Life can be stressful. Whether it's a tight deadline at work, that weird sound your car is making, or having the person you're dating suddenly stop responding to your texts, it's hard to not have a head full of worry. And when you go to bed with your anxieties, it can be hard to get to sleep.
Yoga and meditation help you push away these nagging thoughts. Here’s five yoga poses you can practice before bedtime, to bring a better sense of relaxation to both your mind and body, and help you find your way to a better night’s rest. Yoga for sleep should be a part of anyone’s evening routine.
Why yoga works
Can yoga improve sleep? Science says yes!
Studies show that yoga practitioners are able to lower their heart rate. By achieving a sense of calm before you go to bed, falling into the restful hands of slumber is easier. Yoga poses for sleep promote recovery for both your physical and mental being.
You'll want to explore the mellower side of yoga. You're trying to slow things down, not get a workout. Poses that bring stillness and release muscle tension work best when it's time to hit the sack. Leave the more energizing yoga routines for early in the day.
1. Corpse Pose
Lying flat on your back with your arms at your side and your eyes closed, Corpse Pose is ideal for shedding the worries of your day. In its stillness, and with every breath in and out, you'll find the calm you'll need when it's time to turn in. If you want to get started with yoga for better sleep, Corpse Pose is a great place to begin.
2. Child’s pose
With your knees spread wide, your arms outstretched, and your head down, Child's Pose is a satisfying stretch that feels effortless. Being a grown up means complex responsibilities. Child's Pose lets you find peace in its simplicity.
3. Legs Up the Wall Pose
Supporting your lower back with your arms and putting your legs against the wall is another opportunity to pause from movement. Gravity guides the blood back to your heart, and a sense of serenity floods over you. It’s another one of the yoga poses for sleep that puts you in a state of rest, giving you a break from the busyness of your day.
4. Supine Spinal Twist
Lie on your back with your top half flat and arms outstretched, gently bend and then twist your legs to one side—then reverse sides. Melt into this moment of relaxation. Lay down in bed later, feeling better for having done this. Yoga for sleep is about the smooth release of tension, and the Supine Spinal Twist is an ideal pose to practice in the evening.
5. Pigeon Pose
Folding your right leg in front—with your ankle somewhere in front of your left hip—and stretching the left leg straight in back of you lets you stretch your hips. Gently leaning back releases tension in your spine. With so much of our time spent stationary in front of computer screens, both our hips and backs stiffen up. Pigeon Pose can liberate you from this tightness. Reverse the pose bringing that stretch to the other side.
Meditation and mindfulness bring better rest
Studies show that meditation, like Yoga Nidra, boosts the alpha waves in the brain which work with the theta waves in guiding us into dreamland.
Yoga Nidra is a form of meditation based on the Corpse Pose. It's about lying down and quieting your mind and body, bringing you to that blissful state between wakefulness and slumber. It’s another practice, along with yoga for sleep, that can help you tap into tranquility.
Along with meditation and yoga for sleep, stretching is a great way to prepare you for optimal sleep. Check out this blog post from Propel that has some stretches you can do, as well as covers a couple of these yoga poses for sleep in a bit more detail.
Inner peace means improved sleep
Why toss and turn with a mind still distracted by what happened in your day? Yoga helps you bring your mind and body into balance. It makes those problems dissolve, leaving you relaxed and in the moment. Instead of focusing on what you have no control over, it lets you take action on what you can manage, which is your breathing and your body. So forget a warm glass of milk and counting sheep. Instead, indulge in a bit of yoga and meditation.
This article originally appeared on Ecosleep.com. Shared with permission