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Yoga for Sleep? 5 Moves to Try Today

Donna Chambers

yoga for sleep

New to yoga? If your idea of this popular form of exercise is contorting your body into a pretzel, think again. There are hundreds of yoga poses, and not all of them require difficult moves or a gymnastics background to pull off.

In fact, several yoga poses can be beneficial for sleep. According to a National Health Interview Survey, 55 percent of people who did yoga for sleep said they slept better, and 85 percent reported reduced stress.

Here are five yoga exercises to try before heading to bed.

Child’s Pose

Also known as balasana, the child’s pose is a basic resting position in yoga. According to Yoga Outlet, it “helps stretch the hips, thighs and ankles while reducing stress and fatigue.”

To do the child’s pose, start on your hands and knees and spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching. Slowly lower your upper body to the ground and rest your buttocks on your heels. Your torso will be in between your upper thighs. You can either keep your arms extended in front of you or tuck them behind you with the backs of your hands on the ground.

Experts warn that the child’s pose can be tough on people with hip or back problems, so be sure to discuss it with your doctor before giving it a try. You can also check out some modifications for the child’s pose on the Body Positive Yoga site

woman with her legs up the wall

Legs Up the Wall

Is insomnia driving you up the wall? Why not try a yoga pose with a name to match? Legs up the wall is pretty much exactly what it sounds like. You start by lying on your back with your bottom as close to the wall as you can manage without being uncomfortable.

Then, extend your legs straight up the wall so that the backs of your legs rest against it. Keep your arms out to your sides for stability and balance.

The benefits of legs up the wall include reduced edema (swelling), stress relief for tired leg muscles and calm for the central nervous system.

Standing Forward Bend

Pocket Yoga says the standing forward bend “calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.” While we can’t verify those claims, we can certainly say that it feels great to do.

To do it, start from a relaxed standing position and fold your body over at the hips. You should feel a stretch along the backs of your legs as you bend over.

As you bend toward the floor, keep your spine straight and either let your arms dangle or press your palms against the floor if you can do so without straining. You can also rest your fingertips against the ground for balance.  

woman in corpse pose

Corpse Pose

Known as savasana, the corpse pose is one of “total relaxation” according to Yoga Journal. It’s a favorite among yoga enthusiasts, because it allows you to fully relax and clear your mind without any kind of muscle strain or difficult balancing moves.

To perform the corpse pose, lie on your back on the floor or a comfortable surface. Extend your arms and legs outward from your torso symmetrically. Most people like to lie with their feet slightly turned out and their palms facing up.  

Reclining Butterfly

Sometimes called a bound angle or supta baddha konasana, you perform the reclining butterfly by sitting on the floor with legs extended. From there, bring the soles of your feet together with your knees pointing outward so your legs form a diamond shape.

Now you want to lie back slowly until your back is flat against the ground. If you have back problems, you might want to use a bolster or stay propped on your forearms. If you can fully recline, you can place your arms to your sides or keep them folded over your belly or hips. DoYouYoga has several reclined butterfly modifications on its site.   

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Disclaimer: The content on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before undertaking any type of therapy or treatment.