Many of us live very stressful and fast-paced lives, and we are often overworked, overstimulated, and stressed.
Once you know that, it comes as no surprise that insomnia and general sleep issues are so prevalent in our culture.
Many people nowadays do not even know how to unwind, slow down, and prepare their minds and bodies for a night of rest.
What can help with this issue then? Many things… but today we’re going to keep it simple and straightforward: Yoga!
While Yoga is not a magical cure for sleep problems, practicing regularly affects the quality of sleep and your quality of life.
And here is precisely how yoga will help you sleep better.
Yoga Eases Physical Discomfort and Pain.
Many people nowadays experience a lot of discomfort with achy backs, tight necks and exhausted limbs.
These pains are uncomfortable, they can cause frustration for you into the late hours of the night, and they make it more difficult for you to rest and therefore sleep.
Body pillows are a thing, and they can help in certain situations (for example, they are a blessing for lots of pregnant women), but they are not the end solution.
The end solution is to ease these pains long-term, and Yoga can help you do that, especially certain poses such as Cat-Cow, Downward Dog, and Supported Shoulder Stand (just to name a few!).
Practising Yoga will connect you with your body, stretch out those tight muscles and make it easier to relax the tension you may feel on a day-to-day basis, allowing you to fall into a deep sleep.
Yoga Relaxes the Nervous System.
Yoga is pretty damn amazing as it really helps to switch on the Parasympathetic Nervous System. This is your rest and digest system (definitely the system you need to enter a deep, relaxing sleep).
Simply breathing in and out through the nose will help with this, but poses such a Paschimottonasana (pictured below, a seated forward fold), Supported Shoulder Stand (legs up the wall pose), and Savasana (you simply lie down and relax in this pose!) will really help to promote a good night’s sleep.
You could make these poses part of your nightly pre-sleep ritual, especially if you are having some major trouble sleeping (we actually have a Quick 10 Bed Time Yoga class inside MerryBody which is designed to do in your bed! Many members LOVE to do this before bed time and swear by it!).
These particular Yoga poses will decrease activity in the nervous system and increase the blood flow to the brain’s sleep center, which is going to help you relax your mind and encourage it to unwind from your day’s tension.
Yoga Teaches You How To Quiet The Mind Chitter Chatter.
One of the most useful techniques you will learn during your Yoga classes and practice is how to be mindful and to fall away from the mind.
How to notice when your mind starts to wander off, worry and spiral… and rather than jump on the chitter chatter train… Yoga teaches you to bring your attention back to your breath, back to this moment (now).
Yoga is: falling away from the mind. Creating space between your thoughts so you can realise the true from the untrue.
It’s not about stopping the mind completely, this will never happen as the mind is designed to think, to flit and float between past, present and future.
So instead, you attempt to create spaces between the thoughts. Enough time to bring awareness to the thoughts that simply don’t bring goodness and truth.
Sometimes it goes like this…
Thought: I could never do that (untrue, you most definitely can).
Thought: I’m never going to be good enough (untrue, you already are).
Thought: why are they so much XXX than me? (untrue: we are all wonderful and amazing in our own ways… and comparison is the thief of joy.)
Yoga is a tool to create space between thoughts which will allow you to truly relax.
Once this technique becomes your second nature, you will be able to use it at night, especially handy for those evenings where the mind is wired on and wants to remind you of all the things you forgot to do, forgot to say, or what’s on for tomorrow…
Yoga Tires Out Your Body.
Yoga can be a very physically challenging workout, which is why it can cause physical fatigue.
But Yoga causes the most favorable physical fatigue possible – the one that puts you into a healthy and deep sleep.
Unlike other workouts which can be really high impact and cause more discomfort to your body, the way we practice Yoga inside MerryBody focuses on stretching, strengthening, and really opening your postural muscles (if you sit all day, you need this!).
After your Yoga class, yes your body is tired, but not in a tight, ouchy way, in a more fulfilled, stretched, relaxed way.
The combination of physically working your body AND calming your mind creates the perfect ‘ready to sleep’ state.
Rather than spending 30 minutes to an hour trying to sleep, your head will hit the pillow, your body will know how to relax and slow the mind and you’ll fall into your deep rest in no time.
Remember, this doesn’t happen overnight, it takes practice! But hey, when we practice… we progress.
If this has made you excited, then definitely come and try out MerryBody Online Studio, our Yoga, Pilates and Meditation Studio. The Free 7 Day Trial will give you enough time to see if it’s for you, then, you can continue on or simply cancel!
Can’t wait to see you on the mat!
Emma + Carla