Thursday, 30 October 2014

How yoga helps sleep problems

We've all been there.  Two in the morning and not a wink of sleep.  Then panic sets in.  'I've only ....hours before I have to get up' or 'How will I cope with all I have to do tomorrow if I haven't had a good night's sleep?'. For most of us, this only happens occasionally but for some people it happens all too regularly.

How can yoga help?

  • Yoga relieves tension in the body.  You have probably heard me talk about the mind-body connection before and its true.  Release tension in your body and you will feel less stressed/anxious in your mind.  
  • The leading cause of sleep problems is stress, whether this takes the form of anxiety or depression.  Yoga can help relieve stress.  For instance inversions bring blood to the brain which has a calming effect and chest openers enrich that blood with oxygen which enhances this effect.  A word of caution.  Backbends are terrific chest openers but they are energizing which is great for a morning practice but not so good at bedtime.  Twists wring out any toxins which are causing stress to your body.  Restorative yoga makes a good bedtime practice and triggers the relaxation response.  I have a whole series of yoga videos on stress on my YouTube Channel Playlist, so if this is your problem, you might want to try them
  • Breathing techniques such as abdominal breathing, Humming Bee Breath, Alternate Nostril Breathing and Moon Breathing (see video) are great for bedtime as they calm the brain.  
  • Don't forget meditation.  This may be simply watching your breath.  If thoughts pop into your head, imagine them as waves on an ocean and watch them subside.  This clears your mind in preparation for sleep.  
  • When you get to bed try progressive relaxation.  Mentally go through each part of your body, starting at your feet, consciously relaxing each part.  Keep seeking out any tense area until you are completely relaxed and ASLEEP!

On 40plusandalliswell, there are more tips to help you with sleep problems.

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