Sometimes it can be difficult to get a restful night’s sleep, especially when you have a stressful and hectic week ahead of you and you seem to have a billion and one things weighing on your mind. Besides cultivating a night routine for you to wind down every single night, light yoga stretches can also do wonders to relax your mind and body for a restful night’s sleep ahead.
One tip is to keep your movement light, your breath deep and even, and relax your mind. Put away from gadgets, put down calm and soothing music, and light a scented candle if that helps you to relax. It is not about reaching maximum depth in your pose, it’s about moving with your breath and loosening your body and mind before bedtime.
Here are 5 yoga poses that are great for relaxation and a restful night’s sleep:
1. Cat & Cow Pose (Marjaryasana / Bitilasana)
Come into a table top position with your hips stacked over your knees and your shoulders over your wrists. Keep your elbows microbent, avoid locking your elbows. On an inhalation, drop your belly down and arch your back, looking up towards the ceiling. As you exhale, round the back, push your palms away from you, and pull the belly in.
Take nice and easy cat and cow poses with every inhalation and exhalation for 5 rounds.
2. Seated Twist
Sitting down on the bed in a comfortable cross legged position, lengthen your spine towards the ceiling as you sit nice and tall. As you exhale, place your left hand on your right knee, and right hand behind you, taking a twist. Deepen the twist as you pull the navel into the spine with every exhalation. Stay there for 5 to 10 long, deep breaths, and change sides.
3. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Lie down on the bed and hug the knees into your chest. Grab hold to the outer edges of both your feet, bringing your shins perpendicular to the bed. As you exhale, pull the feet in towards you, feeling a nice opening and stretch in the hips. Keep your back nice and flat on the bed, turning the tailbone down towards the bed. Close your eyes and relax. Stay for about 10 to 15 long, deep breaths.
4. Reclined Butterfly Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
From Happy Baby, place the soles of your feet together, and place your feet down on to the bed. You can either rest your hands on your shins, your arms overhead. Feel a nice passive hip opening with the gravity bringing your knees down closer towards the ground. You can opt to close your eyes as you start to wind down. You may stay here for 15 to 20 long, deep breaths, or as long as you feel comfortable.
5. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
You can opt to bring your legs up the head board and stay there, placing your feet about hip width apart and with your toes relaxed. Feel the blood flow from your toes all the way towards your heart centre as you take a nice, simple, inversion to end off your practice. Place your hands around 45 degrees away from your, your palms facing up, and fingers curled up naturally. Relax the neck and the shoulders, bringing the shoulders slightly further away from the ears. Stay here for 20 long, deep breaths, or as long as you feel comfortable.
Restlessness & Insomnia
Especially during stressful and tensed periods in our lives, it is very normal to experience difficulties in fully coming into rest when it is time for bed. Aside from putting your mobile phones and other electronic gadgets away from you to minimise disturbances and distractions, listening to Yoga Nidra can help you to relax the tension and clutter in your mind, achieving rest.
While Yoga Nidra (translated into Yogic Sleep) is a way for yogis to enter deep sleep mode while being conscious, it is also said to help individuals achieve relaxation of the mind and the body, therefore preparing you for a good night’s rest ahead. You can check out this 54 minute Yoga Nidra practice to help you achieve a more relaxed state.
I hope that this handy guide has helped you achieve greater relaxation for your good night’s rest! If you have any other asanas that you always take in order to prepare yourself for a night’s rest, do share with me via the comments below. Have a great weekend!