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18 Poses to Do Before and After Sleep

Nicole Baker
18 Poses to Do Before and After Sleep

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These postures will keep your body and mind healthy while maximizing your sleep schedule. 

#1 Balasana – Child’s Pose

Balasana - Child’s Pose
Balasana – Child’s Pose

Open your knees wide and bring your big toes to touch. Sit back with your hips towards your heels. Lengthen your spine and reach your arms forward in front of you.

Spread your fingers wide on the surface beneath you. Rest your head comfortably on the bed, pillow, or blanket.

Take 5-10 deep breaths in this pose. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

#2 Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Fold

Paschimottanasana - Seated Forward Fold
Paschimottanasana – Seated Forward Fold

Extend your legs out in front of you. Keep a slight bend in your knees and your feet flexed. Lengthen your spine and sit tall. Hinge forward from your hips and reach forward towards your feet or ankles.

Keep your knees bent or slowly straighten your legs for more of a stretch.

Take 5-10 deep breaths in this position. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

#3 Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclined Bound Angle Pose

Supta Baddha Konasana - Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana – Reclined Bound Angle Pose

Start by laying flat on your back. Bring the soles of your feet together with your knees open wide. Rest your arms in a comfortable position by your sides. Or, you can place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach.

Relax the muscles in your face and neck.

Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths, breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.

#4 Jathara Parivartanasana – Supine Twist Pose

Jathara Parivartanasana - Supine Twist Pose
Jathara Parivartanasana – Supine Twist Pose

Pull your right knee into your chest and extend your left leg long. Guide your right knee across your body. Make sure to keep stacking your hips. Reach your right arm to the side.

If you’re comfortable here, try turning your gaze to the right. Relax into this twist and keep both shoulders grounded on the surface beneath you.

Hold for 4-10 slow breaths. Then repeat on the left side.

#5 Viparita Karani – Legs Up the Wall Pose

Viparita Karani — Legs Up The Wall Pose
Viparita Karani — Legs Up The Wall Pose

Start by laying flat on your back and lift your legs towards the ceiling. Flex your feet back. Allow your arms to fall alongside your body with palms facing up or down. Keep the entire length of your spine grounded on the bed beneath you.

Make sure your legs are steady but relaxed. You can bring a soft bend to your knees if you need to.

Take in 5-10 breaths in this position. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth.

For added relaxation, try closing your eyes for the duration of this posture.

#6 Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – The Sleeping Pigeon

Eka Pada Rajakapotasana - The Sleeping Pigeon
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana – The Sleeping Pigeon

To begin, start in a plank position. Tighten your abs and then bring your right knee toward your right hand. Place your right foot as close as possible to your left hand. Keep your back leg extended with your hips even.

Relax your weight through the middle of your hips.

Slowly lower your chest over your front shin. Relax your forehead on the mat beneath you. Stretch your arms out overhead and surrender to this posture.

#7 Uttanasana – Forward Fold Pose

Uttanasana - Forward Fold Pose
Uttanasana – Forward Fold Pose

Stand straight with your hands beside you. Exhale and bend forward and down, hinging from your hips. Keep your knees straight if possible. Put your hands beside your feet.

Press your palms against the floor firmly. Then place your elbows outside of your calf muscles and relax.

This simple pose can help aid insomnia.

#8 Halasana – Plow Pose

Halasana - Plow Pose
Halasana – Plow Pose

This spinal stretch works wonders for those with sleep issues. Lie flat on your back and bring your legs up to the ceiling. Drop your legs overhead and bring your toes to touch the floor behind you. Lay your arms straight down on the ground for balance. Breathe into this pose.

Plow Pose will help to soothe and revitalize the body. It renews the mind and spirit for better sleep.

#9 Supta Virasana – Reclining Hero Pose

Supta Virasana - Reclining Hero Pose
Supta Virasana – Reclining Hero Pose

Begin by setting up Virasana. Exhale and lower your back torso towards the floor behind you. Lean into your hands, then forearms, then elbows. Once you are on your elbows, place your hands on the back of the pelvis and release your lower back.

You can recline onto the floor or use a blanket or bolster for support.

#10 Utta Shishosana – Extended Puppy Pose

Utta Shishosana - Extended Puppy Pose
Utta Shishosana – Extended Puppy Pose

This posture is a hybrid between Downward Facing Dog and Child’s Pose.

Start by extending your arms on the ground in front of you. Keep your palms down on the floor. Rest your forehead on the ground. Your knees and shins should be resting on the ground as well.

Your hips should be directly above your knees. This pose will calm the mind and is ideal for those with insomnia.

#11 Utthan Pristhasana – Lizard Lunge Pose

Utthan Pristhasana - Lizard Lunge Pose
Utthan Pristhasana – Lizard Lunge Pose

Begin by kneeling on your mat in a tabletop position. Step your right foot to the top of the mat outside of your right hand. Walk your back leg as far back as you’re comfortable. Keep your toes tucked underneath you.

You have the option to lift your back knee off the ground here.

Squeeze your feet towards each other. This will engage your hip and leg muscles. Reach your chest forward and keep a long spine. If you have room, lower your forearms down to the ground or on top of a block.

Hold this posture for 5 breaths. Then release back to tabletop and repeat on the other side.

#12 Salamba Bhujangasana – Sphinx Pose

Salamba Bhujangasana - Sphinx Pose
Salamba Bhujangasana – Sphinx Pose

Lie on your belly with your forearms flat on the floor. Your elbows should be underneath your shoulders. Press your chin on the floor and keep your legs together. Press your forearms down into the floor and inhale.

Lifting your head and chest off of the floor. Keep your neck in line with your spine. Pull in your knee caps and squeeze your thighs and buttocks.

Engage the mula bandha and press the pubic bone down into the floor.

Keep your elbows close by your sides. Then use your arms to lift up higher. Drop your shoulders down your back and press your chest forward. Draw your chin in towards the back of your neck and gaze up.

Breathe into this posture and hold for 2-6 breaths. To release, exhale, and lower your chest and head to the floor.

#13 Sukhasana – Easy Pose

Sukhasana - Easy Pose
Sukhasana – Easy Pose

Begin seated in Dandasana. Cross your right shin in front of your left. Keep your knees stacked over your feet. Sit directly on top of your sitz bones. Clasp your knees with your hands and use your arms to pull the length of your spine forward and up. Draw in your sacrum towards your navel.

Maintain this active and lifted spine.

Turn your palms to face up towards the ceiling. Draw your hands back until your upper arms are in line with your side body. Press down firmly into your sitz bones and elongate your spine. Lift and open your chest.

Center your head directly over your pelvis. Your chin should be level with the floor.

Maintain a soft and steady gaze.

You can hold this pose from 10 breaths to several minutes. Then switch the cross of your legs and repeat on the other side.

#14 Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana - Bridge Pose
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana – Bridge Pose

Lie on the floor and bend your knees. Set your feet on the floor with your heels as close to your sitz bones as possible. Exhale and press your inner feet and arms actively into the floor. Push your tailbone up towards your pubic bone. Lift your buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel to one another.

To add a chest expansion, clasp your hands below your pelvis. Extend through your arms to stay on top of your shoulders.

Lift your buttocks until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over your heels. Push them forward and away from your hips.

Lengthen your tailbone towards the back of your knees. Lift your pubic bone towards your navel. Lift your chin slightly away from your sternum. Firm your shoulder blades against your back.

Press the top of your sternum towards your chin and firm your outer arms.

To release, exhale and roll your spine slowly down onto the floor.

#15 Savasana – Corpse Pose

Savasana - Corpse Pose
Savasana – Corpse Pose

Separate your legs and let go of them. Let your feet fall slightly open to either side. Bring your arms alongside your body, slightly separate from your torso. Turn your palms to face upwards and let your fingers curl in.

Tuck your shoulder blades down for more support.

Release any effort you may be exerting from holding your limbs in place. Relax your whole body, including your face. Let your body feel heavy and let your breath occur naturally. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath.

Stay in this posture for a minimum of 5 minutes. To come out, deepen your breath and wiggle your fingers and toes. Stretch your arms overhead and bring your knees into your chest.

Rollover onto one side with your eyes still closed. Use your hands to bring yourself up to a seated position.

#16 Ananda Balasana – Happy Baby

Lie on your back and find a neutral spine. Bring your knees in towards your chest. Keep your hips sockets soft. Flex your sheet and show the soles of your feet to the ceiling. Wrap your first two fingers around your big toes and pull lightly down.

Your feet should stay flat to the ceiling. But allow your hips to release. This will make your knees come closer to your chest. You can also bring your hands up on the outside of your feet. Grasp your feet around the arch.

Take your time and deepen your breath in this posture.

#17 Marichyasana III – Marichi Pose

Marichyasana III - Marichi Pose
Marichyasana III – Marichi Pose

Start by sitting in Dandasana and bend your right knee. Put your foot on the floor with your heel close to the sitz bone. Keep your left leg strong and rotate it slightly inward. Ground the head of your thigh bone into the floor.

Press the back of your left heel and the base of your big toe away from the pelvis. Be sure to press your inner right foot into the floor as well.

Soften your inner right groin to receive this twist. Exhale and rotate your torso to the right. Wrap your left arm around your right thigh. Hold your outer thigh with your left hand. Pull your thigh up as you release your right hip down towards the floor.

Press your right fingertips into the floor just behind your pelvis. Lift your torso slightly up and forward.

Keep one leg straight and one leg bent at the knee, grounding into the floor. Sink into your inner right groin and lengthen the front of your belly.

Continue lengthening your spine with each inhale. Twist even deeper with each exhale. Gently turn your head to the right to complete this cervical spine twist.

To release, exhale, and reverse your legs. Twist on the other side for an equal amount of time.

#18 Marjaryasana/Bitilasana – Cat/Cow Pose

MarjaryasanaBitilasana - CatCow Pose
MarjaryasanaBitilasana – CatCow Pose

Start on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Make sure your wrists are directly under your shoulders and your knees are directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of the mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart.

Center your head in a neutral position and gaze downward.

To move into Cow Pose, inhale, and drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest towards the ceiling. Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.

To move into Cat Pose, exhale and draw your belly into your spine. Round your back towards the ceiling. This pose should look like a cat stretching its back. Release the crown of your head toward the floor but don’t force it.

Inhale and come back into Cow Pose. Exhale and return to Cat Pose.

Repeat this 5-20 times. Then rest by sitting back on your heels with your torso upright.

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