Sleep is our body’s number one way to recharge, restore, and recover physically and mentally. Getting enough sleep every night is linked to a strong immune system, greater concentration and productivity, and better athletic performance. Getting high-quality sleep is also known to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, along with enhancing your mood.
Many of us struggle with falling asleep or staying asleep. Insomnia is not cool! I’ve had my shares of restless nights and let me tell you, it’s so frustrating when you're lying in bed wide awake. Through the years, I have incorporated some simple yoga poses (poses you can do in the comfort of your own bed) and breathing techniques that have helped me tremendously in the sleep department. Follow along, all it takes is 5 minutes before bed and you will be catching z’s in no time. Enjoy!
5 Yoga Poses You Can Do in Bed
1. Viparita Karani
Viparita Karani, also known as "legs up the wall," is one of my favorite poses to practice before bed. This simple pose will help stretch your hamstrings and support your lower back to promote relaxation. Interestingly enough, this pose can also help reduce the inflammation of your legs by reversing the blood flow of your lower extremities. To set up, lie down in bed with your hips close to your bed frame/ wall. Then elevate your legs and let them rest on the wall. If you are working with a tight lower back or tight hamstrings, bend your knees slightly or glide back a few inches away from the wall. Take 10 slow breaths.
2. Ananda Balasana
Ananda Balasana or Happy Baby pose is one of those poses I can never get enough of. This pose helps to stretch your inner thighs and restore the freedom of your hips and lower back. This pose also stimulates your digestive system and helps restore the function of your kidneys. You also can't help but feel like a cute baby, so it automatically puts you into a blissful, happy state.
Try this with me! Lie down on your back and bend your knees to your chest. Open your knees to shoulder-width apart and capture the outer edges of your feet with your hands. Keep your shoulders inside your knees and allow your spine (especially your lower back and your neck) to rest on the bed. You can rock from side to side, kicking one leg out and then the other, or simply hold the static variation. Take 10 slow breaths.
3. Supta Matsyendrasana
Supta Matsyendrasana, or Reclined Spinal Twist, is such a great pose to add to your daily repertoire to help realign your spine and wring out the tightness and tension that has been stored through the day. Twists are known to help massage and detox your organs, promoting better digestion and overall wellness. Reclined twisting will help stretch your back, lubricate the intervertebral discs, and induce deep relaxation.
Note from FitJoy: Our twists help with better digestion, too! Unlike pretzels made from wheat and other grain flours, which can be inflammatory to your stomach, the ingredients we use in our grain-free pretzels are much more gut-friendly, so your bedtime snack won't mess with your sleep.
From happy baby, hug your knees into your chest and lower both knees to the right side. Check that your hips are in alignment with your shoulders. Keep your knees at hip height for a more restorative approach, if you feel that you need more of a stretch bring your knees close to your right shoulder. Take 10 breaths. Repeat on your left side.
Paschimottonasana or seated forward bend helps to stretch major key muscles of your posterior chain including your hamstrings, glutes, spine, and shoulders. When you fold over your tights, you stimulate and tone your digestive system, bowing in also signals your body that it is time to relax and rest so it primes you for sleep. Give it a try. Sit up with your legs semi-straight in front you and place a pillow on top of your thighs. Lift your arms over your head and lengthen your spine, then fold over your legs resting your head and torso on the pillow. Take 10 deep breaths.
5. Sama Vritti
Sama Vritti or Equal Parts Breathing (or Square Breathing, as I like to call it) is a breathing technique that helps recalibrate your breath. Breathing in a mindful and slow way can help ease your mind and soothe your central nervous system. I love to incorporate this type of breathing right before bed to help reset my breath and invite a sense of peace and relaxation to my body and mind. Give it a go. Sit comfortably—you can sit on a pillow or against your bed frame/wall. Rest your palms on your knees and close your eyes. Breathe in through your nose for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 4 counts at the top of the inhale. Exhale for 4 counts and hold for 4 counts at the bottom of your exhale. That is one round. Repeat for 5 total rounds.
Once you complete this process, bring to mind 3 things you are grateful for at the moment. When I end my day with gratitude I feel more optimistic and joyful, and that's a great feeling to marinate in as I prepare for bed.
Eat at least 2-3 hours before bed to promote your rest-and-digest mode aka parasympathetic nervous system. Going to be hungry is not cute and it might keep you up all night. I sometimes like to have a snack after dinner and am currently obsessed with the FitJoy’s Grandma Lemon Square bar. Sweet and satisfying, it’s almost like dessert (but the healthy kind).
Put your electronics away at least 30 minutes before bed. The artificial blue light emitted by electronic devices increases your alertness and delays the release of melatonin (a hormone that induces sleep.) I am working on this. I try to leave my phone on silent and tuck it away before bed. These days, I am replacing screen time with reading a book or working on a puzzle, it helps me wind down and signal my internal clock that it’s time to relax and unwind.
Gustavo is a Yoga Instructor, SoulCycle Instructor and Personal Trainer living in Austin, Texas with a desire to inspire and uplift people through high-spirited fitness classes. Gustavo's quest for healing his body and nourishing his spirit led him to the discovery of Yoga and SoulCycle. When not teaching or taking a class, Gustavo likes to walk around the lake, visit coffee shops and explore different taco stands. No matter what he does or where he goes, he strives to show up mindfully.