A yoga instructor recommends doing these eight gentle poses when you're struggling to sleep

Get ready for bed with these eight calming asanas

Bhavini Vyas performs Namaste
(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)

It can be difficult to switch off at the end of a busy day, but doing some gentle yoga could help. Taking some time to focus on your breathing could distract you from your long to-do list and prepare you for a deep, restorative sleep. 

We spoke to yoga and meditation teacher, Bhavini Vyas, who gave us her eight favorite poses to do before bed. 

"Give yourself full permission to wind down and spend a few moments alone with yourself," she advises. "This can help the busy mind slow down and let you sink deeper into each asana [yoga pose]. This chance to check in with yourself before you sleep will help you attain deeper levels of rest too."  

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1. Namaskar

Bhavini Vyas performs Namaskar

(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)
  • In a seated position with both hands beside you, inhale and reach both arms and hands up to the sky, bringing the hands overhead in a prayer pose.
  • As you exhale, bring your hands down to the center of your chest.  Do this three more times, coordinating your movements with your breath.
  • Next, stretch both arms upwards, keeping your palms facing each other and shoulder width apart. 
  • Exhaling, allow your body to fold forward and reach your hands to rest in front of you. Take a few deep breaths in this pose, letting your shoulders drop down and your spine relax. When you feel ready, slowly inhale and curl back up to the seated position.

2. Neck rotations

Bhavini Vyas performs a neck rotation

(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)
  • Take a deep breath in. Exhale and drop your chin to your chest. 
  • As you start your next inhalation, begin neck rotations in an anticlockwise direction sweeping your right ear over your right shoulder and taking your head back. 
  • Exhale and continue the rotation, sweeping your left ear over your left shoulder, bringing your chin back to your chest. Complete three rounds in one direction before changing to the opposite side. 

3. Seated spinal twist

Bhavini Vyas performs a spinal twist

(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)
  • Inhale and place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand behind you for stability
  • Exhale and move gently into the twist. Use your hands to help you pivot and use each exhalation of the breath to twist a little further. Complete three breaths then do the opposite side of the body.

4. Shoulder flow

Bhavini Vyas performs shoulder stretch with fingers down

(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)
  • Inhale and raise your shoulders up towards your ears. Exhale and roll your shoulders back and down. Repeat three times. 
  • In time with your breath, drop your right ear to your right shoulder, followed by your left ear to your left shoulder.  
  • Next, stretch your arms out at shoulder height. As you inhale, pull your fingers back towards your head and become aware of the stretch along your arms, shoulders, neck and chest.
  • Exhaling, point your fingers down towards the floor. Return you fingers to the original position then repeat three to five times. Relax and observe your shoulders feeling lighter and softer. 

5. Butterfly pose

Bhavini Vyas performs butterfly pose

(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)
  • Sitting upright, bring the soles of your feet together, then bring them closer to your body. Feel the stretch in your hips, legs and back. 
  • If you want to enhance the stretch, clasp your fingers around your toes and let your body fold forward, relaxing your spine down.

6. Side Stretch

Bhavini Vyas performs a rib stretch

(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)
  • Place your left forearm beside you, then reach your right arm up and over your head. Lean over to the left side of the body and ensure your right shoulder does not roll forwards. Hold the stretch for as long as feels comfortable and take long, deep breaths in and out. 
  • Switch sides when you feel ready. If resting your forearm beside you is too deep a stretch, feel free to rest your arm on your lap instead, still stretching up with the opposite arm. 

7. Hamstring release

Bhavini Vyas performs a forward fold

(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)
  • Stretch one leg out in front of you, keeping your other leg bent. 
  • Exhale and reach your arms forwards past the foot of your stretched leg. Remember to keep your shoulders relaxed and your back soft. Working with the breath, fold deeper into the stretch with every exhalation. Repeat on both sides of your body.

8. Hip Opener

Bhavini Vyas performs deep hip stretch

(Image credit: Bhavini Vyas)
  • From a cross-legged position, lift one leg up and cradle your foot in your arms. Pull your leg towards you to deepen the stretch. Repeat on the other side.
Bhavini Vyas
Bhavini Vyas

Bhavini Vyas is a breathwork, yoga & meditation teacher. She is also a devotional singer. She served as the UK Coordinator for the Sri Sri School of Yoga for 8 years, has her own studio in London’s Marylebone (Kanga Studio), and has contributed to the BreatheSMART & PrisonSMART program in the UK and Europe, as well as refugee activities conducted under the International Association for Human Values (IAHV).  

Need some guidance on what mat to buy? Have a look through our guide to the best yoga mats

Lou Mudge
Fitness Writer

Lou Mudge is a Health Writer at Future Plc, working across Fit&Well and Coach. She previously worked for Live Science, and regularly writes for Space.com and Pet's Radar. Based in Bath, UK, she has a passion for food, nutrition and health and is eager to demystify diet culture in order to make health and fitness accessible to everybody.

Multiple diagnoses in her early twenties sparked an interest in the gut-brain axis and the impact that diet and exercise can have on both physical and mental health. She was put on the FODMAP elimination diet during this time and learned to adapt recipes to fit these parameters, while retaining core flavors and textures, and now enjoys cooking for gut health.