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International Day Of Yoga 2019: 8 Yoga Poses To Help Cure Insomnia

Yoga is a complete holistic approach that aims to help you tackle bad habits or in fact any habit that you are working to get rid of. It can support you in your efforts towards cutting down on unhealthy food, beating lethargy, quitting tobacco, helping you in cutting down on stress, improving focus, combating insomnia and so on.

Insomnia has become one of the most common disorder in recent times. Nearly a quarter of the working population suffers from insomnia and daytime fatigue as a consequence of it. Insomnia, the inability to get to sleep or to sleep sound can be temporary or chronic. Noise, light and technology (smartphones, TV, email device or laptop) in the bedroom can interfere with the sleep [1] .

Apart from these, your hectic lifestyle is also one of the major reasons for insomnia - resulting in sleepless nights and your nervous system is probably in a state of rebellion, causing you to be stuck in a state called arousal, where the sympathetic nervous system is triggered. In this state, your body will secrete more stress hormones and your temperature and metabolic rate will rise, so will your heart rate [2] .

Every year, the International Day of Yoga is observed on June 21st. The theme declared by the United Nations for this year's international yoga day is 'Climate Action'. So, on this International Day Of Yoga, let's do some yoga poses that can help you sleep peacefully [3]. If you do practice these on a regular basis, the quality of your sleep will improve, giving you a good night's sleep.

Yoga Poses For Insomnia

1. Chandra bhedna pranayama (moon breath or left nostril breathing)

Our left nostril is associated with our body's cooling energy, symbolized by the 'Moon'. It is a simple yet effective breathing technique for calming the body, which will contribute towards improving your sleep [4] .

How to

  • Choose a comfortable sitting asana like Swastikasana (Auspicious pose) or Padmasana (Lotus pose).
  • Press the index and middle finger of your hand towards the palm.
  • Now use your right thumb to close the right nostril.
  • Inhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril until your lungs fill up.
  • Now hold your breath for a very few seconds or as long as your capacity allows.
  • Breathe out slowly through the right nostril (Exhalation should be longer than the inhalation).
  • Repeat this cycle around 10 times.

2. Viparita karani (legs-up-the-wall pose)

The yoga pose requires you to place your legs up against the wall which will trigger the relaxation response, slowing heart, breath and brain waves. With a relaxed body and mind, it is easier to combat insomnia [5] .

How to

  • Bring a folded blanket or a bolster about 6 inches away from a wall (or farther away if your hamstrings are tight).
  • Sit sideways on the support, with the right side of your body against the wall. On an exhalation, slowly turn to your right, lowering your shoulders down to the floor as you swing your legs up the wall.
  • Adjust yourself so that your sitting bones drop down slightly between the support and the wall. The back of your pelvis should rest on the bolster, and your shoulders should rest on the ground.
  • Bring your arms into a position that supports the opening of the front of your chest, either out to your sides or reaching overhead on the floor. Relax your legs, face and jaw. Stay here for 5 to 15 minutes.
  • To release the pose, slide back off the support, turn to the side and stay here for a few breaths before sitting up.
  • You can do this right before bed or earlier in the evening.

3. Setu-bandhasana (bridge pose)

The bridge pose help rejuvenate your body. Carrying out the pose will energise and relax your body at the same time, thereby improving your sleep cycle in a healthy manner [5] .

How to

  • Lie flat on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck.
  • Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the hip bones as possible.
  • Breathing out, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubic bone, firming up the buttocks and lift the buttocks off the floor.
  • Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend the arms to help you stay on the top of your shoulders.
  • Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor.
  • Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees.
  • Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  • As you breathe out, release the pose, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.

4. Shalabhasana (locust pose)

Locust pose relaxes and realigns the spine, enabling you to go into a deep and restorative sleep. Regular practice of this asana can help manage insomnia [6] .

How to

  • For this pose, you can pad the floor below your pelvis and ribs with a folded blanket for comfort. Lie on your belly with your arms along the sides of your torso, palms facing the floor, forehead resting on the floor.
  • Turn your big toes toward each other and firm up your buttocks so your tailbone presses toward your pubic bone.
  • Exhale and lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs away from the floor. You will rest on your lower ribs, belly and front pelvis.
  • Firm up your buttocks and lengthen the legs.
  • Keep your arms parallel to the floor and stretch them behind you actively from your fingertips and gaze forward and slightly upward.
  • Keep your chin straight and not forward and crunch the back of your neck.
  • Keep the base of the skull lifted and the back of the neck long.
  • Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute and release with an out-breath.

5. Ujjayi breath (victory breath)

Also called as billow's breath, the yoga pose or the breathing technique is both energizing and relaxing. In the classical text of Yoga Sutra, an authority on the science of Yoga, Rishi Patanjali suggests that the breath should be both Dirgha (long) and Sukshma (smooth), which is practised in the pose. This help calm your nerves and hence promote better sleep [7] .

How to

  • Close the mouth and constrict the throat.
  • Sit with your pine, head and neck erect.
  • Make a short exhalation and then start inhaling, slowly and rhythmically in one long and unbroken breath.
  • Allow the air to pass through the constricted throat.
  • Continue inhaling till a sense of fullness is felt in your chest.
  • Retain the inhaled air for a period of 6 seconds.
  • Now exhale as naturally as possible.
  • Take a few normal breaths and relax.

6. Shavasana (corpse pose)

The corpse pose is a deep, meditative state of rest, practised at the end of every yoga session. It might seem the simplest of all, but requires a whole lot of concentration. Shavasana help reduce anxiety and high blood pressure. This pose gets you to lie down on your back and relax your body and mind, curing your problem of insomnia [8] .

How to

  • Lie flat on your back.
  • Let your legs and hands relax completely and place your legs apart. Keep arms alongside with your palms facing up.
  • Relax your entire body. Pay attention to different parts of your body, one by one. Start with your right foot, move into the knee and then the thigh. Do it with the other leg as well.
  • Breathe gently and deeply.
  • After 10-20 minutes, roll on to your right side. With the support of your right hand, slowly sit up comfortably.
  • Keep your eyes closed, gently breathe in and out.
  • Slowly open your eyes once you feel complete.

7. Bhujangasana (cobra pose)

The pose gets its name as it resembles a cobra just before its attack. It is a posture usually recommended for people with respiratory ailments. The posture helps expand the chest, reduces fatigue and improves blood circulation and is extremely beneficial in curing insomnia [9] .

How to

  • Lie down on your stomach and keep your legs close together and toes flat on the ground.
  • Put your palms beside your shoulder and let the forehead rest on the ground.
  • Inhale deeply and raise your head up to the naval region, try to see the roof.
  • Maintain the position up to 60 seconds. Inhale and exhale deeply throughout.
  • Come back to the original position while exhaling deeply.
  • Repeat the process 3-5 times.

8. Adho mukha svanasana (downward dog pose)

One of the most beneficial poses for treating and curing insomnia, this position stretches your entire body and releases tension [10] . It cures insomnia and fatigue and is great for treating high blood pressure.

How to

  • Start on all fours on the floor.
  • Tuck your toes under and straighten your legs, pushing down through your palms.
  • You should be forming an upside-down V shape.
  • Keep your feet hip-width apart, with your arms a bit wider at shoulder-length.
  • Bend the knees very slightly and hold for 10 deep breaths.
View Article References
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  2. [2] Khalsa, S. B. S. (2004). Treatment of chronic insomnia with yoga: A preliminary study with sleep–wake diaries.Applied psychophysiology and biofeedback,29(4), 269-278.
  3. [3] Newton, K. M., Reed, S. D., Guthrie, K. A., Sherman, K. J., Booth-LaForce, C., Caan, B., ... & Cohen, L. S. (2014). Efficacy of yoga for vasomotor symptoms: a randomized controlled trial.Menopause (New York, NY),21(4), 339.
  4. [4] Mustian, K. M. (2013). Yoga as treatment for insomnia among cancer patients and survivors: a systematic review.European medical journal. Oncology,1, 106.
  5. [5] Khalsa, S. B. (2007). Yoga as a therapeutic intervention.Principles and practice of stress management,3, 449-462.
  6. [6] Beddoe, A. E., Lee, K. A., Weiss, S. J., Powell Kennedy, H., & Yang, C. P. P. (2010). Effects of mindful yoga on sleep in pregnant women: a pilot study.Biological research for nursing,11(4), 363-370.
  7. [7] Halpern, J., Cohen, M., Kennedy, G., Reece, J., Cahan, C., & Baharav, A. (2014). Yoga for improving sleep quality and quality of life for older adults.Altern Ther Health Med,20(3), 37-46.
  8. [8] Reed, S. D., Guthrie, K. A., Newton, K. M., Anderson, G. L., Booth-LaForce, C., Caan, B., ... & Freeman, E. W. (2014). Menopausal quality of life: RCT of yoga, exercise, and omega-3 supplements.American journal of obstetrics and gynecology,210(3), 244-e1.
  9. [9] Yazdani, M., Esmaeilzadeh, M., Pahlavanzadeh, S., & Khaledi, F. (2014). The effect of laughter Yoga on general health among nursing students.Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research,19(1), 36.
  10. [10] Yazdani, M., Esmaeilzadeh, M., Pahlavanzadeh, S., & Khaledi, F. (2014). The effect of laughter Yoga on general health among nursing students.Iranian journal of nursing and midwifery research,19(1), 36.
Story first published: Thursday, June 20, 2019, 15:02 [IST]
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