Have trouble sleeping? You’re not alone! According to the National Institutes of Health, about 30 percent of the general population have a sleeping disorder or suffer from insomnia. Among the most common causes of insomnia are anxiety, stress, and depression. While yoga is far from being a cure-all for these, it can definitely help you de-stress, calm down, and improve your mood so you can get better quality sleep.
Instead of letting your thoughts run amok late at night while you try to get some shut-eye, try this slow paced yoga sequence you can do right on your bed. Tip: play a relaxing/Indian Mantra song, rub lavender oil on your palms, and do these poses together with long, deep breathing and you might fall asleep even faster.
1: Legs Up the Wall
• Bring your hips close to the wall (or your headboard, like in the photo above); the closer, the better. Bring your legs up the wall, and lengthen the knees. Open your arms to the sides to form a letter T.
• Relax your whole body, relax your face muscles, and gently close your eyes. To relax your mind, you may listen to calm, soothing music or bring your attention to your breath—making sure your breathing is deep and even.
• Hold and stay in this position for at least 2-5 minutes.
This yoga pose will release the tension built up in the spine by standing or sitting in a way which may exaggerate the curve of your spine. This also works wonders for tired legs as it reduces blood pressure on varicose veins and improves blood flow in your legs.
2 and 3: Eye of the Needle
• From Legs Up the Wall, bend both knees. Press the sole of your left foot on the wall.
• Cross the right leg over the left thigh; you may move your right ankle slightly to the left side to avoid your ankle bone pressing down on your thigh. Make sure your right knee is safe by keeping the right foot flexed.
• Draw your tailbone down toward the bed while maintaining the natural spinal curve to stretch your lower back.
• Use the right hand to gently push the right thigh toward the wall. Keep the left knee pointing up to the ceiling if it tilts to the side. You should feel a nice stretch and your right hip opening.
• Switch to left leg and stay on each side from 2-5 minutes equally.
This pose is well-known for reducing lower back pain and opening the hips at the same time.
4: Frog Pose
• From tabletop position, lower your elbows down to the bed, and open your knees to the side as far as you can and as is comfortable for you.
• Bend the knees and feet to a 90-degree angle as shown above. Keep your knees and hips in line. If you have a mirror on the side, you should see your knees and hips create a straight line.
• Lower your chest upper body down to the bed, reach your arms forward to lengthen the spine and shoulders. You may put a pillow or bolster under your chest for support and comfort.
• Draw the tailbone down toward the bed to feel the hip-opening benefits of this pose.
• Close your eyes, observe your hips, focus on your deep breathing. This is an advanced hip-opening pose, so make sure you stay within what’s comfortable and find what feels good for you.
Frog pose or Mandukasana opens your hips, stretches the inner thighs, hips, and groin. It also elongates the spine, stretches shoulders and opens the heart. Like other hip-opening poses, Mandukasana is great for reducing stress, anxiety, and mild depression, helping you find calm as you get ready to sleep.
5: Rabbit Pose
• Begin with your knees on the bed, your buttocks sitting on your heels.
• Lower the crown of your head to the front of the knees; the closer to the knees, the better. If able, you may let your forehead touch the knees.
• Grip your hands firmly on your heels with both palms facing in.
• Gently lift the hips up and away from the heels, round the back like in Cat pose, and lengthen the elbows.
• You should feel the stretch on the back of your neck and spine. With each exhale, engage your core and round the back a little bit more.
This is an inversion pose that will pump more blood and oxygen to your brain and face. It helps reduce stress while also giving your face a healthy glow. The crunching position engages and strengthens your core, and corrects the alignment of the spine by creating space along the vertebrae. Last but not least, Rabbit pose opens the back of the heart chakra, which encourages self-love and relieves stress and anxiety.
6 and 7: Reclined Spinal Twist
• Begin in Corpse pose, lying on your back with both legs stretched out.
• Hug the right knee to your chest, open the right arm to the side.
• As you inhale, open the right shoulder to the side, making sure it’s touching the bed.
• On your exhale, bring your right knee to the left side. Gaze over your right arm.
• To twist deeper, move your hips all the way to the right before turning bringing your right knee to the left side.
• To avoid hurting lower back, suck the belly in and keep the right shoulder pressing down instead of forcing the right knee down to the bed. You may also put a pillow under right knee for height and support.
• Continue breathing deeply, gently pressing the left hand down on the right thigh with every exhale.
• Switch sides and hold the pose for 2-5 minutes on each side.
This yoga pose increases flexibility in the spine while stimulating digestion. It opens and stretches the shoulders and helps correct your spinal alignment, which helps you feel more comfortable as you lie in bed and sleep.
8: Reclining Bound Angle
*You may use 2-4 pillows for support and added comfort. Put one pillow under the spine, and another under your head (as pictured). If the groin and hip stretch feels a bit too much, you may also put a pillow under each knee.
• Lie down comfortably on your back with your legs extended and your arms at your sides, palms facing up.
• Bend the knees, and bring your feet together and as close to the hips as your body allows. If you feel any discomfort, just move your feet lower until you find a comfortable stretch in your hips and inner thighs.
• Lift your chest and create space between your shoulders to encourage deep breathing.
• Your hips, knees, and shoulders should sink down naturally. Stay in this pose for 5-15 minutes.
• As you leave the pose, hug knees to your chest to release lower back. Then, lower your legs back down and stretch them out and you finally prepare for slumber.
This restorative pose offers mind and body relaxation, helping to relieve stress while you get a good stretch in your hips, groin, and shoulders. Try this short and simple sequence you can do right on your bed so you’ll feel relaxed and blissed out as you sink into a deep sleep.
Image Credit: Sophie Van