yoga for better sleep

How to Sleep for a Well-Aligned Spine

How to Sleep for a Well-Aligned Spine

This question gets asked in some form or other very regularly: if sitting all curled up isn't great for us, what about sleeping that way?

Well, sleeping curled up brings our spines into their primary curve and that's a comforting place to be. But.

We DO want to give our bodies a chance to find some balance, and sleeping curled up won't do that if we've been at a desk all day. Watch this video for ideas on how to align while you sleep.

Trial Results Published: Mind-Body Stress-Reduction-in-the-Workplace


It’s so great when science backs the anecdotal evidence…

According to an email I just received from the American Viniyoga Institute,

The Aetna, Inc. Mind-Body Stress Reduction in the Workplace Trial, recently published in the online version of the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, investigated the impact on perceived stress level and other variables with two distinct mind-body approaches. The Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program (therapeutic Viniyoga) and Mindfulness at Work (mindfulness meditation) were each compared to a control group. These programs helped participants significantly reduce their perceived stress levels while improving their ability to respond to stress.

Participants in the mind-body stress reduction treatment groups (mindfulness and Viniyoga) showed significant improvements in perceived stress with 36 and 33 percent decreases in stress levels respectively, as compared to an 18 percent reduction for the control group as measured with the Perceived Stress Scale.

Participants in the two mind-body interventions also saw significant improvements in a biological marker called heart rhythm coherence, suggesting that their bodies were better able to manage stress.

The study found that these improvements occurred in about half the length of time using the Viniyoga Stress Reduction Program and Mindfulness at Work.

The Viniyoga Stress Reduction program is a 12-week therapeutic yoga-based program. Participants in the worksite trial received instruction for managing stress including physical yoga postures, breathing techniques, guided relaxation and mental skills. The classes also provided coping strategies for dealing with stressful events and promoted use of home and office strategies for reducing stress through yoga. The program offered weekly in-person classes, home practice handouts and yoga break handouts for home and office use.

What’s most exciting is that these programs are very similar to the ones we run at mm…Yoga! So, scientific evidence that yoga and mindfulness (and BREATHING properly) really do reduce stress.



Sleep Better

Do you feel like you get enough sleep every night?

Surprisingly, according to this article on help,

most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.Children and teens need even more (see box at right). And despite the notion that our sleep needs decrease with age, older people still need at least 7.5 to 8 hours of sleep.

It goes on to say that only 3% of the population have a gene that allows them to do well on six hours of sleep a night. Everyone else? Is lying to themselves.

So, how do you know if you are sleep deprived? The article has a handy list:

You may be sleep deprived if you…
  • Need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time
  • Rely on the snooze button
  • Have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning
  • Feel sluggish in the afternoon
  • Get sleepy in meetings, lectures, or warm rooms
  • Get drowsy after heavy meals or when driving
  • Need to nap to get through the day
  • Fall asleep while watching TV or relaxing in the evening
  • Feel the need to sleep in on weekends
  • Fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed

That would be pretty much all of us, wouldn’t it?

The consequences not getting enough sleep are far-reaching:

  • Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
  • Moodiness and irritability
  • Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
  • Inability to cope with stress
  • Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections
  • Concentration and memory problems
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents
  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems

How can yoga help?

Yoga activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which serves to slow your heart rate and increase intestinal and gland activity. It opposes the actions of your sympathetic nervous system (which accelerates the heart rate, constricts blood vessels, and raises blood pressure).

You can’t get good quality sleep when your sympathetic nervous system is activated, it’s that simple. So doing yoga brings you into a state of calm which is conducive to a good nights’ sleep.

I quite like this little sequence that you can do before bed, in your PJ’s! If you haven’t been able to go to yoga class, you might still be able to get a few of these poses in, and help your body rest well.

Fitness magazine's night time yoga

Happy zzzzzz’s