Yoga is a wonderful form of exercise, one that combines light strength training with mobility/flexibility and endurance training. If your goal is to stay fit and limber (but not necessarily lose weight), Yoga can be your best option.
But here’s one of the best things about Yoga: you can do it before bedtime without worrying about waking up.
The truth is that many of us have pretty busy days. We rush out the door in the morning without time to work out, and there’s no way we can spare our lunch break for a quick gym trip. The only chance we get to workout is in the evening. The last thing you want to do that late in the day is a high-intensity HIIT or strength training session. That will just make it harder to sleep at night.
So how can you stay fit? If you can’t train at any other time of the day and can’t afford to do strenuous exercise, what else is there? Why Yoga, of course!
Yoga can be incredibly relaxing. You’ll find that it will actually help you to get to sleep, as many of the poses will soothe your body, relax your muscles, and calm your mind. You can do a full 60-minute Yoga session or trim it down to just 10-15 minutes, and you’ll still reap the benefits of both exercise and relaxation.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about creating an effective night Yoga routine!
Benefits of Night Yoga
What makes night Yoga such a great choice?
No daytime heat. This is especially true during the summertime when the heat and humidity can rise to pretty unbearable levels. Summer can turn a regular Yoga routine into what feels like a full-on Hot Yoga session. But at night, the temperatures are lower, so you’re less likely to overheat.
Watch the sunset. I mean, come on, how could you NOT want this? Doing your Yoga workout with the setting sun as the backdrop is wonderfully relaxing. Yoga helps you to be more mindful, and that mindfulness is enhanced as you take in the beauty of every sunset’s unique colors and textures.
End the day right. If you’re not a morning person, an evening workout is the best way to fit your training into a busy day. You’ll find it’s fairly simple to fit a 15-60 minute Yoga session into any evening.
Lift your mood. Yoga can help to improve your mood, make you feel happier, and banish depression. Our mood can often drop with the setting sun so a night Yoga routine can keep you feeling happy all night long.
Drive away worries. Stress and anxiety are guaranteed to keep you awake at night. But with a Yoga workout, your worries are driven away—courtesy of the meditative techniques, breathing patterns, and exercises. You’ll be far less worried when you climb into bed. That definitely translates into better sleep!
Improve your sex. Yes, we said it: Yoga will help you have better sex! Not only will the Yoga poses make you more flexible, but you’ll be stronger and have better endurance. Plus, the workout will improve blood flow to all the important body parts. How could you NOT want to try a night Yoga routine now?
Loosen tight muscles. After a day spent sitting in a chair, your body needs to stretch, twist, and work. You’ll find that a night Yoga workout will help to enhance flexibility and correct postural problems. It’s one of the best ways to counteract the negative effects of sitting for more than 6 hours a day.
Relax and prepare to sleep. Yoga is beautifully relaxing! Even though you’re straining and sweating, it calms your mind and body. By the time you finish your Yoga routine, you’ll be ready for a beautiful night’s rest.
All excellent reasons for you to try night Yoga!
Step-by-Step Guide to Your Night Yoga Routine
We’ve seen the ‘why’ of a night Yoga routine, so now it’s time to get into the ‘how’ of it all.
Night Yoga is similar to your regular Yoga session. You want a relaxing ambience, complete with soothing music, beautiful smells, and dim lights. However, the poses you do will be a bit different, as they’re intended to relax you as well as improve your strength, endurance, and flexibility.
Below, you’ll find out the three most important elements of your night Yoga routine:
The ambience of your Yoga session will be VERY important. Not only will it help you to get into the flow of the training, but it will relax your mind by engaging your senses.
Gustatory. The sense of taste won’t play a huge role in the actual workout, but you do want to make sure to have a light meal or snack before your training session. Have something easy on your digestive system:
- A bowl of oatmeal
- A light salad
- Fruit salad
- A protein shake
These things will satiate your appetite and provide energy for your workout. Have something light no less than 30 minutes before your training session.
Visual. Did you know that your brain uses your eyes to determine melatonin production? The brighter the light, the less melatonin is produced. Low-light environments increase melatonin production—thereby helping to encourage sleepiness.
To get your body ready for sleep after your Yoga session, turn down the lights. You can do your workout in candlelight, outside in the post-sunset evening, or in a room with a single soft-glow light turned on. What matters is that you work in a low-light environment, one that will help to boost melatonin production.
Tactile. You want to wear Yoga clothes that are soft and comfortable. Comfortable clothes help you to relax, but clothes that are tight, irritating, or rough will just annoy you.
Auditory. Your ears have a direct link to your brain, and they can play a central role in your mood. If you want to relax, put on music that soothes you and shuts down your worries. This could be relaxing mood music, instrumental music, or even the more traditional Yoga sounds. Just find music that helps you to focus on the flow and keeps you from worrying.
Olfactory. Aromatherapy can lift your moods and relax your mind and body. Get yourself an oil burner or incense of the following scents:
- Citrus oil
- Rose oil
- Geranium oil
These scents will all help to soothe your mind and body and get you in the mood to relax.
You’ve got the environment all ready to roll, so now it’s time to move on to the really important part: the routine itself.
There are two approaches to your night Yoga routine:
- A workout
- A way to relax and unwind
Both options are excellent, and both will help you get in the right mood for bed.
With this approach to your night Yoga workout, you’re going to start off with a sequence of movements that will give you a workout. Your goal is to incorporate the most active poses at the beginning of the workout.
Start off with the more traditional warm-up movements, such as Sun Salutations, Downward Dog, Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana), and Ardha Matseyandrasana. These will help you limber up, loosen the tension in your muscles, and get you ready for the harder poses that work strength and endurance. Spend no more than 5-8 minutes on the warm-up portion of your workout.
Once you’re warmed up and ready to go, it’s time to move into the more vigorous of the Yoga poses:
- Warrior I
- Warrior II
- Warrior III
- Triangle (with all its twisting variations)
- Extended Side Angle
- Lunge Variation
- Crane Pose
- Chair Pose
- Royal Dancer
- Standing Leg Extensions
- Plank Hold
These all help to target the muscles in a resistance training workout. Spend at least 30-35 minutes on this portion of the exercise, and really focus on the strength and endurance portion of the training. Try the Ashtanga or Power Yoga-style flow, adding Push-ups with your Downward Dog between poses. All of these movements enhance flexibility as well, but their primary focus is on your muscles.
By the time you’ve reached the 40 or 45-minute mark of your Yoga workout, it’s time to calm things down. Slow your flow, and work on the movements that will help you to relax and unwind:
- Reclined Twist
- Child’s Pose
- Lizard Pose
- Pigeon Pose
- Downward Dog
- Tree Pose
- Camel Pose
- Jathara Parivrtti
- Supta Baddha Konasana
- Feet up the Wall
- Corpse Pose
All of these will help to loosen up your muscles, but they’re also much more relaxing Yoga poses. They’ll slow your heart rate, improve circulation, and get you in a more relaxed state of mind. By the end of your 15-minute cooldown, you’ll be ready to hit the shower and get in bed!
This is the workout for those who just need to chill before bed, but don’t have a full hour to spend on their Yoga routine. The movements below are relaxing, and they’ll help you to get in the mood for a night of rest.
- 1 minute of Standing Forward and Side Bends
- 1 minute of Sun Salutations
- 30 seconds of Cat-Cow Pose
- 30 seconds of Cobra Pose
- 1 minute of Lizard Pose (30 seconds per leg)
- 1 minute of Pigeon Pose (30 seconds per leg)
- 1 minute of interspersed Downward and Upward Facing Dog
- 1 minute of Royal Dancer Pose (30 seconds per leg)
- 1 minute of Tree Pose (30 seconds per leg)
- 1 minute of Reclined Twists (30 seconds per side)
- 1 minute of Camel Pose
- 1 minute of Legs Up the Wall
- 1 minute of Hero Pose
- 1 minute of Lotus Pose (with deep breathing)
- 1 minute of Child’s Pose (with deep breathing)
- 1 minute of Corpse Pose (with deep breathing)
By the time you reach the end of that Corpse Pose, you’ll be feeling good and drowsy. From there, it’s time to get ready for bed!
The Post-Workout Habits
Now that you’re all worked out and relaxed, here’s how to stay in the mood as you get ready for bed:
Keep the lights low. Keep the lights dim as you go about preparing to sleep. The last thing you want is to stimulate your brain to wake up, so operate in low-light conditions as much as possible. One lamp or night light in your bedroom is more than enough to see to brush your teeth, put on your comfortable pajamas, and get in bed.
Shower. A cold shower will wake you up with a shock to your system, but a hot shower will raise your blood pressure. Make sure the shower is cool to warm. A warm shower will further your relaxation, but a cool shower will lower your body temperature and help you sleep more easily.
Avoid electronics. Keep your room an electronic-free zone. Not only will the light wake you up, but the texts, emails, and calls will bring back all the worries of your day.
Have sex. This is a great way to stay in the mood and get yourself ready for sleep. The exercise will increase circulation to your genitals and stimulate the production of feel-good chemicals—the perfect ambience for a good tumble!
And there you have it: a beautiful Yoga routine that will help to relax you, deal with stress, and get you ready for sleep. Follow the advice above, and you can enjoy an evening workout that’s highly effective at banishing evening stress.