There’s probably tons of reasons why you practice yoga, from the connection of mind and body to physical fitness, and stress relief to community— the list goes on. But, did you know that simple nighttime yoga stretches can have profound effects on not only your sleep, but your digestion too?
Next time you catch some Z’s, try implementing a nighttime yoga routine to get an array of benefits, including:
A recent study by researchers at Harvard Medical School investigated how a daily yoga practice impacts sleep for people who suffer from insomnia. They found that after 8 weeks of a daily yoga practice, there were marked improvements in sleep efficiency, total sleep time, and the amount of time it takes to fall asleep.
Even 10 minutes of slow, nighttime yoga stretches can improve your sleep. If you’re the type whose mind keeps going as you try to fall asleep, then definitely do some bedtime stretches like restorative child’s pose and hip openers. Your body and mind will thank you!
Yoga for Healthy Digestion
Yoga helps keep the channels of the body open and moving. Think about your blood pumping, lymphatic fluid moving and energy channels opening. Keeping our digestive system healthy also requires movement. Yoga not only helps stretch and tone the muscles of the abdomen, but it can also stimulate the endocrine glands to make them work more efficiently. The entire digestive system thus becomes well-oiled and functions smoothly to improve digestive health.
Yoga increases our awareness of the body. Incorporating yoga for digestive health into your lifestyle can mean a lifetime of healthy digestion. It helps you alter your lifestyle with ease, reduce stress and other environmental factors that may cause digestive problems, and helps you find inner tranquility. On top of yoga, breathing exercises can help increase immunity by enabling the heart to pump more blood. For chronic disorders though, it is best to consult a yoga expert and find out what poses would be best suited for you.
Let’s face it, we all have stress in our lives. Whether it’s chronic or more sporadic, it affects our bodies in so many ways. Being responsible for reduced immunity, poor sleep and negative effects on our relationships, the hormones associated with stress can wreak havoc on your body, mind and heart.
Yoga has been proven to decrease stress and anxiety while enhancing mood and an overall sense of well-being. Personally, I started practicing yoga in college to help balance my mental health. After years of struggling with crippling depression and anxiety with not much help from medications, I was ready to try something (anything!) that would help. I started going to a group class a couple times a week and really loved the way I got to use my body. Before long, I was hooked and often went to class 5-6 days every week. I couldn’t believe I have never been recommended yoga before! Today, my evening yoga and meditation practice is the foundation of my balanced mental health.
The best part of bedtime yoga, in my opinion, is that you get to practice in your pajamas and it can even be in bed. How wonderful does that sound?
About the Author
Bess is an Ayurvedic nutritionist and international speaker on mindfulness. She's a RYT-500 with 10 years of meditation and yoga teaching experience. In her free time she likes to cook/eat, hang out with her dachshund Claus and travel!