Yoga is a gentle and restorative way to wind down the day. A national study found that more than 55 percent of people who practiced yoga reported that it helped them sleep better. More than 85 percent said yoga helps reduce stress. You can use supports such as bolsters, blankets, blocks, etc. to make the pose comfortable so you can stay in the pose for longer and continue to breathe.
Your breathing is important for relaxation in these positions. Breathing in yoga is just as important, if not more, than posture. Use a gentle and relaxing yogic breathing technique called Ujjayi Breath, also known as Ocean Breath or Victory Breath. Breathe deeply through the nose. Close your mouth and close your mouth, contracting the back of your throat as if you were saying “ha” through your nose. This breath should sound like waves (or like Darth Vader from Star Wars). Use slow and steady breathing to ease yourself into each of these positions.
Practice these yoga poses before going to bed and stay for 3-5 minutes each. Use Sea Breath in every position except corpse position where your breath returns to normal.
These seven restorative yoga poses relieve stress and tension at the end of the day. As long as you practice these poses regularly, you will be able to get a good night’s rest.
- Child’s pose with wide knees (Balasana)
This resting position provides calm and stability. Be careful if you have hip or knee injuries.
Kneel on the floor and bring your big toes together.
Keep your knees hip-width apart or as wide as the edge of the mat.
Exhale and bring your torso into your thighs.
Relax your arms parallel to your torso, so your arms are facing the back of the room, palms facing up. This should relieve shoulder tension by moving the shoulder blades away from each other.
If you want a more active pose, extend your arms forward and place your palms down on the mat.
Keep your forehead on the ground. Gently turn your head to both sides. This will remove tension from your brows.
Take slow and steady breaths through your nose.
- Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Take a deep breath.
Exhale and stretch your torso forward to stretch your legs.
Hold your elbows or place your hands on your shins and on the floor.
Do not strain to reach the floor, the goal is not to achieve perfect form, but to stretch the back and relax the neck and shoulders.
This forward bend relieves tension in the neck and gently stretches the hamstrings, calves, and hips. Be careful if you have a back injury.
If it’s hard for your hands to reach the floor or your back is uncomfortable, place blocks under each arm for extra support.
Exhale slowly and evenly through your nose.
If you have tight hamstrings, bend your knees slightly to keep them “soft” and rest your chest on your thighs.
Gently shake your head “yes” and “no” to loosen and relax your neck muscles.
Roll slowly to avoid turning your head to stand up.