in the opposite direction of your bent knee
- Cactus your arms and simply breathe and relax, allowing your low back to release
- Remain in this pose for 2 minutes, and then slowly come out and switch sides
A twist is a beneficial pose before bed because it detoxifies and rehydrates your spinal column.
Child’s Pose Variation with Fists in Hip Crease
This variation of Child’s Pose is great to do before bed, especially if you had a large meal for dinner or are experiencing any digestive issues.
How to Practice This Child’s Pose Variation:
- From Table Top, bring your big toes to touch and spread your knees a bit wider
- Lower your seat to your heels
- Make fists with both hands and place them in your hip creases where your thigh connects with your upper body
- Snuggle your fists inside that crease and start to bend forward, relaxing your forehead towards the mat
- Hold this pose for 2 minutes, focusing on relaxing your entire body
Your fists will insert near your ascending and descending colons, sparking your digestive system. This might feel a little uncomfortable if you are very full, but this pose can help relieve gas, tension, and worry that we hold in our guts.
This is a nice posture to follow the previous Child’s Pose variation.
How to Practice Child’s Pose:
- Keep your legs where they are from your Child’s Pose variation above, and gently remove your fiss and extend your arms long on the mat
- Your bum might lift up from your feet, which is fine
- Bring your forehead to the mat and walk your arms as far forward as you can to really lengthen your spine and stretch your upper back
- Stay for at least 10 deep breaths, or longer if you feel inclined
This posture might feel tense on your hips, and if that is the case, just hold it for ten deep breaths (longer if your body tells you to stay). Let your belly hang heavy – no abdominal engagement – and focus on clearing out your mind and thoughts during this restorative resting pose.
Legs Up the Wall Pose
A final bedtime pose before going to sleep is Legs Up the Wall – an infamous stress buster and fan favorite. Legs Up the Wall is a perfect pose for quality sleep because the blood rushes down to your major joints and helps settle the mind before bed.
You can practice this pose against a wall so the back of your legs are resting on the wall (this is ideal) but you can also do this pose in the center of the room. If you opt for the second choice, simply stack your ankles and knees above your hips and you’ll find that ‘sweet spot’ where your legs can remain extended with relative ease.
How to Practice Legs Up the Wall:
- Lie on your back and extend your legs skyward like you’re trying to walk on the ceiling
- Stack your ankles over knees, knees over hips
- Allow your arms to rest by your sides
- If you’re doing this against a wall, you’ll shimmy your right hip as close to the wall as you can, and then come onto your back and extend your legs skyward with the back of your thighs resting against the wall
- Soak up all the relaxing benefits of this pose for 5-10 minutes, then slowly come out the same way you came in
Notice how still the mind gets in this pose and how at ease you feel once you finish practicing it.
Easy Seated Pose for Meditation
When meditating after the previous poses, try to focus on how light your body feels and visualize the breath coming in and out of your nose. If you would like, you can play soft music in the background or light candles to help calm your mind even more.
Try to practice this meditation on a block or pillow so it helps elevate your hips over your knees, leaving a clear line of energy to travel up the main energy channel along your spine. You can also do this lying down or even in bed if you’re ready to go to sleep right after!
How to Practice Your Seated Meditation:
- Find your comfortable seated position with your prop
- If you’re seated, sit up tall and stack your shoulders above your hips
- If it feels comfortable, you can close your eyes; otherwise take a soft gaze a foot in front of you
- Breathe deeply and evenly and try to keep your mind focused on following the inhales and the exhales
- Remain for 10 breaths or 10 minutes – whatever suits your needs in this moment
Meditating before bed not only relaxes you, but it also clears out unnecessary worrying and list making that we may habitually do before bed. It’s a great way to solidify the relaxing, calming, and healing benefits of this bedtime yoga sequence.
Stop Counting Sheep and Do Bedtime Yoga Instead!
This yoga sequence is designed to calm your mind, body, and soul. Each yoga posture is meant to deepen your relationship with yourself and help you find a deeper sense of relaxation physically and mentally.
There are no set rules: if you don’t like the way a pose feels in your body, simply skip them and do the poses that you can. Only you can feel what your body is telling you, so listen to it.
Remember: these poses are not meant for strength building. Instead, this restorative approach is meant to get into your sympathetic nervous system and release tension and anxiety from our minds.
Enjoy, and sweet dreams, yogis!
Add Breathwork to Your Bedtime Yoga Routine for the Ultimate Good Night’s Rest
Join YA Classes teacher Allie Geer as she guides you through a 7-minute class with a form of Pranayama breathwork specifically for relaxing and preparing the body for quality sleep.
With Allie Geer
7-minutes Class | All Levels
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