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Yoga Poses for Restless Leg Syndrome

by Patty Weasler, RN December 03, 2019 0 Comments

Woman raising both leg

Restless leg syndrome (RLS), also known as Willis-Ekbom, is a sleep disorder that affects the nervous system. The hallmark symptom of RLS is the irresistible urge to move your legs while resting. The urge is temporarily relieved with movement and can recur throughout the night. Yoga for restless legs syndrome stretches and works the muscles to reduce the unpleasant sensations. If you’re looking for a way to help reduce your symptoms of restless leg syndrome with minimal side effects, then check out the recommended yoga poses below.

What is Restless Leg Syndrome?

Best Yoga Poses for RLS Symptoms

These four gentle yoga poses are low impact and can help symptoms of restless legs syndrome. If you are unsure how to best perform these poses after reviewing the summary and video talk to a local yoga teacher to prepare you for safe practice.

Legs Up the Wall Pose

Legs Up the Wall Pose is a restorative yoga pose that requires minimal strength and flexibility. It helps your nervous system cool down and prepares you for sleep. Start by grabbing a folded blanket or pillow and place it approximately one foot from the wall. Lie down on your back with the pillow or blanket under your lower back. Raise your legs up against the wall. Let your buttock drop down in the space between the wall and the support object. Don’t worry if you cannot straighten your legs against the wall. Let your hands rest naturally on your body or at your side and breathe slowly. 

Remain in this position as long as you are comfortable, up to five minutes.

Child's Pose

This pose is great at reducing stress levels and centering yourself before bed. Start by kneeling on a firm surface. Your knees can be together or apart. Sit back onto your heels and fold forward. If you’re able to rest your forehead on the ground. Bring your hands out in front of you and rest them on the ground. Use a blanket under your knees to protect them if the pressure on the ground is uncomfortable.

Stay in this pose for five to twenty minutes.

Seated Forward Fold

The Seated Forward Fold stretches your legs and lower back. Sit down with your legs straight out in front of you. Keep your toes flexed up towards the ceiling. Inhale and raise both arms above your head. Exhale and bend forward from the hips, keeping the chin moving towards the toes. Place your hands on your legs or feet without forcing an additional stretch. Take slow deep breaths and long exhalations.

Hold this pose for five to ten breaths.

Supported Bridge Pose

This pose works the hips and legs. It can be difficult at first to keep your hips up, so take your time and move slowly. First, lie down on a firm surface with legs out in front of you. Bend your knees and bring your feet flat onto the mat. Pigeon toe your feet. On inhale raise your hips to the sky aiming to keep a straight line between your knees and shoulders. Rest your arms at your side or bring your hands together under your back. Release by slowly lowering your hips to the ground.

Stay in this pose for five to ten breaths.

How Yoga Helps Restless Leg Syndrome

Traditional treatment for restless leg syndrome involves medication, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Yoga is a successful RLS treatment that can also improve your overall health, reduce stress, and anxiety. One study done with women who had moderate to severe restless leg syndrome showed a significant improvement in their symptoms after eight weeks of regular yoga practice.

Yoga poses reduce nerve stimulation in the legs by increasing blood circulation and lymph fluid movement. The postures that will benefit restless legs syndrome will stretch the legs, back, hips, and control your breathing. This stretching lessens the unpleasant tingling that prevents a night of restful sleep. Many people find pranayama or the controlled breathing practice of yoga calming and prepares them for sleep.

Yoga is best used in combination with a comprehensive treatment plan:

Exercises for Restless Leg Syndrome

Massage for Restless Leg Syndrome

When to Try Yoga for RLS

If you’re contemplating adding yoga to treat your restless leg syndrome now is the time to start. With minimal side effects and minimal to no cost, there is almost no downside to trying. Most people find that regular yoga practice in the evening brings the best results. Stretching will ease your muscles and reduce the nerve excitability before bed. As a relaxation technique, yoga can calm your mind before bed to improve sleep.

What to do for Restless Legs at Night

Healthy Practice of Yoga for Restless Leg Syndrome

Adding yoga into your daily life can help you sleep better if you suffer from restless leg syndrome. The stretching and calming effect improves both your mind and body while priming you to rest. Talk to your doctor before you start a yoga practice. Yoga can be contraindicated with certain conditions and is not suitable for everyone.




Patty Weasler, RN
Patty Weasler, RN

Patty Weasler is a freelance health writer and nurse. She is certified in critical care nursing and has been practicing for over 10 years. Patty lives in Milwaukee, WI with her husband and three children. She enjoys spending her time with family and educating people about their health.

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