Welcome back to part 2 of our yoga for insomnia series! As we know, yoga has become a sought-after way to improve physical health and encourage mental wellbeing. According to a survey by Yoga Alliance and Yoga Journal, the number of Americans who do yoga grew by more than 50 percent to over 60 million in 2016 – proof of just how popular it’s become. It’s even being used to improve insomnia. While yoga isn’t a cure for this sleep disorder, it can relax the body and mind so that sleep comes more easily. If you have insomnia and want a holistic way to help you sleep, take a look at 5 more yoga poses you can do.
Taking long, deep breaths is calming as it triggers neurons in the brain that tell the body to relax. Controlled breathing is an important part of yoga as it encourages a sense of calm so this exercise is perfect for people struggling to sleep. It eases anxiety and reduces stress, both of which can keep you awake at night. Alternate nostril breathing can be done anytime you feel stressed. Do be sure to consult your doctor if you have asthma or other respiratory diseases before starting the exercise. If you suffer from congestion, wait until you’re well before practicing it.
This yoga pose helps your body and mind relax to set the stage for sleep. You can practice it before bed. Although fairly easy, it can be a little difficult if you have tight hamstrings. If this is the case, place your sitting bones away from the wall and keep your legs firm. Spread your arms out and close your eyes. Focus on breathing and keep it slow and deep. You can hold the pose for as long as you want to, or until you feel relaxed enough for bed.
The butterfly pose is another exercise that puts you in a deep, relaxed state of mind to help you sleep. Leg movements and breathing coordinate to relieve tiredness and promote relaxation. It also provides an excellent stretch to the legs after having spent time standing or walking. Keep in mind that since the knees are bent during the pose, you should take it easy if you have a knee injury and only attempt it when you feel better or under your doctor’s advice.
After hours spent working, there’s nothing like a gentle stretch to smooth out all the kinks. The hero pose does just that and helps you unwind. It targets the knees and ankles and opens the chest. It also lengthens the spine. You should feel a gentle stretch in your thighs and knees with no sharp pain. If it’s uncomfortable, use a block or a blanket to place your body at a height.
The child’s pose gives the back a deep stretch and relieves tension from the body. It’s also believed to calm the nervous system and induce sleep. While the pose is often called a resting pose, it can be challenging for those with tight muscles and neck pain. A few simple ways to modify it is to separate the knees wider, stretch the arms over the head, and use a yoga block or bolster to rest your forehead.
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Chronic insomniacs know how hard it is trying to find the silver lining in the cloud that’s insomnia. The goal is to use several methods to improve sleep. Yoga is only one of them. Together with practicing it regularly, you can try other things to induce sleep. Sleep hygiene training like establishing a consistent sleep-wake routine, keeping electronics out of the bedroom, and keeping an eye on what you eat and drink are a few examples. Setting the scene in your bedroom is another. It should be dark, cool and quiet as these three aspects that encourage sleep. You should also use a mattress designed for the same such as Nuvanna.
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Yoga can be done by anyone. It isn’t confined to people who are fit or flexible. The best part is that it places a lot of focus on controlled breathing, which can help ease anxiety and insomnia. In part 1 of our yoga for insomnia series, we mentioned that there’s no one treatment for this sleep disorder and that includes yoga. However, since issues like stress and anxiety are common causes for insomnia and since yoga helps alleviate these, it goes without saying that doing it on a daily basis can help you sleep better.