Everyone could use a good night's sleep, but how many of us are actually doing things to help make that happen? Sure, you can not eat after a certain time, and remember to set your alarm for eight full hours, but some nights you just can't fall asleep no matter what you do.
While there isn't a perfect cure for a restless night of sleep, there are plenty of things you can do to relax your body and mind before climbing under the covers. You might only associate yoga with the gym, but it's actually a great way to relax your muscles and ensure that you feel calm and comfortable in bed each night.
These ten poses are perfect for beginners and professionals alike. Of course, be sure to talk to your doctor before attempting any of the poses and stretches covered in this list. Yoga can't change the fact that you have to work in the morning, but it can put your body and mind in a better place for falling asleep so you can take on the world when you wake up the next day.
1. Mindful Meditation
This is the pose most often associated with meditation, and for good reason. Begin by sitting cross-legged, making sure to sit up straight and lengthen your spine. Breathe deeply and focus on each breath as it goes in and out. This will help calm your mind and put you into a more peaceful head space before falling asleep.
2. Forward Bend
I once had a friend tell me that if you stretch before bed, you'll sleep like royalty. No pose exemplifies this better than the forward bend. Stretch your legs in front of you and slowly reach forward to touch your feet. Can't reach all the way? No worries! You want to stretch your muscles without any serious pain, so don't strain to reach your feet if you can only make it as far as your shins.
3. Child's Pose
Ah, to sleep like a child again. To complete this pose, you'll want to kneel down on top of your bed. Make sure your toes are touching, then separate your knees until they are about the width of your hips. Bend your torso forward so that you are resting in between your thighs.
4. Winding Down Twist
Start as you would if you were doing mindful meditation. Now, place your right hand on your left knee and your left hand on the bed behind your back. Slowly twist your torso to the left and be sure to turn your head along with it so that you are looking over your left shoulder. Take deep breaths and hold for as long as you are comfortable. Finally, return to the center position and repeat this process on the opposite side.
5. Reclining Goddess
You may not be an actual goddess, but that doesn't mean you don't deserve to be treated like one! Lay down flat on your back, bend your knees, and touch the bottoms of your feet together.
6. Legs On The Wall
Another great way to stretch out your legs - plus, inverting them is a great way to ease tension. Simply lay on your bed and lean your legs up on the wall.
7. Rock-A-Bye Roll
If you want to sleep like a baby, it helps to pose like one. While on your back, bring your knees up to your chest and hug them close. Make sure your ankles are crossed, with your hands resting on your shins. Rock forward so that you are sitting up, then allow your body to roll backward and breathe out.
8. Pigeon Pose
Don't stress if this one looks a little complicated - the relaxation that comes with it is totally worth it. Begin by getting down on your hands and knees. Slide your left knee forward, then extend your right leg behind your body. Finally, fold your upper body forward so that it stretches over your left knee. Holding this pose for a few minutes is ideal, but a little shorter is fine. Next, try this on the opposite side.
9. Supine Twist
This pose is good for both morning and night. Hug your knees against your chest, then set them down on one side of your body. After relaxing in that pose for a couple of minutes, bring your knees back up to your chest and set them down on the other side.
10. Fish Pose
Also known as the "Flashdance pose" (not really), this one is ideal for anyone with a sore back. While laying on your back, slide your hands under your hips. Then, raise your chest toward the ceiling and let your head slowly fall back.