By Sanjeev Patel
Much of what you have learned from Yoga teacher training is for the prevention of injuries and ailments to humankind. Yet, what do we do when faced with an pre-existing condition? Many people take prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to solve their problems. In the case of insomnia, some people are deprived of sleep for days, weeks, months and years. This can potentially lead to auto accidents, poor productivity and many different anxiety related health problems. Rather than cause more anxiety over lack of sleep, let’s look at some Yogic remedies.
Whether you have insomnia or an occasional sleepless night, chances are you find yourself having trouble going to sleep when you’re stressed and anxious. Before you reach for medication or press the panic button, you might consider a restorative Yoga training routine. Add a little deep breathing and meditation and you’ll likely be sleeping like a baby before you know it.
Eight Restorative Poses for a Good Night’s Sleep
• Child’s Pose
• Simple cross-legged forward bend
• Reclining bound angle pose
• Cobbler’s Pose
• Easy Spinal Twist
• Corpse Pose
The parasympathetic nervous system works with the sympathetic nervous system to help us get through the stress of day-to-day living. When the pressure and frustration of the day overwhelm us, our sympathetic nervous system goes into action, activating hormones that create “fight or flight” responses in our bodies and leaving us frazzled in the evening.
The use of gentle breathing exercises, poses and meditation helps to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system back into action, slowing the breathing rate and lowering the blood pressure. Maintaining a balanced Yoga practice makes us more aware of the sensations in our bodies and better able to control negative emotions that trigger the “fight or flight” response.
Other Yoga Techniques
• Gentle breathing exercises, known as pranayama, help prepare us for sleep and may be helpful in getting back to sleep after waking in the middle of the night. Alternate nostril breathing is not only a safe and easy technique, but it also balances both sides of the brain.
• Meditation is most effective when done after poses and pranayama but can be practiced at any time. Listening to music with binaural beats not only soothes the mind but it balances the left and right hemisphere and calms the parasympathetic nervous system, as well. Guided meditations or progressive body meditations are also helpful.
• Eating small, light meals before bedtime can prevent insomnia. In order to drift into deep sleep, we need a hunger hormone called ghrelin. Besides, digesting a big meal is hard work.
Last, but not least, as Yoga instructors know, Yoga is not just an exercise; it is also a lifestyle. Nothing makes for a good night’s sleep like having a clean conscience and living a purposeful life, two of Yoga’s premises.
© Copyright 2012 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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