If there’s one exercise or practise that can help to promote sleep, it’s yoga. According to the Sleep Foundation, when people with insomnia perform yoga daily, they sleep for longer, fall asleep faster, and return to sleep more quickly.
Lisa Sanfilippo’s Sleep Recovery Yoga programme takes this theory one step further. Lisa, who has been researching and developing this field for more than 20 years, is a yoga for insomnia expert who recently launched her first book, Yoga Therapy for Insomnia and Sleep Recovery.
Andrea St. Clair is one of Lisa’s graduates, who discovered first-hand how Yoga for Sleep can help to improve peoples’ lives. She now runs regular workshops and courses in Edinburgh to help people suffering from sleep issues and anxiety.
“Sleep issues and general anxiety were what initially attracted me to yoga as a young university student,” she says.
“I’ve suffered with sleep issues at different times over the years and always found that yoga helped.
“When I turned 50 and struggled with hormones and my father’s death, I discovered Yoga Nidra, which gave me great relief – even from lack of sleep – and helped to balance my central nervous system.
“Then, when I thought it couldn’t get any better, an email arrived out of the blue about a development course on yoga for insomnia.
“I knew I had to do this course, not only for myself, but because more and more of my yoga students were complaining of sleep issues.
“I soon discovered that Sleep Recovery Yoga is not about one particular style of yoga, but about understanding different yoga practises how to use them, with the help of sleep science, to promote better sleep, more rest and greater daytime alertness.
“The programme makes use of different aspects of yoga – not only poses, but breathing, meditation, restorative practises and yoga philosophy.
“The specific poses beneficial for sleep might depend on the particular sleep issue – whether it’s problems getting to sleep, waking in the night, being unable to get back to sleep, or just not feeling rested – but we do have a ‘Sleep Sequence’ and a ‘Deeper Sleep Sequence’ of yoga poses which are useful to do just before bed to promote better sleep.
“These poses, such as the Thread the Needle and Pigeon, target big muscles around the hips and thighs to help release tension and bring energy downwards in the body, reducing wakeful activity in the head and shoulders.”
Find out more at Yoga for Better Sleep.
Picture courtesy of Louise Thomas