Forward bend yoga poses are good for anyone looking for spinal mobility, overall flexibility and relaxation, but did you know they also help you sleep? A study by Harvard Medical School found that practicing yoga helps treat insomnia. Forward bend yoga poses, in particular, prepare the body for better sleep because they induce relaxation by allowing the body to rest while stretching the muscles.
Practice these four forward bend yoga poses throughout your day or right before bed for better sleep.
1. Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
Seated Forward Bend is a beginner pose that you can incorporate into any yoga practice or do before bed. It offers a deep stretch through the backside of the body and allows you to relax and tune into your breathing.
- Sit on the floor in Staff Pose and inhale your arms to the sky.
- Exhale and slowly bend forward at the hips, leading with your chest. The goal is not to touch your toes or bring your head to your legs. Instead, it’s more important to keep lengthening through the spine and bring your chest to your thighs, even if you need to bend your knees.
- Once you are comfortable in the pose, breathe deeply and imagine sending your breath up and down the spine.
- To stay in this pose longer or make it more restorative, place a blanket, bolster or blocks on top of your legs so you can rest your chest or head comfortably.
2. Seated Head-to-Knee Pose (Janu Sirsasana)
Seated Head to Knee Pose is easy to transition to from Seated Forward Bend.
- In Seated Forward Bend, bend your right knee and draw your foot into your center, placing the sole of your foot inside your left thigh.
- Inhale your arms to the sky, lengthening through your spine, then gently fold forward along your left leg.
- Stop when you can no longer bend comfortably, whether that means placing your hands on the thigh, knee or foot.
- Take 5 to 10 deep breaths then repeat on the other side.
3. Wide-Legged Forward Bend (Prasarita Padottanasana)
Careful—you may become addicted to this pose! Wide-Legged Forward Bend will stretch the backs of your legs and release tension through your neck, shoulders and upper back.
- Stand tall in Mountain Pose and bring your feet wider than hip distance apart, so they are at least 2.5 to 3 feet apart.
- Place your hands on your hips and, while engaging your core, slowly bend forward at the hips, leading with your heart.
- Once you are all the way bent over, place your hands on the floor with your arms fully extended.
- Slowly relax your arms to bring your head closer to the floor and intensity the stretch.
- Take 5 to 10 deep breaths while passively hanging the top half of your body.
- Try turning your toes in and heels out for a variation that offers a deeper stretch through the ankles and calves.
4. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Ahh, Child’s Pose, one of the best yoga poses of all! Close your bedtime yoga practice with this restorative resting pose.
- Start in Hero Pose.
- Reach your arms for the front of your mat as you slowly bend forward, eventually laying your chest on your thighs and your forehead on the mat.
- Inhale and exhale here for 10 to 15 breaths then rest your arms along your sides with your hands by your feet for another 10 to 15 breaths.
- Climb into bed for a restful night’s sleep.
Enjoying the deep stretch throughout your lower back and spine? Try these forward-bend yoga poses to take your practice even further.