The Ultimate Guide to Yoga for Better Sleep: 4 Poses To Melt Away The Day

+ what to do when you're wide awake in the middle of the night


If you’re one of the millions of people who struggle with getting better, more consistent, and restful sleep, practicing a few yoga, meditation, and breathwork techniques can be of support.

Whether you have a hard time going to bed at a decent hour, or maybe you tend to wake up in the middle of the night and are unable to get any more shut-eye, there are a few simple things you can do to shift into a better sleep cycle.

Dive in with us, and start to experience better sleep!

8 Benefits Of Yoga For Better Sleep

There are many reasons why incorporating yoga into your daily bedtime routine can benefit your sleep.

Here are a few:

  • Stress Reduction: Yoga serves as a powerful stress-buster, helping to release tension accumulated throughout the day. Stress reduction is a key factor in promoting a calm mind and grounded mental health, essential for falling asleep easily.
  • Mind-Body Connection: The mindful aspects of yoga foster a deeper connection between the mind and body. This heightened awareness can contribute to a sense of tranquility, paving the way for a more peaceful night’s sleep.
  • Relaxation Response: Certain yoga poses and breathing techniques trigger the body’s relaxation response. This physiological shift includes a decrease in heart rate and a release of calming neurotransmitters, creating an environment conducive to sleep.
  • Improved Sleep Quality: Regular practice of yoga has been linked to improved sleep quality. The combination of physical postures, deep breathing, and meditation can enhance the overall duration and depth of sleep.
  • Insomnia Alleviation: Yoga offers a holistic approach for those grappling with insomnia1 National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2022, March 24). What Is Insomnia? NHLBI, NIH. and sleep disorders. Targeted poses and relaxation techniques can address the underlying causes of sleep disturbances, promoting a more sustainable solution than medication alone.
  • Nighttime Wakefulness Management: For those who find themselves waking up in the middle of the night, yoga provides a toolbox of calming techniques. Incorporating yoga into these moments can facilitate a smoother return to restful sleep.
  • Enhanced Circulation: Certain yoga poses stimulate blood circulation, promoting better oxygenation throughout the body. This contributes to relaxation and can alleviate discomfort that might otherwise disrupt sleep.
  • Cultivation of Mindfulness: Mindfulness, a core component of yoga, encourages a non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. Practicing mindfulness can help quiet the mind’s chatter, reducing racing thoughts that may interfere with falling asleep.
a woman sitting cross legged on a bed with her hand in a mudra with a spiritual design coming out of it.

Pre-Bedtime Yoga

If you live a busy life and often find it difficult to let go of the day and relax, taking a few moments to practice some yoga before bedtime may be beneficial.

Before-bedtime yoga serves as a transition ritual, signaling to the body and mind that it’s time to unwind.

The deliberate, slow movements and mindful breathwork of yoga for better sleep help shift the nervous system from the active “fight or flight” mode to the calming “rest and digest” state.

Establishing a consistent bedtime ritual2 Pacheco, D. (2021, January 8). Bedtime routines for adults. Sleep Foundation., including a yoga routine, helps signal to the body that it’s time to prepare for sleep.

Rituals cue the brain to release sleep-inducing hormones, contributing to a more seamless transition into slumber.

Beyond the physical benefits, this practice nurtures mental clarity, emotional balance, and a heightened sense of mindfulness—all essential elements for a night of deep and restorative sleep.

4 Yoga Poses For Insomnia

Amidst the myriad of remedies for insomnia, yoga stands out as a gentle yet powerful approach to alleviating sleeplessness.

By practicing specific yoga poses, you can create a calming bedtime ritual that eases the mind, relaxes the body, and invites the serenity necessary for a restful night’s sleep.

One of the best yoga styles to practice before bed is restorative yoga, which allows your body to remain in each posture for a longer period of time, releasing tension and promoting better sleep.

Here are a few yoga for better sleep poses, ideal for those nights when insomnia shows up that you can do right in your bed:

1# Child’s pose (Balasana)

annotated image of a woman doing child's pose

Child’s Pose gently stretches the spine, lower back, hips, and thighs, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.

You can practice this yoga posture with a bolster or pillows under your chest for a little bit of support.

If child’s pose is uncomfortable for your knees, consider shifting the plane of the posture and taking Wind relieving posture (Pawanmuktasana) instead, laying on your back and hugging your knees in.

2# Legs-Up-The-Wall-Pose (Viparita Karani)

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing legs up the wall pose

Requiring minimal effort, this pose involves lying on your back with legs extended up against a wall.

Legs Up the Wall helps drain tension from the legs, soothes the nervous system, and promotes relaxation.

To release more tension from your hips and groins, maybe you try wall Upavistha Konasana.

3# Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

an annotated image of a woman wearing black yoga clothes doing reclined bound angle Pose

This restorative pose involves reclining with the soles of the feet together and knees gently falling to the sides.

This yoga for better sleep pose opens the chest and hips, releasing tension and inviting a sense of ease, and you can use pillows and bolsters to support your knees as well as your spine.

4# Corpse Pose (Savasana)

annotated image of a woman in corpse pose, savasana

Corpse Pose allows for complete full body surrender, promoting deep relaxation, dissolving of muscle tension, and calming the nervous system.

If you get lucky, after being in this asana for a few minutes, you may just fall right to sleep!

Midnight Yoga: Techniques For Sleep Interruptions

Waking up in the middle of the night, mind buzzing with thoughts, is a common challenge, especially when you have an endless to-do list to get to before midday tomorrow.

When you find yourself wide awake and unable to sleep past midnight, remember that yoga provides a set of calming techniques that can transform these sleep interruptions into opportunities for reconnecting with yourself, and hopefully return to slumber soon.

Here are some quick meditation, breathwork and yoga for better sleep technique you can try:

  • Mindful breathing: Mindful breathing not only calms the nervous system but also redirects attention away from intrusive thoughts, creating a mental space conducive to sleep.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation: it helps dissipate physical tension, signaling to the body that it’s time to unwind and encouraging a more profound state of relaxation.
  • Guided visualization: this technique usually involves picturing a serene beach or a peaceful scene, diverting the mind from disruptive thoughts and inviting a sense of calm.

Pro Tips For Practicing Yoga For Better Sleep

To maximize the benefits of your yoga practice for better sleep, consider integrating the following tips into your routine:

  • Create a bedtime ritual that signals to your body and mind that it’s time to unwind. Consistency is key, so try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
  • Incorporate gentle yoga poses, breathwork, or meditation into this ritual to condition your body for restful sleep.
  • Tailor your yoga routine to include poses known for their calming and restorative qualities, such as the ones already mentioned in this article
  • Experiment with different poses and styles of yoga to discover what works best for you, keeping in mind that the goal is to promote relaxation and release tension.
  • Incorporate deep, intentional breathing throughout your day to manage stress and cultivate an overall sense of calm. Consider short breathwork sessions during moments of tension to reset your mind and body.
  • Your sleep environment plays a crucial role in the quality of your rest. Ensure your bedroom is conducive to sleep by keeping it cool, dark, and quiet.
  • Consider adding soothing elements, such as calming colors, comfortable bedding, and perhaps a touch of aromatherapy, to enhance the overall sleep experience.
  • Embrace the process, and acknowledge that each step you take toward better deep sleep is a valuable investment in your well-being.
  • Your yoga practice should be adaptable to your unique needs and circumstances. If you’re dealing with insomnia, modify your routine to include poses and techniques that specifically address sleep interruptions.
  • Listen to your body, making adjustments as necessary to ensure your practice remains a source of comfort rather than unnecessary added stress.
  • If you’re new to yoga or struggling with persistent sleep issues, consider seeking guidance from a doctor, qualified yoga teacher, or sleep specialist.
  • They can provide personalized advice, help you tailor your practice to your individual needs, and offer insights into optimizing your sleep routine.

A Yoga For Better Sleep Practice

When I struggle with sleep, this is one of my go-to yoga for better sleep practices, with the lovely Faith Hunter!

To Close

Utilizing practices of meditation, pranayama, and yoga for better sleep, is a great way to not only stay asleep through the night, but also foster better energy levels.

By starting a yoga routine designed specifically for improving your sleep can be a transformative tool for improved sleep and overall vitality.

If you enjoyed this article and would like even more insights and tools for getting better sleep through yoga, we invite you to read this article next:

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Laia is an Afro-Catalan accessible and inclusive yoga & meditation teacher. She has trained in hatha, vinyasa, trauma-informed yoga, yin yoga, and restorative yoga and holds E-RYT 500 and YACEP accreditations with the Yoga Alliance. Additionally, she is a freelance writer and translator, publishing in Catalan, English, and Spanish. As a former professional athlete who lives with a chronic illness, Laia has gained valuable insights into the benefits of self-care and the importance of pausing and slowing down. She is dedicated to sharing accessible and sustainable practices of yoga and meditation to help people create a more harmonious life. Being a black and chronically ill individual, her mission is to empower non-normative yoga teachers to find their unique voices and develop tools to make wellness practices accessible to the communities they serve, thereby taking up space and creating a more inclusive and diverse yoga industry. Furthermore, as a writer and creative, she is passionate about supporting other creatives and innovators. She fosters a genuine community dedicated to finding balance while staying productive and inspired. Laia has developed unique techniques that intertwine yoga and meditation with writing, journaling, and other accessible methods to help each other stay creative and mindful.

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