Yoga for Sleep

by Beth Irvine Patient Expert

This is my favorite yoga pose to do when I have a lot on my mind and need to get a good night's sleep. Try spending about 15 minutes in this yoga posture before turning in⎯and see how it can aid in sending you off into a restful slumber. Putting your legs up the wall is a very gentle way to do an inversion (or up-side down) pose. "Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose" brings blood to your head and heart, and always seems to clear out the cobwebs for me.

Not just a "trend"

Yoga's roots extend over 5,000 years. According to Yoga Journal 11 million Americans practice yoga, and as a former yoga teacher (and who has practiced daily for the past thirteen years), I can confidently tell my readers⎯ this pose works wonders.

The Sanskrit (ancient Indian text) word for this pose is "viparita karani asana" (vip-par-ee-tah car-AHN-ee) which translates to viparita = inverted, karani = action, asana= pose
What are the benefits?
This pose is a tried and true position to help with creating a restful sleep. Other reasons I love it: it can relieve tired or cramped legs and feet, gently stretch the back of my legs and neck, and for me (the best part being) it calms my mind. It aids as a beautiful and natural sleep remedy.

How to do it:
Follow these instructions for "Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose":

Fold and stack 2 thick blankets (or a bolster), creating a support that is about 6 inches away from the wall and long enough to prop your hips and lower back.

Place the blankets a few inches away from the wall.

Curl your legs into the chest and turn onto your left side. Use your left arm as a support, and then roll onto your right hip while sweeping your legs up against the wall.

Place your back and hips on the blanket. Your body should be in a straight line from navel to top of head and it should be perpendicular to the wall. The bolster or blankets should be supporting from the top of your tailbone all the way to your mid-back.

Try a soothing eye bag over your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Allow your breath to relax your body as you settle into the position.

Stay here for up to 20 minutes, or as long as it feels good. Just remember to continue to breath into your belly, and to allow your body- joints and muscles to open into the posture.

As with any inversion "Viparita Karani" should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. With serious neck or back problems only perform this pose with the supervision of an experienced teacher. If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis.

Looking for more?
If this pose sounds like an idea for you to try- check out my book


Also check out another yoga pose I love and use regularly to reduce stress. It calms me, clears my head and keeps me in balance; it's known as pose of a child.

Related Links:

Sleep Disorders - A Natural Soother: Your Breath

Dreams of Sugar Plums?

Stretch Your Way to sleep

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Beth Irvine
Meet Our Writer
Beth Irvine

Beth wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Sleep Disorders.