Updated: Nov 14, 2020
What does yoga at bedtime do?
Just before bed is a wonderful time to practice yoga. At bedtime, yoga can help us to wind-down, let go of the day and process any thoughts that we may still be holding onto. A gentle yoga practice before bed can also help us to let go of any tension that we may be holding in our bodies, and relieve any compression in the spine that may have built up over the day from sitting or standing. Working with our bodies and minds in this way will help us prepare for sleep. It will not only help us fall asleep quicker, but will also make for a more restful and deep night's sleep.
Can you do yoga late at night?
Yes, you can do yoga as late as you like, even right before going to bed. It can even help us transition into bed and to sleep! A lot of students like to participate in a late night class and then slip into bed straight from savasana. One the many benefits of joining a live online yoga class from your own home is that you can practice in your PJs and transition from the mat to bed with very little disruption.
If you don't have the opportunity to practice before bed, it can also be really relaxing to only practice savasana and yoga nidra in bed as a way to help wind-down and fall asleep. Yoga nidra means yoga sleep, and is a method used to consciously relax the body using techniques such a body scans, guided visualisation and breath awareness. You can practice with a guided visualisation online, and when you become used to the techniques used you can practice by yourself!
You could even do a posture or two in the middle of the night to help you to fall back to sleep. When I was pregnant, I spent a lot of time restless and awake during the night, and found gentle restorative poses like child's pose to be really helpful. You can even do a pose like this under the covers!
When should we do yoga for sleep?
You can practice yoga for sleep as frequently or infrequently as you like. You can do it every evening, or just sporadically. The frequency that you practice yoga at bedtime will depend purely on you, your other commitments, and your bedtime routine. You may like to join a couple of late evening live online yoga classes for a little more structure and longer guided practices, and then on evenings when you aren't joining a class, practice a couple of favourite postures before you head to bed or even in bed! You may like to do a guided savasana as you go to sleep, or use some gentle breathing techniques to help you fall back to sleep if you wake up in the middle of the night.
Which yoga is best for sleeping?
The great news is that so many different postures bring with them many different benefits to assist with creating the conditions for better sleep. A calmer mind, a more relaxed body and generally winding down before sleep can be achieved by a plethora of yoga postures!
Meditative (dharma) poses
These can be really helpful in helping you prepare your body and mind for practice. They can help you disconnect from the comings and goings of your day, and help guide your attention inwards to body and mind. Popular meditative poses to use in your bedtime practice may include easy cross-legged pose, butterfly pose, standing prayer pose, mountain pose and for a gentle hip stretch, bull pose.
Slightly more physical (jnana) poses
These may help relieve compression in the spine, and iron out kinks and creases that can build up throughout the day. They could include some balance postures like tree or palm tree pose, and some warriors may feel nice and releasing too. You could try a warrior 1, warrior 2 and warrior 3 sequence to open up a little space in body and mind. Perfect preparation for sleep.
Gentle backbends and heart opening (aishwarya) poses
These can help set us up for sleep by opening our chests and shoulders in the opposite way to how we may have spent a lot of our day. For example, sitting at a desk, spending time on a mobile device or looking after small children, may lead to rounded shoulders, spines and a closed off chest. Gentle opening postures such as cobra or sphinx can help us to reverse this, and ultimately bring us back to a place of balance and ease, for a restful sleep.
Restorative (varagiya) poses
Restorative, or yin style poses, such as forward folds and relaxation postures have incredible 'let go' effects on the body and mind. They are essential to integrate into your evening practice as they can help you to transition from your day to sleep by assisting you to shift or process thoughts, energy, and any unfinished business. Leaving you with a clearer and more spacious mind and body, conducive to good sleep. Postures here may include seated or standing forward folds, child's pose and savasana.
Your Simple 10 Minute Bedtime Sequence
Wide-knees child's pose (balasana)
Frog pose (manduasana)
Cobra pose (bhujangasana)
Down ward dog (ardho mukta svasanana)
Standing forward fold (uttanasana)
Mountain pose (tadasana)
Tree pose (ekpadasana)
Warrior II (virapadasanana II)
Wide legged forward fold (prasarita padottanasana)
Kneeling pose (vajrasana)
Corpse pose (savasana)
Ready to create a little bit of space for you? Why not try our Live Online Yoga classes, bringing you accessible yoga for all, from our living room to yours? Sign up now for 15 days of free unlimited classes.
Carrie is a co-founder of The Frog Project, yoga teacher, and full time stay at home mum to two smalls. When she's not playing with the kids or practicing yoga, you'll likely find her in the middle of her veg patch, trowel in hand and covered in mud. She loves the outdoors, and would camp every night given the chance. She and her partner in crime, Martin, set up The Frog Project with the aim of bringing classical yoga to all, and deliver live online classes with a group of dedicated teachers, to students of all experiences, ages, shapes, sizes, jobs, lives, you name it, from all around the world. Join them now and get 15 days of free unlimited classes. It's just yoga.