5 Yoga Poses to do Before Bed

This series of yoga poses will calm the mind, soothe the nervous system, and help your body to relax deeply. Often it is these 3 areas that keep us awake and make it tough to unwind and relax to fall asleep. After doing a yoga practice, you will find that you go from the flight or fight stress mode into a place of support and ultimately the safety that you need to relax.

Restorative Yoga

Wide Angle Forward Bend

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Benefit:

Calm and soothe the mind. Relax the tension in the lower belly.

How to do it:

Take a firm blanket, towel, or pillow and chair. Sit on the edge of the blanket and widen your legs opened to 90 degrees or less. Make sure your knees and toes are pointing to the sky. (Less is more here. You don't want to feel an intense stretch in the legs. With restorative yoga you are supported by the props, you hold for a longer time, and will naturally get a deep opening. If you start with a feeling of intensity in the beginning you won't be able to relax.) Place your forearms on the seat's edge and rest your forehead (close to the hairline) onto your arms. Take 10-20 breaths.

 

cross legged Forward Bend

(an alternative to the Wide Legged Forward Bend)

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Benefit:

Calm and soothe the mind. Relax the tension in the upper belly.

How to do it:

Set up like the previous pose and fold one leg in a time to cross legged.  Place your forearms on the seat's edge and rest your forehead (close to the hairline) onto your arms. Take 10-20 breaths and then switch the foot that was in front to behind. 

 

Puppy Pose with Block

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Benefit:

Calms the mind, quiets the nervous system, release tension in the neck and shoulders, helps insomnia.

How to do it:

Grab a yoga block or fold up a firm towel to about 4 inches high and no wider than your shoulders. Start on all fours in table position, knees are hip distance wide and beneath your hips. Walk your hands forward 2 hand lengths to the top of your mat. Line up the block with the inner edges of your elbows. Rest your forehead (close to the hairline) onto the block. If your arms don't stretch straight and your head does not touch the block, widen your hands to be a little wider than your mat.  If that doesn't work, simple skip the yoga block, and keep your ears in line with your arms in puppy pose. 

 

Child's Pose

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Benefit:

Release stress, relaxes tight shoulders, back, and hips. Calm the mind and soothe the nervous system.

How to do it:

Bring your big toes together and your knees a little wider than your hips. Sit back towards your heels, make 2 soft fists and stack one on top of the other. Rest your forehead onto your hands. Take 10-20 breaths.

 

Windshield Wipers

yoga for lower back pain www.irenamiller.com

Benefit:

Release tension in the lower and mid back. 

How to do it:

Lying on your back, bend your legs, and widen your feet to be mat distance wide. Slowly lower your knees to the right, scoop your tailbone, and lengthen from your right hip out through your right knee. Stretch your right arm along side your ear, and lengthen from your right ribs to your right finger tips. Take 10-20 breaths and then switch sides.

 

Legs up the Chair - Viparita Karani variation

yoga for a good night's sleep www.irenamiller.com

Benefit:

Quiet the mind and release the overwhelming thoughts that wake you up at 3 am. Alleviate tired and fatigued legs. Reduce water retention in legs and swollen ankles. Deep rest and peacefulness. 

How to do it:

Grab a chair, place your calves on the seat. Rest with your arms alongside your body. Hold for 2-5 minutes.

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Irena Miller teaches bite-sized yoga to curious, intuitive people who want to feel at peace in their body and in the world. Her online yoga adventures target how to get you into the rhythm of the season. Strengthen the core in the summer, release shoulder tension in the spring, open tight hips in the fall, and alleviate sore backs in the winter.