If you often struggle to fall asleep, you’re not alone: lots of people toss and turn for hours in bed before finally drifting off and getting some actual rest. When it happens regularly you can end up feeling constantly tired during the day, possibly overusing sugar and coffee to stay awake, and even getting depressed and gaining weight as a result. That’s serious! Doing the following yoga poses before bed will help you fall asleep (and stay asleep).
The first time you do these poses, it’s good not to stay in them for too long. One minute is plenty. Later, you can extend the pose to five minutes or even longer.
Balasana – Child’s Pose
If you have knee problems, this one probably isn’t a good idea. But for everyone else, this pose will relax your nervous system, back, shoulders, belly, and your mind. If your rear end doesn’t reach your heels, fold a blanket a few times over and tuck it under your bum so you can really let go. You can stretch your arms out in front of you or let them relax at your sides. Set an alarm so you know when to come out of the pose. While you’re in the Child’s Pose be sure to breathe deeply, especially into your back.
Supta Baddha Konasana — Bound Angle Reclining Pose
Some people call this the butterfly pose: lying on your back, prop up your knees, place the soles of your feet together and gently let your knees fall away to the sides. Most of us can’t lie flat in this pose. Our knees will be at least a few inches away from the ground. So to relax, put a stack of books or a rolled-up blanket or pillow under each knee. Let your arms splay out at your sides, totally relaxed as well. Breathe all the way into your lower belly.
Lying on your back, take hold of your knees (or if you can reach, all the way around your shins as pictured here). Rock gently from side to side. It’s a great way to stretch and massage your lower back after a long day. Let your legs and feet completely relax. At the same time, let your shoulders melt toward the ground — be sure not to tense them while holding your knees. And of course, breathe deeply.
Supta Matsyendrasana – Reclining Spinal Twist
Lying on your back, prop up your knees and then let them fall over to the right side. You can stabilize your legs by holding the left thigh with your right hand. But at the same time, stretch your left arm out to the left and gently roll your head to the left. Here too, you want both shoulders to relax into the ground as much as possible. And yes, breathe! Then repeat the pose on the other side.
Matsyasana – Fish Pose
Lying on your back with your arms on the ground at your sides, slide your hands — palms down — under your rear end. As you slide them, start to press the whole lower arms into the ground while bending your elbows. The effect is to lift your upper body gently upward and open your chest. You can hold your head up if your throat and neck are uncomfortable, or gently let your head fall backward toward the ground. Take five to ten deep breaths and then carefully remove your hands from under you. Lie flat and enjoy the open sensation in your chest.