In the past few weeks, we’ve gone over some of the best natural ways to sleep easy and through the night. One we haven’t talked about yet is doing yoga or meditation before bed. According to many sources, yoga can be just what the doctor ordered for those nights when sleep just won’t come.
Timothy McCall, author of the yoga book Yoga as Medicine has an entire chapter dedicated to insomnia. Below are some valuable points he mentions on how yoga can help with insomnia.
- Yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps the body and mind relax and reduce the levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol in the blood.
- According to studies, the inverted yoga poses help to promote sleep by triggering the baroreflex (a blood pressure reflex), which helps in decreasing blood pressure. Regular practice of inversions is believed to be especially calming for the nervous system. If you are comfortable practicing a shoulder stand and headstand, include these in your regular practice.
- McCall sees insomnia as something caused by an excess of Vata (one of the three doshas, dosha = “that which becomes unbalanced”). Yoga poses are meant to reduce Vata. Along with yoga, it can be helpful to establish a general routine for going to bed and getting up at the same time every day, eat warm, nutritious meals at regular times, and stop all work one or two hours before bed.
- If you wake up in the middle of the night, try practicing some gentle Ujjayi Pranayama while lying on your back in bed. Count each exhalation until you reach ten, then start over.
Bedtime Yoga Practice against Insomnia
- Simple cross-legged seated pose (Sukhasana)
- Ujjayi Pranayama
- Supported seated forward bend (Paschimottanasana)
- (Rest your head on a padded chair or a folded up blanket.)
- Reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
- Knees-to-chest (Apanasana)
- Legs-up-the-wall (Viparita Karani)
- Corpse pose (Savasana) in bed
Women’s Health goes over some great poses to try before bed at night to relax your body into a slumber. Probably one of the most common and simplest poses they cite is short meditation. In short meditation, you can simply sit in your bed “Indian style” with both legs folded in front of you. Sit up and lean slightly back on your pillows or head board. Close your eyes and rest your hands on your thighs and just breathe here for a few minutes. This doesn’t have to be a serious meditation but just a short while to do nothing but breathe.
My personal favorite yoga pose is the easy forward bend, especially since it can be done while in bed. Keep your seated position and gently bend forward at your hips and let your hands stretch out straight in front of you on the bed. This will feel good in your hips and your whole back.
After doing yoga, try to ease into bed without stimulating your mind or body. This means avoid turning on lights or the TV, just try to ease into sleep. Make sure you’re sleeping on bedding that’s comfortable and conducive to sleeping. For new bedding, look into botanical mattresses. Their comfort and support are unbeatable. Until next time, sleep easy and peacefully!
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