An Evening Yoga Practice to Help You Calm Down and Sleep


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An evening yoga practice can feel like the absolute last thing you want to do. After a long day, chances are you want to collapse on the couch and distract yourself from your looming responsibilities with a good Netflix binge or Instagram-scrolling session—while feeling kinda guilty because you know that screen time prevents a good night’s sleep.

Rather than deprive yourself of your favorite nighttime rituals, consider what you can add to them that could actually help you unwind. The perfect choice? Bedtime yoga. When you can find just 10 minutes for an evening yoga practice to connect with yourself and let go of the day behind you, chances are you’ll be better able to fall asleep—and stay asleep.

A 10-Minute Bedtime Yoga Sequence to Help You Calm Down and Sleep

In this evening yoga practice, you’ll take yourself through some quiet forward bends and hip-openers. Allow yourself to slow down and tune into your body and your breath. By the end of the practice, you’ll feel the release of physical and mental tension, leaving you better able to fall asleep.

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Come onto your mat on your hands and knees. Separate your knees wide and bring your big toes together. Bring your hips toward your heels and rest your forehead on a block, folded blanket, or on the mat. Walk your hands forward and rest your forearms on the mat. Close your eyes. Allow yourself to feel the sensations in your body as you settle into Child’s Pose. Stay here for 5-10 deep breaths.

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2. Cat-Cow (MarjaryasanaBitilasana)

Come back to your hands and knees with your wrists beneath your shoulders and your knees beneath your hips. On an inhalation, slowly release your belly toward the floor and draw your chest forward, creating a slight backbend in Cow Pose.

On your exhalation, round your back toward the ceiling in Cat Pose.

Sync your movement with your breath and move slowly through these shapes at least 5 more times.

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3. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

From hands and knees, walk your hands forward so your wrists are where your fingers were. If you experience tightness in your shoulders, take your hands a little wider and turn them out slightly. Tuck your toes and lift your hips up and back. Keep your arms straight as you look back at your legs. Press down through your index fingers. If you experience tightness in your hamstrings, keep your knees bent. Bend one knee and then the other to stretch your hamstrings and calves. Stay in Downward-Facing Dog for 5 to 10 breaths.

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4. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), With a Twist

From Down Dog, walk your feet to the front of the mat and come into Standing Forward Bend. If you experience tightness in your hamstrings, keep your knees bent. You can rest your fingertips on a block or on the mat, or you can grasp opposite elbows and gently sway from side to side. Allow your neck and shoulders to release and let your head hang heavy. Stay here for 5-10 breaths.

Release your fingertips to the mat or a block, inhale, and lift halfway to lengthen through your spine in Standing Half Forward Bend. Bend your left knee and reach your right hand toward the ceiling in a twist. If you experience low back pain, place your right hand on your hip instead of reaching it toward the ceiling. Lean your head slightly back, and broaden across your chest. If it’s comfortable, turn your gaze toward your right thumb. Stay here for 5 breaths. Switch sides.

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5. Squat (Malasana)

From Standing Forward Bend, step your feet an inch or two farther apart and turn your toes slightly out. Bend your knees and lower your sitting bones toward the mat. If your heels aren’t on the mat, bring your hands to the floor or blocks in front of you for support or slide a rolled blanket or pillow underneath your heels.

Bring your hands together at your chest or walk your hands forward on the mat, round your spine, and let your head hang to experience a stretch along your back body. Stay in Squat for 5-10 breaths.

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6. Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

From Squat, straighten your legs and come back into Standing Forward Bend. Walk your feet back to Down Dog. Bring your left knee toward your left wrist andrest your outer left leg on the mat. Bring your left ankle toward your right wrist to any extent that is comfortable. Lower your right knee and inch it back until you feel a comfortable stretch along the front of your right thigh. You can tuck a blanket or pillow underneath your left hip for support. Inhale and lift your chest, exhale and fold forward, placing your forearms on blocks or on the mat and finding a comfortable position. You can stack your hands and rest your forehead on them.

Relax your jaw and eyes and focus on your breath here, specifically on the exhalation. Stay in Pigeon Pose for at least 5 deep breaths and then move to Downward-Facing Dog. Pause for several breaths, noticing the difference between your sides. Repeat on your right side.

Variation: If Pigeon feels too intense, you can come onto your back and take Reclining Pigeon. Bend your knees and take your feet flat on the mat about hip-distance apart. Bring your left ankle to your right knee to form a figure 4. You can gently press your left thigh or simply relax your arms alongside your body or rest them on your chest.

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7. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)

Come to a seated position on the mat. Draw your feet toward each other and move your heels in front of you to create a diamond shape. If you feel any discomfort in the backs of your knees, try shifting your feet further away from you or bring a block, folded blanket, or pillow underneath each knee. Start to lean forward from your hips and let your spine round. Reach your chest toward your feet rather than your thighs. No matter how much or how little you lean forward, you want it to be comfortable. Take 5 to 10 deep breaths in Bound Angle Pose.

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8. Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)

From Bound Angle Pose, bring your hands to your outer thighs and draw your knees together. Extend your left leg straight in front of you. Bring your right foot toward your upper inner left thigh like a seated Tree Pose (Vrksasana). Turn your upper body toward your straight left leg, inhale, and lift your chest up. As you exhale, extend forward over your left leg. Again, lean your chest toward your foot rather than your thigh. If you feel any pulling in your low back, ease yourself back slightly. If you feel any pulling behind the knee of your straight leg, roll a blanket and slide it underneath that knee. Try to walk your hands toward your front foot or take a strap or towel around the base of your left foot and hold it with both hands. Stay for 5 to 10 deep breaths in Head-to-Knee Pose. Switch sides.

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9. Reclining Twist

Come onto your back, bend your knees, and take your feet as wide as your mat. Let both legs gently fall to the left at the same time like windshield wipers. Place your left hand on your belly and reach your right hand out to the side. You can stay here, or, to increase the stretch, rest your left foot on your right knee. Stay in Reclining Twist for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Switch to the second side.

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10. Corpse Pose (Savasana) 

From Reclining Twist, bring your knees back to center and slide a bolster, rolled blanket, or a pillow underneath your knees. Separate your feet and rest your arms away from your body with your palms facing the ceiling. Close your eyes. If you feel chilly, cover yourself with a blanket. If the lights aren’t dim, you can cover your eyes with your arm, the edge of a blanket, or a towel. Intentionally release all of your muscles. Give yourself permission to surrender and let go of the day. Honor yourself and your practice and appreciate that you made the time to get on your mat for an evening yoga practice. Remain here for at least 5 minutes. You can even take Savasana in bed if you think you might be able to doze off.

Tip: You may want to take this last pose in bed and allow yourself to gently slip into sleep.

This article has been updated. Originally published June 26, 2022.

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