Using Yoga Techniques to Help with Insomnia

Insomnia is one of the most common health complaints, afflicting people of all ages and backgrounds. Difficulty in falling or staying asleep can hinder all aspects of an individual’s life. People with sleep problems often experience irritability, tension, helplessness, and depression as well. Unchecked, insomnia can become a debilitating and self-perpetuating cycle. While there are many causes of sleeplessness, anxiety over work or personal problems is often a strong factor.

If you suffer from insomnia, whether often or occasionally, Yoga can help. Through relaxing physical exercise, breathing techniques and complete relaxation, you can promote more regular and restful sleeping patterns without resorting to sleep-inducing drugs. Such drugs interfere with your body’s natural sleep cycle and can create psychological dependence and undesirable side effects.

Insomnia usually has one of two patterns: trouble falling asleep or trouble staying asleep. If you have difficulty falling asleep, try our sequence of deep relaxation and meditation (fully explained in many of our instructional books or tapes) in a lying-down position 30 minutes before bed to encourage a pleasant and restful sleep. This procedure works by relaxing each part of your body and then stopping mental conversation for a few minutes, giving your mind a rest from the constant barrage of thoughts, memories, anxieties, and reactions that keep you awake. Most anxious thoughts have to do with either the past or the future; meditation teaches you how to be more aware in the present moment, which gives you a deep rest.

If you awaken during the night, practicing the Complete Breath (a gentle rhythmic breathing cycle) while lying on your back. This technique relaxes your mind and body by focusing on the sound and rhythm of the breath, leading you back to sleep before you know it. You can practice this breathing exercise any time of day to interrupt racing thoughts and give yourself a break from stress.

A daily routine of Yoga can also minimize other symptoms that may cause insomnia. Physical exercises that stretch and relax the muscles help reduce fatigue and stress as well as keeping your physical systems at optimum health. Paying attention to your diet as part of a healthy lifestyle will also help; many sources recommend, for example, avoiding caffeinated beverages for six hours before bed, and avoiding alcohol or a heavy meal right before bed. Taking a warm shower or bath as soon as you come home from work will make your evening more relaxing by removing the stresses of the day.

Daily practice of Yoga meditation will help train your mind and body to stop thinking and stop action. It trains you to turn inward to a peaceful silence which encourages sleep. Practice must be done every day for 15 to 30 minutes for best results.

These simple practices and easy-to-learn Yoga techniques can help you sleep better and awaken refreshed and energized.

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