The extreme efficacy of Yoga in leading a healthy and happy life is not hidden from people today. In fact, it is being practiced and pursued in an unprecedented manner as people have embraced it wholeheartedly. The recognition of 21st June as the ‘International Yoga Day’ bears testimony to this fact.
What makes yoga such an extraordinary practice that brings transformative changes in one’s life? For thousands of years, yoga has been providing immense health benefits and therefore is being seen as a holistic approach to health. Among other health benefits, clinching evidence show that yoga and meditation improve your ability to rest, relax and get a healthy sleep. A regular practice of yoga and mindfulness restores a sense of balance and union among mind, body, and soul, which is also why it has become a profound healing technique today.
The stress-filled modern lifestyles are increasingly causing sleep disorders like insomnia in people around the world, and whose health implications are equally detrimental. It has been shown that lack of sleep triggers the release of a chemical, Amyloid Beta, in the brain that causes Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, many dreaded illnesses and other health problems are associated with insomnia such as cancer, chronic pain, hypertension, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and depression. Sleep is also very important for resetting your body and brain functions. There are many animals that go into hibernation in order to reset their bodies. For example, Grizzly bears and polar bears go for six months in hibernation. But surprisingly, snails can go into sleep and hibernation for as many as three years. Clearly, sleep is important for every living being as much as it is for humans.
How Yoga Improves Your Sleep Quality
To begin with, yoga and meditation is an effective treatment because it addresses insomnia’s physical and psychological aspects.
The benefits that yoga has on sleep are listed as follows:
- Yoga rejuvenates your body
Yoga replenishes your body in two profound ways. First, it helps in flushing out toxins that are stored in blood, tissues, and organs. Second, the breathing exercises that you undertake while practicing yoga increase the oxygen levels, which is vital in rejuvenating your body. So, if you perform yoga just before bedtime, it will be more helpful. You can practice short meditation followed by a few yoga poses such as Balasana (child pose), Plank pose, Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), and Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose).
- Reduces stress and anxiety
Stress and anxiety are the main causes of degraded immune system, indigestion, and sleep disorders. It was found in a study that around 70% of people suffering from anxiety and stress have sleep disorders. This is the reason why stress and anxiety have to be combated if you want to get a good night’s sleep. Yoga and meditation reduce your body’s natural response. By effectively reducing them, yoga helps in reducing your heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration. In other words, when you achieve a meditative state of mind, you successfully relieve symptoms of chronic stress, insomnia, and tension.
- Reposes your nervous system
In much the same way that yoga strengthens your muscles and bones, restorative yoga also strengthens your nervous system to prepare you for stressful situations. To unroll your nervous system, restorative yoga uses three key steps: relaxes your body and muscles, lengthens and deepens your breath, and calms your mind. It basically brings your attention to the areas where your body holds tension. Restorative yoga increases blood flow to your brain’s central sleep center that is responsible for stimulating ‘melatonin’, the sleep hormone.
- Brings inner peace and calm
Yoga provides you the path towards inner stillness and peace as the yoga postures create a subtle shift in your mind. So when the awareness of breathing and movement are combined; your distracting thoughts become less intrusive. This awareness acts like a thread that runs through every phase that constitutes different yoga poses, thereby quieting your mind. This is an essential condition for falling asleep.
- Enhances the overall quality of your sleep
Yoga not just exacerbates sleep, but it also improves its quality. After practicing yoga you tend to sleep longer from the moment you doze off. Some studies have suggested that yoga improves several aspects of your sleep such as it reduces the number of times you wake up in the night. According to the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS), over 55% of people who did yoga found that it helped them get better sleep. The survey goes on to reveal that yoga is also helpful when people are suffering from primary as well as secondary insomnia. Part of the reason for the improvement of sleep quality is yoga boosts the levels of melatonin, the sleep hormone. Researchers recommend that just to get more sleep, you have to avoid overdose on melatonin because it can be harmful in various ways. Rather, yoga can be your long-term solution for getting better sleep.
Yoga is indeed helpful in many aspects; its benefits are so rewarding that it seems a one-stop solution for most of our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual challenges. Insomnia is one such aspect that is ruining many people’s lives. Yoga has compelling promises in this regard as well.
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