5 Natural & Sustainable Ways for Good Sleep at Night through Kundalini Yoga
On average, you will spend about one-third of your life sleeping. Well, ideally that is. If you find it difficult to get a good sleep at night, if you have trouble falling or staying asleep, you’re not alone. Our busy and fast-paced lives and days full of emotionally exhausting situations make it increasingly difficult to unwind, calm down, and get restful sleep. So it’s no surprise that globally, around one-third of people experience unsatisfying sleep.
No matter if you are suffering from a clinically diagnosed sleeping disorder or simply want to know what to do the next time you wake up in the middle of the night, this article explores 5 ways to improve your sleep quality naturally and sustainably with Kundalini Yoga.
Why getting a good sleep at night is important
By now, you probably know the importance of getting a good night’s sleep and its necessity for good health and overall wellbeing. Sleep works as a reset button for all of your systems. It gives your body, mind, and spirit the opportunity to digest and process all the influences they encountered during the day. Otherwise, it would be impossible to keep performing at the same level because your systems are going to be saturated at some point.
An inadequate amount of sleep leaves you in a state of chaos. Lack of sleep has implications for your mental health and immune system. If occurring over extended periods of time, it even puts you at risk of developing a worryingly long list of diseases. Getting enough sleep on the other hand makes you feel energetic, upbeat, and alert. Sufficient sleep equips you with the necessary resources to go after your dreams. It allows you to trust that you have the capacity to handle everything that life throws at you.
How Kundalini Yoga can help improve your sleep
Kundalini Yoga is an ancient and holistic practice working on the three facets of self: the body, the mind, and the spirit. It combines rhythmic movement, breathwork, chanting, and meditation along with the traditional asanas or postures.
Amongst the many positive effects yoga can have on health and wellness, a major one is improved sleep. Yoga has been shown to help improve sleep quality and quantity in all age ranges. Over 55% of regular yoga practitioners report improved sleep and over 85% report reduced stress.
So if you are spending too many nights tossing and turning, incorporating yoga into your daily routine might be helpful. Here’s how:
Physical activity: Regular movement plays an important part in helping you have good sleep at night. While vigorous physical activity should generally be avoided in the evening hours, light to moderate exercise such as yoga won’t interfere with sleep and can actually help you sleep better.
Mindfulness: Yoga offers a mindful approach to physical activity. It is a practice of judgment-free awareness and presence in the moment. This state of mindfulness can increase melatonin levels in the body, which can help improve sleep.
Breath awareness: Breathing is an essential part of any yoga practice. By becoming more aware of your breath, you will also become more aware of the effects it has on your mind and body.
Weight loss: While weight loss isn’t the primary goal for most yogis, losing weight can still have positive effects on sleep. By cutting down physiological causes of sleeplessness, yoga can reduce or eliminate a variety of sleep problems, such as sleep apnea.
Yoga can enhance the quality of your sleep by improving breath awareness, increasing mindfulness, and boosting physical activity levels.
5 ways to get good sleep at night naturally and sustainably
Now that we have established how a regular yoga practice can generally help you get a good sleep at night, let’s look at 5 specific methods to improve your sleep through Kundalini Yoga.
Long Deep Breathing through the nose to end sleep apnea and snoring
Have you ever paid much attention to how you breathe? Has anyone ever taught you how to breathe correctly? Did you even know there’s a right and a wrong way to breathe?
Breathing is a process that happens automatically and therefore it probably isn’t something you think about a lot. However, there is a huge untapped potential for health and wellness in simply learning how to breathe properly.
Of all the positive changes a person can make, learning to breathe deeply and completely is probably the most effective for increasing health, vitality, and connectedness in one’s life.
In correct, natural breathing you make yourself wider on the inhale and longer on the exhale. The navel moves out on the inhale, in, and up on the exhale. However, many people breathe backward. They pull the belly in on the inhale and therefore restrict their capacity to inhale oxygen. This creates shallow and erratic upper-chest breathing. A chronically shallow breath increases toxic buildup in the lungs which can lead to constant low-level anxiety and chronic fatigue.
The second part to correct, natural breathing is inhaling and exhaling air through the nose instead of the mouth. Mouthbreathing changes the physical body and transforms your airways for the worse, making breathing more difficult. The muscles and tissue responsible for breathing become loose and your mouth shrinks. This in turn leads to obstruction of the airways which is the main cause of snoring and sleep apnea.
Incorrect breathing also adds to the body’s stress level, suggesting there’s not enough oxygen coming in. This triggers the sympathetic nervous system, denying deep, nourishing rest and relaxation.
The good news is, those changes are reversible. By consciously practicing long, deep belly breaths through the nose throughout the day you start toning the loose muscles and tissue and train your body to breathe properly even when you’re not paying attention. Therefore, good breathing technique is the first step toward good sleep at night.
Left Nostril Breathing to promote rest and relaxation
In Kundalini Yoga we use different rhythms and depths of breath to affect and manage different energy states. The quality of energy processed through your two nostrils corresponds with qualities associated with the two sides of the brain. By closing or opening one of your nostrils, you have an array of techniques to control your moods and energies literally available at your fingertips.
When you need to calm down, when your mind is racing, or when you can’t go to sleep, try left nostril breathing. Simply take your right hand and block off your right nostril by putting gentle pressure on it with your right thumb.
With a long, slow, deep breath, gently inhale through your left nostril. Then, just as gently, exhale long, slowly, and completely, again through the left nostril. Relax your body as you feel the breath bringing new life into your body. Relax even deeper with each exhale as you breathe out all tension and stress.
Breathing through the left nostril is deeply connected to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the body’s rest-and-digest response that lowers temperature and blood pressure, cools the body, and reduces anxiety. From a yogic standpoint, left nostril breathing invokes cleansing energy called apana. This energy is associated with the moon and therefore perfect to practice at nighttime. It helps you to settle down and prepare for good and restful sleep. Furthermore, it increases receptivity, calmness, sensitivity, empathy, and your capacity for synthesis.
Gyan mudra to combat nightly restlessness and insomnia
In Kundalini Yoga, you use several mudras or hand gestures to stimulate various glands and systems to achieve a variety of results. Among other things, mudras are considered an effective way to channel the body’s energy flow to help it relax. And as you probably know, if you’re not relaxed, there’s no way you’re getting good sleep at night.
Gyan mudra is the mudra of knowledge and wisdom through which a person finds peace of mind. For this mudra, simply fold your thumb and index finger slightly. Touch the tip of your thumb to the tip of your index finger. Apply gentle pressure. Keep the other three fingers extended.
This little hand gesture can easily be done while lying on your back in a sleeping position. Just a few minutes of pressure removes any mental tension. Gyan mudra allows your thoughts to slow down and therefore helps reduce sleeping disorders like insomnia. Regular practice of this mudra also stimulates your root chakra, effectively destroying mental blocks of energy and tension that can cause discomfort during sleep.
Bandhana Kriya to improve the depth and restfulness of your sleep
This meditation from the Kundalini Yoga tradition as taught by Yogi Bhajan helps you go to sleep. It is practiced to enhance your human capacity, specifically by improving the depth and restfulness of your sleep. It is a great one to perform right before bed to guarantee good sleep at night.
If you make a commitment to this meditation and resolve to do it before going to bed, you can create a dramatic transformation in the trajectory of your daily life. Bandhana Kriya is amazing at balancing your energies. Hence you can awake each morning with a heightened awareness of the world around you and be ready for all the opportunities that present themselves to you.
Sit in Easy Pose with a straight spine. Pull the chin gently inward to ensure your spine is straight and your energy can flow freely.
Press the palms of your hands together at your chest in Prayer Pose. When both palms are pressed together like this, it is called Bandhana (locked in) Kriya. The hands must be precisely pressed together, each finger fitted to the finger on the opposite hand.
The eyes are 9/10 closed looking at the tip of the nose.
Inhale deeply through the nose, hold the breath in, and mentally chant WAHE GURU eight times.
Exhale completely through the nose, hold the breath out, and mentally chant WAHE GURU eight times at the same rhythm and rate.
Continue for 3-11 minutes. You may gradually build up the meditation to 31 minutes.
Kirtan Sohila – The evening prayer that can cure insomnia for good sleep at night
Kundalini Yoga borrows many elements from traditional Sikhism. In this religious tradition, Kirtan Sohila is the nighttime prayer said by all Sikhs before they go to sleep.
This Gurmukhi prayer multiplies your aura, your protective energy field. It is said to eliminate any negativity around you for miles so that you can rest in peace and safety.
The rhythmic nature of Kirtan Sohila allows your body, mind, and spirit to slow down and relax, preparing you for deep and restful sleep without any disturbances. Therefore it’s a great remedy for stress-induced insomnia.
Simply listen to your favorite recording of Kirtan Sohila as you go to sleep. Or keep it playing on repeat during the night on a low volume. If you feel inspired, feel free to recite the prayer yourself alongside the recording and then go to bed.
If you’re curious to learn more about the ancient practice of Kundalini Yoga or you feel inspired to start your own Kundalini Yoga practice try my self-paced Yoga Beginner Series “Journey to Awakening” now. During this 6-week journey of weekly physical practices as well as bi-weekly workshops and masterclasses, you awaken to your own inner power and experience the joy of movement, breath, mantra, and meditation.
Written by Julia
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