Bedtime Yoga Flow: 5 Relaxing Poses to Help You Sleep
BLOG / April 10, 2023
Ending your day with a bedtime yoga practice is a great way to turn off a racing mind, step away from the drama of the day and connect mind, body, spirit, and breath.
A core tenet of feeling consistently well-rested is having good sleep hygiene. Put simply, that means you have a relaxing, sleep-conducive environment and a nighttime routine that supports deep, restorative sleep.
Experts agree that the most relaxing environments are dark, clutter-free, slightly cool, and comfortable. Before starting your bedtime yoga routine, you can close the curtains, turn down the thermostat (your bedtime yoga and sleeping body temperature will keep you plenty warm) turn on a dim lamp, light a candle, and use some lavender or other essential oils for sleep.
The next step is implementing a bedtime routine. This needs to be easy to do, sustainable, and relaxing.
A two-hour nighttime wind-down is probably not realistic for most people, but you can easily reap the benefits of bedtime yoga by taking just a few mindful moments to do this simple flow in bed. I’ve included mix of relaxing, sleep-inducing postures and yoga for stress relief to give you the best nighttime routine.
1. Ujjayi Pranayama
We’re breathing throughout the day without thinking about it, but we seldom take time to take a mindful, full belly breath. Deep breaths literally have the power to reset our nervous system and calm our bodies down.
What better way to end the day?
You can incorporate mindful Ujjayi breathing into your bedtime yoga routine by starting in a seated position. Then, follow these steps:
- Take a few cleansing breaths.
- Bring your hand in front of your face and inhale through your nose.
- Exhale through your mouth, breathing onto your hand as if fogging up a mirror.
- Repeat three times.
Continue your Ujjayi Pranayama by closing your mouth and engaging those same throat muscles as you inhale and exhale through the nose. This creates a whisper sound as you breathe.
Repeat this for about 5 minutes, allowing the breath to ease the body from everything it endured during the day. Maintain this breathing technique throughout the rest of your bedtime yoga sequence and feel the tranquility in your body.
2. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is a classic that often gets overlooked as a serious posture. But it’s accessible to most people, restorative, and requires you to slow down – making it perfect for bedtime yoga.
Start by sitting on your knees, bringing your big toes to touch. Take your knees apart, sit your hips on your heels, and bring your torso and forehead down towards your bed. You can have your arms extended out in front of you or back towards your hips. If your head doesn’t touch the bed that’s okay, you can put a pillow down in front of you and rest your forehead on the pillow.
Hold this pose for about 5 minutes.
Stay connected to your Ujjayi breathing and feel your body melt down onto your mattress.
3. Reclined Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Slowly sit up from Child’s Pose and place a pillow behind you, with the short side up against your buttocks. Face forward and bend your knees toward the ceiling, keeping your feet flat on your bed. Recline back slowly, allowing your spine, neck, and head to relax gently on your pillow.
If your pillow is too short for your torso and your head hangs past your pillow, remove your pillow and lay flat on your back.
Relax your arms out to the side and gently release the knees away from each other down towards your mattress. If your knees have trouble going down all the way, you can place a pillow under each knee for support.
Hold this bedtime yoga pose for about 3-5 minutes.
You can place one hand over your heart and one hand on your stomach, feeling your breath as it moves up and down your body.
4. Simple Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Every bedtime yoga routine should include a gentle, pain-relieving spinal twist – especially if you’ve been sitting long hours at a desk.
To start, lay flat on your bed, hugging your knees into your chest and rocking side-to-side to release any tension in your lower back.
Then, bring your body to neutral and extend your arms out to the side like the letter T. Take your knees over to your right side, turning your head to face left and breathing into your twist. If this is difficult for you, you can put a pillow between your thighs for added support.
Hold this for a count of 10 inhales and exhales.
Repeat on the other side. After doing this pose, extend the arms and legs away from each other and take a full-body stretch.
5. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
Sit close to and face your headboard or the wall, move your hands behind your hips, lean back, and kick one leg up at a time onto the wall. Bring your hips as close to the wall as you can and keep your legs straight above you. Recline back and release your arms out to the side.
If you have tight hamstrings and find it difficult to straighten your legs, move your hips and torso away from the wall.
If your hamstrings are more open you can opt to move closer in for a deeper stretch.
Viparita Karani is a surprisingly active bedtime yoga posture, so do whatever feels best for your body.
Close your eyes and connect once more to your Ujjayi breath, letting go of anything from earlier that day. This is the final pose in your bedtime yoga routine. It’s excellent at calming your nervous system, allows the blood to flow back into your heart, and can be held for 5-10 minutes.
A short, evening flow is a beautiful way to calm your mind and body. You can accompany it with calming music, delta waves, mantras, journaling, or by reading a few pages of a good book.
Just remember that the goal of establishing a bedtime yoga routine is to replace other, more active options – like watching late-night TV or scrolling through your feed on your phone. These things actually wake your brain up and make it harder to sleep.
Now that you’ve taken time to turn inward, get cozy under the covers and close your eyes as soon as possible. You’re going to wake up feeling refreshed and energized tomorrow morning.
About the Author:
Sabrina Zellis started her yoga path with a dream board and a need for change. Realizing she wanted to live mindfully in the modern world, she took a leap of faith to be a full-time yogi.
Sabrina completed teacher training in Fiji with YogaWorks and is now a 200 RYT (Registered Yoga Teacher). She considers herself a fruit loop in a world full of cheerios and works hard to find the namaste in each day.