Scientists have discovered that yoga for insomnia works.
Yoga can be a powerful medicine for insomnia. What you need to keep in mind is that it works both ways: yoga can wake you up as well as calm you down. You need to know what to practice and what not to practice.
Yoga lifestyle factors need to be kept in mind for your deepest, best sleep. You might have the right yoga practice to help you fall asleep. However, if you push the envelope with poor lifestyle habits, it will be an uphill battle.
Here is what NOT to do if you have insomnia
1. Race through some sun salutations or other invigorating flow an hour or so before bedtime. Your mind is likely to still be racing when you are ready for some shut-eye.
2. Drink caffeine late in the day. Each person is different in terms of timing caffeine consumption. You might feel tired and not at all wired, but for some reason, you just don’t fall into that deep sleep you were seeking.
3. Check all of your social media platforms just before bed. Screens emit light that tells your brain that it is day time and to stay awake.
Here is what TO do with yoga for insomnia
1. Stay off screens for 30-60 minutes before bed time. The perfect amount of time to do some sleepy time yoga and your bedtime routine!
Also, here is a great (and highly touted) 6 Phase Guided Meditation (by the brilliant Vision Lakhiani) to try out in the morning:
3. Have a bedtime routine. I get it. We have busy lives. Even if we manage to create a routine, we won’t always have time to practice it. Here is what you can do. Have your mini-routine. For example, brush your teeth, wash your face, and practice relaxing yoga & meditation for two minutes. Your ideal routine might be brush your teeth, take a bath with candles and essential oils, and practice relaxing yoga & meditation for 30 minutes. Come up with a routine that you like and makes sense for you and adapt it to your schedule.
4. Practice this soothing yoga routine:
- Lie on the floor with your legs up on a wall. For variations, you can have your legs resting on a chair or couch instead of the wall. You can even do this in bed if your mattress is firm enough that you don’t sink down and loose back support.
- Take some deep sighing breaths. Feel like you are letting go of the weight of the world.
- Stretch your arms over head or out to the side and let them sink into the floor. Feel your neck and the rest of your spine relaxing and letting go of any tension.
- Take some deep breaths.
- Next, practice the pirifomis stretch at the wall.
- Begin with straight legs.
- Cross your left leg over your right so that your left ankle is on your thigh near your right knee (make sure your knees remain comfortable).
- Then bend your right leg just enough to feel the stretch in your left hip.
- Breathe deeply.
- Hold for 20 – 60 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
- Take your time to roll to your side and slowly come up to sitting.
[Caution – before going upside down, check with your doctor about high blood pressure, recent eye surgery, or glaucoma.]
5. Practice this calming meditation practice:
- Sit up right with or without support behind your back.
- Get comfortable.
- Close your eyes.
- Take some deep, relaxing breaths.
- Then, practice gratitude. Reminding yourself of all of the blessings you do have and remembering happy times. This is powerful medicine.
- Then, take a few more deep breaths.
- Watch your breath for as long as it is enjoyable.
- Practice in total for 2 – 20 minutes.
6. Once in bed, lie on your right side:
- Breathe through your left nostril. You can use your right hand to close off the right nostril.
- Relax and focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, it is A-OK! Everyone’s mind wanders. In fact, as you start to fall asleep, you won’t be focusing on your breath. You just watch it for awhile to settle your mind in the present moment.
- You can also practice gratitude again with a smile on your face as you drift off into happy dream land.
Now that you have your do’s and don’ts, get ready for a blissful nights sleep.
What keeps you awake at night? How do you calm down? Do you use yoga for insomnia? Please share with us in the comment section below!