Sleep is vital for our hormonal health--it's a very important time of hormonal regulation in our bodies. And if we're struggling to fall or stay asleep during our periods (or anytime!), this will certainly have an impact on our hormonal health.
If you haven't yet, be sure to read more about sleep and your cycle in this post.
One way to get to sleep faster and obtain higher-quality sleep is through movement. There are certain types of movement that you can employ right before bed (or even in your bed!) that can help your body to relax, release tension, calm your mind, and bring your energy down and into a more restful state so you can drift off to sleep easier.
As a 500-level certified yoga instructor, I’ll share with you six yoga poses you can do before bed to help you prepare for better sleep. They won’t take long, they’re gentle and easy enough that you can do them in bed, they also will help give your uterus some gentle internal massage which can alleviate period pain, and these poses don’t require you to have any prior yoga experience or level of flexibility.
In each position, aim to stay in the pose for at least 10 long breath cycles, fully relaxed and settled, but you can move out of the pose gently if there is any strain. As with any movement practice, listen to your own body’s cues and honor what feels good to you. Our goal here is to help you relax and prepare for sleep, so be sure to move slowly and avoid straining or efforting too hard.
You can enjoy these restful poses while on your period if you struggle to sleep, or any other time sleep is elusive or you need extra sleep support. You could also consider adding these poses to your nightly bedtime routine and enjoy the benefits in each phase of your menstrual cycle.
To make these extra effective, relaxing, and juicy, slow your breathing so you’re taking long inhales and exhales. Sigh with an audible, vocalized exhale as often as it feels good and feel the tension melt away. Slow, deep breathing and audible sighs (say “ahhhhhhh”) will help trigger the relaxation response, slow your heart rate, and prompt your body to settle into parasympathetic rest and digest mode.
Pose 1: Child's Pose
On the floor or in your bed, kneel and bring your big toes together. Scoot your knees wide apart, then walk your hands forward until your torso rests between your knees and your forehead rests on your floor or bed. Your arms can stay outstretched in front of you or rest behind you in a neutral position with your palms facing upward beside your feet.
Settle into the pose until you feel fully relaxed, letting the eyes close, sighing deeply, breathing slowly and evenly.
Optional adjustments: You can fold over a big pillow for extra support, maybe even hugging the pillow instead of stretching the arms. Adjust the distance between your knees until you’re comfortable; keeping the knees together may feel nice if you’re experiencing menstrual cramps. You might turn your head to one side instead of resting your forehead directly down.
Pose 2: Seated Forward Fold
Sitting on the floor or in your bed, extend your legs in front of you, legs together, with your toes pointing to the ceiling, then slowly and deeply inhale while you reach your arms toward the ceiling, elongating your spine. As you exhale, fold your torso over your extended legs, reaching for your toes or shins with your fingers. Remember not to strain or pull on your legs. Relax the shoulders. Stay here and breathe deeply, evenly, slowly, and sigh audibly often.
Optional adjustments: You can put a pillow or a rolled-up blanket on your lap for more support, a less intense stretch, and to amp up the cozy factor. Make sure your head is supported with a big pillow so you can relax into this pose as much as possible.
Pose 3: Reclined Cobbler's Pose
From a seated position, bend your knees to bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall toward the floor or bed. Keeping the soles of your feet together, lay back onto your bed or the floor. Let your arms rest beside you, on your belly, or anywhere that’s comfortable. Breathe deeply, evenly, slowly, letting the eyes close and invite audible sighs for extra relaxation. After your ten breath cycles, use your hands to lift your knees so they come back together, then roll onto one side to get out of the pose gently.
Optional adjustments: Put folded blankets or pillows under each knee so there’s no straining. You can also put pillows under the length of your spine to support your back.
Pose 4: Reclined Spinal Twists
Lying on your back, hug your knees to your chest. If this feels like a good release for your back, linger here. Then, keeping your knees bent and together, let your knees fall to one side, twisting along your spine, while your torso remains stationary. Extend both arms out to the sides in a T. If it feels good on your neck, gently turn your head to the opposite side and make sure it is fully supported on the bed or floor. Make sure your shoulders don’t hunch toward your ears and your back stays as flat on the floor or bed as possible.
Do not effort; fully relax. Let your eyes close and breathe slowly, deeply, evenly, sighing audibly. After 5-10 breath cycles, gently use your hands to guide your knees back together at your chest. Hug your knees and pause here for a moment if it feels good, then repeat the twist on the opposite side. After another 5-10 breath cycles on the opposite side, again bring your knees to your chest to neutralize your spine.
Optional adjustments: Nestle a folded blanket or pillow between your knees and legs if your hips or knees feel any strain. Support your neck with a pillow or folded blanket. The bottom leg can be bent or extended straight.
Pose 5: Legs Up the Wall
You will need to be close to a wall or the headboard of your bed for this pose.
Sit or scoot parallel to the wall, so your shoulder and/or outside of one hip are touching the wall or your headboard. Put your hands just behind your hips and gently lie down and simultaneously sweep your legs up the wall, ending up with your torso perpendicular to the wall and the soles of your feet facing the ceiling. Your body will be in an L-shape with the full length of the backs of your legs resting against the wall.
Gently scoot your buttocks as close the wall or headboard as you can get. You can keep a slight bend in the knees if your hamstrings are tight, and fully relax into the pose. Let your hands rest at your sides, on your belly, or anywhere that’s comfortable. Let your eyes close and keep your breathing slow and deep, sighing audibly to prompt your body to release and relax. Try to stay here at least 20 breath cycles, up to 10 minutes or so; whatever is comfortable for you.
Optional adjustments: You can lay on a folded blanket or pillow.
Pose 6: Corpse Pose
Lay flat on your back with your legs and arms completely relaxed, legs hip-distance apart and arms comfortably at your sides with your palms facing upward. Release every muscle and imagine your body melting into the floor or bed, becoming a puddle. Every exhales releases your muscles even deeper; your body fully relaxes more and more with every breath. With your eyes closed and your breaths long and slow, you just might drift off to sleep.
And for another lovely addition to support quality sleep, pair this cozy routine with the My Club Red Sleep Well Period Care Package.
After ending this bedtime yoga sequence, slip into your luxe satin sleep mask, apply Sweet Dreams to your pulse points, and let the zzzzz's roll in!
Let me know in the comments if you notice a difference when you start incorporating these yoga for sleep poses at any point in your menstrual cycle.
Here's to better sleep--and healthier hormones!