Yoga Therapy for Sleep

Disclosure: Participate at your own risk, Lilac Lotus Yoga and all affiliates are not responsible for any personal injury. The information and suggestions in this article are not intended to be taken as medical advice. Always treat your body with kindness and consult your physician before beginning any new exercise routine.

Purpose: to improve both quality of sleep and the time taken to fall asleep

Remember: when doing these poses you should never feel pain, although you may feel some discomfort, mild discomfort is needed for growth

Frequency: 3-4 times a week for 15 minutes

Modifications: all of these poses can be done laying right in bed!

Additional Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep

  • No food after 8PM (or up until 3hrs before bed)

  • Do not do heavy exercise before bed

  • Limit screentime at least an hour before bed (especially action/video games)

  • Check your phone one final time & set your alarm, then put it out of reach when you get into bed

  • Try essential oils like lavender & peppermint to calm your senses

  • Try white noise like a fan or sound machine (maybe fall asleep to meditation)

  • If you can’t sleep try scanning your body from your toes to your head with your eyes closed (repeat until you fall asleep)

Apanasana: 5 Deep Breaths

Benefits: This pose puts a healthy amount of pressure on both of the knee joints, using this pressure to purge the joint of any inflammation that may be causing pain and keeping you awake. This stretch also soothes the digestive system for a relaxing rest.

1. Lay flat on the floor or on your bed, bring both knees into your chest

2. Wrap your hands around your shins or your thighs, whichever is easiest

3. Gently squeeze your knees into your chest

4. Rest your head on the floor or on your pillow

5. Option to hold still, or gently rock from side to side

6. Make sure your head and neck are resting on the floor or on a pillow for support

7. Stay here for at least 5 deep breaths

Reclined Twist: 5 Deep Breaths on Each Side

Benefits: This pose gently releases the spine and opens up the heart. Heart opening poses have the added benefit of creating space for your lungs and space to breathe deeply. Try breathing extra deep in this pose for maximum sleepiness results!

1. Lay on your back (on the floor or on your bed)

2. Bring both knees in towards your chest

3. Roll knees over to the right side

4. Bend elbows and relax hands up towards your head

5. For more comfort, try placing a pillow or two in between your knees

6. Do your best to keep both shoulders flat on the surface you are laying on

7. Stay here at least 5 deep breaths

8. Slowly switch to the left side

Reclined Pigeon: 5 Breaths on Each Side

Benefit: All variations of pigeon help to open up the hips, but this version is especially relaxing. Since your body is totally supported by the floor or by your bed, your hips can open up in a much more gentle way.

1. Lay flat on your back on your bed or on the floor

2. Bend both knees so your feet are flat

3. Cross your right ankle over your left knee

4. You can stay there or rock your knees side to side for an extra stretch

5. Stay here at least 5 deep breaths

6. Switch sides so that left ankle is now crossed

TIP* For a deeper stretch, try lifting the grounded foot up and bring your knee/ankle in towards your chest!

Child’s Pose: Hold for 10 Deep Breaths

Benefits: This pose brings your parasympathetic nervous system online and as a result, allows your body to relax into a rest-and-digest state. This pose also relieves the hips and low back of tightness which commonly are areas of pain when sleeping.

1.From a table top position, push through your hands and send your hips back towards your heels. The hips might actually touch your heels, and they may not

2. Lengthen through your spine and rest your head on a pillow or on the floor/bed.

3. Relax the chest so it rests comfortably on your thighs

4. Relax your arms and elbows until your body feels supported and calm

5. Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths

Butterfly Pose : 10 Deep Breaths

Benefit: Butterfly Pose offers a deep stretch in the hips that moves around the outside of the glutes and low back which are common areas of pain when sleeping.

1. Sitting on the floor or on your bed, draw the soles of your feet together

2. If you like bring a pillow or blocks ( as pictured) over the top of your feet to rest your head

3. Fold the body, sending the knees in the direction of the Earth

4. Hold (or rock side to side) for at least 5 deep breaths

TIP* Try moving your feet away from your body, this changes the dynamic of the stretch and allows the body to fold deeper!

Seated Neck Stretches: 5 Deep Breaths (forward, left & right)

Benefits: These poses stretch the neck and shoulders, helping to release any built up tension that has accumulated there from the day. Releasing these muscles is like emotionally releasing all that baggage most of us carry around, helping to improve sleep.

1. Sit on the floor or on your bed (in butterfly pose or criss-cross)

2. Starting with the forward stretch (picture 1) bring both hands behind your head & interlace your fingers

3. Gently put pressure on your head as you bring your chin down to your chest

4. Hold for 5 deep breaths

5. Gently roll your ear over to your right shoulder

6. Pull your left shoulder down, option to bring your right hand over your head to intensify the stretch

7. Hold 5 deep breaths

8. Repeat on the left side