Monday, June 28, 2010

Bedtime Yoga

One of the reasons yoga has become so popular in the West is that we are a chronically stressed-out society, and yoga has the power to obliterate stress. Not only does stress lead to inflammation in the body, which can cause a whole host of diseases and physical problems, but it saps the energy and upsets your body's circadian rhythms. This in turn can lead to more inflammation, more health problems, and consequently-more stress. Yoga can help you break this stress cycle and rest the body's natural rhythms. Performing asanas, pranayama, and meditation affect the biochemical responses of the body. Catecholamines, the hormones released by the adrenals in response to stress, as well as neurotransmitters such as epinephrine and norepinephrine are reduced, while "feel good" hormones such as oxytocin receive a boost (source: WebMD). There are studies going on right now about yoga's effect on insomnia, but the anecdotal evidence is already overwhelming. Yoga is one of the first things a doctor will recommend to curtail insomnia.
The following sequence is meant to reduce stress and help you ease into a deep sleep. You can also do this sequence as the last ten minutes of a more energizing practice as a cool-down. Feel free to stay in Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose) and/or Savasana (Corpse Pose) for as long as you'd like. They are very passive poses that are meant to be held for a while. If you practice this right before bed, you may very well fall asleep in Savasana.

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