Did you know that YOGA actually plays a part in boosting your sleep patterns, enhance your sleep quality and even train lucid dreaming?
The practice of yoga incorporates a wide range of poses that promote calmness, relaxation and naturally, relieves stress.
It has been widely known and clinically proven for its therapeutic effects, where yoga-based interventions have been recommended for patients to reduce anxiety, chronic pain and overall lead a balanced quality of life.
Yoga & its benefits
The first thing that comes to mind when someone talks about yoga is women sprawled out on colourful foam mats, stretching in every way possible.
Some body postures associated with yoga today can come terrifyingly close to body contorting. But yoga has been around for thousands of years, and they’re not for musings or entertainment.
The art of yoga originated from Northern India, and by the looks of it, the language used in old texts during this time was Sanskrit. The word yoga was derived from the Sanskrit word “Yog”, meaning union.
It brings peace to the mind, body and soul. The practice connects all three, bringing you to a state of consciousness and calmness, relinquishing all forms of ‘bad juju’ or negative energy.
Ultimately, the goal here when one does yoga is to not only achieve a sense of calmness, but also to attain better health – both physically and mentally.
Some of the popular yoga poses and its benefits are:
- Chair pose
This is one where your body looks like an S-shape from the side. The trick with yoga poses is that you gradually move to the end position, all the while having an awareness of the present moment.
Try inhaling as you move, raising your arms slowly and spreading each finger as you go. When you move to bend your knees, exhale slowly.
The benefit: It is recommended that you remain in some yoga poses for up to 12 breaths. A breath cycle can take up to 10 seconds, so you may need to stay in this seemingly easy pose for approximately 2 minutes.
You’ll feel the burning sensation as your muscles in your legs, upper back and shoulder stretch and struggle to stay upright, especially so for beginners. This is the chair pose working your muscles.
- Downward Facing Dog
Yes, this is one pose we hear in movies all the time. The downward facing dog is essentially you facing downwards with your arms stretched out and bum pushed upwards, resting in a triangle-shaped figure.
The benefit: Looks to be nothing out of the ordinary for the non-practitioners like you and I. However, this pose, when done properly, stretches your spine, shoulders and hamstrings to match.
It also creates a sense of calmness as your head is positioned below your heart in this position.
- Warrior pose
More than simply standing with your feet spread apart, the warrior pose requires the yogi (a person who practices yoga) to rest at a specific angle, wherein you will begin feeling the stretch in your thighs, calves and ankles. As you exhale, stretch yourself out deeper in this pose.
The benefit: Keep your head held high as you remain in this pose. It keeps you feeling zen and steadies your mind.
Get better sleep with yoga
Getting a good night’s sleep has been linked to better body regulation, improved productivity and enhanced memory and focus. Just as important as it is to be eating well, getting a good rest allows your body to recuperate and recharge itself for another day.
On the other hand, have too little sleep and you may begin to experience it taking a toll on your body, specifically:
- Increased irritability
- Inability to focus
- Poor memory & knowledge retention
In severe cases, insufficient sleep can lead to cognitive impairment, where a person experiences forgetfulness and other forms of cognitive declination that is not age-related.
Turns out, yoga may just be what you need to help you achieve better sleep.
- Improves melatonin secretion
Regularly doing yoga during the day has shown to stimulate hormone secretion – and not just any hormone. Specifically, the hormone that regulates your sleep cycle and helps you fall asleep faster, as well as have better sleep quality.
The hormone responsible for your sleep-wake cycle is melatonin.
In a study, participants who did yoga reported having longer and better sleep quality than the rest who didn’t.
- Relieves anxiety and fatigue
On top of that, practicing yoga can help you to overcome anxiety and fatigue.
By integrating breathing exercises and yoga poses that keep you focused on your body alignment and enhance your muscle strength at the same time, studies show that a few minutes of yoga a day adds to your serenity.
Similar to listening to slow music and watching ASMR videos, yogis have better mood levels and an enhanced overall quality of life because of the focus they direct to this form of exercise therapy.
Yoga & lucid dreams
There are several ways that you can get better sleep, and most of them can be found on the Internet, too.
You can reduce your screen time an hour before bed time, or invest in a pre-bedtime ritual such as having a good skincare routine, or drink chamomile tea to get you feeling sleepy.
But if you want a better sleep experience – or better yet, learn to lucid dream, yoga can help with that.
What is lucid dreaming?
Some of us often have dreams when we sleep. Most of us will forget what we dreamt about 99% of the time!
But by conditioning yourself to have the ability to distinguish between dreams and reality, you may succeed in lucid dreaming – the state of knowing that you are, in fact, in a dream.
Lucid dreaming is defined as a state of awareness that one is in a dream. It has attracted people solely through the limitless boundaries over what one can achieve in a dream.
Imagine having the control over what you dream about. What will you change?
Brilliant scientists and renowned artists such as Salvador Dali have been known to take inspiration from lucid dreaming. Their findings and contributions have received umpteen praises and many criticisms as well, but there is one thing that can be agreed on.
Lucid dreaming can help to unlock the creative mind and possibly unleash your best potential.
A 1957 study discovered a relationship between REM sleep and regular dreams. While that certainly made way for more sleep studies to be conducted such as on the variants of time between dream and reality, it was later found that lucid dreaming happens during an undefined but specific period of time during REM sleep.
In other words, there is no sure-fire way for you to know when you will begin having lucid dreams – if you want them.
However, with yoga, you may well be on your way.
If you want to sleep through the night, have deeper, better sleep quality and at the same time achieve mental clarity and improved overall health, you might want to start doing yoga today.
Yoga is a spiritual discipline meant to bring together – or “yoke” – the mind and body. Dream yoga involves bringing this discipline and allowing for practice in the dream world, thus bringing together the conscious (the Sun) and the subconscious (the Moon).
By reaching into your consciousness and essentially your true self, this will affect your moods and overall health.
Different forms of meditation, including yoga, have been the focus of studies worldwide and recognized for their benefits to mental health. Involving high concentration, astute contemplation and a high state of awareness.
In yoga, the movement exercises also help to tone the body and engage all your five senses, as well as the mind and emotions.
An easy way that abides by the principles of yoga is by performing a “state check” – which is the act of consciously asking yourself whether or not you are in a dream. Doing so can help to condition the mind to develop the ability to distinguish between dreams and reality.
The more you ask yourself, “Am I dreaming? Is this a dream?” in real life, the more likely you are to bring the habit with you in your dreams.
You’ll be able to answer yourself rationally in reality. “This is not a dream, I’m sure!”
But in a dream, you may be clued into the fact that you are in one.
Here’s how to perform a state check.
Begin by doing something simple, for example, writing down the question, “Are you dreaming?” on the front of your notebook. Before the start or end of each day, look at the cover and answer the question as confidently as you can.
Make it a habit.
Over time, you’ll find that in a dream, the words on the cover of the notebook will change into something else. With more practice and doing “state checks” like this, you’ll be able to tell when you’re in a dream!
Yoga – where do you start?
It’s simple enough to incorporate yoga into your lifestyle. Be it for improved moods levels, better sleep or simply as a coping mechanism for stress or anxiety, the reason is entirely up to you.
Before you start working on your “tree pose”, it’s also good to know that there are varying types of yoga poses that engage different groups of muscles.
While some poses are very light and easy to do (these are the ones you should go for), others may use up a lot of your energy and would be a lot harder for you to fall asleep – if achieving better sleep was your goal.
- Legs Up The Wall
Find a wall and lay on the floor next to it. Put your legs up on the wall so the back of your calves touch it, and keep them straight. Your body should be in an L-position. Relax into this pose and while focusing on your breathing, keep it there for 30 seconds.
- Lying Butterfly
Lay on the floor on your back, and keep your legs straight. Gently press the soles of your feet against each other and spread out your knees towards the floor. Keep this position for 30 seconds.
- Corpse Pose
By far the easiest pose, lay on the floor on your back, keeping your legs straight. Let your arms fall to your sides with the palms facing upwards. Focus on your breathing, and count your inhales and exhales.
Getting the most out of yoga
While this is making you want to perform some yoga poses right away, hold.
In order to reap the benefits of yoga, it is important that they are executed the right way, lest your energy is wasted on the wrong moves and you might end up hurting yourself.
The first thing you want to keep in check is what you’re wearing.
Don’t wear any tight closing that may restrict your breathing. Loose, comfy clothes are the way to go in yoga, giving your body the flexibility to move about freely.
Another thing you might want to take note of is that yoga is better performed before or 2 to 3 hours after a meal.
Yes, this is one of the few forms of exercise that you can do on an empty stomach!
This is so that your energy is centred on the pose you are doing, instead of focusing on digesting the dinner you’ve just had.
Next, respect your body’s boundaries. Refrain from comparing yourself to other yogis – they may have had more practice and experience with the moves. With consistent practice, you too may be on your way to performing the “chair pose” without a hitch!
You’ll feel more wholesome and connected with your being, mind and soul when you are happy. The positive feeling has been known to boost mood levels and help your body heal – so make sure you have a smile on your face while performing the poses.
Yoga is a great way to keep yourself active and the mind healthy. In the long run, you may also find yourself nurturing positive thoughts, have a more regulated breathing, better concentration and above all, better sleep.