There are a lot of reasons to want to start practising yoga. It has numerous health benefits, and can help with flexibility, mindfulness, and generally make you happier! If you’ve decided to get into yoga this New Year, here are some of our favourite moves to incorporate into your sleepy yoga routine when you’re winding down for bed.
Sleepy Yoga Moves
Here are five of our favourite poses to try before bed. For the most benefits, grab a yoga mat like this one from Yoga Hero and hold each of these poses for a minute, or 10 to 15 breaths.
1. Badhakonasana, or The Butterfly Pose
This pose got its name because the movement of the legs resembles the flapping of butterfly wings. It also opens hips and is a good stretch for the inner thighs. Sitting upright on your yoga mat, bring your feet in, like you’re going to sit cross-legged. Instead, meet your feet together in front of you, so your legs from a diamond shape. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, bend forward, keeping your chin up and spine straight. Place your elbows on your thighs or your knees, pushing them closer to the floor. Repeatedly press your knees gently downwards in a butterfly effect. Cup both feet with hands and keep spine straight throughout.
2. Parivrtta Sukhasana, or The Seated Twist
The Sukhasana (Easy Pose) title comes from the Sanskrit word ‘Sukha’ meaning ‘Pleasure’. This pose is a meditative pose and is done with the crossing of the legs in the most simplest form unlike other meditative poses. This posture is excellent for meditation, pranayama and the beginning of a yoga class or at the end to bring the mind and breath under control. Parivrtta Sukhasana is an extension of this form, where you move from the basic lotus pose to stretch your neck and your spine. As well as being relaxing, this pose helps improve digestion and blood circulation. Start sitting cross-legged, upright and elongating your spine. Place your right hand flat on the floor behind you and left hand on your right knee. As you exhale, twist round to the right, looking over your shoulder. Hold for a maximum of 5 breaths and then switch sides.
3. Uttanasana, or The Standing Forward Bend
This is one of the most common poses used in any yoga practice. It helps to relieve stress, promote a healthy sleep pattern and ease headaches. If you google this pose, you may be put off by the intense seeming images, but don’t worry, this is a pose that you will get better at over time. It is a relatively simple pose, but can be difficult to get exactly right, especially for beginners, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Stand with your feet about 6 inches apart. Bend over at the hips, trying to get your hands flat on the ground, without flexing your knees. If you really can’t reach the floor, wrap your hands round the backs of your calves. This move will help with flexibility, so if you can’t do this move to begin with, don’t worry – yoga is all about practise and repetition.
4. Halasana, or The Plow Pose
Halasana is a full-body stretch that positions your body upside down with your feet over your head. This handy pose opens your shoulders and helps relieve any back pain. It also helps with blood flow around the body. Start off by laying on the floor. Push your legs up and over your head, like you’re trying to do a backwards roll. The weight of your body should be on your shoulders and the small of your back. Your hands can either be placed on your back or flat on the floor, depending on what is most supportive for you. You want to try to get your toes to the touch the floor behind your head, but if you can’t manage this, having your legs at a 45 degree angle from your body in the air is a good starting point.
5. Balasana, or The Child’s Pose
This is one of the most relaxing poses and is often used at the beginning and end of a practice. The Child’s Pose is an asana, or body pose, aimed at This pose is great for taking a moment for reflection and focusing on your inner thoughts. Start sitting on your knees. Fold your torso over your knees with arms extended and stretching out before you. Rest your forehead on the ground and take long deep breaths. This pose can be altered if you can’t sit perfectly, for example if you are pregnant, by simply spreading your legs slightly so your feet are either side of your bum instead of beneath it.
For more ideas of sleepy yoga moves to incorporate into your routine, the NHS has this video you can follow. We have lots of yoga mats in stock, so there is something for everyone’s tastes. This one is perfect if you like to think about the stars as you wind down during your sleepy yoga routine.