Having trouble sleeping? You are not alone. In fact, insomnia is a very common health concern among many. Sleep is a crucial aspect of health as the body needs to rest in order to repair the cells and tissues. Doctors recommend sleeping an average of six to eight hours every day. Anything lesser than these can lead to tension, irritability, fatigue, stress, anxiety and depression.
Maintaining a healthy sleeping routine can mean better health. If you have been experiencing insomnia, one of the most natural ways to cure it is by practicing yoga. Although insomnia can be caused by a variety of health conditions, one of the major factors that cause it is anxiety over work and personal problems. Through yoga, you can unwind and de-stress so you can sleep better at night.
Insomnia usually presents itself in two ways. You may either have trouble drifting off to sleep or you may experience waking up in between sleep cycles. Experiencing one or the other can leave you feeling unrested, groggy and tired in the morning. By performing the poses and breathing techniques in yoga, you can relax your body and ease it into sleep without having to resort to any types of medication.
When it’s difficult for you to sleep, the most basic thing that you can do is try deep relaxation and meditation half an hour before going to bed. This practice can help you relax all parts of your body, including your mind. Through meditation, you can silence your mind from the numerous thoughts that do not have anything to do with the present. Sometimes, one of the reasons why you lie awake at night is because you keep on processing memories or anticipation of future events and your reactions towards these. By meditating and relaxing, you are bringing your mind in the present moment, devoid of anxieties and disturbing thoughts.
In cases where you have fallen asleep and suddenly woke up in the middle of it, you can try to practice a gentle rhythmic breathing technique while lying down. This can be very relaxing since your attention will only focus on your breathing and the sound of it. In no time, you will be drifting off to sleep. This routine is also particularly helpful during the day, when you are stressed or if you find yourself overthinking.
Practicing yoga on a daily basis can be effectively helpful in fighting off insomnia. For one, the physical requirements of yoga can lead to the stretching and relaxing of the muscles. This helps in minimizing fatigue and stress while maintaining your physical health. Doing yoga before bed also prepares your body for sleeping. Compared to other exercises, these poses do not stimulate but rather relaxes your mind and body so you can sleep soundly and wake up feeling well-rested and refreshed.
The Seated forward Bend is a very basic pose which helps in easing the tension in your hips and hamstrings. It is effective in calming the mind and has therapeutic effects for stress, fatigue and anxiety. To start, sit on your buttocks with your feet stretched in front of you. As you inhale, extend your fingers towards the sky and as you exhale, lean forward from your hips and not at the waist. This will keep your torso long. If your fingers can reach your toes, hold to the sides of your foot. If your fingers don’t, you can place your hands on your shin. Stay in the position for a few breaths. At each inhale and exhale, lift and lengthen your torso.
Considered as the transition or relaxation pose, the child’s pose has mind-calming effects and helps in reducing body tension. It is very easy to perform as you fold your upper body over your legs. Your arms may extend in front of you or on the sides, with your forehead resting on the ground. While doing this, take long and deep breaths while massaging your forehead from side to side. This action helps in releasing tension in your brow point.
Legs up the Wall or Viparita Karani is a very simple pose that helps relieve headache, reduce pain in the lower back and can help minimize menstrual cramps. You can do the viparita karani for as long as five minutes. While some would directly lie on the floor, others prefer using folded blankets or bolster to support their body while the legs are propped against the wall. Additional accessories such as a soothing eye pillow can make this pose even more relaxing.
The Corpse pose or savanasa is probably the easiest pose in yoga. However, the savanasa pose is more than just lying down on your back. In fact, it teaches you the complete essence of yoga such as non-attachment, surrender and self-awareness. Your main focus is in the proper alignment of your body as you bring your attention to the different parts of your body. By focusing your mind on your present condition, you are veering it away from the thoughts and events that are causing stress.
Performing breathing exercises can also help in solving problems related to insomnia. One effective practice is called the Left nose breathing or Chandra Bhedana Pranayama. While the right nostril is associated with energy and the sun, the left nostril is associated with cooling down, calming the brain and relaxing the entire body. To perform, simply sit on a cross-legged position or lie down on your right. Cover your right nostril with your thumb in mrigi mudra finger position. Take deep breaths in your left and exhale through your right. Do this for five to ten breathes or for up to three minutes.
To prepare yourself for sleeping, it would also be nice to get yourself ready for bed. This can mean taking a warm bath, and turning off the lights, the TV, the laptop and your mobile phone. You can start off your yoga exercises with a short meditation. It does not have to be intense. You just need to create a quiet and serene environment so your body can relax and you can concentrate on performing the yoga poses.
A few hours before sleeping, you should also avoid consuming caffeinated drinks, eating heavy meals and drinking alcohol. All of these can thwart your prospect of having a long and peaceful sleep. Through healthy practice and yoga, you can find relief from insomnia and avoid its degenerating health effects.