By Faye Martins
Insomnia can be a difficult condition to treat. There are several causes of insomnia and these can include hormonal fluctuations, stress, medical problems and emotional issues. Insomnia is a complicated and highly-individualized condition and in reality, there isn’t a single cure for it. However, yoga has been known to alleviate insomnia. Certain asanas promote calmness and serenity that can lead to better sleep.
Some of these asanas are inversions, but not everyone should be doing inversions due to health conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart problems, eye problems, previous stroke epilepsy and more. Discuss inversions with your physician before doing them. If you are cleared by your doctor and you are suffering from insomnia, here are some inverted yoga asanas (poses) to try just before bedtime.
Inverted Poses – All inverted yoga poses are practices that help you sleep better. This can especially alleviate insomnia caused by hormonal changes. One inversion to try is Halasana or the Plow Pose. In this posture, you do not have to be perfect as long as you are achieving the proper posture. It is important to coordinate your breathing with your movements.
Time your breaths while slowly moving your legs over your head to the floor. Try holding this pose for 20 seconds and gradually add time up to a few minutes if it is possible. You can modify Halasana by starting out on you back with the top of your head facing a wall in Shavasana.
Raise your legs and touch the bottoms of your feet on the wall. Slowing walk your feet down as far as is comfortable. Please do not force your feet down to the floor. You should be able to breathe completely at all times while holding this asana. If your feet naturally go to the floor and you can breathe completely that is fine too. The wall gives practitioners options to modify for different bodies. Other poses to try are the Salamba Sirsana or the Supported Headstand and the Viparita Karani or the Legs up the Wall (my personal favorite before bedtime).
Forward Folding Asanas – Just like yoga inversions, forward bends help in relieving insomnia caused by hormonal fluctuations. Any of the forward bends such as the Prasarita Padottanasana or Standing Forward Bend, Adho Mukha Svanasana or Downward Facing, Uttanasana or Standing Forward, Sirsana or Head to Knee and the Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Fold can be performed prior to heading for bed. One of the most common of these yoga poses is the Uttanasana.
All you would need to do is stand in front of your bed then slowly lean forward using your hips while inhaling and exhaling. You will then slowly move forward until your head is resting on the nearby stack of pillows or the bed mattress itself. Don’t stress if you cannot reach the bed with your head. Just rest your arms on it instead. For those who are naturally flexible feel free to fold as deep as you like, but no force is required. Your back should be reasonably straight and you should be able to fully inhale and exhale regardless of how deep you go into any posture. Therefore, do not hold your breath for the sake of your ego. Uttanasana and the other forward bends should be held in position for 20 seconds up to a few minutes.
Supported Shoulder Stand – Among all the asanas, Sarvangasana or Supported Shoulder Stand is one of the most helpful. This posture has been called “Queen of the Asanas.” When performed prior to bedtime, it helps your body relax and signals it to sleep. When practiced during the day, Sarvangasana may help you compensate for lost sleep. This is basically a “jackknife” wherein your shoulder blades are resting on the ground while your legs are up in the air. If you find this pose too difficult, you can also support your legs or feet on a wall or chair.
Incorporating these asanas into your bedtime routine can help alleviate your insomnia. Do not expect results right away and consistency is key when trying to deal with insomnia through yoga.
© Copyright 2013 – Faye Martins / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
Faye Martins is a certified Yoga teacher and an exclusive author for Aura Wellness Center.
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