Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Yoga Therapy for Insomnia

500 hour yoga training course for teachers
By Faye Martins

In today's charged up, plugged in, needed-it-yesterday world, it's no wonder insomnia is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting, at least, half of all adults at some point in their lives. We need sleep for our bodies to repair themselves, and for our minds to sort out the details of the day in preparation for the next. 

Health Problems

The inability to sleep well, or sometimes even at all, can also lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, and heart disease among other conditions. Some people experience a variety of mental and emotional problems due to sleep deprivation. Needless to say, driving, working, and thinking are impaired by lack of sleep. Medications are often only a temporary solution for relieving symptoms, but not the underlying cause, and many can have some nasty repercussions. Treating insomnia with yoga, however, is not only effective, but has been shown to have pleasant and positive side effects.

Yoga Therapy's Approach

Yoga therapy focuses on a person's well-being at all levels: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. It alleviates stress by quieting the mind and relieves tension with gentle stretching and restorative poses, often increasing blood flow to the sleep center of the brain, helping to regulate the sleep cycle. 

Recent Studies About Yoga and Sleep Cycles

A 2004 study by Harvard Medical School in Boston found that daily asana practice actually improved the quality of sleep, including total sleep time, and onset latency (the time it takes to fall asleep. Another study, conducted between 2006 and 2009 by the University of Rochester Medical Center, linked yoga therapy to better sleep quality, lessened fatigue, and reduced use of sleep medications in cancer patients.


The next time you sleep eludes you, try some calming breathing techniques, or pranayama, and follow with a few gentle poses to help your body relax and prepare for rest. Suggested poses include Balasana, which is pictured in the upper-left section of this page. This extended variation releases tension in the arms shoulders, chest, stomach, and back.

Other postures to practice are Uttanasana, a deep forward bend in which you simply "hang" from your hips for several deep breaths, Viparita Karani, an "inversion" style asana in which you lie on your back with your legs supported by the wall, and perhaps the most calming pose of all, Shavasana, or the Corpse pose. You can perform this simple pose in bed to unwind from the day and help yourself drift off to sleep. Lie on your back, noticing, tensing, and relaxing each part of your body in turn, emptying your mind of competing thoughts, and eventually entering a state of deep relaxation.

Yoga therapy is certainly highly beneficial and can lead to a state of quality sleep, deeper and more restorative. Your mind, body, and soul will thank you for making Yoga techniques a regular part of your life.

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FeatheredPipe said...

Thanks for this lovely blog.

Omkar said...

Yoga is the only way to heal all the problems without any disadvantage. Practicing yoga for 90minutes daily which helps one to lead a healthy life ahead.

Laughter Yoga America said...

Thanks a lot for blogging this, it was unbelieveably informative and helped me tons.

Novak Jim said...

Of course yoga therapy is gainful for all of those patients who have insomnia and want to get relief without taking any medication.back pain and neck pain

parvezbdjsr said...

Yoga therapy is certainly highly beneficial and can lead to a state of quality sleep, deeper and more restorative. Thanks for sharing this informative article.

Mary Wilson said...

Treating insomnia with yoga, It is not only effective, but has been shown to have pleasant and positive side effects. Thanks for this good posting!