It is one of our favorite places, our magical hideaway from the world, a sanctuary where we sleep, read, watch tv, work and play. Your bed can also be a wonderful place to do yoga as you wake up or wind down. I know the reality is most of us grab our phones, and rush into our day, checking email, social media, begin the log list of things to do; let the dog out, feed the cat, make coffee, take care of the kids and get ready for work. That list makes me tired just thinking about it. Before you reach for your phone and rush off, take a few moments for yourself and do a little yoga – yes in your pajamas. If you are trying to wind down, these poses are a great way to slow things down before you sleep. It is okay if your mind begins to wander, come back to focusing on your breath – inhale and exhale.
Waking up? Begin with the horizontal poses first and follow with vertical. Before bedtime? Start with the vertical poses and end with the horizontal poses. Rushed for time? It’s okay – just do a few.
10 Yoga Moves You Can Do In Bed
Let’s go horizontal.
These can all be done while laying down, stay in each pose for a few breaths with simple inhales and exhales.
1. Long Body Stretch – A reason to stay in bed, yes please! Still lying on your bed, inhale and stretch your arms over your head. As you exhale, stretch your legs long. Inhale, wiggle or stretch your fingers, exhale and wiggle or stretch your toes. Inhale and as you exhale, rest comfortably on your bed. This is a beautiful full body stretch that allows you to stretch from head to toe. Modify: You can stretch arms down toward your hips, if raising hands up over your head is not accessible.
2. Legs Up The Wall – (Viparita Karani) You can use your headboard as the wall if you want, but feel free to do this pose without a wall. Lie down on your bed, bring arms by your side, inhale and bend your knees, plant the soles of your feet on the bed. Inhale, lift your right leg up in the air as you exhale gently roll your ankles clockwise and counterclockwise. Inhale, lift your left leg up in the air as you exhale gently roll your ankles clockwise and counterclockwise. You can do both legs together. Inhale and stretch your heels up toward the ceiling. Take a moment to admire your feet, don’t worry about how they look. Your feet are strong, they support you all day. Give them a little love. As you exhale gently lower your feet back down to your bed. Modify: Do one leg at a time, be patient with yourself.
3. Reclining Bound Angle – (Supta Baddha Konasana) Lie on your back, with hands resting by your side or on your torso, bend your knees, inhale, bring the soles of your feet together. Exhale and gently allow your knees to relax and legs to lower to the bed with the soles of your feet still together. Try not to push your knees down, (lifting your knees a bit will help you settle into the pose). Inhale. Exhale and stretch your legs long. Modify: Slide your feet away from your torso to lessen the intensity or place a thin pillow beneath each knee. If your knees feel too much sensation in this pose, place a thin pillow or blanket under your shins for support.
4. Knees to Chest – (Apasana) Lie on your back, inhale. As you exhale, draw your knees in toward your chest. Breathe in and wrap your arms around your legs. Exhale and lengthen the back of your neck. Inhale, pull your knees a bit closer. As you exhale, allow your spine to settle into your bed. Give yourself a little hug, it also feels good to gently rock from side to side here. It’s okay to have a little fun. Modify: You can place your hands on your knees.
5. Corpse Pose – (Savasana) Oh the magic of Savasana is just one reason so many love their yoga practice. Lie on your back, inhale and as you exhale allow your body to relax fully onto your bed. You can close your eyes. This is where you let go of effort and release any remaining tension in your body. Inhale and allow your feet to relax and fall open as you exhale. Breathe in and as you breathe out let your legs muscles soften. Allow your hips to settle back into your bed, relax your belly and glutes. Notice the rise and fall of your chest with each breath. Feel your shoulders on your bed. Inhale, lengthen the back of your neck and exhale. Breathe in and as you breathe out, relax your fingers. Palms can be open to receive energy or face down for grounding. Soften your face, release your tongue from the roof of your mouth.
These moments are
just for you,
Do not stress
over what you
to feel like.
Breathe in and out naturally. Relax – it is okay to yawn, laugh, giggle, cry, to let it all go, find stillness and drift into a meditative state. When you are ready to come out of your Savasana, stretch and roll over to your side. Take a few moments here to reconnect with your breath and your renewed body, and when you feel ready, gently push yourself up to sit comfortably. Modify: If you feel pain in your lower back, gently bend your knees and allow them to support one another. You can also place a small pillow beneath your knees.
Let’s go vertical.
These can all be done while sitting on your bed, stay in each pose for a few breaths with simple inhales and exhales. Add any organic movement that feels good to you and enjoy the stretch.
6. Easy Pose – (Sukhasana) Sit cross legged. The funny thing is that Easy Pose can be challenging, Yoga Journal editors state that, “In Sukhasana, there should be a comfortable gap between the feet and pelvis.” Keep this in mind to prevent putting additional stress on your hips and groin. Relax your feet. Breathe in and sit up straight. Bring some awareness to your belly and exhale.
Place your hands on your knees or lap. Your palms may face up for receiving energy or down for grounding. Inhale and exhale. Allow your shoulders to relax and be mindful not to arch your back. Stay for several inhales and exhales. Make sure to alternate the front leg about half way through – do a few breaths and then switch leg position. Just because it is called Easy Pose doesn’t mean it is easy. Sometimes, simply sitting is the challenge – notice where you feel sensation in this pose – and notice where you can let go a little. Tip: To get shoulders into a neutral position, inhale and shrug your shoulders then exhale and allow them to slide to their resting position. Modify: You can place thin pillows or a blanket beneath your knees for extra support.
Feel free to
close your eyes
and just feel
in your body.
7. Seated Cat and Cow – (Marjaryasana and Bitilasana) Begin seated in Easy Pose or on the edge of the bed with your feet on the floor. Sit up straight and place your hands on your knees. Inhale and stretch your chest forward, using your hands on your knees as leverage. Exhale, round your shoulders, bring your abdominals in toward your spine. Repeat Cat and Cow several times to work on flexibility in your spine. As you move through this mini Vinyasa, be mindful to move on your inhales and exhales. Modify: You can place your hands on the bed near your hips for a little added support or extend your arms up over your head to stretch your arms.
8. Gentle Spinal Twist – Sit in Easy Pose or on the edge of the bed with your feet on the floor. Sit up straight and make sure that your hips are settled. Inhale, bring your left hand to your right knee. As you exhale, place your right hand on the bed, near your hip. Inhale lengthen your spine, exhale and twist to the right, twisting from your shoulder and then through your spine. For my fellow Type – A yogis, remember this is a gentle twist. Inhale and come back to center. Exhale.
Let’s do the other side. Inhale, bring your right hand to your left knee. As you exhale, place your left hand on the bed, near your hip. Inhale lengthen your spine, exhale and twist to the left, twisting from your shoulder and then through your spine. Inhale and come back to center. Exhale. Modify: You can place your hands with your fingers tented (on fingertips) behind you for additional support.
9. Staff Pose – (Dandasana) Sit with your legs together, extended out in front of you. Your hands can rest on the bed next to you or you can use them for support. Inhale, lengthen your spine, exhale, press your thighs down toward your bed and rotate them inward. Flex your feet. Inhale, lengthen up from hips through your chest and exhale. Inhale, engage your abdominals, exhale and allow your shoulders to relax. Modify: Place a thin pillow or folded blanket beneath your hips.
10. Seated Forward Fold – (Paschimottanasana) Begin seated, stretch your legs out in front of you and press your thighs down into the bed. You can place your hands near your hips and gently lift your chest as you press your thighs down. Press your heels away (flex your feet). Inhale, lengthen your spine and lift your arms up overhead, exhale and gently hinge from your hips as you fold forward. It is okay if you can not reach your feet.
If your hands reach your feet, place them on the outer edges of your feet or fingers on big toes and gently pull your torso toward your thighs. Inhale lengthen, exhale relax a little more. Inhale, lift your torso away from your legs, exhale. Do not worry about how you are supposed to look in this pose, it is all about how you feel. Tip: Lift from your hips rather than your waist and be mindful of your lower back. Modify: You can place your hands on the bed near your hips for a little added support and feel free to bend your knees if needed.
You Can Do Yoga Anywhere
Whether you are waking up or winding down, remember to take a deep breath of gratitude, for your body for your practice. Yes, even a few minutes of yoga is a practice. I love intentionally staying in bed for a few extra minutes to gently awaken my body and mind before tackling all of the to-do lists, letting the dog out, making tea and breakfast. That time seems to be a little bit of magic in the morning, even when my dog, Rosy jumps up on the bed and licks my arm and sits there smiling at me. The laughter that follows makes my heart happy and who can resist a wagging tail? At the end of a day, when the house is quiet and the glow of your screen is tempting you to watch one more episode, check email or scroll through social media – a few minutes of mindful breathing and stretching can help calm your brain and give you a more restful sleep.
Do a little yoga in bed, because you can do yoga anywhere. The poses here can be done individually or as a mini practice. See what your body craves, do you love a good twist or does bending and stretching feel good? As you integrate breathing and moving through these poses into your daily routine, notice the changes in how your body feels and how taking a few moments just for you affects your mood. Now, go ahead and have a little fun – whether you decide to sleep, read, watch tv, work or play.
Namaste, my friends.
Note: Remember to listen to your body and only do what feels good to you, safety first. Sources: Dr. Abigail Ellsworth, Anatomy of Yoga, 2010, p. 23, 28. | Leah Cullis, Power Yoga: Strength, Sweat and Spirit, 2019, p.241. | Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon and Daniel DiTuro, Hatha Yoga Illustrated, 2006, p.122-123, 136-137, 170-171.