Tossing and turning?
It’s quite normal to have trouble sleeping and experience some form of insomnia, particularly at stressful times in our lives. If your insomnia is related to too much stress in your life, then practicing yoga could help to improve your ability to fall asleep – and stay asleep.
When we sleep our body repairs on a cellular level. It removes toxins, and lends attention to nourishing us in a way that ordinarily is not possible during waking hours. While we dream, we process the events of our lives. This takes place during the second stage of sleep, so called REM (rapid eye movement) sleep.
Studies have shown that deprivation of REM sleep for as little as a week has quite a disruptive effect on our lives. Psychologically, we can become less sure of ourselves, irritated and overwhelmed easily.
Incorporating a few yoga poses into your evening routine on a consistent basis can help to clear your mind. The quality of your sleep will improve because of the stimulatory effect yoga has on the nervous system, and in particular the brain.
The practice of certain yoga postures, including the one below, will increase the blood circulation to the sleep centre in the brain, which has the effect of normalizing the sleep cycle. It can help you to wake up more alert and refreshed the next morning.
For best results, put on your PJs first and do this posture right before you go to bed. Yet try to avoid any intense exercise after this. Avoid this pose if you have high blood pressure or glaucoma.
- Stand width-ways on your yoga mat
- Place your hands on hips
- Step feet approximately four feet apart and turn your toes slightly inward.
- Place a block length ways or short stack of books on the floor in front of you.
- Breathe deeply.
- Exhale, fold forward from the hips.
- Place your hands on floor, shoulder-distance apart with fingers spread.
- Lengthen your spine forward.
- Place your crown of head on block so both head and neck are fully supported.
- Draw your shoulders away from ears, and hug your elbows into sides of body.
- If you feel your hamstrings are too tight here, widen your legs and raise the block.
- Close your eyes and breathe slowly in and out through nose.
- Hold for up to five minutes, then come out of pose slowly.
Lee Kennedy qualified with The BKS Iyengar Yoga Association UK, the YTTC and Ana Forrest of Forrest Yoga. She specialises in pregnancy-related yoga and also studied with Janet Balaskas, founder of the Active Birth Foundation, UK. Visit Yogadara.com or call 0863906343 for more information.
This article is not a recommendation for your own practice but serves as interesting reading for anyone thinking of going to a yoga class. As with any form of physical exercise, please consult your family doctor beforehand.