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Soothing Yoga Poses for Better Sleep

Release stress and calm your mind with gentle yoga poses and deep breathing to help you get a good night's sleep.



Have you ever felt exhausted after a long day, but can’t fall asleep? When the mind continues to toss and turn, it can be difficult to relax (hello, monkey mind). I find this particularly challenging after a stressful work day, challenging conversation or upcoming deadline.


The mind and body can both be impacted by stress. According to Harvard Health, “stress affects not only memory and many other brain functions, like mood and anxiety, but also promotes inflammation, which adversely affects heart health.” Stress can lead to increased levels of cortisol, high blood pressure and disrupted digestion, making it more difficult to sleep.


Taking 20 minutes before bed for gentle yoga poses and deep breathing can help slow down the mind and release tension in the body. I filmed a video with my favorite evening yoga poses to unwind after a long day. I recommend changing into comfortable clothing, clearing space around you, lighting a candle, and unrolling your mat. You can use a bolster/cushion/pillow, blocks/thick books and strap to support you in the yoga practice. Once you are all set up, press play on the video below. Make sure you are cleared by a doctor, especially if you are recovering from recent injuries or surgeries.



Here are more details on each of the poses from the video to incorporate into your nighttime routine.


Cat/Cow (Marjariasana/Bitilasana)

  • Begin on all fours in a table top position (bharmanasana) with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees

  • As you inhale, drop your belly, open up through your chest and reach the crown of your head up to extend your spine for cow pose (bitilasana)

  • As you exhale, round your spine and gently let your chin come toward your chest (marjariasana)

  • Repeat a few more times. You can move your hips in circles as you flex and extend the spine for more lower body release


Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)

  • From a table top position (bharmanasana), walk your right foot outside of your right hand to the edge of your mat

  • You can move your front leg in a small circle to lubricate the hip joint. Repeat in the other direction

  • Eventually, you can rest your forearms on a block or on the mat to deepen the stretch

  • Stay in the pose for at least 5-10 breaths

  • Return to table top (bharmanasana) and repeat on the other side


Half Pigeon/Sleeping Pigeon (Ardha Kapotasana)

  • From lizard pose (utthan pristhasana) starting on the right side, gently lay the lower part of your leg on the mat with your right heel in front of your left hip

  • Position your shin between a 45 degree and 90 degree angle based on what feels most comfortable and spacious for your hip and knee

  • If you would like to be supported and elevated from the ground, you can rest your thigh on top of a bolster

  • Extend your left leg straight back behind you and rest the top of your foot on the mat

  • You can stay on your palms or walk forward and rest on your forearms

  • Stay in the pose for at least 5-10 breaths and repeat on the second side

  • Learn 3 other ways to do pigeon pose here


Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

  • Take a seat. I recommend placing your sits bones on a blanket to elevate the ground and allow your pelvis to tilt forward slightly

  • Extend both legs out in front

  • Flex your feet, point your toes toward the ceiling and spread them wide

  • As you exhale, hinge forward until you feel your hamstrings stretch, initiating the movement from your hips. You can keep a slight bend in your knees to avoid straining your hamstrings

  • You can loop a strap around the balls of your feet for an assisted fold

  • You can place a bolster or pillow on your legs and rest your belly or forehead on top for a more restorative variation

  • Stay in the pose for at least 5-10 breaths


Reclined Butterfly Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

  • Place two blocks a few inches away from each other. The first block can be on the highest height and the second block can be on the medium height

  • Place a bolster or long pillow on top of the blocks, making a supportive rest for your back

  • Move your sacrum to the edge of the bolster and lay back

  • Bend your knees. Touch your feet together and let your knees gently open to the sides

  • You can place an eye pillow across your eyes to reduce distractions

  • Stay in the pose for at least 5-10 breaths


Reclined Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana II)

  • Lay down on your back

  • With your knees bent, lift your legs into the air, coming into a reclined table top position (supta bharmanasana)

  • Place a bolster or pillow between your thighs

  • Start to lower your legs over to the right. Your hips can come to the left to make more space. Keep your knees parallel to your hips so the twist comes from the thoracic spine (not lumbar spine)

  • Stay in the pose for at least 5-10 breaths

  • Return to reclined table top (supta bharmanasana) and repeat on the second side


Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

  • Move toward a wall. Align one side of your body with the wall. You can sit on a bolster to elevate the ground

  • Begin to gently lower your back down as you lift your legs up the wall

  • Place your arms on the ground with your palms facing up

  • You can stay in the pose for 2-15 minutes


Throughout this practice, continue to take slow, steady breaths. Notice if you are gripping or holding onto any unnecessary tension and use your exhale to release tightness. Can you feel the stress melting away? Leave me a comment below and let me know about your experience.


I also offer meditation, Reiki and sound healing. If you found these techniques helpful and want to explore a private in-person or virtual session, please reach out to me using the contact form on the homepage or send me an email at shannonkyeager@gmail.com. I look forward to supporting you!


With gratitude,

Shannon

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