7 Easy Yoga Exercises for Your Best Sleep – There’s no better way to start a brand new day refreshed and invigorated from a solid night’s sleep. If you aren’t a great sleeper, this may seem like an impossible goal to achieve. Although it may be challenging, it’s imperative to seek ways to improve your sleep habits for more restful Z’s. There are simple tweaks you can try, like implementing a soothing bedtime routine and avoiding electronic devices before you hit the sheets. But today, we’re here with some of the best yoga exercises for better sleep, and they’re pretty awesome!
Yoga consists of meditation and breathing techniques, which can be calming for both the mind and body, Harvard Health Publishing reports. Research also shows that yoga can help you lower depression and anxiety levels, so it should come as no surprise that it can help your body relax—and get some restful sleep at night. Eat This, Not That! spoke with Michelle Lou Lan, founder of MeshYoga and inventor of the DaBo, and we’re here to share the right yoga exercises for better sleep.
Before we begin, Lou Lan points out that it’s always a great idea to start off your yoga time with a hot shower to bump up your circulation. Then, get comfortable and begin the flow she recommends. “This yoga flow is the perfect way to wind down because it opens your body from the ground up, focusing especially on the feet, hips, shoulders, and neck. After a long day of walking, sitting, driving, etc., these parts of our bodies need some extra attention from us to settle down and find release. This openness in the body promotes a great night’s sleep,” Lou Lan tells us.
Get started with some foot mobility. Begin standing with your bare feet pressed firmly into the floor, toes pointed forward. Breathe in, and raise your toes while keeping the balls of your feet pressed into the ground. Stretch your feet as much as you’re comfortably able to, really feeling the stretch in your arches. Hold this pose for three breaths, and on your last exhale, bring your toes back to the floor and completely relax your feet. Do this for three to five rounds.
Next, get ready for the butterfly pose. “Find a seated position, and bring the soles of your feet together. Place your hands on your ankles and your elbows on your thighs. Inhale, and straighten your spine, then exhale, and lean forward until you feel the stretch in your hips and thighs while maintaining a straight spine,” Lou Lan instructs. Hold your butterfly pose for five breaths, and repeat for three total rounds.
Seated Angle Pose
You’ll start this exercise seated with both legs extended in front of you. Spread them out as wide as you’re able to, making sure to keep your toes and knees pointed up. “Inhale to prepare, straightening your spine, then exhale forward, reaching your fingers out in front of you and placing your palms on the floor,” Lou Lan instructs. “Deepen the stretch by walking your fingers forward until you feel an openness in your hips and the back side of your body, making sure to keep your spine straight.” Hold this pose for five breaths, then on the last exhale, gradually walk your hands back in. Complete three rounds.
Seated Spinal Twist
Assume a seated position with both legs extended in front of you. Bend your left knee, and plant your left foot on the outer part of your right leg. Your right leg should remain straight, or if you’re comfortably able to, bend your right knee, and bring your right foot under your left glute. “Inhale and sit tall, then exhale and twist to the left, bringing your right elbow to the outside of your left knee,” Lou Lan continues to explain. “Place your left hand onto the floor behind your left glute. Maintain a forward gaze instead of looking back over your left shoulder to ensure you aren’t putting pressure on your neck.” Hold the position for three to five breaths, then release on the last exhale. Complete three rounds on each side.
Start the archer pose seated with your spine tall and legs extended in front of you. Breathe in, and bend forward, reaching your hands toward your toes. “Wrap the fingers of your right hand around your right toes, then bend your right knee and draw your foot backward and toward the right side of your head,” Lou Lan instructs. “Slowly sit back up, keeping your right foot drawn back and your right elbow bent. With your left hand, reach for your left shin, ankle, or toes and flex your foot.” Hold the pose for five breaths, then release the hold on your last exhale. Complete three rounds on each side.
Cobra pose starts with you lying flat on your stomach. Position both palms on the mat, just below your shoulders, and gently press your elbows into the sides of your body. Breathe in as you gradually lift your chest and shoulders off the ground, keeping your gaze neutral so your neck stays lined up with your chest. Hold the post for three to five breaths, then breathe out as you release your body back to the floor. Complete three rounds.
Legs Up The Wall
Last but not least on this list of yoga exercises for better sleep is a resting pose called legs up the wall. Begin by sitting on the ground facing a wall. Gradually lower to lie down on your side so that your tailbone faces the wall. “Roll onto your back, and bring your legs up to rest on the wall, rocking your tailbone to scoot it closer,” Lou Lan continues. “You can even do some more foot mobility from this pose by inhaling and flexing your feet, then exhaling and pointing your toes, repeating for three to five breaths. Then, rest and stay in this pose as long as you’d like. Sweet dreams!”