By Ashley McGuirk
Many of us are well aware of all the amazing benefits of yoga. Yoga is great for flexibility, strength, breath work and mental health. What yoga isn’t well known for are its not so popular health and wellness benefits like digestion and the holy grail of health, SLEEP!
Yup, that’s right! Yoga can help aid in improving quality of sleep. Practicing yoga helps the human body relax physically and mentally. In return, the mind and body learn how to reach a deep state of relaxation which comes into play when trying to fall asleep at night. So, take on the challenge of practicing a few times a week and take note of any sleeping patterns you may find on the days you practice vs. not practice. You’re likely to feel a difference. On top of that, there is plenty of supportive evidence that concludes the positive relationship between practicing yoga and quality of sleep. There was a study published by Harvard Medical School which concluded that a daily yoga practice improved the sleep quality of those who suffer from the sleeping disorder, insomnia.
However, if practicing yoga every day doesn’t seem to fit into your schedule then I recommend practicing some meditation and breathing techniques before going to sleep. Both meditation and breath work are fundamental components of yoga and can help both the mind and body slowdown in order to fall asleep. Next time you’re trying to fall asleep, gently close your eyes and begin taking a deep breath in and out clearing out any stale air. Next, begin breathing in for a count of three and then exhaling for a count of six. Continue this breathing sequence for at least five minutes. Afterwards, your body may feel tired or heavy. That is because this breathing exercise channels the parasympathetic nervous system, which physically causes the human body to relax and slow down.
There are also a few yoga poses that can help aid in falling asleep. The first pose is, legs up the wall. This is great for reversing blood flow and gives your legs a bit of break. Lay down and find the best way to bring your legs straight up the wall. Take 3-5 minutes to close your eyes and breathe with a steady rhythm. The next pose that aids in falling asleep is Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclining Bound Angle Pose. Simply lay down on your back and bring the soles of your feet together letting your knees fall to sides, opening up the inside of your hips. Close your eyes and feel your belly expand and flatten as you deeply breathe in and out. The last pose that can help aid in falling sleep is Savasana or Corpse Pose. Lay down with your arms and legs comfortably spread. Relax your jaw, eyes, neck and shoulders. Imagine you’re leaving your body to rest giving yourself full permission to let go and relax. Stay in the post for as long as you’d like or until you feel sleepy. Each of these poses should help bring relaxation to the mind and body. Try one or try all of these yoga practices/ techniques to help fall asleep! If one doesn’t seem to work for you, then try the next on the list. Each one will only take a few minutes of your time and take little effort. Whatever you choose, be easy on yourself and have patience. Sleep tight!