When you think about yoga, what comes to mind? For me, it’s intimidating fitness classes and soccer moms with yoga mats and oversized sunglasses. In reality, yoga is so much more than that. There are various types of yoga that target different things –– one of which is sleep.
Yoga and other mind-body therapies significantly impact insomnia and help people improve their sleeping patterns. According to a national survey, over 55% of people who regularly practice yoga reported that it helped them get better sleep. 85% said it helped them reduce stress.
Benefits of yoga before bed:
- Improve sleep quality and duration
- Relieve back, neck and shoulder pain
- Help treat insomnia
- Weight loss
- Loosen up muscle tension
- Help treat sleep apnea
Yoga is something you can carry with you through your entire life –– yes, even when you’re old. Older adults are already at higher risk of injury if they’re living with undiagnosed insomnia. A study recently published in the Journal of Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine found that after 12 weeks of practicing yoga, participants over 60 saw significant sleep quality improvement, duration and efficiency. That doesn’t mean you should wait until you’re older. These easy-to-integrate yoga poses can help you right now.
Bedtime Yoga Poses
You don’t have to attend a class or try the most advanced poses to get what you need from yoga. It’s all about consistency. And don’t worry if you’re not the most flexible person out there. The poses we recommend are simple and easy to do. But you might want to pick up a yoga mat.
Wide knee child’s pose
Start by kneeling on the floor and bringing your toes together. Then separate your knees to the edge of the mat. As you exhale, sink your torso onto your thighs. Relax and hold the pose for up to five minutes.
Leg up the wall
This one’s easy. You’ll lie flat on your back and swing your legs up a wall. You’ll want your hamstrings and calves against the wall and your feet relaxed. If you have lower back, knee or hip issues, you can try the leg on chair pose instead.
Standing forward bend
You’ll start by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Exhale and bend over, elongating your spine. Do not try and reach the floor. The goal of this exercise is to elongate the spine and relax. A modified version of this pose is the standing half forward bend pose.
To finish off your routine, end things with the corpse pose. You’ll simply lie flat on your mat with your feet about hip-distance apart. This pose will align your head, neck and spine. Stay in corpse pose for as long as 15 minutes.
Tips For Home Yoga
Set an attainable goal
The last thing you want to do is set an unrealistic goal and get discouraged when you don’t meet it. Be realistic about your routine and how much time you’ll be able to devote to yoga before bed. Don’t aim for an hour if you’ve got a busy schedule. Even 10 minutes of yoga each night will help you see results.
It’s less about how long you do it for and more about how much you commit to it. If you set a realistic goal that you know you can achieve each night, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
Pick the right kind of yoga
To unwind the best before bed, you’ll most likely want to avoid hot yoga or vinyasa. Instead, try restorative yoga or Hatha. Also, don’t forget to breathe! If you’re a yoga pro, you’re probably laughing. But since deep breathing is so essential to actually depriving benefits of yoga, we thought we’d mention it.
Create your ideal environment
This whole story is about relaxing your body enough to sleep. There’s nothing relaxing about a room that’s too hot or lights that are too bright. To get the most out of your nightly yoga segment, we suggest that you create your ideal environment –– whatever that means for you. That might mean calming music, candles or an oil diffuser. There’s no right or wrong here. It’s whatever your preferences are.
Too Long, Didn’t Read?
Adding a bit of yoga to your nightly routine can go a long way in helping you let go of the stress from your day and get you ready for bed. It’s not the end-all-be-all solution in getting a good night’s sleep, however. It’s just a piece of the puzzle that can make a real difference. So what are you waiting for? Try out 15 minutes of yoga tonight and tell us how you sleep.