A number of studies say that practicing yoga can help you doze off faster, improve the quality of your ZZZZs and shorten the amount of time it takes to fall back to sleep when you awaken during the night. The likely reason: Gentle yoga poses are great at activating what’s known as your parasympathetic system, the part of your nervous system that chills you out and restores you to normal after you’ve been in high gear.
MaryGrace Naughton, Yoga Specialist at Miraval Resort & Spa in Tucson, Arizona, has come up with a simple series of yoga poses to help you snooze happily through the night. She suggests practicing these poses a few times a week before you go to bed—every night, if you wish. “They will be especially helpful on nights when you’re having a difficult time falling asleep,” she says.
Sit down on your knees, big toes touching and the knees wide. Draw your buttocks back toward the heels, or onto the heels if you are more flexible. Move your chest and forehead to the floor (or bed), stretching arms out in front of you. Release into this posture for 5 to 10 slow deep breaths.
Sit down with one hip close to the wall. Lie on your back, then pivot so your entire buttocks is against the wall as you swing the legs up the wall. If your hamstrings are tight, you may not be able to straighten your legs completely. It is okay to keep the knees bent. Stay in the position for a few minutes maintaining a slow deep breath. To come out of the pose bend the knees and roll over to the right side of the body. Rest here for a few breaths before sitting up. This is a very relaxing and restorative pose.
Lie down on your back and move your arms out to the sides so your body forms a T. Slowly turn your head to the right and let your knees fall towards the left. Gently draw the right shoulder down. Take 5 full deep breaths here. Repeat on the opposite side.
Sit down and put a pillow right up against your lower back. Bend your knees and put the soles of your feet together, letting the knees fall out to the side. (Feel free to put pillows underneath your knees for support) Lie back on the pillow behind your back. Let yourself stay here and breathe for a few minutes. To come out of this posture, gently take the knees together and roll to one side. Move the pillow from behind your back. This is another wonderfully restorative yoga pose.