Whether you’re suffering from insomnia or just need a little help to feel more relaxed and ready for bed, yoga could help. Its meditative qualities can help you release tension, regulate your breathing and put better quality sleep within reach.
Researchers at Harvard University found that doing yoga can improve sleep efficiency, quality and help you get to sleep faster. Yoga helps with blood flow and hormone regulation too, which could leave you feeling healthier.
So, grab your yoga mat and head block and get ready to strike these sleep inducing poses. We’ve picked some of the best poses for sleep but have stayed clear of some of the more complicated postures to show that yoga is accessible to all.
Yoga isn’t all about complicated stretches. This pose is about restoring effective breathing. You can do it sat cross-legged on your floor, or for extra comfort try it lying down on your right side. With your right nostril covered and thumb extended, breathe out of your left nostril between five and ten times.
If you go to a yoga class this is the resting pose you’ll often be asked to assume. It’s great for relieving tension in your upper body and promotes an inner sense of calm. To get in position, fold your body over your kneeling legs. Then extend your arms, resting your forehead gently on the ground, and breathe deeply.
This head-to-forward bend stretches out your lower body, core and arms. Start in a sitting position with legs extended. The sole of your left foot moves against your inner thigh with your right hand to your hip. Next, lifting your left arm, exhale and reach over to your right leg towards your foot. As you hold the pose rest your head on a block, then switch sides and repeat.
Blood flow to your feet is an important factor when it comes to nodding off. The dilation of blood vessels in your extremities has been shown to help you achieve good body temperature. As well as using a good pair of socks to keep your toes warm, try practicing this reclining big toe pose.
Start by lying on your back with your big toes lined up. Next, bring one leg up to vertical as you inhale, clasping the back of the thigh. You’ll need to push your thigh into your hands to get a good connection of muscle to bone. Hold this for a count of five before repeating on the opposite leg.
Make Savasana (corpse pose) the last pose in your bedtime routine to let go of your day’s worries and really get you in the mood to snooze. This makes a good follow up to Supta Pandangusthana as you’ll already be lying on the floor. You’ll aim to rest your arms by your side with the back of your hands rested comfortably on the floor after relaxing all of the muscles you’ve worked.
Remember that with yoga, 'little and often' is always better than doing a big session once a week. The key is to start with short sessions, and once it becomes a habit, to naturally extend these into longer practises.