“Sleep is the best meditation.” – Dalai Lama
A simple quote with a deep meaning, which makes us wonder, does our sleep really give us absolute relaxation?
We cannot argue with the fact that good quality and restful sleep is important for a productive day and for our overall wellbeing. It would be so amazing if sleep could lift the stresses of daily life, social media and all the other things that our mind wants us to constantly think about, and instead, be able to wake up refreshed, welcoming the new day with open arms.
Restless sleep is the result of many things, like stress and the chaos of the day, combined with the difficulty of switching off from the outside world. Unconsciously, we can incubate pleasantness or unpleasantness in an uninterrupted way very effectively in sleep.
There are many factors affecting the quality of sleep and it is great to take care of external surroundings which will contribute to restful nights sleep. However, it is important to train our mind and body in a way that it naturally falls into the rhythm of going to sleep and waking up blissfully….and that is where Yoga and can help us!!
Yoga is essentially a spiritual discipline based on an extremely subtle science, which focuses on bringing harmony between mind and body. It is the art and science of healthy living. The word ‘Yoga’ is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Yuj’, meaning ‘to join’ or ‘to yoke’ or ‘to unite’. As per Yogic scriptures the practice of Yoga leads to the union of individual consciousness with that of the ‘universal consciousness’, indicating a perfect harmony between the mind and body, man & nature. Essentially, Yoga if practiced regularly, can bring about positive changes in many aspects of our life, including sleep.
5 Yoga practises for better sleep:
1. Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining butterfly pose)
Lie down on your back on the mat. Bend your legs at the knees, inwards so that your soles of the feet touch each other. Interlock your finger and place them on the stomach. Close your eyes and relax your mind by focussing on your breath. Release your legs whenever you feel uncomfortable.
Supta Baddha Konasana is a hip opener and a heart opener, which calms the nervous system, the hormonal system, and aids digestion. It is a restorative and meditative pose as well and if practiced before bedtime, induces good sleep and relaxes the mind.
2. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
Bhujangasana is a reclining back bending Asana which stretches the chest, shoulders and abdomen. Begin in a prone position on your stomach. Bring the legs together with the tops of the feet on the floor. Place the hands on opposite sides of the chest and press into the floor, lifting the chest up and forward coming into a backbend, taking the gaze upwards.
The posture aids with releasing fatigue and tension in the body, specially relaxing tension in the upper back for better sleep.
This should be practised on an empty stomach and care should be taken to not force yourself too much while practising it.
3. Shavasana (Corpse pose)
Shavasana is a supine resting pose, in which you lie on your back, fully relaxed with your arms and legs extended, palms face up by your side, and eyes closed, while taking your attention to different body parts one by one, slowly relaxing your entire body. In Shavasana, we aim to get as comfortable as possible, so we can let go of the distractions of the body and simply rest.
This posture brings a deep, meditative state of rest, which may help in the repair of tissues and cells, and in releasing stress. It helps reduce blood pressure, anxiety, and insomnia.
4. Anulom Vilom (Alternate nostril breathing)
This Pranayama helps to eliminate free radicals and built-up toxins, it restores a balance between the two hemispheres of the brain and purifies the entire nervous system. It improves oxygenation all through the body and gives natural glowing skin, deep relaxation and better sleep.
Sit in a comfortable posture (Sukhasana, Padmasana). Exhale gently through both nostrils and then inhale through the left while blocking your right nostril with your thumb. Blocking your left nostril with the ring finger gently, exhale slowly through the right nostril. Now inhale through the right and exhale through the left. This is one round.
This technique is also helpful to get you back to sleep when you have woken up.
5. Abdominal breathing
This Pranayama is done supine, lying down on your back with your knees pulled up, close to the hips. Keep the feet together or 1 foot apart (as per individual comfort); knees close to each other. Place the hands on the abdomen (navel region). Inhale gently, moving the belly upwards. Do not bloat the stomach. As soon as inhalation is complete exhale out smoothly, being aware of the abdomen falling and sinking in.
This Pranayama is an effective way to take care of yourself and sleep better, practise this Pranayama each night.
With the help of these Yogic practises, combined with other wellbeing habits, our body can naturally fall into the deepest state of restfulness in sleep which can bring us to welcome mornings with joy. Next time you feel too distracted, very busy or just way too much stress… remember to breathe better, think better, feel better and live better.
The wise man should surrender his words to his mind;
and this he should surrender to the Knowing Self;
and the Knowing Self he should surrender to the Great Self;
and that he should surrender to the Peaceful Self.
~ The Upanishads
By Nishita Morjaria – Qualified Yoga Trainer and Customer Success Executive at BetterSpace
BetterSpace is the employee wellbeing platform putting control where it belongs: in the hands of the individual employee. Our groundbreaking solution has been developed with medical and domain expertise and is aligned to our Six Pillars of Wellbeing. BetterSpace empowers your workforce to understand and fulfill their mental health needs.
This approach has achieved engagement rates of 94%, compared to the average usage rate of 2-18% for Employee Assistance Programmes and 10-40% for points solutions.
Want to know more? Schedule a product demonstration with us today.
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