Most Americans at some point in their lives suffer from insomnia. Given the fast-paced lives that we lead today, deep, relaxed sleep is a rare occurrence for most people. Yoga poses can help alleviate and resolve sleep cycle issues to a great extent.
Sleep is a state that is common to all living beings. It is an essential part of the physical body’s rejuvenation and restoration mechanism. Sleep is a function of the parasympathetic nervous system which is also responsible for digestion.
It was found in the late 1930s that sleep occurs in cycles. It happens as REM, rapid eye movement and non-REM non-rapid eye movement cycles. When you fall asleep you first enter the non-REM cycle where you first drift into sleep. In this stage your body temperature goes down, your heart beat slows down and you gradually transition from light to deep sleep.
In REM cycles which occurs about 90 minutes after you drift into sleep, your eyes begin to move under the eyelids. In this state you begin to dream. This stage is essential as it reinvigorates parts of the brain which are responsible for memory retention and learning. Most adults spend about 20% of their sleep time in REM while babies spend about 90% of their sleep time in REM.
Here are some yoga poses that can help improve your sleep cycles so you wake up feeling relaxed and invigorated.
The Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
Try to sit on the floor by not slouching as you bring the sole of the feet in front and hold your feet or ankles with your hands.
If you feel comfy sitting without rounding your lower back, you need to bring your feet as closer to your groin.
Begin to inhale and try to lengthen the spine.
When you exhale, you need to bend from the hips forward as you keep your spine long. As you feel your muscles in a relaxed state, try to breathe in and out.
The Child’s Pose (Balasana)
On your knees, sitting back on your ankles, spread your knees apart to shoulder-width.
Stretch your body forward, coming to rest between your knees with your forehead on your mat.
Your arms will reach over your head, palms flat on the mat. This pose can be held for a long time as you breathe and slowly recover.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Oddly, this is one of the most challenging asanas because it requires total relaxation. This is perfect for preparing you for bed.
Lie on your back with legs and arms straight. Hands should be about 6 inches from the body with the palms up. Let your feet relax and drop open. Close your eyes.
Starting with the bottom of your feet slowly working all the way to your head, release each and every body part.
Allow peace and silence to enter your mind, body and soul.
Stay in this position for at least 5 minutes.
These three poses will allow you to settle into a state of deep, restful sleep and bring balance to your sleep cycles so you can wake up recharged and ready to take on the day.
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