Certainly not all yoga postures are advisable for you to be doing right before you hit the sack. Some that immediately come to mind are back bends (heart openers) and handstands. These poses are energizing and stimulating for the body, and probably not ones that will wind you down for the day.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are some awesome forward folds and reclining postures that can help tell your nervous system that you are safe and that it's time to rest.
The following 5 postures are my favorite bedtime yoga poses that help me drift off to dreamland with ease.
1. Uttanasana, Standing Forward Fold
To begin my nighttime yoga routine, I like to start in the classic Standing Forward Fold, and I suggest you do the same. Stand with your feet hip width apart and knees slightly bent. Drape your torso along your thighs, making contact if you can and if it feels good.
Allow your head and neck to fully relax and hang down towards the floor. Grasp opposing elbows with your hands. Relax and breathe here for 10 to 15 breaths.
2. Salamba Sarvangasana, Shoulder Stand
After your hang in Uttanasana, come for a short rest in Shoulder Stand. This posture is amazing for cooling the mind and the body, and for drawing your attention and focus inwards.
You can use blankets and other props for support or practice it free standing, just be sure to properly set yourself up so that you are not putting your neck in any danger. If you are unclear on how to practice this posture safely, I highly recommend asking your favorite yoga teacher for a tutorial.
Everyone is different, and if you have any neck, back, or shoulder issues, it can be really wonderful to get that extra one-on-one instruction. Stay here for 10 to 15 breaths.
3. Paschimottanasana, Seated Forward Fold
Easily transition out of your Shoulder Stand and roll up into this easy seated forward fold. You can place a pillow over your legs so that your torso and head have a place to rest as you relax into your posture. Keep your feet gently flexed as you practice this pose. Allow your head and neck to fully relax into your legs or into your support.
By this point, your mind will start to quiet, and your breath will become longer and smoother. Breathe easy here for 10 to 15 breaths.
4. Viparita Karani, Legs Up the Wall
Legs Up the Wall is my number one go-to posture for rest and relaxation. To get into it, simply sit with your right hip touching the wall and have your knees tucked into your chest and feet planted on the floor. Then, recline and swivel yourself so that both of your sit bones make contact with the wall. Knees are still folded into your chest and feet still touch the wall. You may have to do some wiggling to make this happen.
Once your seat is touching the wall and your torso is perpendicular to the wall, extend your legs long up the wall.
If your hamstrings are strong and straining in this pose, you can move your seat back away from the wall until you do not feel a pull any longer. Take your arms out into a ‘T’ position, then just breathe. I like to stay here for at least 20 breaths.
5. Balasana, Child's Pose
Finally come to rest in Child’s Pose. I personally like to rest with my knees wide apart, arms outstretched in front of me, but you can do any variation that feels best for you. Knees together, putting a pillow or bolster over your legs, making a pillow with your hands for your head to rest upon, letting your arms lie by your sides – anything that feels good. Rest here until you are ready for sleep!
Do you have any other favorite poses to practice before you go to bed? Let me know in the comment section!