“Mens sano in corpore sano” - “a sound mind in a sound body” - is particularly true of practising yoga.
One of yoga’s main goals is to bring mind and body into harmony and reduce stress.
But sleeping troubles can upset this harmony.
Even better than warm milk, camomile tea, counting sheep or sleeping pills, yoga is a true miracle cure for insomnia.
Ready to try it?
Some Important Facts About Sleep
Though we spend about a third of our lives sleeping, the quality of our sleep is not always up to par.
One out of every three adults in the UK have experienced insomnia to some extent. A survey done by the Sleep Council, an independent organisation focused on improving sleep patterns among Britons, noted that in 2013, 22% of didn’t sleep well most nights.
Insomnia is one of the principal causes of disturbed sleep patterns.
What are the consequences of insufficient sleep?
- Constant tiredness
- A tendency to drop off during the day, often at inopportune moments (like that one important meeting)
- A drop in productivity due to difficulty concentrating
- Difficulties in making decisions
Few people get treatment for their sleep problems: only 10% of Britons with sleeping troubles consult a doctor, though 31% have taken some form of medication for it.
How about searching yoga classes near me to find classes.
Eastern Wisdom to Help You Sleep Better
Changing some of your habits might help you find sleep. Here are some simple tips to improve your sleep.
Eat a light meal in the evening
To fall asleep quickly, taoist doctors recommend you eat at least 3 hours before going to bed and keep your last meal of the day light.
Indian doctors concur. According to Ayurveda traditions, our digestive systems are synched with the sun’s path across the sky: the higher the sun is in the sky, the better our digestive systems work. This means you shouldn’t eat anything after sundown.
Wash your feet
A Chinese proverb states: “if you want to preserve a tree, tend to its roots; if you want to peserve a man, tend to his feet.”
Soaking your feet in a basin of hot (30-40°C) or cold water (depending on your preferences) encourages sleepiness and is more effective than sleeping pills!
Check the temperature of your bedroom
The body’s temperature varies according to its biological clock. It goes down during sleep periods and up again once the sun is shining.
If your bedroom is too hot, it can perturb your body’s temperature regulating mechanism and influence the quality of your sleep.
Though individual studies vary slightly on the acceptable range, somewhere around 18.5°C is generally considered the ideal sleeping temperature - try putting a thermometre in your bedroom to check!
Put down your mobile and take up a book (on Yoga for Relaxation, for example)
About 95% of people use some sort of electronic device in the hour preceding their bedtime. However, the light emanating from a television set, smartphone or computer disturbs your sleep patterns by holding back melatonin production.
If you are a true addict, don’t hesitate to install apps that progressively dim your screen’s luminosity depending on the hour of day!
The best solution, though, is to read a good book - why not take advantage and read up for your yoga course?
6 minutes of yoga before going to sleep
And here we are!
If practising yoga can help you wake up in the mornings and kickstart your energy for the day, there are also very relaxing yoga poses that help you find a deep and refreshing sleep.
Yoga is an excellent way to transition from a day‘s activity to a night’s repose. Holding a pose for 30 to 40 seconds can help you relax and shed tension.
And having a pre-sleep routine helps prep the body for sleep by telling it when bedtimes is coming up.
Yoga: the Ideal Solution for More Restful Sleep
In our Western societies, yoga is often viewed as a sort of relaxing gym class or an oriental stretching exercise.
However, in India yoga is also a rich and spiritual philosophy. The benefits of yoga are numerous and varied, including encouraging a restful night’s sleep.
Of the many types of yoga, the most common yoga style practised in the West is Hatha Yoga. “Ha” means “sun” and “tha” means “moon” - “Hatha Yoga” is the union of these two opposing energies.
Our life consists of discovering the difficult balance between these positive and negative forces. Reconciliating these opposites is what the yoga poses are for.
In yoga, our body is made up of vital energy. This is why breathing is so important in yoga: it nurtures the life force within us that circulates thanks to 7 chakras (or energy points) situated along our spinal cord.
The chakras redistribute the energy ingested through every breath throughout the body.
Yoga exercises reverses the effects of bad posture and allow the energy to flow freely through our bodies once more.
This is, of course, a simplified explanation. The study of the benefits of yoga merits greater attention, for it is truly fascinating.
Yoga lets you refocus your mind away from distressing thoughts such as work-related anger, heartbreak or budget calculations by giving some of its suppleness back to the body and bringing peace of mind, both necessary for a good night’s sleep.
Yoga is the perfect solution for improving the quality of your sleep and avoiding medication, as sleeping pills are bad for your organism and tend to be addictive.
No matter where you are based in the UK, a quick Google search of yoga classes near me will be the easiest way to find a class.
What Yoga Poses Should You Practice Before Going to Sleep?
There are several poses that will help you relax and fill you with a sensation of well-being in order to sleep better. This encourages the production of sleep hormones and is even more beneficial than counting sheep!
Remember not to go beyond your limits. Your goal is not to be as flexible as a Chinese circus contortionist but simply to stretch your stiff muscles and relax - no one is watching or judging you.
The Revolved Head-to-Knee Pose (Parivrtta Janu Sirsana)
Don’t worry: this works even if you aren’t very flexible!
This pose stretches your muscles and liberates endorphins (pleasure hormones) into your body.
- Sit down and stretch one leg before you
- Fold the other leg and bring your heel to your thigh
- Grasp your outstretched toe, heel or knee (according to your flexibility) with the hand on the same side
- Stretch your upper torso while rotating it outwards, opening your shoulders
- Hold the pose for 5 to 10 full breaths
- Change legs
The Cat Stretch (Marjarasana)
This pose stretches the back and soothes accumulated muscle tensions in this zone.
- Go down on all fours
- While exhaling, round your back while tensing your abs, look toward the ground and tuck in your chin
- Inhale while arching your back and looking straight ahead
- Repeat 15 times while being careful not to tense your trapezoids or your lower back
Downward-facing Dog Pose (Ado Mukha Svanasana)
The ideal pose for relieving back pain and slowing down your heartbeat in preparation for sleep.
- Go down on all fours
- Spread your arms out to the breadth of your shoulders, raise your pelvis to stretch your back and form an inverted “V” shape
- Straighten your legs and try to press your heels to the floor
- Breathe deeply for three full breaths, then come back to your initial position
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Good night, everyone!
This pose is extremely relaxing, it allows you to re-centre yourself and relax all the muscles in your body.
- Kneel and sit on your heels, then lean forward with your upper body and place your forehead on the floor.
- Stretch your arms in front of you or keep them hanging loosely at your sides
- Breathe slowly while emptying your mind for 5 to 10 full breaths
The Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Despite its rather macabre name, this is the last yoga pose you should do before going to sleep. You can do it in your own bed, snuggled under a cosy comforter and ready to rest in the arms of Morpheus.
- Lie down with your feet spread to the width of your hips
- Place your hands on either side of your body
- Make sure your head is well-supported
- Breathe in deeply through the nose while inflating your belly,but without moving your ribcage (abdominal breathing)
- Exhale slowly through your mouth until your stomach returns to its natural position
- Relax your feet, then your calves, thighs, pelvis, up to the top of your head.
Abdominal breathing calms the entire nervous system: digestion, breathing, blood circulation, lymphatic system…
If your are looking for a video or online yoga course, here is one 20-minute flow sequence you can do before bed.
It’s ideal if you have just had a very stressful day or you need to empty your head before a test or you even simply have some time in front of you.
To sum it up:
- Sleep problems affect a large percentage of the population. And though, in the short term, lack of sleep simply influences our humour and physical and intellectual capacities, it can become dangerous in the long run, leading to cardiovascular problems, hypertension etc.
- If counting sheep is not enough to send you to sleep, practising yoga before bed is a wonderful way to fall asleep quickly and have a restful night.
- When practising home yoga, be careful not to hurt yourself. If you feel the need, a professional yoga tutor can help you do the poses properly and without injury.
Find our yoga tutors throughout the UK (yoga London and other cities)!
Fall Asleep Faster Thanks To Six-Minute Yoga Poses and Meditation
Whatever reason you are low on sleep, here are some solutions.
Studies have linked insomnia to a higher risk of grave health problems such as diabetes and strokes, as well as to depression, impaired judgement, memory deficiencies and other cognitive problems.
Fortunately, there are some simple yoga-based techniques you can use every night to help you fall asleep and sleep through the night. Only six minutes suffice to help activate the natural processes that aid your body in finding sleep.
An example exercise
- Close your eyes and breathe through your nose.
- You should feel your lower ribcage expand outward while your thorax stays put.
- Exhale and concentrate on your lower ribcage falling inward.
- It is important that you be mindful of your ribcage freeing up toward the bottom and that you exhale to ensure your diaphragm is functioning correctly.
- Try to draw out your breathing and take deep breaths. Aim for the following pattern: 5 (count for inhaling)- 5 (exhaling) - 2 (pause between breaths). Note: these are counts, not seconds!
Once breathing like this feels natural, try to count your breaths backwards from 20 to 1. Concentrate your mind on an picture of each number and the sensation of your breathing. If you haven’t freed your mind after 20 breaths (about 3 to 4 minutes), repeat the process, counting down from 30 or 40 breaths.
This sequence promotes a long and rejuvenating sleep cycle by creating an optimal physical (relaxed muscles and comfortable position) and phsychological (parasympathetic nervous system and diaphragmic breathing) conditions. Practise this yoga programme about 6 minutes before going to bed to help you fall asleep quickly and sleep through the night.
Good night and sleep well.