Evening yoga can help you wind down after a long and busy day. Yoga practice can calm and relax your mind and body. The different yoga poses can help release tension in your muscles, while the yoga sequence like yin yoga can prepare you for a good night’s sleep.
Here is a list of the best yoga for evening practice.
1. Relaxing Yoga Poses
If you don’t have time for a full yoga session, here are four of the best asanas for a relaxing home practice to prepare for a restful sleep.
A spinal twist can help release tension in your lower back. You can take the twist lying down from a corpse pose by bringing your right knee across your body and stretching your upper body in the opposite direction.
A simple forward fold has a lot more benefits than you might realize. When you hinge at the hip, you’ll feel the stretch in your hamstrings and calves. This pose can also calm your nervous system and relieve pressure on your spine, back, and neck.
The child’s pose is one of the most popular evening yoga positions. You’ll stretch your lower back forward from a seated position.
Savasana is the practice of relaxing your body slowly–one body part at a time–so that your mind and body are calm. Yogis can stay in savasana or corpse pose for up to five minutes.
It is not the same as sleeping. It is a state of alertness and peace.
2. Yoga Sequence for the Evening
If you don’t have time for a full yoga session at the end of your day, you can always do a short yoga flow.
A typical vinyasa flow consists of:
- Push-up (Chaturanga Dandasana)
- Upward-facing dog
- Downward dog
This is a flow because the transitions between the poses are smooth. This sequence is commonly used to build up heat in your body through repetitive movement.
Surya Namaskar, also known as sun salutations, is the primary warm up yoga sequence for most yogis. It’s a great sequence to start your yoga routine. Most yoga classes will begin with a sun salutation.
In this yoga sequence, it is important to flow quickly through the poses to build-up heat in your muscles.
In a standard sun salutation, you’ll flow from:
- Mountain (Tadasana)
- Upward salute (Urdhva Hastasana)
- Standing forward bend (Uttanasana)
- Low lunge (Anjaneyasana)
- Upward-facing dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana)
- Downward-facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Chandra Namaskar, also known as moon salutations, is the opposite of a sun salutation. Instead of building up heat, this yoga sequence is done slowly. Poses in this yoga sequence are intended to cool your body and quiet your mind.
Yoga poses in this sequence include:
- Upward salute
- Goddess squat (Utkata Konasana)
- Star pose
- Extended triangle (Utthita Trikonasana)
- Pyramid (Parsvottanasana)
- Low crescent lunge (Anjaneyasana)
- Low side lunge
- Garland (Malasana)
3. Relaxing Yoga for Full Body
Before you go to bed, you may want to do relaxing yoga poses that will stretch your entire body. Here are poses to stretch your full body.
Stretching your back and opening your hip flexors, a backbend is an excellent pose to alleviate back pain and improve your posture. It’s important to stretch your back after a long day, especially as many of us spend our days hunched over computers or mobile phones.
Extended Hand-to-big-toe Pose
The extended hand-to-big-toe position, also known as Utthita Hasta Padangustasana, is a great standing pose. It will strengthen your legs, thighs, knees, and ankles. Most importantly, this balancing pose will engage your core.
Use your left hand to grab hold of your left foot and slowly extend out to the side to get into position. If you cannot reach your toes, you may use a strap around your left sole. Then repeat with your right hand holding your right foot.
Cat and cow
Cat pose, also known as Marjaryasanam, and cow pose, also known as Bitilasana, are two complementary positions. This will increase your neck, shoulders, and spine flexibility by stretching your hips, back, abdomen, chest, and lungs.
Cat and cow is a great choice to add to your evening yoga sequence. You can time the transition between cat and cow pose with your breath, which adds a meditative aspect to the sequence.
4. Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises will help you unwind after a stressful day and help reduce your anxiety and calm your mind before bedtime. Here are three breathing exercises to try while in corpse pose.
Ujjayi breathing is the most common breathing exercise used in yoga. When you are doing your evening yoga practice, concentrate on inhaling and exhaling through your nose and with your mouth closed.
To create the signature Ujjayi breath sound, imagine dragging the air along the back of your throat when you breathe in, and imagine you are fogging a piece of glass when you breathe out.
By focusing on your breath, you will find you’ll be able to hold your yoga poses for longer and move deeper into the stretch.
Three-part breathing is a different breathing exercise that is great for reducing insomnia, anxiety, and stress. This is an excellent practice to do while in a corpse pose. Lay one hand on your chest and one on your navel.
Practice inhaling into your chest and then expanding your abdomen with the air. Before you release your breath, you should fill up like a balloon with a round stomach.
Then slowly release your breath in the same way, starting from your belly and then chest. Focus on taking deep breaths in this exercise.
Alternative Nose Breathing
If you have a busy mind and find it hard to meditate, try the alternative nose breathing exercise because it requires a lot of concentration to get correct. Touch your middle and pointer finger to the center of your palm.
Place your right thumb over your right nostril and inhale through the left nostril. Use your right ring finger and close your left nostril to exhale through the right nostril. Repeat this exercise, alternative between your nostrils.
When you first try this breathing exercise, you may get confused between inhaling and exhaling out of which nostril. Only by emptying your mind and focusing on your breathing will you master this breathing exercise.
5. Best Bedtime Yoga
If you need more guidance, try following yoga videos. There are many available on YouTube. Yoga with Adriene offers many different bedtime yoga sequences that will help you prepare for a good night’s rest.
Some videos are 30 minutes, but you do not need to do a full hour or half-hour to get the benefits. Yoga with Adriene has 10 minutes or shorter yoga videos that you can do just before you go to bed.
The Final Word on Evening Yoga
The health benefits of yoga for your body are well recognized. What is often not discussed is the benefits for your mind. By regularly practicing relaxing yoga as part of your nighttime routine, you will find your mind can shut down easier and fall into a blissful sleep.
Don’t forget to end your bedtime yoga practice with a namaste, which means the divine light in me bows to the divine light within you.