It's common knowledge that yoga benefits the mind and body. It can help improve circulation, flexibility and emotional control as well as provide relief from depression and anxiety. But another major perk is that it can contribute to a healthy sleep schedule, which is essential to all aspects of your wellness. It's important to understand the effect that restful slumber (or lack of it) has on your health and to spread the word to friends, family and others. That's why the National Sleep Foundation presents the annual National Sleep Awareness Week from March 2 through 9, ending on daylight savings time when Americans lose an hour. If you're someone who has trouble getting to bed at night, try some of these Dahn Yoga exercises to develop a steady sleep schedule:
The health perks of yoga are well known, but the positive effect of the ancient practice on quality of sleep has been clinically proven. A 2004 study published by the National Institutes of Health looked at how 20 participants suffering from chronic insomnia were affected by 10 weeks of yoga, which included a private training session followed by at-home practice. Their sleep diaries revealed that yoga poses led to significant improvements in the ability to fall and stay asleep. Keep in mind that many people experience a burst of stamina after engaging in this soothing exercise, so it's best to do it earlier in the day so the energy wears off by the time you retire for the night.
Those who practice meditation techniques for concentration often experience a clearer mind, an easing of the nerves and a greater sense of tranquility. This can be particularly beneficial for someone who lays in bed unable to sleep due to a clutter of thoughts in their heads. Engaging in evening meditation can not only help you cleanse your mind of negative thoughts, it releases stagnant energy from your body. Late in the day or before bed, create a relaxing environment that's quiet and dimly lit. Sit with your body firmly rooted to the ground, back straight and eyes closed, and relax and release the tension within. Allow yourself to be present in the moment and concentrate on your breathing.
Those who have taken part in Dahn Yoga classes are likely familiar with toe-tapping. Many sessions start out with this technique – it can boost circulation in the legs and help balance your qi, which is a great warm-up for engaging in poses. But it can also put you in a state of greater peace and tranquility, which can help you fall asleep more easily and find relief from insomnia or restlessness. Just before bedtime, lie down or sit with your legs extended and heels together. Flex your feet before tapping your big toes together, then open your feet so that the sides of your feet touch the ground (much like a butterfly opening its wings). Repeat this motion 100 times.