Whether you have a hard time falling asleep or not, yoga before bed is always a great idea. To come to your mat, unwind from the day, and bring a little more peace to your mind and body is always refreshing, relaxing, and often needed after a hectic day. Yin yoga especially is a great way to ease your body and mind into a more relaxed state for sleep, so if you’re feeling like you need to move but don’t have much energy, or just want a bit of assistance falling asleep, try these poses or the sequence below and enjoy some yin yoga for sleep that will have you blissful in bed.
Yin Yoga Poses for Sleep
Try some or all of these yin yoga poses to help you ease into sleep. The order in which they’re listed is recommended but not necessary. Always do what feels best for your body.
We don’t lay down on the floor right away, instead, try beginning your winddown for the night in a simple seated meditation pose. Since meditation pose is so grounding, beginning your yin yoga practice for sleep with this pose is a great start to help you settle both your mind and body from the day before moving into a more relaxed pose that is laying on your mat.
Meditation pose is traditionally practiced cross-legged, but that doesn’t mean you have to as well. If it’s comfortable for you to sit cross-legged, go ahead and do so. It’s often easier for people to keep their spines tall and long when sitting on something. Try a block, meditation cushion, or even a couple of pillows. This allows your hips to tip forward slightly which is more often than not a more natural angle for the spine to be straight.
If crossing your legs doesn’t feel great, come to sit on your heels, your shins on the mat in thunderbolt pose. You can always place a block, bolster, or rolled blanket between your legs for your bum to sit on if you feel any discomfort in your knees.
Hold for 3-5 minutes, focusing on your breath, releasing thoughts from your day, and breathing up and down your spine to begin to settle your body and mind.
Butterfly Forward Fold Pose
There is something to be said for forward folds and the feeling of surrender that they bring. Incorporating a butterfly forward fold into a yoga practice for sleep is like a surrender to the day, all that happened, and releasing it to surrender further into a restful sleep. Plus this pose feels great on the lower back which can hold a lot of tension from the day!
Begin by sitting on your bum, legs in front of you. Bring the soles of your feet to touch, creating a large diamond shape with your legs. For a more yin-like variation, keep your feet further rather than closer to your groin. Start with a straight spine and instead of folding forward with a straight spine, allow your spine to curl, your head heavy.
Place your hands on the outsides of your feet or your forearms on the ground in front of your legs, palms facing up or down. If your head is hanging in the air, place a block or a similar prop under your head (this may mean it’s on your feet which is okay) to allow your neck to relax.
Hold for 3-5 minutes, moving any props out of the way or moving your arms forward as time takes you deeper into this forward fold.
It always feels wonderful to get into the hips after a long day and release the tension that builds up in our hip flexors from sitting or walking. Deer pose does just that!
Begin sitting with your legs in front of you. Bring your left leg to a 90-degree angle at your side, your left knee directly out from your left hip. Bend your right leg so that is to is at a 90-degree angle with your right shin parallel to the top of your mat. This pose is also referred to as 90-90. The bottom of your right foot should be pointing towards the left edge of your mat and the bottom of your left foot should be pointing towards the bottom of your mat (though this leg is most likely off of the mat).
Allow your hips to feel heavy, especially noticing your left, allowing your left glute to meet the mat if possible. Sit with a straight spine and if it feels good, fold forward over your right leg. You may place a block under your head or use a bolster or rolled-up blanket and lay it under your body, straight out from your right leg to the top of your mat. Your head may look to either side.
It may feel more comfortable to angle your body to the left in a forward fold, play with what position works for you. Hold for 2-4 minutes and then switch sides, being mindful to look in the opposite direction for your neck on the second side.
Not your traditional yin pose, but one that is great for release and gets the blood flowing, waterfall pose invites in a final bit of movement before total relaxation.
There are two ways to do this pose, with or without a wall. If using a wall, place your bum against the wall and extend your legs up. They may be as close or as far apart as feels good for you today. If not using a wall, place your feet flat on the ground so that you can lift your hips and place a block, bolster, or rolled blanket under your hips to elevate them. Once placed, lift your legs towards the sky, keeping your knees as bent or straight as feels good. For both variations, allow your arms to fall wide from your sides.
Hold for 1-2 minutes. Before moving out of this pose, raise your arms to the sky and shake your legs and arms to release any final tension (yes, it’s normal to feel silly doing this!), just for 20 seconds or so and then come to stillness again for another 20-30 seconds or a few deep breaths.
Last, but certainly not least is the wonderful savasana, the most relaxing pose of them all. Prepare yourself to roll into bed after this yin pose, and if you fall asleep here, know that your bed is close by and allow yourself to snooze.
Come to lay on your back, legs, and arms long out from your sides. Place your limbs in any way that feels comfortable for you at this moment. Allow your palms to face up or maybe place them on your belly.
You may even want to cover yourself with a blanket, and/or use a rolled blanket, 2 blocks, or a bolster under your knees to bring more comfort to the lower back. Invite deep breaths and stay here for 5-10 minutes or until you feel it’s time to move into bed.
Bedtime Yin Yoga Sequence
Follow this sequence with me as your guide into a restful sleep with this 38-minute yin yoga class.
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