One of the best ways to ensure restful sleep is to end your day with restorative yoga poses. Turn off your TV, put away your phone and slowly begin to calm down your nervous system with these five relaxing yoga poses. It's a lovely way to counteract stress, naturally prevent insomnia and promote peaceful dreams.
Reclining Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
While lying down on your back, bend your knees, bringing your heels in near your bottom. Drop your knees out to your sides while keeping your lower back on the floor (or bed). Allow your hands to rest on your heart and belly. Breathe and sink deeply into this calming hip-opener.
Reclining Hero (Supta Virasana)
This pose deeply stretches your shoulders, spine, abdominal muscles, thighs, lower legs and feet. While sitting on your knees, gently pull the inside of your calves out from your torso and sit between your ankles. Slowly lower down onto your elbows, making sure that you don't feel any strain in your back, hips, knees or ankles.
While pushing your tailbone toward your knees and pulling your belly down, take your time to lower onto your back, fully relaxing your thighs and letting your lower back sink into the floor. Rest your hands up over your head and breathe. If you have tight thigh muscles, remember to listen to your body and only go as far as comfortable in the pose.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Beginning in a seated position with your legs extended out in front of you, pull your flesh out from beneath your sit bones to assist in removing any curve in your spine. With your feet flexed, slowly lift your hands up toward the sky and bend forward.
Make sure you reach out and keep your back flat instead of rounding your spine. If this is too much for your body, you can slightly bend your knees. Continue to slowly bend forward while keeping your feet flexed and shoulders relaxed. With each inhalation, slightly lift and lengthen the torso. With each exhalation, release and fold a little more. This mind-calming pose stretches the hamstrings and spine.
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
This gentle inversion helps ease any anxiety that may have crept in during the day while relieving and stretching the legs and lower back. While lying on your back, extend your legs up and then move your buttocks up against the wall, creating a 90-degree angle with your torso and legs. Relax and place your hands either on your sides with your palms facing up or on your belly. Stay in the pose for one to 15 minutes.
Even though this a resting pose, it's not quite time to drift off to sleep just yet. Start lying flat on your back. Then tuck your pelvis in, scoop your tailbone up toward the sky and draw the navel down to create length in the spine. Let your arms rest on the earth, allowing the palms to face up or placing them on your heart and belly.
Gently press into the arms and the head to slightly lift the chest off the ground while drawing the shoulder blades together and down. Inhale to open the heart and expand the chest, then exhale to rest back. Relax everything from your toes to your fingertips and allow your tongue to fall away from the roof of the mouth. Take a deep breath in and on each exhalation completely let go. Surrender to the moment, quiet the mind and embrace the beautiful peace of the pose.