yoga for chronic insomniaBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500

How can Yoga and meditation help people with chronic insomnia? Results of studies, released by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies, in 2009, show that meditation “may be an effective behavioral intervention in the treatment of insomnia.” The research looked at 11 healthy participants, between the ages of 25 and 45, who suffered from chronic insomnia. Findings show, that the subjects who practiced Yoga during the day, had fewer sleep problems at night.

Yoga training has long been recognized as an aid to better sleep, but scientists are just beginning to validate the claims. In 2004, researchers, at Harvard Medical School, gave people, who suffered from insomnia, a Yoga regimen that lasted for eight weeks. Both the quality of sleep, and the length of time spent sleeping, increased in participants who practiced yogic breathing (pranayama), asana exercises, and meditation.

Nevertheless, not all asanas are recommended for people who have chronic insomnia or sleep disorders. Strenuous routines, such as Sun Salutations (Surya Namaskar), which stimulate the nervous system are not a good idea before bedtime.

This brings to mind – how specific Yogic techniques are not practiced at the right time of day. The Sun Salutations raise one’s internal energy. Therefore, it would be wise to practice them in the early morning hours.  Vigorous Vinyasa routines are also good for energizing the body and mind during morning hours.  If you must do them in the evening, schedule your Vinyasa session to end a minimum of two hours before your bedtime.  If insomnia persists, allow more than two hours, or practice Vinyasa flows earlier in the day.

Among some Yoga teachers, there is a belief that people, who are attracted to high-energy exercise, are often the same ones who have trouble falling asleep at night. One possible reason for this is: If one is competitive, driven to succeed, and obsessed about work, it can be difficult to wind down before a scheduled sleep cycle. It is hard to change one’s personality. So, what is a logical solution?

A consistent Yoga practice is one of the keys to better sleep. Restorative poses calm the mind, and simple calming postures actually help the body transition from the fight or flight response, to slower breathing, and lower pulse rates of the parasympathetic nervous system.

The following Yoga postures help to reduce insomnia and quiet the mind:

• Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose

• Cat Pose

• Camel Pose

• Extended Child Pose

• Half Downward-Facing Dog Pose

• Easy Pose

• Child Pose

• Happy Baby

• Corpse Pose

In addition to postures, Yogic breathing techniques, and meditation complement, good sleep:

• Three-Part Breath (Dirgha)

• Meditation

• Yogic Sleep (Nidra)

More than half of all adults, in the United States, report that they have trouble falling asleep, at least once a week, and 33% say they have had problems almost every night in the last year. Yoga offers a healthy way to reduce the incidents of insomnia and improve health and emotional well being at the same time. With scientific data to back it up, Yoga shows promise in helping to solve the epidemic of sleep deprivation in our society.

© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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