Bedtime Yoga Poses

Yoga can help stretch a tight body and quiet a busy mind before bedtime. The best stretches are ones that have a calming effect over the nervous system and mind, while stretching deeply into the major areas of tightness in the body. When the body is relaxed, loose and open, and the mind is quiet, you are better prepared to rest well.

Forward Folds
Forward folds stretch the back of the legs, which gets tight from standing, too much activity and sitting for long periods of time. The folds also send a signal to the nervous system to stop the flight-or-flight adrenaline rush we use throughout our day, and to start to relax. Forward folds, with the legs together, one leg extended or wide legs, are common and effective folds for stretching the legs and calming the mind.

Neck and Shoulders
Many of your daily activities can cause you to look downward, which tugs on your shoulders and the back of your neck. This can lead to tension and tightness in your neck, shoulders and head, causing tension headaches. This area is also one of the regions you tense when you are stressed. This tension can build and make it hard to find a comfortable position to sleep. By stretching in to these areas, you can relieve some of this tension. Try shoulderstand, cat/cow poses, clasp your hands behind your back, or simply drop your ear toward your shoulder.

Hip Openers
The hips also become tight from too much activity or not enough movement. The hips are also one of the targets of stress. When we are stressed, the hips tense and become tight. This tightness in the hips can affect your sleep, causing you to toss and turn or wake up throughout the night. Stretching the hips will loosen the muscles and release the stress-related tension. Stretches such as pigeon pose, wide-knee child's pose, and firelog pose all stretch deeply into the hips.

Twisting poses help you stretch all the way from the hips, through the back and sides, to neck and head. These twists release tension along the spine and all of the muscles connecting into it. When the spinal muscles are tight, it can cause back pain, which may prevent you from sleeping fully through the night. Gentle twists are best before bedtime, such as a seated twist or a simple recline twist.