Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to your health, well-being and the ability to experience joy and peace in your life. In Ayurveda, sleep is considered to be as important as diet in maintaining health and balance in the body. Sleep is the time when the body is able to repair and heal itself. The mind and emotions also become balanced through sleep.
Having trouble sleeping? Do not despair, it happens to all of us from time to time. In Ayurveda, insomnia is considered a Vata condition. Vata relates to wind, movement, change, instability, cold, dry, light.
When one experiences insomnia, the nervous system is imbalanced and the five vayus/prana are not flowing properly, causing sleeplessness. With too much stress, anxiety and over-thinking, all of the prana moves upwards into the head, keeping you awake, when you should be resting peacefully.
To reverse insomnia, the opposite qualities to Vata must be brought to the forefront: stillness, stability, grounded, warm, unctuous, heavy. Here are a few Ayurvedic tips to reverse insomnia.
Ayurvedic Tips to Reverse Insomnia:
Eliminate caffeine, sugar and stimulants – as these will impact your nervous system. If you have to have that morning cup of joe, be sure to limit your intake and pay close attention to not consume any such stimulants after 2 pm.
Try drinking a cup of milk – boil a cup of organic milk before bed time, feel free to add a pinch of nutmeg.
If milk isn’t your thing, try a cup of Chamomile tea – Have a cup of calming chamomile tea in the evening instead of reaching for that glass of wine.
Pranayama – Breathe. Deep, abdominal breaths are excellent, but for insomnia, try nadi shodhana or alternate nostril breathing. Choose either practice and do it nightly.
Massage your feet before bedtime – Rub some cold pressed organic sesame oil onto the soles of your feet before you cozy up under the covers. (Be sure to slip on some cotton socks so you don’t get oil on your sheets).
Practice the Daily Wind Down – At least one hour before bed, get off your computer, away from the TV and turn off bright lights. Get your nervous system in the mood for sleep. Light a candle. Practice deep breathing. Journal. Relax.
Meditation – Focus on relaxing your mind with daily meditation. Don’t worry if your mind wanders, just stay with the practice. Start out with just trying to sit for a few minutes a day, focusing on your breath, then begin to build up your practice over time…the key is to stick with it, accept that your mind will wander, but stick with it!
Abhyanga – Ayurvedic oil massage. Taking up this daily practice will change your life. Warm up some sesame oil (baby bottle style) and massage it into your body, working from the extremities in to your heart. Let this oil soak into the skin for 10-20 minutes before having a warm shower or bath. Ladies, avoid this practice on your menstrual cycle.
Practice Yoga – Exercise doesn’t have to be strenuous to be effective.
Practice Letting Go – The Law of Least Effort (from The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success) offers some useful guidance on how to let go: “Today I will practice acceptance. I will know that this moment is as it should be, because the whole universe is as it should be. I will not struggle against the whole universe by struggling against this moment. My acceptance is total and complete. I accept things as they are this moment, not as I wish they were.”
Wishing you sweet dreams!
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