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Have Trouble Sleeping? Try Sleep Yoga

People suffering from insomnia can move over sleeping pills and instead try sleep-time yoga, experts suggest.

Sat Bir Khalsa, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston, who has studied yoga as a treatment for insomnia since 2001, insists practising yoga can be effective among people with sleep disorders.

“People spend a lot of time getting dysfunctional thoughts like, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to sleep tonight,’ and that triggers a stress response,” the Globe and Mail quoted him as saying.

He added: “[Yoga] develops the ability to regulate attention. ... Your stress system isn’t being triggered as much. With time and practice, the stress system begins to quiet down.

“My major complaint with sleeping pills is that it doesn’t address the problem. It’s just a hammer to knock your brain out.”

Toronto yoga teacher Graydon Moffat herself suffered from insomnia till she took up yoga.

She said: “Sometimes I would be so desperate that I would go get something to drink – like alcohol. I would try things like banana and warm milk. ... If I would get really desperate I would take a sleeping pill.”

Moffat’s favourite pose is lying back on her bed with legs upright against the wall. She also curls forward to do the child’s pose and sits upright for the pigeon pose, with an eye pillow putting pressure on her optic nerve.

She said: “It’s not a magic button. But I know that I’m not just lying down there and tossing and turning – I’m restoring my body.”

Also, Dee Dussault, a yoga instructor who teaches the Slo-Yo class at Toronto’s Follow Your Bliss studio, added: “It’s like foreplay before bed to set the mood before sleep.”

Dussault specifically focuses on yoga nidra in her classes. It is a type of practice that puts more emphasis on breathing and relaxation than on body-stimulating poses.

January 29, 2010

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