When people think about yoga, they often think energizing sun salutations, and challenging poses that get your heart pumping. But for a lot of reasons, yoga is actually fantastic for winding down and lowering stress levels after a busy day. The reason is that a bedtime yoga routine not only relaxes your body but also your mind. With its focus on helping you stay in the present moment, and practices that promote deep, restful breathing, physical awareness, and other important things to help you develop good sleep practices. By practicing yoga before bedtime, you can achieve several benefits that will refresh your body, mind and spirit.
Evening yoga benefits
There are six primary reasons to practice 15-60 minutes of asana and pranayama before bedtime. With a dedicated and regular practice, you can experience one or more of the following benefits. You will see more benefits arise in your life as you lengthen and deepen your evening practice.
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1. Reduces anxiety and worry
Yoga offers plenty of tools to help you cut down on stress, worry and anxiety. Incorporating deep breathing and meditation into your nightly yoga practice will encourage you to relax, and allow you to sleep through the night, no matter how stressful your daily routine is. There are several calming and soothing yogic breathing exercises that can allow you to relax before bedtime. If you wake up because of racing thoughts or anxiety, you can practice one or two pranayamas in your bed to help you fall back asleep.
2. Helps build a bedtime routine
Good sleep hygiene is essential for a good night’s rest. Sleep hygiene is adopting good habits and a nighttime routine that promotes sleeping and deep rest. A session of calming postures and slow deep breathing at the end of your day will send your body the signal that it’s time to wind down for the night, which will help you fall asleep easier. For best results, allow yourself to transition directly from your yoga mat to your bed.
3. Improves circulation
Slow deep stretching and mindful breathing before bed improves circulation which lowers blood pressure, helps prevent blood clots and balances out your energy levels. Healthy circulation also strengthens the immune system, detoxifies the body, and encourages cell regeneration. Good circulation of prana, blood and body fluids has a positive impact on your overall health, which in turn improves sleep.
4. Encourages weight loss
We know that daily exercise will help you lose weight and maintain a healthy body type. Practicing strengthening yoga postures will boost your metabolism to encourage burning more calories while you sleep. A healthy weight cuts down on heartburn and digestion troubles and improves heart health, which helps you sleep better. If you are using a more active practice to lose weight, it’s best to end with a longer Shavasana pose and meditation to encourage relaxation before bed.
5. Soothes sore muscles and joint pain
Slow deep stretching before bed is will relieve muscle tension, joint pain and night time aches. Many people experience body aches and pains after a hard day at work, especially people who work on their feet or sit at a desk a lot. If your body feels painful and uncomfortable, it will be difficult to fall asleep. Gentle yoga poses are one of the best methods for reducing pain and tension to allow a sound sleep. If you wake up due to body pain, you might even be able to practice one or two poses in your bed to help you ease the discomfort.
6. Reduces Insomnia
With all its emphasis on relaxation and mindfulness, it’s easy to see how a regular yoga routine will help you build restful habits that allow you to sleep, and stay asleep, regularly. Deep, restful sleep, thanks to the good circulation and good sleep habits of regular routine, will improve your health, and your overall quality of life. A yogic lifestyle and regular meditation further helps reduce insomnia and improve sleep.
Best Poses Before Bed
Just like there are certain yoga poses that work best to bring your energy up in the morning, there are some that are naturally designed to relax your body and mind, which makes them perfect for yoga before bed. Relaxing postures, such as forward bends, restorative poses, and poses that help you breathe deeply, are best.
Besides increasing your chances of getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, the yoga poses below will help you fall asleep faster, sleep deeper, and wake up feeling more rested than ever before.
- Seated Forward Bend
- Child’s pose
- Supine Bound Angle
- Legs-Up-The-Wall pose
- Supine Spinal Twist
- Corpse pose
As these poses are the most effective asanas to promote calm and deep sleep, they should be held for several minutes with slow deep breathing. Practicing additional poses from our Yoga Poses for Insomnia list is recommended. You can practice other active asanas, just be mindful of minimizing any energizing poses and placing these at the beginning of your sequence.
Playing some soft music and using calming essential oils will further encourage you to relax. Take time to meditate before or after your evening practice, to further promote restful sleep, and peace of mind throughout the night. A regular yoga practice is the best way to reap all of these great benefits of yoga and improve your quality of sleep.
Nighttime yoga drawbacks
There aren’t many concerns for practicing yoga before bed as long as you practice safely and mindfully. If certain yoga poses stimulate your mind or body too much and disturb your sleep quality, then minimize or avoid these asanas altogether, or practice yoga earlier in the evening. Adding additional time for meditation and calming breathing techniques should be helpful to balance out any stimulating effects of your evening yoga practice.
The breathing, stretches, and relaxation yoga at night offers have many wonderful benefits—most importantly, yoga helps you reduce stress and wind down after a long busy day. A few minutes of yoga is one of the best things to help your body and mind prepare for a good night’s rest.