For so many of my Yoga students a presenting complaint when they begin work in Yoga is that of feeling over stressed. Not surprisingly this negatively impacts ability to get a good nights sleep.
Since sleeping is a building block for a better life this can begin a negative cycle that impacts almost all phases of life. Healthy sleep patter play a role in enhancing memory, stimulating creativity, reducing stress, managing weight and healing the body from pain and injury. Getting enough sleep each night has even been linked to creating a longer lifespan.
Most people do not get enough sleep when it counts. Burning the candle at both ends is a valued trait. We work, study and play around the clock. This 24-hour cycle can damage the human body.
Insufficient sleep can weaken the immune system and leave a person vulnerable to catching diseases and developing other serious health problems. It can also enhance stress and depression. People who sleep less than needed are more prone to making errors in judgment and experiencing serious or fatal accidents.
Yoga can make getting enough sleep easier. It energizes your body during the day, and can relax your body and mind when it’s time to sleep.
How does Yoga help you sleep?
Yoga can enhance your ability to sleep better in five distinct ways:
1. Soothes your mind
Many bends and poses are designed to soothe the nervous system and replace stress with calm at the end of a hectic day. Yoga prepares your mind for sleep by enhancing calm through releasing stress or nervous energy.
2. Eases physical pain
Aches and pains can be a culprit in keeping bodies awake at night. Yoga can relieve this problem. Different bends and poses stretch out muscles and joints, relieving tension and increasing blood flow in affected areas
3. Enhances your focus
Your mind needs to be trained to know when to be active and when to rest. Yoga helps sharpen your focus for doing what comes naturally when your head hits your pillow.
4. Quiets your thoughts
Mental noise can be distracting. Thoughts racing a mile a minute can lead to endless tossing and turning. Yoga helps quiet this chatter. It gives you a time and place to reflect and meditate, so you can clear your mind before bedtime.
5. Permits surrender
It is easy to resist sleeping at night, especially when it feels like so much is left to be done. Yoga works your body and mind enough so it feels good to simply surrender and let yourself relax.
A consistent practice of Yoga, mediation and other self care techniques can transform basic stress levels and help change the the mental, physical and lifestyle factors that contribute to the overwhelm and stress that can begin the downward cycles of sleep deprivation.
For a more immediate help follow this link from the Fitness Magazine website to a short routine that may be of help in short circuiting the stress response and help you finally get some rest.
As always, take care to practice safely, taking responsibility for what you do. Please read the website disclaimer for more information.
(1) “Why Better Sleep = Better Health” Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/railroad-sleep/problems/sleep-health
(2) “8-Minute Workout: Yoga for Better Sleep.” Fitness Magazine, http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/workout/yoga/poses/yoga-routine-before-sleep/?page=1