Simple yoga poses for sleep, or cutting stress

Getting a good night’s sleep can be a challenge. Try any of these yoga poses for sleep, and they can transform your life. In this post, you’ll see the easy and best yoga poses for sleep. Plus restorative yoga poses for sleep and relaxation, including beginners yoga. Here’s how to do them at home, or in your bedtime yoga routine anywhere, or in the Flametree Studio (online or in-studio).

Science has now shown that getting deep sleep, and sufficient sleep, are some of the key benefits of yoga. Tests have been done with a control group, or more than one, in a scientific way. So using these poses to get better sleep quality are some of the best things you can do for productivity, longevity, weight loss, looking and feeling good, reducing irritability or disease, and more.

Yoga for sleep is also very helpful in particular situations where sleep can be a greater challenge, such as for pregnant women, sleep apnea, back pain, increased muscle tension, and for older adults. In the case of older adults, some sleep producing hormones decline with age. So yoga poses for sleep can have a very positive effect on your next day.

In addition, other sleep problems and sleep disorders are now common. That’s why it’s worth a little of your time to do some extra poses for sleep, especially if they are not in the yoga session you last attended.

Beginners yoga for relaxation and sleep. with 2 weeks free, & from $1 A Class in-studio, including restorative yoga poses for sleep 

Online beginner yoga with 2 week free trial. Up to 8 classes a week for $9.95 a week, including yoga for sleep and relaxation

Non beginners: 30 days for $14.95, for online, unlimited classes. Just 50 cents a class. 

Based on science

Dr Walker has done a systematic review of the research on sleep disorders and much more.  He is one of the world’s top sleep experts. We discuss his findings on the benefits of good sleep, or the horror of not getting it, in another of our sleep posts.

Given the terrible impact of poor overall sleep quality, this post is about a yoga intervention to fix it. The good news is that you don’t need yoga nidra, hot yoga, happy baby pose, or other things you may not already do in your regular yoga practice or yoga group.

In my case (Chris Lalor), I just have my yoga mat set up on a flat surface in part of my house. As needed, or in my bedtime routine, I then do the simple hatha yoga poses below. Ideally, especially when I face a long day, or a hard time, I fit in some simple breathing exercises. I’ll also talk about those below, including ten free breath meditation classes.

Best simple poses to use

The pictures with this post show some very simple physical poses that you can do before you go to sleep. As well as that, you can do them even if you wake up, and still need to get back to sleep.

These yoga postures all work because of the way they work with your glands, hormones and other regulators in your body. They automatically produce a relaxing physical response in your entire body.

This post won’t go into why the poses work. Instead, this post will mainly just show you how to do them. They are a great way to change your life by better quality of sleep.

Doing any or all of these poses during the day will also calm you down, reduce your heart rate, and produce a relaxation response. So the outcome is that you are also more likely to get a good night’s rest later.

Among other things, Professor Matthew Walker has also explained why they will improve your intimate life. 

These poses also help reduce blood pressure.  In my post about blood pressure, you’ll see more about why they help so much.

How yoga helps

Doing regular yoga classes will also help with getting to sleep, and sleeping soundly. Regular yoga will relax you even more, and give you some appropriate degree of workout. Both of these help even more.

However, to do the poses below, you don’t have to necessarily do yoga by regular classes or extended daily practise of yoga at home. It will help even more if you do, but these yoga poses for sleep will work anyway.

Yoga props or supports to do the poses in the pictures will also help, but again they are not essential. Other supports from around the home will do the job, such as folded blankets, firm cushions, or anything in the shape of a firm brick. (If you want, here’s more about yoga prop options).

A pile of hard cover books is also another yoga prop improvisation, especially if you put something soft on top, such as a small piece of foam.

As I said, there are some poses below that you can do even if you wake in the night, and need to get back to sleep. Each of them are a so-called restorative pose. They are some of the easiest poses of all.

In this regard, they are also more effective than corpse pose, cactus shape, or others you may have heard about for your upper body, or wherever. After a while in the poses, you’ll also automatically be doing more deep breaths, as you settle.

Legs Up The Wall is my favourite for improved sleep

The first yoga pose for sleep is “Legs Up The Wall”. You can see it in the picture below.

It’s done with a firm bolster, or firm cushion, or a couple of folded blankets, under your buttocks. Hold the pose for at least 5-10 minutes, and the longer the better. If you legs go to sleep, fold them down and then put them up again in due course.

To get more precise, it’s a good idea to position the part of your spine that is your low back, onto the bolster.

It also helps if you put a brick (or books) between the bolster and wall, so the bolster stays the right distance from the wall. Ideally, the distance from the wall should be about the width of your hand.

Flex your ankles so the tops of your feet are at ninety degrees to the wall, as you can also see in the picture below.

Legs Up The Wall Pose is best for sleep. More so than Child’s Pose etc.

Two versions of Bridge Yoga Pose for sleep

Bridge pose with block or bolsters is the second pose that is very effective and easy.

Although it is not the focus of this post, it’s worth noting that this pose stretches out your digestive organs. In the process, it will also calm any stomach upset you may have.

As I mentioned, I have the yoga mat and yoga bolster set up in the house, so I can just lie over them if I need to.

One version of Bridge pose for sleep is called T-shaped Bridge pose. Here are the steps to get into it.

  1. Put a bolster or folded blanket (or two or three), against the wall
  2. Put another bolster or blankets at 90 degrees to it, out from the wall.
  3. Your big toes & soles of your feet go on the support that is at the wall, and your spine goes along the support out from the wall.
  4. Position the support under your back so your shoulders just touch the floor.
  5. Start with bent knees, and press away from the wall so your feet end up press pressed firmly to the wall.
  6. If you want, put a belt around your inner thighs, like you can see in the picture.

Bridge pose with T-shaped bolstersBridge pose with T-shaped bolsters, folded blankets or similar supports

Bridge pose on blocks

Another version of Bridge pose, which is a bit harder, but more effective, is to simply put a firm foam brick, or wooden block, under your lower back (or sacrum). If you need such props, check out our post about yoga props.

By the way, strapping two foam bricks together makes the pose more stable and comfortable.

Then wedge your feet to the wall so you can stay as long as you choose. Ideally, stay ten minutes or more.

This pose is a bit stronger. Personally, I find it more effective for really calming me down, and helping get off to sleep. A possible reason is that it is higher than the bolster used in the picture above. Experiment with the height that works best for you.

Elsewhere, I have discussed how these poses impact your blood flow, blood circulation, and so-called baroreceptors.

Bridge pose with a block under sacrumBridge pose with a block under lower back, & shoulder blades on ground.

The poses automatically impact your nervous system

As you can already see with the above three yoga poses for sleep, there is no need to stress about the location of your right foot, right knee, right leg, right ankle, right arm, left hand, left knee, right hand and more.

Just follow what’s done in the picture, or the steps above, and it will work perfectly.

All of these poses powerfully impact your parasympathetic nervous system, and thereby calm you down automatically. They take you away from the other part of your central nervous system that revs you up.

I do also find that a regular yoga class where I get a good stretch from standing poses, will always help even more.

But it is holding of the above poses, in a way that is not emphasised sufficiently in other types of yoga, that has a very positive effect on getting a good night’s sleep. (If you wish, check out more about Flametree’s Iyengar style of yoga).

Other yoga poses for sleep, calming, stress or rejuvenation

The other three poses below are also good to do at any time of day, so as to relax, or rejuvenate, or both.  When its time to sleep, they will have calmed you so you sleep better. In this regard, I also use various poses that include a forward fold. For example, you’ll see a forward fold in the picture immediately below.

Forward Virasana pose with head supportForward Virasana pose with head support for better sleep. Another simple pose.

Beginners yoga for relaxation and sleep. with 2 weeks free, & from $1 A Class in-studio, including restorative yoga poses for sleep 

Online beginner yoga with 2 week free trial. Up to 8 classes a week for $9.95 a week, including yoga for sleep and relaxation

Non beginners: 30 days for $14.95, for online, unlimited classes. Just 50 cents a class. 

Badda Konasana yoga pose for sleepBadda Konasana with 1 or 2 bolsters. Demonstrated by Chris Lalor, certified yoga instructor.

forward bend yoga pose for sleepSupported standing forward bend.

Restorative yoga classes are especially good for sleep

All of the poses discussed in this post are so-called Restorative Yoga poses. Flametree has at least two restorative classes a week.

There is also a weekly restorative yoga class for both beginners and non-beginners, called Restorative Yoga For Heart Health.

Restorative poses are also built into a range of yoga classes. If you need more detail, here is the timetable for beginners, and non-beginners. 

Doing a restorative class is an excellent way to both calm and de-stress, as well as to improve your sleeping. In classes, online or in-studio, you’ll practise the poses I’ve outlined, plus more. In addition, the sequence (or the order) of the poses will be always interesting and effective. (The same poses, in a different order, can produce different impacts).

Leg’s Up The Wall pose, or Bridge pose, are also often done by students when they initially calming down and waiting for a Flametree class to start. Alternatively, they are done as part of the relaxation at the end of class.

Breathing techniques for sleep and health

Breath meditation is also excellent for a better night’s sleep. It’s one very effect form of various meditative practices.

As I mentioned, the restorative poses above will also produce deep breathing that will calm you.

But, in addition, the breathing techniques taught in pranayama (aka breath meditation) will go very much further in training you to do intentional and powerful deep breaths. In turn, these have an automatic positive impact on your physical and mental health, including calming and stress reduction.

The overall outcome is that you again improve your sleep quality. Try it out for yourself with Flametree’s ten free breath meditation classes. 

More on sleep from Flametree Yoga

If you search for “sleep” on Flametree’s Facebook Page, you also find several more posts, including some about poses that help.

In particular, I recommend this post in which I summarise recent research by the world’s top sleep expert. His tips will give you extra support to help you banish sleep disturbances.

You’ll find much more on the best restorative yoga poses for sleep, including beginners yoga for relaxation and sleep.

If you apply all this good news to your sleep routines, the amount of time you lie awake at night will greatly reduce, or disappear altogether.

Yoga has revolutionised my sleep and sleep quality. But yoga is not the only thing I do for it. I take care to darken and cool my bedroom, consume food in the right ways, and do the various other things that sleep experts recommend.

But I absolutely would not be successful at getting enough sleep if I did not also include yoga and breath meditation in what I do. The key thing about yoga is that it gives you a systematic way to reduce stress, calm down, and reduce anxiety.

Dealing with anxiety

Anxiety is especially significant because it has jumped significantly in these COVID times. Some studies show that up to 40% of people have some type of anxiety, with much of it influenced by COVID.

Anxiety, difficult as it is, is possibly less of a problem then the others caused by lack of sleep. In another post on sleep, the deadly problems of not sleeping are summarised in an extract from Professor Walker’s book on sleep.

At the end of the day, or before, do the key poses I’ve discussed. You’re highly likely to then get a good night’s sleep.

By the way, Flametree’s yoga student tell me they always also sleep especially well after the weekly Yoga For Immune System class. That’s because in that class, we include the above yoga poses, as well as some other poses that work especially well. I teach them in that class because high quality sleep is one of the best ways to build and maintain your immune system defence network.

Improve your sleep with yoga or breath meditation

Try Flametree’s online or in-studio classes to learn or practise these top yoga poses for sleep. Plus you’ll get restorative yoga poses for sleep and relaxation. There are also classes for beginners yoga for relaxation and sleep.

The next 6 week beginner yoga course, with up to 2 weeks free, is one good way to start. But you can also start beginner level classes at any time.

You get an unlimited mix of beginner classes, online or in-the-studio, or both.

The beginner poses are easy, introductory poses.

There are even special, optional beginner classes like Gentle Yoga, Back Neck & Shoulder Yoga, Women Only Yoga, and Restorative Yoga For Heart Health.

You can also see all beginner classes and options in the beginner timetable.

There is a also a Beginner Yoga week-to-week pass.  It’s online or in-studio, or both, with a 2 week free trial and money back guarantee. With this pass, you can start anytime.

The beginner double pass even gets you 25% off each beginner course pass.

Get started with the best restorative yoga poses for sleep, including beginners yoga for relaxation and sleep.

NON-BEGINNERS, who are new to Flametree, or lapsed students, get 14 days of unlimited classes for just $29. That’s less than $2 a class for daily non-beginner yoga. It’s even less if you use the online only version. In that case you get 30 days of unlimited non-beginner yoga for just $14.95.

Or see all Flametree packages, including casual classes, subscription and ten pass deals.

Beginners yoga for relaxation and sleep. with 2 weeks free, & from $1 A Class in-studio, including restorative yoga poses for sleep 

Online beginner yoga with 2 week free trial. Up to 8 classes a week for $9.95 a week, including yoga for sleep and relaxation

Non beginners: 30 days for $14.95, for online, unlimited classes. Just 50 cents a class. 

Flame Tree Yoga Studio private classes, online, including yoga therapy

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