Boost relaxation and beat insomnia by soothing your mind and body before bed. Here are six easy yoga poses to get you there

By Kat Tancock

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Your pre-bedtime routine

Often have trouble sleeping? You're not alone – and it could be costing you more than just a restless night and sleepy day, according to recent research, which showed that people with insomnia are much more likely to experience associated health problems such as anxiety, depression, diabetes and congestive heart failure.

But don't despair – a good night's sleep really is within reach. One oft-recommended treatment is to establish a relaxing bedtime routine (and no, a nightcap with David Letterman doesn't count). A good place to start? A pre-bedtime yoga practice.

"Yoga gets you in touch with the breath," says Toronto yoga instructor Darcie Clark, who consulted on and modelled for the following pose sequence. "When you slow down and stay in a pose you can feel different areas of the body that are tense and holding on from your day and gradually let that go as you sit and breathe through the pose." And stretching in general has a calming effect, says Nikos Apostolopoulos, director of the Microstretching Clinic in Vancouver, making bedtime the best time for it.

Ready to begin? Ideally, says Clark, do each pose in the sequence for one to five minutes, holding each position gently without strain or pain. Can't manage the full sequence? Pick your favourites and build them into your routine as you can – even in bed, if that works for you. And remember: Always listen to your body, don't push yourself past your comfort zone and don't do anything that hurts. Speak to a yoga teacher for further modifications to these poses that will work with your body.

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