Nothing can be more frustrating than the inability to get a good night’s sleep. Insomnia affects a large proportion of the world population and sleep disorders are on the rise. Did you know, for example, that compared to 100 years ago, on average people sleep 20% less than they used to? Or that most people lose sleep due to stress and anxiety more than to any other physiological cause? Sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, depression and a host of other ailments, but fortunately, there are several yoga poses that can prepare you for sound sleep, night after night.
Yoga postures increases serotonin and melatonin, important regulators of our circadian rhythms, and our sleep cycles. They also help us blow off the mental stress that accumulates through the day and tends to get really loud when we try to sleep at night. If you’ve ever tried to lie down to sleep only to be met with a crazy list of things you need to do, or concerns you have been mulling over, then yoga should be a welcome way to reduce this mental noise so you can sleep.
Start By Doing Them All
That’s right. Don’t just practice the sleep-inducing yoga poses, practice a full set of postures in a class or with a video at home and allow your mind to stay focused on sensations in the body that arise while you practice. Practice conscious breathing and try to stay present even when your mind is extra busy. Training the mind to focus on the practice will also train it to chill out enough for you to fall asleep at night. Yoga, in general, also changes the hormonal balance in the body as well as resets several important nervous system set-points that allow you to relax deeply.
End Your Practice With The Magic Four
Yoga has over 1000 different poses you can attempt, but there are four great ones for putting you to sleep. No matter what preceded your practice, try ending with Plow (Halasana), Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Kalani) and Corpse Pose (Shavasana). These poses all send blood flow to the brain, activate the parasympathetic nervous system and calm the sympathetic nervous system, thus reducing the fight or flight tendency, and prepare the mind and body for sleep. You can also practice them when you just need a calm mind, and more focused attention. (Please note that Sarvangasana is usually followed by Matsyasena or Fish pose to insure that the cervical spine is stretched sufficiently in both directions.)
Have you tried specific yoga postures to help you overcome insomnia? Please share them with us below: