yoga student practicing restorative yoga for better sleep.

Yoga for Better Sleep: 5 Restful Restorative Poses

By: 
Leah Sugerman, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Restorative Yoga is a magical practice that calms and soothes the body, the mind, the breath, and, especially, the nervous system. This nervous system soothing is what makes restorative yoga such a powerful practice for regulating your sleep patterns and encouraging deep, restful sleep. 

By stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system, Restorative Yoga activates our “rest-and-digest” response, preparing us for a good night of sleep. It is the ideal practice to use just before bed to get our entire system into a state of calm relaxation.

Use These 5 Restorative Yoga Poses to Sleep Well

The following are just a handful of the many Restorative Yoga postures that can help you sleep better. They’re a great starting point for people struggling with insomnia or simply an overactive mind before bed.

Grab a thick blanket, two blocks, and an optional strap to melt away your stress and prepare you for a good night’s rest.

Mermaid Twist

Mermaid Pose, gentle twist, supported twist, restorative yoga poses, restorative yoga for better sleep

This easy twist gently “massages” your torso to relax any tension that you may be holding onto in your gut.

  1. Roll up your blanket lengthwise into a thick cylindrical shape and place it at the back of your mat parallel to the long edge. You may wish to elevate the height of your blanket roll by placing two blocks underneath it.

  2. Sit in front of your blanket roll with your sacrum resting against it behind you. 

  3. Bend your knees and place your feet on the floor roughly hips-distance apart. Release both of your knees toward the right.

  4. Draw your right hand behind your right hip and your left hand to your right knee. Elongate your spine and then spiral and twist your torso toward the right.

  5. Keep the length and the twist in your spine, and slowly lower the front of your whole torso onto your blanket roll with your hands framing it.

  6. Turn your head to the right, allowing the left side of your head to rest on the blanket roll. 

  7. Close your eyes and surrender your weight into your props. Hold for about 5 to 10 minutes. 

  8. Slowly release, coming back to a sitting position for a few breaths. 

  9. Repeat on the opposite side. 

Salamba Balasana (Supported Child’s Pose)

Supported Child's Pose, Supported Balasana, Restorative Poses, Restorative yoga for better sleep

This soft and gentle forward fold is soothing and supported so your weight can melt and release as you surrender into the softness of the shape. 

  1. Roll up your blanket lengthwise into a thick cylindrical shape and place it in the center of your mat.

  2. Come into a kneeling position and release the weight of your hips onto your heels. 

  3. Place an end of your rolled-up blanket in between your legs so that the roll is extended out in front of you. Fold your torso forward over your thighs into Child’s Pose.

  4. Double roll the very top of your blanket to double as a pillow for your head to rest on. Or if you have another blanket, you can fold it into a thick pillow.

  5. Readjust however you need to to make this the most comfortable Child’s Pose you’ve ever practiced. You may wish to place another rolled up blanket underneath your ankles or under your seat or in between your knees. You may want to place a block under your forehead or under your hips. You may want to place a pillow between your torso and your thighs. Use whatever props feel appropriate until you feel so supported that you can completely relax into the shape.

  6. Close your eyes and surrender here for about 5 to 10 minutes.

Constructive Rest Pose

Constructive Rest Pose, Supine pose, relaxation pose, beginner's yoga, restorative yoga pose, yoga for better sleep

This simple posture is exactly as it sounds: constructive and restful. 

  1. Place your two blocks on their lowest height setting, at the bottom of your mat, roughly as wide as your mat.

  2. Fold your blanket into a rectangle and place it at the top of your mat to use as a pillow for your head and neck.

  3. Sit in approximately the center of your mat, facing the blocks. Place the balls of your feet onto your blocks and release your heels to the floor. 

  4. Knock your knees in toward each other and loop your strap around your thighs. Tighten it until you can relax muscular control of your legs with your strap holding you in place.

  5. Lie down on your back and readjust the blanket under your head for comfort. Fold the bottom half underneath you to fill the space behind your neck. You may wish to roll the outer edges of the blanket underneath your skull to create a little cocoon for your head to rest in.

  6. Give yourself a hug with your right arm underneath your left and then turn your palms to face the outer edges of your mat so that you’re not holding on to your shoulders. Allow yourself to completely release muscular control.

  7. Close your eyes and hold for about 10 to 15 minutes. You may wish to switch the cross of your arms halfway through your hold.

Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose)

Legs up the wall pose, restorative yoga, yoga with props, yoga for slowing down, yoga for better sleep

This gentle inversion encourages a downward flow of energy, to downregulate your heartbeat, your breath, and your busy mind.

  1. Find some space at a clear wall and lay your blanket next to the wall.

  2. Sit on your blanket with your right hip up against the wall. 

  3. Place your hands behind you, lean back, and release your weight into your hands. 

  4. Lift your feet off the floor and swing them up the wall as you simultaneously release your torso toward the floor and turn to face toward the wall.

  5. Scoot your sit bones as close toward the wall as feels comfortable. Straighten your legs up the wall as much as feels comfortable. If your tailbone is lifting off the floor, move away from the wall until your glutes are resting fully on the floor and your lumbar spine is arching slightly away from the floor. If you’d like to, you can strap your legs together for extra support. You may also wish to place weight (like a sandbag) on your feet to ground you further.

  6. Release your arms wherever you’d like and close your eyes. Hold for about 10 to 15 minutes.

Salamba Savasana (Supported Relaxation Pose)

Supported Savasana, supported corpse pose, beginner's yoga, yoga with props, yoga for restoration and relaxation, yoga for better sleep

This soothing and relaxing posture can be practiced in bed so you can completely surrender all the way into your deep, restful sleep.

  1. Jump into your cozy bed with a rolled-up blanket.

  2. Lie down flat on your back and slide your blanket underneath your thighs (just above your knees). If you’d like some extra support, you may wish to strap your legs together with a block between your thighs to feel really supported. 

  3. Position a pillow underneath your head to fill all the space between your neck and the bed. Let your head completely melt back into your pillow.

  4. Close your eyes, slow your breath, and allow yourself to completely let go until you surrender into a sweet sleep.

Enjoy Better Sleep With These Simple Restorative Yoga Poses

Restorative yoga poses may not feel like much when you’re practicing them, but their benefits can be felt for a long time afterward. By calming and soothing your body and mind, they help to calm you in the long run, which ultimately, will help you to sleep better.

So enjoy these simple postures and enjoy the sweet sleep that they bring. Sweet dreams!

 

Sat Dharam Kaur, Yoga teacher, Yoga for Breast Health, YogaUOnline presenter

 

Leah SugermanLeah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.