How Top Yoga Teachers Promote Sleep for Better Routines and Health
The Charaka Samhita, a foundational Ayurvedic text used in yoga teachings, states, “Happiness, misery, nourishment, emaciation, strength, weakness, virility, sterility, knowledge, ignorance, life and death — all these occur depending on proper or improper sleep.”
It might sound intense, but science backs this up. Sleep has been linked to all kinds of benefits, from the mental, to the physical. That’s why it’s so important to get a solid eight hours on a comfortable mattress, so that you can be at your best everyday of your life. It’s not just about your health, it’s about being present in the moment and savoring life the way it’s meant to be savored. With that in mind, we looked at some yoga instructors’ personal beliefs on sleep, health, and how a good night’s sleep helps them in their yoga practice.
Sleep and Yoga Both Revitalize Your Physical Self
Ram Rao, a yoga instructor with a PHD in Neuroscience, says that yoga and sleep both act in similar ways in our lives, renewing body and mind, which is why it is so important to emphasize both for a holistic look at wellness.
“A good night’s sleep enhances the same positive feelings and states of being that we achieve through our yoga practice,” says Rao in a recent article he penned about sleep. “Good sleeping habits play a direct role in how full, energetic, and successful our lives can be. There’s no question that we feel better after a good night’s rest. So it seems that if we want to live to our full potential, we must approach sleep as a personal practice.”
That means taking time out of your day (or night) to make sure you’re getting the right amount of sleep. If you’re a fully grown adult, that means eight hours on a comfortable mattress. Less than that and you risk your health and mental faculties slipping into places you don’t want to go. Think of sleep as an exercise or routine that you need to get into. Take the time and take it seriously, Rao does.
Use Your Yoga Time for Self Reflection so Sleep Comes Easier
The editors at yoga journal see their time on the mat directly related to the time they spend sleeping. They use their quiet reflection time during savasana (a pose where the practitioner lies on their back and practices breathing) to cleanse themselves of thoughts that could keep them from falling asleep at night.
“Self-reflect on your mat and meditation cushion so you will be less likely to at bedtime. Maybe it’s just me, but when the lights go out that voice in my head will NOT shut up!” say the YJ editors. “I’ve found that a few minutes of quiet self-reflection on my meditation cushion or even with a cup of herbal tea before bed lets me get through all of those thoughts about how my day went and my to-do list for tomorrow before I hit the hay.”
Make a Sleep Routine (and Follow it)
Alicia Sanchez at Yoga Teacher Prep says that her key is to get into a routine, and stick to it no matter what!
“Bedtime routines aren’t only for children,” says Sanchez. “They serve a real purpose–to signal the body that it’s time to get ready for sleep. A bedtime routine doesn’t need to be lengthy or extensive, but it should help you relax. A warm bath, reading a book (not on a screen), light meditation… are all activities that help the body release tension from the day and prepare for rest. After a while, as soon as the routine starts, the body begins the process of preparing for sleep on its own.”
With that in mind, here are some basic ways we’ve come up with to jumpstart your sleep routine and begin your journey to better sleep hygiene. Take these practices to heart and feel rejuvenated with a healthy balance of sleep and yoga. Your mind AND body will thank you.
Why not get better sleep?