Sleep experts have long been saying that your bed should be reserved for sleep, but that doesn't mean there's no wiggle room to allow for one more soothing activity: yoga. The bed might seem like an unusual place to do yoga—until you realize that you're probably already doing mini stretches in bed, especially when you wake up. By doing dedicated yoga poses and stretches in bed, you're giving your body the opportunity to move more, and either energize you for the day ahead, or help you relax at the end of it.
"In the morning, a few simple breathing techniques and movements will clear away the aches and stiffness of the body while clearing the cobwebs out of your mind," says Tory Schaefer, national director of yoga operations at Life Time in Minneapolis. You'll also start the day more energized. Meanwhile, "at night, a yoga practice will help reset everything so your bed becomes a sacred space rather than a think tank of residue from the day." Translation? You may be able to enjoy more restful sleep.
Below, Schaefer details two series of yoga stretches, one that you can do as you're waking up, and another as you're falling asleep. Each one also comes with a bonus strategy to help you wind up or down.
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Yoga Poses to Wake Up With
Lie face up on your back and observe your natural breath for a few rounds. Then on an exhale, draw your belly muscles in and up as tight as you can while pressing your lower back into the bed. Hold your belly like this for 10 breaths. After the tenth breath, take a deep inhale as you release the belly muscles and allow the natural sway in the lower back to return. Exhale and repeat three more times.
Lying down on your back, exhale and draw your right leg to your chest. For the next three to five breaths, gently rotate the knee one direction, then the other, feeling the hips open. Exhaling, draw the right knee into the chest as tightly as you can; hold for five breaths. Then move the right knee toward the right armpit as tightly as you can and hold another five breaths. Release and switch sides.
Seated Forward Fold
Sitting up in bed with legs extended in front of you and together, take a deep breath in and stretch your arms over your head. Exhale and release the back of your neck and any tension in your jaw, fold over your legs and hold for five breaths. As you inhale, lift your torso away from your legs slightly and with each exhale, settle deeper into the stretch.
Sitting on the side of the bed with your feet on the floor and knees together or legs crossed, place your right hand on your left knee and gently twist your body to the left. Release to the other side and repeat.
Bonus: Before you stand, set an intention of something you're going to do today that will make your heart happier and the world a better place.
Yoga Poses Before Going to Sleep
Legs Up the Wall
Move pillows away from the headboard and sit as close to the headboard (or wall) as possible, with feet facing the headboard. Wiggle your legs up the headboard so your tailbone is as close to the headboard (or wall) as possible and legs are extended straight up the wall. Relax into the bed, placing arms by sides. Focus on breathing deeply on each inhale and exhale. Stay here for up to five minutes.
Lie face up in bed and bring your knees into your chest. Slowly drop them to the right, pressing right hand on top of knees and extending left arm to side at shoulder height. Look left and hold several breaths. Switch sides and repeat.
Lying in bed, bring soles of feet to touch and allow knees to fall open away from each other. Focus on breathing for three to five minutes while holding this pose.
Bonus: Think of three to five things that happened today that you're grateful for.