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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Tip of the Week: Yoga for Insomnia

Maybe it's indigestion, something you ate that now torments your stomach and keeps you tossing and turning. Maybe it's overstimulation from drinking caffeine during the day, or just the garden-variety stress of 21st-century life--mental indigestion--that's got you up at night. All of these reasons add up to more than 35 million prescriptions a year in the United States for sleep medications.

Throw away those pills with their risk of dependency and bizarre side effects. Did you know that some people actually get up in their drugged sleep and eat like pigs or even drive their cars while they're on these medicines? Now that's a nightmare.

Yoga is the natural, effective prescription for insomnia. How does yoga prevent insomnia?

  • Yoga calms the sympathetic nervous system, which generates adrenaline (and the fight-or-flight response). With less of this hormone coursing through your veins, you can take your rest in peace. Since yoga asanas were originally designed to calm the body and quiet the mind, this makes complete sense.
  • Yoga stimulates circulation, including sending more blood to the sleep center of the brain.
  • Pranayama, or breathing exercises, also have a calming effect on the brain, reducing anxiety and arousal, and thus promoting sleep. In a study at the Harvard Medical School by Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD, insomniacs practiced daily meditative pranayama at home for eight weeks. After that, all of the subjects reported improvements in how long it took them to fall asleep, how often they woke up during the night, and their ability to get back to sleep.
  • You may actually need less sleep when you practice yoga due to the elimination of toxins from the body, which gives you more high-octane gas for your engine. Your mileage may vary, but it will definitely be improved. Take me: I barely sleep at all and I have more energy than anyone in the world! Ask anyone who knows me; it's true.

Rabbit pose is especially good for insomnia; however, your overall comprehensive practice is the best cure for any and all sleep disorders. Besides all the scientific reasons I cite above, giving your best effort in my heated Torture Chamber will definitely kick your butt! After that, you will definitely sleep. Sweet dreams, my friend.

From Bikram Choudhury's book "Bikram Yoga: The Guru Behind Hot Yoga Shows the Way to Radiant Health and Personal Fulfillment"

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