In our fast-paced, always-on-the-go world, unwinding before bed can be difficult and a restful night’s sleep escapes many of us. Yoga lowers stress levels, calms the mind, relieves tension and can help lull us to sleep. So forget counting sheep and try these yoga moves — all of which can be done in bed.
1. EASY POSE
As children, we came into Easy Pose, well, easily. Sitting in chairs for years tightens our groin muscles and rounds our backs, making this simple cross-legged position tough on our hips, knees and lower back. With regular practice, you can help your body adjust to this pose again. It’s worth it: It’s a popular pose for meditation and breathwork, and it helps strengthen the back, stretch the knees, open the hips and calm the mind.
The move: Cross one leg in front of the other so you’ve created a triangle in the space between. Now sit tall and broaden your chest as if you were wearing a medal. Relax your shoulders and place your hands on your thighs.
Add an end-of-day breathing exercise to let go of the day. Close your eyes and call to mind something positive that happened during the day. As you inhale, let that warm-and-fuzzy thought fill your entire body. As you exhale, open your mouth and sigh, releasing any of the tension or junk from the day. After a few breaths, bring your hands to your belly and focus on just the breath, letting any thoughts from the day float away.
2. SEATED TWIST
Twists wring out your body like a sponge. They squeeze the organs, eliminating toxins and encouraging oxygenated blood to flow to them once the twist is released. They help the spine maintain mobility and increase flexibility through the oblique, abdominal and back muscles. They also help the chest and shoulder muscles relax, releasing tension throughout the body.
The move: From easy pose, inhale and sweep your arms overhead. Exhale and twist to the right, resting your left hand on the outside of the right thigh. Take five breaths here, sitting taller with each inhale and twisting a little deeper with each exhale. Repeat on the other side.
3. SUPINE BOUND ANGLE
This relaxing stretch opens the groin and hips and calms the mind.
The move: Lie on your back and bring the soles of your feet together, creating a diamond shape with your legs. You can place a pillow under each knee to make the pose more restorative. Close your eyes and hold for 5–10 breaths.
4. LEGS UP THE WALL
Legs Up the Wall is a full-body balm. It alleviates headaches, calms the mind, relieves low-back pain and soothes swollen, tired legs.
The move: Place one hip against your headboard and swing your legs up it. Keep your butt as close to the headboard as possible. Close your eyes and take 5–10 breaths here.
Final relaxation pose relaxes the nervous system, calms the mind and reduces insomnia.
The move: To come into the pose simply lie down on your back. Lengthen the legs and take them a little wider than the hips. Let the feet flop open. Lift and lengthen one arm and then the other, resting each by your side, palms facing up. Don’t be afraid to take up room. Close your eyes and rest here
If you struggle to feel settled, slowly tighten every muscle in the body one at a time starting with the feet. When you get to your forehead, take a deep inhale, tighten all of the muscles even more, exhale and release. Stay in savasana for 10 minutes or until you drift to sleep.