Scientists are confirming what yogis and ayurvedic physicians have reported for centuries: deep sleep rests the body and the mind. Our daily dose of sleep regulates our weight, strengthens our immunity, protects our cardiovascular health, repairs our tissues and cells, and restores our energy. Sleep also allows us to process, consolidate and retain new memories; it balances our emotions, makes us better problem solvers, and feeds our creativity.
When we depend on pills to put us to sleep, we're only masking our problems. Yoga challenges us to become the master of our mind, not a slave to it. When our thoughts begin to keep us awake at night, our mental gymnastics need to be addressed, not suppressed.
Side effects and cost aside, if we need drugs to put us to sleep, we're in trouble. Ceding control to the pharmaceutical industry makes it impossible for us to explore, and eventually master, our own body and mind. There are better ways to get a good night's sleep — through massage, yoga and ayurveda can show you how.
Give yourself a five-minute massage
A scalp and foot massage is a shortcut to full-body relaxation. Why? Because all meridians or nadis begin in the scalp and end in the soles of the feet. Plus, many neural endings, receptors and marmas (pressure points) are clustered in the head and feet. By giving yourself the following mini-massage you will get the benefits of an entire body massage. When you've massaged both feet, soak them for five minutes in a bucket of warm saltwater.
Make time for yoga
A regular, balanced hatha yoga practice circulates the lymph and blood, tones the channels of elimination, and balances both the endocrine and nervous systems, calming vata and helping the body and mind digest the events of the day. Whether you practise in the morning, afternoon, or at bedtime, yoga paves the way to a good night's sleep.
Sit on your heels with knees apart and tuck few pillows between your thighs and chest. Turn your head to one side. Let the rib cage melt in to the pillows. Relax and breathe deeply. Stay in this position for five minutes. Then turn heads the other side.
ADHAPMUKHA JATHARA PARVITTASANA
Sit with your hips to the right of your feet and cradle your left ankle in the arch of the right foot. Turn the sternum and place your right cheek on the top pillow, snuggling your belly into the support of the pillow. Repeat on the other side. Stay for one minute on each side.
SUPTA BADDHA KONASANAS
Lie on the bed, draw the soles of your feet together with your knees apart. Allow shoulders and chest to broaden and release to gravity. Be in this position for five minutes.
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