Have you considered sleep yoga to help you with energy and more restful sleep? Try these easy yoga poses for better sleep.
Hi there! My name is Chantal. I’m the owner of Ironwild Fitness, as well as a personal trainer and mom of two. Thanks for being here!
Even though I am a personal trainer, I have personally struggled to lose weight after having kids. (You can read all about it here.)
I have tested a lot of methods and had many ups and downs. It recently dawned on me that sleep could be an important player in the current weight plateau I’m facing, so I’ve begun researching sleep a lot more.
This year, I decided to get back to basics a little more. I no longer do any crazy diets or restrictions (they always backfire).
In fact, I am super focused on returning to things that I know I was doing when I was at my healthiest.
Like most people, I was my healthiest as a kid and in my early twenties. So, even though my life and my body are different, I am still taking cues from those great years.
I know without a doubt that I was eating better, moving more, and sleeping better. So for this post, I’ve chosen to focus on the sleep portion by trying sleep yoga.
I’d heard that yoga poses for better sleep was a thing, but I’d honestly never tried it. I have never been a huge yoga person, though I’ve taken a class or two before.
But I’m at the point now where I’d do just about anything for great sleep. I feel like growing up, everyone says that sleep is important, but no one really explains why.
Most of us don’t understand the science of sleep, as well as how it affects our bodies.
Sure, we know the basics of why we need sleep while we’re young and growing, but what about adult sleep?
What about hormonal changes related to sleep? Or blood pressure and stress?
While I’m no expert, I do like to know what could be affecting my health. I’ve obviously spent a lot of time researching exercise science, as well as quite a bit of nutrition.
Related Reading: Beginner Yoga For Stay At Home Moms
Maybe it could be why I couldn’t lose weight for nearly two years after having both of my children. (They were terrible sleepers.) I mean, it had to be a factor, right?
Of course, I had to know. And what I learn, I like to share with you. So here are some sleep facts that are too interesting to not share.
PSST! Knowing how restful your sleep really is can be hard. That’s why I suggest tracking your sleep to see how you can improve it. You can get 10% off SleepOn Trackers using my link!
Health Benefits of Yoga
Before we dive into the world of yoga for sleep specifically, let’s take a quick look at the benefits of yoga as a whole.
Enhances Physical Strength and Flexibility:
One of the primary benefits of yoga is the improvement of physical strength and flexibility. Through a series of postures and movements, yoga challenges and tones various muscle groups, promoting overall strength. As you progress, you’ll notice increased flexibility and improved posture, reducing the risk of injuries and enhancing your body’s functionality.
Promotes Stress Relief and Relaxation:
Yoga is renowned for its ability to reduce stress and induce a sense of calm and relaxation. The combination of deep breathing exercises, mindful movements, and meditation helps activate the body’s relaxation response, alleviating anxiety and tension. Regular yoga practice cultivates a peaceful state of mind, leading to improved mental well-being and resilience in the face of daily challenges.
Improves Mental Clarity and Focus:
In our fast-paced lives, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose focus. Yoga provides a sanctuary for mental clarity and concentration. By synchronizing breath with movement, yoga cultivates a heightened sense of awareness and presence, training the mind to remain focused on the present moment. This increased mental clarity extends beyond the mat, enhancing productivity and overall cognitive function.
Boosts Energy and Vitality:
Contrary to popular belief, yoga is not only about relaxation—it also boosts energy levels and vitality. Regular yoga practice stimulates the body’s energy centers, known as chakras, and improves circulation, resulting in increased energy and a revitalized state. Say goodbye to fatigue and embrace a renewed sense of vitality through the power of yoga.
Enhances Emotional Well-being:
Yoga has a profound impact on emotional well-being. It acts as a natural mood enhancer, reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Through the practice of mindfulness and self-reflection, yoga helps individuals develop a deeper connection with their emotions, fostering self-acceptance and inner peace. Moreover, the supportive community often found in yoga classes offers a sense of belonging and emotional support.
Balances the Mind-Body Connection:
Yoga emphasizes the harmony between the mind and body, aiming to establish balance and unity. By synchronizing breath with movement, yoga helps individuals cultivate body awareness, allowing them to recognize and address physical and emotional imbalances. This holistic approach facilitates healing and fosters a sense of overall well-being.
Supports Better Sleep (Duh):
In a world plagued by sleep disorders and restless nights, yoga offers a natural remedy. The combination of physical movement, relaxation techniques, and mindfulness helps calm the nervous system, preparing the body for deep and restorative sleep. Incorporating a brief yoga routine before bedtime can promote a peaceful transition into sleep and improve sleep quality.
How Sleep Affects Your Health
For the sake of this post, I’m going to focus on physical health and sleep.
Research shows that sleep can affect mental and emotional health too, but in this post, I want to focus on weight, obesity, and physical fitness. So let’s get to it.
According to this article, poor sleep can affect your ability to make healthy decisions and it can change your willpower.
It also says that sleep-deprived people are at an increased likelihood to enjoy a little too much late-night snacking, eat bigger portions, and choose fattier foods.
This study suggests that there’s a strong correlation between poor sleep and a high BMI (Body Mass Index).
This basically means that you’re at increased risk of being overweight for your height and age if you’re not sleeping well.
It also talks about the neurotransmitters that control hunger cues during the day. They are firing at all the wrong times if you’re up at night.
The same article also says that many studies suggest that a lack of sleep also affects the metabolism, causing insulin resistance and being a precursor to diabetes. Yikes!
(Seriously, this particular article is full of links to all of the studies, as well as many issues related to sleep so go check it.)
In a gist, poor sleep can:
- Increase your likelihood to choose fatty, high-calorie foods
- Cause you to eat at night (and overdo it on calories)
- Affect your ability to make healthy food decisions
- Change your willpower/weaken it
- Increase your likelihood of being overweight / having a high BMI
- Mess up your hunger cues and confuse your body
- Slow your metabolism & cause insulin resistance
- Increase your likelihood of developing diabetes
I’m sure that there are more things that I could discover via the internet, but you can do that too. Hopefully, you understand why I’m considering yoga poses for better sleep and why sleep is so important.
Related Reading: 75 Healthy Habits That Will Change Your Life
Sleep Yoga? Can You Really Do Yoga Poses For Better Sleep?
I kind of always dismissed yoga early on because it’s typically a low-intensity type of exercise.
I really enjoy high-intensity exercise and lifting weights. (Hey, I like loud music.) But now that I’m older and my back hurts more often, I’m finally listening up.
Not all exercise is designed to burn tons of calories and help you get crazy! Lol. Sometimes, you have to slow down to avoid setbacks.
You kind of have to add other types of exercise to your toolbox in order to avoid injury, recover well, and truly take care of your body.
So, that brings me to yoga poses to help you sleep.
There are so many different styles of yoga it can be overwhelming. It can also be a little hard to know where to start.
So, I suggest stripping it way down to basic moves (asanas?). Think of it as stretches and movement to improve recovery and circulation, and you’ll be glad you did.
Then you can take any of these easy yoga poses for better sleep out of your back of tricks whenever you want.
5 Easy Yoga Poses For Better Sleep
1. Child’s Pose
Sleep yoga? Yoga for better sleep? Look no further than Child’s Pose. This basic, classic pose is popular for a reason. You’ll feel the stretch in your entire spine, arms, glutes, and plenty of small supporting muscles.
To do the Child’s Pose, start seated on the floor with your legs bent underneath you. (Sit on your feet.) Then hunch forward to extend your arms as far as possible, resting on the floor in front of you.
Relax into this pose for 15-20 seconds, taking deep breaths. If you want, return to a seated position for a moment, then go back into the child’s pose for a second rep.
2. Thread The Needle
This stretch or pose is great for the spine and upper back. If you carry a lot of tension there, you’ll love this asana.
Begin on your hands and knees, then extend your arms in front of you, placing your hands on the floor. Then thread one arm underneath the body to the opposite side, reaching as far as you can.
Rest your arm in this position while holding and breathing deeply for 15-20 seconds. Your tailbone should remain elevated.
Repeat on the other side!
Related Reading: Foam Rolling 101: Tips & Techniques
3. Supine Pigeon Pose
Supine, in simple terms, just means that you are lying face-up. For this pose, you’ll want to lay in a comfortable position, then bend one knee. Place your opposing ankle perpendicular across your bent knee, as shown.
To help you hold the stretch and deepen it if necessary, you can grab your knee and pull it to your chest. Hold for 15-20 seconds. Release, then switch legs.
Like with the other yoga poses to help you sleep, I suggest doing this until you feel your muscles start to release.
This is typically 15-20 seconds. (You should feel this in your outer hips and glutes.) Repeat if necessary!
Related Reading: Muscle Recovery Tips: 7 Natural Ways To Help Yourself Heal
4. Seated Spinal Twist
If you have lower back pain, this is especially for you. Add it to your regular regime of yoga poses for better sleep, and you’ll start to feel relief in the back.
This one is a little tricky though, so here’s what’s up. It’s okay if you slip a bit, can’t twist a ton, or you need to sit near something (like a wall) to support you. Your range of motion will improve over time.
So – start in a seated position. Bend one leg to bring your foot toward your hips, and cross your other foot over that leg. (You’ll plant your foot on the floor over the other leg if you can. See picture.)
Twist your upper body, using your arm as resistance or to help if needed. You can plant your other hand on the floor to help support yourself. Twist just enough to feel a comfortable stretch in your spine, hips, and glutes, then hold for 15-20 seconds.
Repeat on the other side!
Related Reading: Beginner Yoga For Stay At Home Moms
5. Easy Pose
While this pose is a classic, stereotypical pose in the world of yoga, it’s also among the great yoga poses for better sleep.
The Easy Pose can be done in a number of different ways, but the goal is always the same. It’s meant to help you slow your breathing, relax your mind and muscles, and bring you back down to earth. It can help you with mental clarity, relaxation, and presence.
To do the Easy pose, you’ll sit in a position similar to what your elementary school teacher called, “crisscross applesauce.” You’ll simply sit cross-legged, but with one leg just lightly tucked into the other.
The goal isn’t to get a magnificent stretch, necessarily, but to slow your breathing and lower cortisol levels & promote relaxation.
Where you place your hands is up to you, but you’ll want to find a comfortable place to put them. You don’t even have to touch your thumb and index finger together – you just need to find a good place to let your arms rest.
The focus here is breathing – so you’ll want to close your eyes. Inhale deeply through your nose slowly, then release through the mouth. Repeat for 5-10 breaths, or until you feel calm or your heart rate slowing.
I saved this one for last because my goal is to get you ready for a great night’s sleep. I highly recommend Easy Pose as the last of your nightly yoga poses for better sleep.
How’s that for some great bedtime yoga?
Now that you have a handful of great yoga poses for better sleep, I suggest trying sleep yoga several times per week to see how you feel.
It may take some time for your body to really reap the benefits of doing yoga poses before bed, so don’t give up!
Do you have any favorite yoga poses to help you sleep? Feel free to share them with me below! And don’t forget to check out the SleepOn Tracker for 10% off too!