Sleep can be a struggle when you’re pregnant. You might be having trouble falling asleep because of tight hips or anxiety about the big changes happening in your life. No matter what is keeping you up, prenatal yoga can help! Follow this prenatal yoga bedtime routine to get your best night of sleep.
(The contents of this post do not constitute medical advice. This post contains affiliate links. Click here to read our disclaimer.)
Prenatal Yoga for Sleep
Yoga is well-known for its ability to improve sleep. This is due to the combination of movement and yoga’s relaxing and stress-relieving effects. Studies have demonstrated that yoga can help you to both fall asleep faster and stay asleep more deeply. (1)
Prenatal Yoga Tips for Sleep
Follow these tips to make your nighttime prenatal yoga practice as successful as possible.
1. Set the Mood
Making some simple changes to your environment can make your bedtime yoga routine even more successful by putting you in a sleepy mood. Try incorporating a few of these suggestions the next time you’re doing nighttime yoga:
- Change into comfy clothes (maybe even your pajamas!).
- Dim the lights or light some candles.
- Diffuse a calming essential oil, like lavender.
- Play music that makes you feel relaxed.
- Brew a cup of pregnancy-safe tea and keep it next to your mat so you can sip while you do yoga.
2. Take It Slow
Give yourself ample time to practice each pose. You get to choose the pace, but make sure you’re not rushing through the poses. This prenatal yoga bedtime routine is all about winding down for the day.
If you’re short on time, it’s better to skip some of the poses and take your time with the remaining ones. So choose your favorite poses from the sequence below and really enjoy them.
3. Use Props
Props are honestly one of the best parts of a relaxing yoga practice. They make everything cozier and more comfortable.
I recommend having these props on hand when you practice yoga for sleep (although all are optional!):
A bolster can provide extra support in child’s pose or give you a boost to sit up taller when you’re doing your deep breathing at the beginning of practice. There are also a few poses where I’ll give you the option of building a “ramp” with a bolster and blocks so you don’t have to lie down on your back (especially helpful in your third trimester).
This bolster from Gaiam is my favorite. It’s incredibly supportive without being too large, and the fabric is super soft.
Blocks make up the other part of the bolster ramp that you’ll have the option of using for a few poses in this nighttime yoga routine. These cork blocks from Manduka are super sturdy (read: supportive), and I guarantee they’ll become a valued part of your yoga practice.
I like having a blanket on-hand during yoga for a few reasons. First, a folded blanket can provide extra padding beneath your knees in poses like cow/cat. Second, a blanket provides warmth and a comforting weight during restorative reclining poses, like the ones we’ll do at the end of this practice.
These woven blankets are a staple in yoga studios for a reason. They’re the perfect weight to feel relaxing when you’re covered by one. And they’re durable, so they’ll hold up to all of your cow/cats.
This one is kind of a luxury, but I love using a lavender eye pillow during savasana (the resting pose at the end of a yoga practice). The gentle pressure it puts on your eyes plus the relaxing lavender scent help me relax instantly. I actually purchased a whole set of these lavender eye pillows for my yoga students to use during restorative yoga, and they’re a big hit!
Related: 5 Best Prenatal Yoga Mats
Prenatal Yoga Bedtime Routine
I designed this prenatal yoga bedtime routine to help you wind down and gently work out any kinks before getting into bed.
Taking your time, practice these prenatal yoga poses in order. I provide modification suggestions in the pose descriptions, so if anything feels uncomfortable, try making an adjustment. If a pose feels painful or unsafe, skip it and move on to the next pose. You know your body best.
As always, check in with your healthcare provider before starting a new type of movement.
1. Calming Breaths
Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system and signals to your brain and body that you’re safe and can enter Rest and Digest (basically the opposite of Fight or Flight).
How to do it: Find a comfortable seated position. You may want to sit on a bolster or block to lift your hips and create more space in your torso for deep breaths.
Sit up tall. Draw your shoulders up toward your ears and down your back to open up your chest. If you feel comfortable, you can close your eyes or soften your gaze toward the floor.
Take a deep breath in through your nose. On your exhale, sigh your breath out through your mouth. Repeat two more times.
Close off your lips. Continue to breathe deeply in and out through your nose. Take long, slow breaths. As you breathe in, allow your belly to expand with air.
Continue these calming breaths for 10 repetitions or a few minutes.
2. Seated Side Stretch
The seated side stretch creates space in your side body from your armpit down to your hip. It provides a great stretch for your hips, ribcage, and shoulders – all of which tend to get a little tight during pregnancy.
How to do it: From your seated position, inhale and sweep your arms up overhead so your palms are facing each other. Lower your right hand to the floor and crawl it out to the side, stretching your left arm over to the right.
As you stretch here, inhale to reach your left fingertips over to the right. Exhale to bend slightly deeper or remain right where you are.
If lowering your right hand to the floor feels strenuous, try placing a block beneath your hand.
Take a few deep breaths in your side stretch, then repeat the pose on the other side.
Cow and cat work together to warm your spine and release tension throughout your back.
How to do it: Transition to your hands and knees for tabletop pose. Place your wrists under your shoulders, spreading your fingers wide. Place your knees under your hips or slightly wider, depending on what’s comfortable for you. Draw your belly button up toward your spine to flatten your back.
Inhale, moving into cow pose. Drop your belly, lift your head and your hips. Look up toward the ceiling
Exhale, moving into cat pose. Round your back. Drop your head and hips. Look back toward your belly.
If your knees feel sore, try placing a folded blanket beneath them for more cushion.
Move between cow and cat for several breaths.
4. Child’s Pose
Tight hips are one of my biggest discomforts in pregnancy, and stretching them out definitely helps me sleep better. Child’s pose is an amazing hip opener and provides a stretch from your shoulders all the way down your back.
How to do it: From tabletop pose, take your knees out as wide as is comfortable. Bring your big toes to touch, and press your hips back toward your heels.
Either stretch your arms forward and bring your forehead to the mat, or stack your hands beneath your forehead.
You may also place a bolster under your torso for extra support. You can keep your arms stretched in front of you or take them back along your sides.
Remain in child’s pose for a few minutes, continuing to breathe deeply. If you find it difficult to breathe into your chest and belly in child’s pose, try expanding your lungs out to the side, as if you’re opening up through the sides of your ribcage.
5. Seated Pigeon
Seated pigeon is another incredible hip opener, and it is more accessible during the later stages of pregnancy than sleeping pigeon (although if you’re comfortable with sleeping pigeon, feel free to substitute it here!).
How to do it: From a seated position, place your feet in front of you so your knees are bent. Place your hands behind you on the mat for support and lean back slightly.
Cross your right ankle over your lower left thigh (right above the knee). Draw your knee forward to further open your hip. If you feel stable, you can also gently press your right hand into your inner right thigh to open the hip.
Breathe here in seated pigeon for a few minutes before repeating on the other side.
6. Legs Up the Wall
Legs up the wall is an incredibly relaxing inversion. If you only have time for one yoga pose before bed, legs up the wall is the one!
I’m providing two versions of legs up the wall here so you can choose the amount of support you want.
Version 1: Legs Up the Wall
If you are comfortable lying on your back and getting down to and back up from the floor, this version of legs up the wall may work well for you.
Find an open wall space. Sit down next to it, bringing one hip against the wall. Leaning back and supporting yourself with your hands, stretch your legs up, turning your hips toward the wall.
Gently lower your back onto the floor. You can place your arms by your side or overhead, or you can rest your hands on your stomach.
Version 2: Supported Legs on the Chair
If lying your back is uncomfortable or not recommended by your healthcare provider, try this version with lots of support from props.
Begin by building a ramp with a bolster and two blocks. Place one block on its tallest setting near the back of your mat. Place the other block on its middle height a few inches in front of the other block. Rest your bolster on top of the blocks so it creates a ramp. Test the ramp to make sure it feels safe and sturdy.
Place a chair a few feet in front of the ramp with the seat facing the ramp.
Gently lower your back onto the ramp. Make any adjustments necessary to help you feel safe and comfortable. Lift your legs to bring your calves onto the seat of the chair. Get comfy and allow your arms to open to the sides or rest your hands on your belly.
Remain in the pose for several minutes, breathing deeply.
7. Savasana or Supported Reclining Bound Angle
Savasana is the resting pose that comes at the end of a yoga class. It’s incredibly relaxing, and I like to think of it as a time for all of the goodness of your yoga practice to integrate into your body.
Again, I’m providing two versions of this pose so you can choose the amount of support you want.
Version 1: Savasana
Gently lower yourself onto your back. You can take the traditional savasana pose with your arms and legs out long, feet falling to the sides.
Or you can take any modifications that feel good to you. You might place your arms overhead or rest your hands on your belly. You can keep your knees bent or place a bolster under them. The point here is to be comfortable so you can prepare for bed, so find what works best for you!
Version 2: Supported Reclining Bound Angle
This pos is wonderful if lying on your back isn’t a good option for you.
Using the same ramp from Legs on the Chair, gently lower your back onto it. Bring the soles of your feet together and take your knees out wide. You might try moving your feet further away from your body to find your most comfortable hip opener.
Allow your arms to fall out to the side or rest your hands on your belly.
Rest in your chosen pose for several minutes (maybe set a timer). When you’re finished, sit up and take three calming breaths.
You’re ready for bed!
If you want to follow the prenatal yoga bedtime routine in list form without the descriptions, here you go:
- Calming Breaths
- Seated Side Stretch
- Child’s Pose
- Seated Pigeon
- Legs Up the Wall/Supported Legs on the Chair
- Savasana/Supported Reclining Bound Angle
Which pose from this prenatal yoga bedtime routine do you find most relaxing? Tell me in the comments!