By Faye Martins
The Insomnia Problem
There are many reasons to stay up at night. Some of us worry, some of us don't get enough physical activity during the day to be tired at night, some of us are addicted to lousy television programs, and some of us wake up in the middle of the night with an over active mind. Additionally, many of us consume caffeine before bedtime. Chocolate, coffee, tea, and many soft drinks, contain an abundance of caffeine, which activates your mind, as a stimulant should. I haven't been totally fair with teas as there are many different types and some of them will help you sleep..
The Yogic Solution
Yoga training practices are based on the ability to control the body's response to stress by focusing on the breath as an effective means of remaining calm, even in the face of stress. Individuals who practice this method (pranayama) have learned the ability to produce a controlled response to stressors, as opposed to panicking when something unexpected happens. Practitioners of yoga have better control over their response to stress, and therefore they are better able to combat the negative effects that stress has on sleep. This in turn helps them sleep better.
Moreover, the physical aspects of practicing yogic methods may help promote healthy sleep through physical activity. Almost any kind of physical activity helps promote better sleep habits, and therefore helps people to live a healthier lifestyle. Sleep is vital for individuals to remain healthy and be able to cope with each day that lies ahead. It is essential to develop healthy sleep habits to combat disease and maintain energy levels. Poor sleep may be responsible for a myriad of health problems ranging from heart disease to weight gain. In addition, people who do not get enough quality sleep simply cannot function as well cognitively as those who have developed healthy sleep habits. When the benefits of physical activity and stretching are coupled with effective relaxation techniques, stress is reduced and restful sleep is promoted. This is essential for optimal health.
Sleep and Breath
As if that weren't enough, the breathing techniques that are used in a typical hatha yoga class are especially effective for promoting healthy sleep. Participants learn how to control their breath, and how to connect their breath to the body as a means of controlling both physical aspects of the body and thought processes. By thinking through the breath and focusing on it, people can begin to alter the physiological responses to mental, physical, and emotional stress. Healthy sleep is promoted as individuals learn to use breath control to relax and drift off to sleep.
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