Without an adequate amount of restful sleep, our emotions are strained, our cognitive abilities are compromised and our energy is depleted. However, at times it feels that that magic 8 hours of restful sleep is an elusive dream. Today’s lifestyles are not naturally conducive to relaxation and sleep. Our jobs, families and any other life changing event works against our natural need to sleep.
At times, you may lay in bed for hours, your head churning, tossing and turning all night long. Perhaps you are a vivid dreamer who wakes up several times in the night, caught up in the momentum of the dream. Or maybe you have a new little one who has joined your life and seems to wake up at the exact moment where your eyes finally drift off to slumber- land. Whatever your sleep concern, lack of sleep can definitely create some havoc to your life.
According to the Better Sleep Council of Canada sleep helps our body by:
- Increasing the blood supply to our muscles
- Reducing our body temperature allowing for tissue repair and re-growth
- Increasing our natural immune system
- Aiding our memory
I used to be a very restless sleeper with frequent interruptions which was caused either by strange dreams and my mind continually working through the stresses of the day. However, over the last year I’ve noticed that my sleep pattern seems to be a lot more stable. Even when I have a limited amount of sleep (under six hours), I still feel more well rested than when I had 9 hours. For the first time in years, I am waking up energized.
Upon further reflection, I realized that this new sleep pattern seemed to occur about 2-3 months after I began my daily yoga practice. With a little research, I was happy to discover that this was not just a mere coincidence.
Sat Bir Khalsa a Kundalini yoga instructor and a neuroscientist at the Division of Sleep Medicine at Brigham and Woman’s Hospital in Boston; has been researching the positive effects of yoga and meditation on relieving insomnia.
He has discovered that a form of Kundalini breathing called Shabad Kriya can help insomniacs receive some much needed rest. According to Khalsa, yoga and in particular, Shabad Kriya, helps reduce the arousal state in insomniacs by introducing relaxing rituals to the particpant.
Shabad Kriya is a meditation/breathing exercise that is recommended to complete before sleep. This exercise’s main focus is to assist with regulating your breath and to inevitably achieve the relaxed state necessary for a restful sleep. This exerise works so well that the simple mantras and focused breathing will often lead the participant directly into a sleep state.
According to recent sleep research, practicing yoga for one minute can not only assist you in achieving a better rest but decrease the amount of sleep required by one minute. It appears that simply the mere practice of yoga will help you learn to clear your mind and relax. No matter how you look at it, it just makes sense that yoga will help you achieve that true resting state. After all, yoga helps you to focus, cleanses your body, and ultimately helps you to achieve your optimal personal wellness.