Having trouble sleeping? You’re not alone – and it could be costing you more than just a restless night and sleepy day, people with insomnia are much more likely to experience associated health problems such as anxiety, depression, diabetes, and congestive heart failure.

But don’t despair – a good night’s sleep really is within reach. A pre-bedtime yoga for sleep practice is right here! Yoga gets you in touch with the breath. When you slow down and stay in a pose you can feel different areas of the body that are tense and holding on from your day and gradually let that go as you sit and breathe through the pose.

And stretching, in general, has a calming effect, making bedtime the best time for it. Ready to begin? Ideally, do each pose in the sequence for one to five minutes, holding each position gently without strain or pain. Can’t manage the full sequence? Pick your favourites and build them into your routine as you can – even in bed if that works for you.

Janu Sirsasana (head-to-knee pose):

Best Health tip: Those with tight hamstrings will find all forward bends easier with a folded blanket or cushion under the sitting bones.

How to:

  • Sit on the floor without slouching, legs extended straight in front of you and knees bent if necessary to keep the spine from rounding.
  • Bend the right knee and open the hip, bringing the sole of the right foot into the inner left thigh and the right knee toward the ground.
  • If it doesn’t reach, support the right knee with a cushion.
  • Inhale and lengthen the spine.
  • Exhale as you bend forward from the hips over the left leg, keeping the spine and neck long, and place the hands on either side of the left leg.
  • Gaze at the big toe of the left foot as you focus on the breath moving in and out.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose):

Best Health tip: If sitting in this pose is challenging enough, skip the forward bend. Sitting on a blanket or cushion can help tight bodies open up.

How to:

  • Sit on the floor without slouching and bring the soles of the feet together in front of you, hands holding the feet or ankles.
  • If you’re comfortable and able to sit without rounding the lower back, bring the feet as close as you can toward the groin.
  • Inhale and lengthen the spine.
  • Exhale and bend forward from the hips, keeping the spine long.
  • Breathe in and out as you feel your muscles relaxing.

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Upavistha Konasana (wide-angle seated forward bend):

Best Health tip: If sitting in this pose is challenging enough, skip the forward bend and keep the hands behind the buttocks; focus on sitting up without rounding the back. Try sitting on a cushion or folded blanket, or bending the knees and placing support under them.

Upavistha Konasana

How to:

  • Sit upright on the floor, without slouching.
  • Extend the legs in front of you in a vee, placing hands behind the buttocks for balance.
  • Only go so wide as is comfortable.
  • Inhale and lengthen the spine, ensuring the lower back isn’t rounding.
  • Exhale and bend forward from the hips, with hands in front of you.
  • Focus on the breath as you lengthen the spine with every inhale and relax forward with every exhale.

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Best Health tip: Only go as deep as you need to to feel a gentle stretch.

How to:

  • Lie on your back with your head flat on the floor.
  • Bend the knees and place the soles of the feet on the floor.
  • Bring the right knee toward the chest.
  • Keeping the hips even, place the right ankle below the left knee with the right knee pointing to the right.
  • Flex the right foot to keep the muscles engaged and protect the knee from strain.
  • Lift the left foot off the floor and bring the left knee toward the chest.
  • Bring the hands on either side of the left thigh for support.
  • You should feel a stretch on the outside of the right hip.
  • As you breathe in and out, try to bring both hips parallel.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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Reclined twist:

Best Health tip: Place a cushion or other support under the lowered knees to decrease the range of motion.

How to:

  • Lie on your back and bring the knees into the chest.
  • Extend the left arm to the side at shoulder height, palm facing up.
  • Keeping the knees high, slowly bring them out to the right until they reach the floor.
  • Place the right hand on top of the right knee.
  • You may want to use the right hand to massage the outer left leg and hip.
  • Gaze straight up at the ceiling or slightly to the left.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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Viparita Karani (legs-up-the-wall pose):

Best Health tip: Bring the buttocks farther away from the wall to relieve tight hamstrings. Tie a belt around the lower legs to keep them together so you can relax further into the pose.

How to:

  • Sit sideways against a wall (if you do not have enough space in your home to do it against a wall, do it in the middle of the floor).
  • Bring up one leg then the other as you come to your back with legs extended up the wall.
  • Extend the arms along your sides, palms facing up.
  • Close your eyes and breathe as you relax into the pose.
  • If you like, place an eye pillow over the eyes to block light.