Yoga and meditation are ancient practices that are known to promote holistic healing of the mind, soul and body. No wonder they’re becoming increasingly popular the world over. Even during the pandemic, many people either got introduced to or resumed the practices of yoga and meditation to find peace within, which has many positive effects on the body.
“Yoga and meditation are especially beneficial for people living with sleep disorders and insomnia,” said Dr Deepak Mittal, founder, Divine Soul Yoga.
What are sleep disorders and what are the common causes?
Sleep is a necessary aspect of human functioning and lack of it may impair quality of life and pose several health issues. “Sleep disorders do that by either weakening the quality of sleep or preventing restful sleep. In America, over 50-70% million people are plagued by the burden of sleep disorders, and in India, over 93% of our population is affected by sleep deprivation or disorders. Some of the commonly found sleep disorders are insomnia, sleep apnea, restless leg syndrome, hypersomnia, narcolepsy, and shift work disorder,” Dr Mittal shared.
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She added that most cases of insomnia are related to anxiety, depression, lack of exercise poor sleeping habits, chronic illnesses or medication. “Not getting adequate amounts of sleep can cause you to feel tremendously tired and irritable and can interfere with cognitive functions, memory, and performance, and place insomniacs at increased risk from mobile and other accidents. While various kinds of treatment for insomnia and sleep disorders are present such as behavior therapy, sleeping drugs, etc. nothing has shown as much promise as yoga and meditation,” he stated.
How can yoga and meditation help in curing insomnia?
According to the expert, yoga can induce rest and hence sleep when practiced ahead of bedtime. It’s a foolproof way to channel peace of mind and let go of all worries. Meditation too has a balm-life effect on the mind thus banishing the ever-present stressors.
“The magic of yoga and meditation is that they work on easing out the root causes – stresses, anxiety and depression that cause the issues — without having any side effects. These ancient practices work as relaxation tools to quieten the mind while calming the body, before getting them in touch with inner peace. Hence, when you practice ahead of your bedtime, you work directly on the root causes of your sleep issues. In fact, one study reported that 55% of yoga practitioners saw enhanced sleep with more than 85 per cent experiencing decreased stress levels, and there are several studies demonstrating the positive effects of yoga on sleep for diverse populations,” he said.
Must-try yoga asanas that help with sleep
Viparita Karani or Legs-up-the-Wall
Sit with one side along a wall, and swing up your legs against it as you lie on your back.
Place your hips against the wall while your arms rest in a comfortable position; feel free to add a cushion under the hips.
Focus on your breathing and the tension in your body, while slowly releasing the latter with every exhale.
Stay in this asana for 5 minutes.
Supta Baddha Konasana or Reclined Butterfly
While being in a seated position, press the soles of your feet together while opening up your knees to the sides.
Gradually lie down on your back, while letting your arms rest in a comfortable position.
Hold this pose for 5 minutes.
Bālāsana or Child’s Pose
Assume a tabletop position on your fours, followed by sinking your hips back toward your heels.
Then relax the chest allowing it to rest on the thighs.
Stay in this pose for up to 5 minutes.
Shavasana or Corpse Pose
Lie down straight on the mat with the feet apart.
Focus on your breath as you release all the tension your body is holding.
Stay in this position for 15 minutes.
Yoga Nidra is one kind of guided meditation that’s part of the Yogic practice. It decreases anxiety and stress, improves sleep quality, and promotes relaxation.
Having a regular, predictable night time routine is a healthy sleep habit. You should avoid doing anything heavy before bedtime, avoid screen time and office related work before bedtime. Although practicing yoga can help signal your body that it is time to rest. Before you climb into bed, consider spending a little time doing a few of these poses.