Yoga to beat down insomnia.

Struggling to sleep? Finding yourself up at 3 a.m. almost every morning? Thoughts trailing on for hours? I might have the perfect cure so that you can finally have the good night’s sleep you’ve been dreaming about. (See what I did there?)

Let me first explain to you what insomnia is.

Insomnia is merely (short to say to the average Joe) a lack of sleep caused by various factors.

This condition can be caused by psychiatric/medical conditions, unhealthy sleep habits, substance abuse, and/or biological factors. In the past few years, researchers have begun to think about insomnia as brain problem being that it is unable to stop being awake (your brain has a sleep cycle and a wake cycle—when one is turned on the other is turned off—insomnia can be a problem with either part of this cycle: too much wake drive or too little sleep drive). Before we get into how Yoga can fix this problem, lets first figure out why you may have insomnia.

Food:

Not only do we LOVE food, but little do we know this can have an effect on your sleeping patterns and ability to fall asleep.

  • So if you’re a drinker, this could be the reason why you can’t sleep. Reason being that alcohol is a sedative (so you’d think that this would help you sleep?), this can’t make you tired, but will disrupt your sleep later on in the night. This may not be the case as some people tend to sleep like a rock after an odd knock. But if you’re a trained drinker (on the daily) this might be something to look into.
  • Caffeine should 100%, definitely be a no before bed.  Caffeine is a stimulant (in other words gives you energy to stay awake. If you drink A LOT of coffee a day (like more than 4 cups), here’s your problem.
  • Nicotine is also a stimulant and can cause insomnia. Smoking close to bedtime can cause insomnia, or contribute to an interrupted sleep.
  • Heavy meals close to bedtime can and will disrupt your sleep. Rule of thumb is that you should eat lighter meals at night and no carbs after 4 in the evening. When you eat too much in the evening makes it hard for your body to settle. Spicy foods can also cause heartburn and interfere with your sleep.

Lifestyle:

Insomnia can be triggered by your behaviours and sleep patterns. Unhealthy lifestyles and sleep habits can create insomnia on their own (without any other underlying psychiatric or medical problem), or they can make insomnia caused by another problem worse.

Examples of how specific lifestyles and sleep habits can lead to insomnia are:

  • Working from home at night. When your home should be your relaxing place after a long day at work, you’re creating an environment which is telling your brain to stay active and alert; you’ll also go to bed thinking about work, which will cause an interrupted sleep.
  • You sometimes sleep in later to make up for lost sleep. This can confuse your body’s clock and make it difficult to fall asleep again the following night.
  • If you work irregular hours. Non-traditional hours can confuse your mind and body’s clock, especially if you are trying to sleep during the day, or if your schedule changes periodically.
  • Once this happens, worry and thoughts such as, “I’ll never sleep,” become associated with bedtime, and every time the person can’t sleep, it reinforces the pattern.

This is why it’s important to address insomnia instead of letting it become normal part of your life. If your insomnia is caused by an unhealthy lifestyle and bad sleeping habits and if you have tried to change your sleep behaviours and it hasn’t worked, it’s important to take this seriously and talk to a doctor.

Depression and anxiety:

Psychological struggles can make it hard to sleep, as insomnia can bring on changes in mood, and shifts in hormones and physiology can lead to both psychiatric issues and insomnia at the same time.

  • Sleep problems may be indicated as a symptom of depression. Studies show that insomnia can also trigger or worsen depression.
  • Most adults have trouble sleeping, due to nervousness, but for some it’s a pattern that interferes with sleep on a regular basis.
  • Anxiety patterns such as: Tension, overthinking, excessive worrying, and feeling overwhelmed, are huge contributors to insomnia.

 

Finally! Let’s talk about my Yoga secret.

Now that you understand what could be causing your insomnia, you may have a slight idea on how to better your sleeps at night, along with my Yoga routine.

Implement these poses into your pre-bedtime routine to beat your sleepless nights, so that you can finally have well-rested, productive days.

  1. Standing forward bend

As explained by the name itself, all this pose entails is for you bend forward from a standing position.

  • You can have your legs together or shoulder width apart, but make sure you bend forward from the hips with a straight back.

This pose stretches out those hammies, which tend to tighten as the day progresses. This pose is also effective when it comes to calming and soothing your mind.

  1. Head to knee forward bend
  • Start by sitting upright with your legs straight out in front of you.
  • Bend your right leg in so that your right foot touches the inside of your left leg.
  • Bend forward from your hips as far as you can go, grabbing around your left foot if possible.
  • Drop your head to touch your knee if you’re flexible enough, otherwise just go down as far as possible.
  • If you can’t reach your toes, place your hands on the floor on either side of your left leg.
  • Hold for a few second and then switch legs.

This will release tension and stretch out each of your legs, ultimately allowing you to relax.

  1. Downward facing dog

One of the most practiced poses; downward dog is not only calming, but its rejuvenating as well.

  • Start on your hands and knees, with your toes curled under.
  • Straighten your arms whilst relaxing your back, and lift your knees off the floor.
  • Your legs can be straight or have a bend slightly, sinking your heels towards the floor.
  • Press into the ground with your fingers spread, and lift your pelvis, bringing your shoulder blades into your upper back.
  • Draw your chest towards your thighs, lift your sit bone high, and relax your head without letting it go loose.
  1. Bridge pose
  • For bridge pose, begin lying on your back with your knees bent hip-width apart, and arms out beside your body.
  • Raise your hips and pelvis whilst engaging your legs, and roll your spine off the floor.
  • Lift up your chest by pushing your arms and shoulders into the floor.
  • Bring your hands together and clasp them underneath your body.

This restorative pose will help you relax while strengthening your legs and core at the same time.

  1. Cat pose

The Cat pose is so simple, yet provides such great, soothing results.

  • Begin on your hands and knees. You can curl your toes or keep the tops of your feet flat on the ground.
  • Round your spine and engage your abs, pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
  • Press down into the floor with your hands and relax your head.

This pose feels so good and aims to alleviate stress and anxiety. It also massages the spine and belly organs.

 

I hope this is enough to get your eyes shut and your energy levels up the next day!

Yours Truly

C.

 

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Self Love on Valentines Day!

Let’s practice self-love this valentine’s day!

Like every Valentine’s Day, we hope to be praised and adored, be showered with gifts and food, but are you ready to love yourself this Valentine’s Day?

Don’t get me wrong, it’s amazing to be loved by friends, family, a significant other, but let’s get real with all of that love flowing in, why do we still feel oddly unsatisfied? Answer is: You need to love yourself first!

The feeling of something missing springs from the fact that if you don’t give yourself love and compassion, don’t you think it’s hard to believe that it can be deservingly received from someone else?

It’s not often done on purpose, actually it’s usually unnoticed, most of the time people forget to practice self-love because they are too busy loving others.

It’s not vain it’s beautiful.

So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day and the 4 letter word, we’ve come up with 4 ways to love yourself more!

1.Wake up the right way.

Set your alarm (with a peaceful tone: wind chimes for example)  10 minutes earlier than usual and start your day off with a 5 minute lie in bed (not 5 minutes of extra sleep)  followed by 5 minutes of stretching.

2.Morning Meditation

Just taking five minutes in morning is enough for the whole day, yes it is beneficial. Meditation brings you to a place of love, strength and power.

Obviously it’s a very good trait to have and being honest with people around you is a must! But being honest with yourself should be vital in your day to day. Accept responsibility for your own decisions. Being honest with yourself will also improve your relationships with those around you

3. Eat mood boosting foods!

Diets rich with Omega-3 fatty acids (like salmon, flaxseeds, and hemp) reduce inflammation in our brain and help improve our moods. “Similarly, spinach, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts are bursting with folate, a nutrient linked to lower depression rates.”

Of course, the wrong foods can wreak havoc on our self-image. Processed, packaged foods crammed with sugars and trans fats increase inflammation in our brain, our mood and stress levels take a hit.

4. As cliché as it sounds. Tell yourself you are an amazing human being every single day.

The more you say it, the more you’ll start to believe it. Practice kindness as being kind to others will also make you feel good about yourself, it’s an amazing self-esteem booster!

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Yoga Poses for Teens

From stress, to emotional and physical downfalls, and not knowing how to deal with them. Teenage years are commonly experienced and recognized as the most challenging period in one’s life.

Yoga, however has proven to restore peace, reduce impulsivity, increase patience, promote self-discipline, reduce stress and help build up one’s confidence physically as well as emotionally, thus proving to be very beneficial to teens and young adults during their “hormonal” years.

From doing as little as 15 minutes to as much as an hour of Yoga a day, can help teenagers improve their overall well-being.

These following yogasansas will help teens to unify the mind, body and soul.

The Warrior Pose

Also known as Virabhadrasana, increases flexibility in the hips, this pose also strengthens and tones the legs, ankles and feet. Working on the Warrior will help you kill all standing poses as well as hip openers. In this pose we get a twist for the spine, while the opening up the shoulders and the side body prepares us for back bends.

The Warrior Pose symbolizes our inner ability to overcome ego and ignorance. The warriors bring us strength, focus, confidence and courage.

Stand with both feet together then take your right foot one step back, in 90 degree angle, slowly stretch your hands up over your head and deepen the stretch slightly with each exhalation.

Remember to keep the length in the lower back. Many have the tendency for the pelvis to tilt forward in this pose making a stronger arch, or crunch, in the lower back. Please avoid this, rather than tucking the tailbone under, look to keep length in the lower back by ‘lifting the pit of the abdomen’ instead.

The Triangle Pose

Trikonasana. To make this pose easier to practice, one should use a block or chair. Practising this pose, helps shape a teens body as well as provide improvement on posture (well needed in today’s day and age.)

The triangle pose helps in stretching your thigh muscles, hipsas well as groin. Along with relieving stress, the Trikonasana provides relief from back pain and constipation while strengthening the back, hips, and thighs.

To do this pose, stand straight on your right leg and bend at the hip in such a way that your right hand reaches your shin or the floor. Rotate your shoulders slowly and repeat the process again on the other side. This posture will make you stronger and train you to do more difficult asanas.

 

Standing Forward Fold

Uttanasana. This pose places your head near your heart, which stimulates the body. It also relieves insomnia and headaches, not only that, but also improves your digestion and gets those kidneys activated!

This pose is fantastic with stretching the hammies and calves as well as increasing strength in your knees and thighs, it stretches your spine and helps develop those beautiful abs that we’re all wanting. This pose is also a pre-exam stress and anxiety reliever.

Stand with your feet hip-width apart then hinge forward from the hips and bend down slowly. When you pull your head down and push the hips up, you should feel your spine and hammies stretch. Bend your knees enough to allow your palms to touch the floor. Stay in this position for three to four breaths. Remember to use your belly to inhale and exhale. Release the position slowly – keeping the back straight, bend your knees slightly, and slowly pull pack into a standing position as you exhale.

When practising this pose, deter from locking your knees or rolling your shoulders and back when getting into formation.

 

The Downward Dog.

Energize that body!

As simple as the explanation comes.

This pose works the best when you’re all bright and breezy before breakfast time. If you have mild depression, this pose is for you! And if you experience fatigue, this pose is for you too!

To execute this pose, place your hands under your shoulders and knees hip-width apart on the floor (like a dog), spread those palms and slowly move your hands forward while pressing your fingers onto the mat to increase your grip. Curl your toes under and slowly push your hips upwards, to make an inverted V with your body. Your knees should not be touching the ground now, keep those knees slightly bent.

Stay in the position for three breaths, then release back into your original position.

 

Tree Pose

This pose proves to be excellent in releasing frustration and in building your mental power.

Place your feet together and make sure that you keep them fixed to the surface of the floor. Then slowly move your one leg in upward direction and hands in prayer position, above your shoulders. AND repeat with the other leg.

 

 

 

 

As you’ve probably realized from reading this post, Yoga provides many benefits for a growing teen, not just for the improvement of the body, but for the improvement of many other aspects that are crucial in their lives today.

So get cracking!

Thats all from me.

C

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