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  • by Nicola Boulton September 05, 2022 5 min read

    Yoga for Sleep and Relaxation

    The modern world has a lot of pressure and needs that can wear you down and sometimes give you a lot of pressure.

    Stress from work, school, or social relationships can sometimes cause trouble getting enough sleep or getting to sleep. Insomnia can have devastating effects on our health and moods but with many sources that claim to help you improve your sleep finding the right one can be tricky. Yoga, the modern form of specific sets of movements for physical fitness, can help you improve your sleeping patterns and can help you relax.

    A Brief History of Yoga

    Yoga has been around for a long time in man's history; yoga originated in the Indian region over 5000 years ago, proven as ancient sacred texts containing writings about the practice was found. These texts are called Vedas and were written in an ancient Indian language called Sanskrit; it has been a major part of Buddhism philosophy since then. Yoga then evolved into a more organized form by combining different thoughts into what was called Raja Yoga, containing steps on which a person can gain enlightenment. This has later evolved into modern yoga, which consists of practices designed to rejuvenate a person's body and mind.

    Today there are a lot of yoga schools and practices all over the world that have popularized yoga to what it is today. Wang (2020) noted that Yoga is suitable for many health benefits to the body, such as fitness and flexibility; however, research shows that yoga can help improve your sleep and help you relax. Here are the best yoga positions to help with your insomnia and anxiety.

    The Humming Bee

    This position is an easy one that anyone can try and works well to relieve anxiety. To practice this position, you must get into your most comfortable position while seated. Then you need to close your eyes and cover your eyes using your fingers; preferably, you can close your eyes with your thumbs and use the rest of your fingers to support your hands on your face. When you have done that, relax your mind and body and make a humming sound while your mouth remains closed. This vibration travels through the body and face to have a calming effect on your body as it positively affects your nervous system.

    You can try this position for about 10 minutes for an amazing effect on your mental anxiety and fatigue; Harinath et al. (2006) explained that it would help you calm your mind, which might, in turn, help you get some sleep. For the best results, you can try this position while your legs crossed and your feet are on top of your thighs. This position helps your general body relax as the muscles are more relaxed. The humming position is well known for reducing stress, depression, and migraines while helping you to have more memory. It's popular as a method to calm anger and anxiety that might help those with diseases, including high blood pressure.

    Child Pose or Balasana

    This position is as easy as its name itself and is named because it needs you to pose like a child. To get on to the child position, get on your knees and comfortably drop your buttocks on your heels. If you are not used to the slight pain, you can use knee pads, although a yoga mat is highly advised. You can stretch your arms and whole body forward as your stomach comfortably lays on your thighs; this is a great way to stretch the whole body as your muscle tensions are relieved. As you rest your head on your mat or bed, focus on your breathing and try to calm yourself from all thoughts.

    This pose is similar to the supported child pose, where you can place a pillow under your stomach instead of resting on your thighs if you feel uncomfortable. Instead of your knees straight forward, stretch your thighs wide open on both sides and your head slightly tilted to improve your breath.

    Corpse Pose or Savasana

    In this position, you must first sit on a mat and stretch your legs forward and slightly wide so that there is no contact between your legs or torso. As your head is comfortably on your bed or mat, open your arms wide so that there is enough distance from your hips, close your eyes and let your breathing be natural as you let go of the control of your body. Sit in this position for about 10 minutes, reflecting on your environment and breathing deeply. When you feel relaxed enough, roll onto one side and, making sure your head is up first, engage in a series of breaths as you gently return to reality and open your eyes. According to Goldberg (2004), this position will help you calm down, and because you are laid on the bed, it will help you get to sleep in a shorter time than you think.

    Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

    We all have those nights that we feel like raising our legs and laying them on the wall as we lie on the side of the bed. And true, doing that relieves a lot of pressure on the back and can drastically increase blood flow to any body part. To get to this position, find a comfortable wall, and as you raise your legs, move closer to the wall such that the wall supports your legs.

    Relax every part of your body as you focus on breathing gently; this position has amazing effects on those with fatigue and back pain. As some researchers claim, just 20 minutes of this position can help you get rest equivalent to a 20 minutes nap. If you want variations, you can add a pillow or bolster just underneath the hip; this will help increase blood flow through the body. This position relaxing effect will make you free of stress and feel refreshed and ready for your nap, either during the daytime or at night.


    Just as yoga is popular for its mind-opening capabilities, practicing one or a few of these yoga positions will help you free your anxiety and depression more inherently, as Sullivan et al. (2018) suggested. Whenever you are ready to go to sleep, practicing a few yoga positions just 30 minutes before you fall asleep will go a long way to making you have a more relaxed and longer sleep. However, these few yoga positions are not all, do more research and try out different positions to find the right position for you. Enjoy your yoga session.


    Goldberg, L. (2004). Creative Relaxation: A Yoga-Based Program For Regular And Exceptional Student Education. International Journal Of Yoga Therapy, 14(1), 68-78.

    Harinath, K., Malhotra, A. S., Pal, K., Prasad, R., Kumar, R., Kain, T. C., ... & Sawhney, R. C. (2004). Effects Of Hatha Yoga And Omkar Meditation On Cardiorespiratory Performance, Psychologic Profile, And Melatonin Secretion. The Journal Of Alternative & Complementary Medicine, 10(2), 261-268.

    Sullivan, M. B., Erb, M., Schmalzl, L., Moonaz, S., Noggle Taylor, J., & Porges, S. W. (2018). Yoga Therapy And Polyvagal Theory: The Convergence Of Traditional Wisdom And Contemporary Neuroscience For Self-Regulation And Resilience. Frontiers In Human Neuroscience, 67.

    Wang, W. L., Chen, K. H., Pan, Y. C., Yang, S. N., & Chan, Y. Y. (2020). The Effect Of Yoga On Sleep Quality And Insomnia In Women With Sleep Problems: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis. BMC Psychiatry, 20(1), 1-19.

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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