Yoga to Sleep Better
Yoga combines movement and breathing to activate the parasympathetic nervous system to counteract stress. Whenever possible, choose a restorative version of a yoga pose that uses a prop beneath the forehead to promote relaxation around the eyes and further soothe the nervous system.
All of these poses take about one minute total or one minute per side of the body to complete with 10-15 breaths per minute.
Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
The lizard pose is a versatile pose in yoga for women that, among other benefits, opens and releases the chest, neck, and shoulders and prepares the body for deeper hip opening poses, such as hanuman and pigeon. After you've completed downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana) move your left foot forward, bringing it in between your hands. Then lower your right knee to the ground, swing your left foot to the far edge of the mat, and position your elbows on a small block or the floor. Repeat the pose on the opposite side of your body.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Standing forward bend is ideal for strengthening your hamstrings, hips, calves, thighs, and knees and calming your mind, reducing stress, depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Walk your feet to your hands. Position your feet hip-width apart and bend slightly at the knees, holding your elbows. Exhale and lengthen down through the top of your head. To finish the pose, let your arms go, root through your feet, and rise up slowly.
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
The locust pose strengthens and promotes flexibility through the whole back of the body, including the legs, spine, buttocks, and the muscles surrounding the upper torso and ribs. The pose is ideal when you're preparing to lie down to go to sleep. Inhale to plank pose, and then bring your body down to the ground. Clasp your hands behind your back. Exhale and bring the tops of your feet to the floor so the entire front of your feet are level with the ground. Inhale as you bring your chest and arms up as far as possible while looking forward. To come out of the locust pose, let your hands drop down and exhale, moving back into downward-facing dog.
Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
The wide-legged standing forward bend stretches the inner groins and backs of legs while calming the mind, easing fatigue, and improving circulation. Consider using this pose as a warm up stance for other standing poses, such as the side angle pose or warrior pose, or as a cool down for your yoga sleeping routine. Stand with your legs four or five feet apart. Inhale and bring up your chest. While exhaling, push your body forward from the mid-section. Extend your arms, bringing your hands up on the tips of your fingers with your elbows bent. Rest your forehead on a small block. To come up from the pose, center down through your feet. Inhale and rise up slowly.