Bond with Your Babe
After having a baby your life may feel like periods of rest between bottles, diapers and feedings. Yoga classes that allow you to include your newborn are opportunities to get out of the house in a safe and clean space with other parents dealing with the same issues.
The practice may include movements that encourage you to include your little one, or focus upon you while your infant rests upon the mat. In either case you are given permission to care for yourself while still being present with your newborn.
Love Up Your Little One
Touch is one of the most beneficial treatments for baby (and parent) ailments. Hugs, squeezes, rubbing and rocking can have beneficial effects for all of us. While practicing Yoga Asana that allow your body to stretch and slowly release you are afforded an opportunity if mutual benefit. As your body opens, you can give some physical love to your babe.
Gnelte stroking if their faces aces and arms can induce a calming effect. Rubbing bellies and backs can encourage digestion’s and bowel release. Hand and foot rubs help baby to develop the sensitity necessary to open and close, flex and extend, in preparation for grasping and waking.
While caring for your newborn, toddler or preschool-aged little one you may become lost in the repetition of actions. Your day might feel like a repetitive rhythm of folding and holding. Yoga Asana provides a variety of movements that help you recover from repetitive movement.
In preparation for the arrival of your newborn movement is invaluable. Yoga offers more than poses. As you practice, you will become more aware of your body’s needs. In doing so you will be able to reduce discomfort and prevent pain that could result from the carrying if extra weight and adjustments to your internal organs.
Teach Then Peacefulness
New studies are reviewing the benefits of guided focus and peaceful spaces in lieu of detention and punishment. Starting off your little one’s life with opportunities to enjoy peace, quiet and themselves could give them the ability to do so for the rest of their lives. Not only will Yoga Asana give your babe the chance to move and try new things in a safe place, but the peace and quiet of the studio will help them to feel safe relaxing. They might even begin requesting that you do Yoga at home, too!
Learn to Teach
Kidding Around Yoga will be offering a weekend training in Yoga for Kids! Join us on April 27 & 28 to learn how to teach Yoga for children. A free class will be offered on Sunday, April 28.
The saying goes, “It’s the thought that counts.” In Yoga this saying is Truth. Our approach to every aspect of the practice is effected by that which we intend to cultivate. The sanskrit term “Sankalpa” is translated as; intention, declaration of purpose and determination. At Lake Tahoe Yoga each practice begins with a Dharma Talk intended to provide an opportunity for learning and establishment of Sankalpa for your practice.
When I work out my intention is to burn fat, gain muscle and get my heart pumping. I am seeking a workout and health of body.
When I practice Yoga my intention is completely different. Every aspect of the practice was developed to help me refine my awareness. When I move my body I do so in a way that helps me to identify limitation, restriction, freedom and strength. As I breathe I am doing so effort-fully and with a focus upon drawing in and expressing as much breath as possible.
When I come to the mat my intention is direction, awareness and contentment. I am seeking more than perfection in posture. I am seeking awareness of my Self.
What is your intention when you come to the mat? Are you hoping to sweat and get a good workout or is your focus upon healing, awareness and depth of self?
Our minds are very powerful. They have power over our bodies, thoughts, actions, speech, and experience of the world. When your mind is effected by toxins or damaged the way in which you perceive the world and yourself can shift completely. The practices of Yoga are intended to help us to learn how to direct our minds. When recovering from injury Yoga can help heal and control our minds, and thus, our lives.
The intention of Yoga is not to provide a workout it is to encourage work within. Set intentions to heal, recover, establish peace, love yourself, etc. and you will become better at directing your mind to perceive the world clearly.
Health & Healing
When you step upon your mat consider your intention for the practice. What are you hoping to manifest or encourage to grow in your life? Consider your mind, your thoughts, your habits. Reflect upon past injuries and pains that have effected you. Establish Sankalpa and then begin to move. Notice how this effects you throughout the rest of your life.
You are what you eat, and if you're not fueling your body correctly you might feel run-down. After all, your body is a machine. Food is fuel. Although, there is certainly room within the engine for a treat from time to time. There's a reason luxury car owners only put premium in their vehicles. They know it helps the car run better and can extend its life. It can also help reduce the need for some maintenance tasks down the road.
Your body works in the same way. It needs the right food in order to convert it into the kind of energy you can use. This is challenging considering there are a lot of elements in modern-day food that are highly addictive. However, if you focus on thinking of your body as a machine that deserves quality fuel, you’ll get on the fast track to feeling more energetic.
How Food Effects Performance
1. Sugar is arguably the world’s worst drug. There’s nothing wrong with natural sugar in very small quantities. However, most of the sugar we consume today is highly processed, and we consume it in great quantities. Eating sugar influences your sleep, your fatigue level, your mood, and your overall health. Processed sugar can be linked to type 2 diabetes, is highly addictive, and contains empty calories. Plus, we build up a tolerance for sweetness. A person who has never had processed sugar would likely gag at a slice of birthday cake. Re-train your tongue to natural sweetness, such as berries and fruits, and you'll find an energy boost.
2. Caffeine is the most widely used drug in the world. Caffeine is genuinely a drug, but one that is socially acceptable. It affects every part of the body, including the brain and our energy levels. Like sugar, it is also very addictive. It can cause withdrawal symptoms if you have a coffee habit, and many people think they depend on it to keep their energy levels high. It can work in the short-term, but it also comes with a crash. Weaning yourself off of coffee and replacing it with decaf tea over a long period of time can help stabilize your energy levels.
3. The starve and binge cycle is doing a number on your energy. There are various approaches to eating for fat loss and muscle gain. Many work in the short-term, but at the risk of our sanity and energy levels. One diet in recent years that has leaked over from the bodybuilding world to mainstream society is intermittent fasting. There are many types of this fasting, but a common one is to have an eight-hour “feeding” window every day followed by 16 hours of fasting. During those 16 hours, only water, coffee, and small items less than 50 calories are allowed. It can help bodybuilders cut weight for competitions, but was not meant for non-professionals or for use long-term. As you can imagine, your energy levels will be all over the place. However, it can be addictive to see those pounds (aka water weight) drop so quickly. Remember that diets should be a healthy choice for life with wiggle room, not a prison that dictates your daily life.
4. Let your instincts drive your breakfast decisions. Should you skip breakfast? Only eat all-protein at breakfast? Keep it light? There’s no one answer for everyone. Breakfast is the time when you “break fast," and your body will tell you what it needs in the morning. As long as you’re not regularly heaping piles of pancakes or other desserts playing dress up as breakfast, you'll be on point. Some people need a generous breakfast while others require a little more time to wake up before their body starts asking for fuel.
5. You’re not feeding your muscles or re-fueling after cardio. When you work out, you depend on stored energy (fat and glycogen) to get through it. With weight-bearing exercises, your muscles demand protein immediately afterward to repair and heal. After a cardio session, your body needs a little BCAA boost. Failing to eat, or making poor food choices, after a workout isn’t just draining your energy. It’s also minimizing your workout.
Feed Your Body What It Needs
When it comes to food as energy, it sounds so simple, but it can be very difficult to choose the right things. There’s a lot tied to food, including emotions and addictions. However, it’s a good idea to simply remind yourself that you’re fueling your body. What do you need, what do you want, and what are you trying to do with food that might be better addressed in another manner?
Hatha Yoga describes the Shatkarma in the second chapter of the Hatha Yoga Pradipika. Shat is Sanskrit for 6 and Karma is the word for Action. The ancient Yogis believed that in order to understand the universe you needed to first clear out the impurities, toxins and distractions of humanity. To do so you had to begin by cleaning out your body.
The Encyclopaedia of Traditional Asanas describes hundreds of seats; various ways in which to move the body in an effort to eliminate the limitations that result in discomfort. The Sanskrit word "as" means "to sit." Asana can also be interpreted as "establishment in the original state." The postures were designed to create heat (Tapas) allowing us to eliminate toxins and impurities in the physical body so that we could move into svabhava (introversion). The practice of Asana eventually provides us with steadiness and inner awareness of our True Self.
Breath and movement are the keys to Yoga. Every breath directs and deepens movement. Directed breath or kripalu.org/resources/why-do-pranayama Pranayama specifically directs your body, mind and internal energy. Proper practice of Pranayama can lead to the creation of body heat, spiritual experiences and energetic shifts. The formal practices described by Hatha Yoga are done so with a specific intended use and course.
By today's standards some of the practices described by Hatha Yoga are downright disgusting. Swallowing a milk soaked rag (Dhuati Karma) doesn't sound like something I want to do. However, there are many practices that we continue to apply today in order to keep our bodies clean.
Neti: Nasal cleaning involved the use of a string threaded up the nostrils and through the sinus passage. Today we use neti pots, sprays and tissues.
Dhauti: Cleansing of the digestive tract included milk soaked rags and forced vomitting. Modern science has helped us to identify foods that can clean our system.
Bhasti: Thank goodness for modern science and doctors who help us to keep our colons healthy.
Trataka: Blinkless gazing was used to clean the eyes. Many of us practice this just because the view is so beautiful. Eye drops assist us when we are ill or require a little help on a dry day.
Consider that which you do to keep your body healthy and clean. Many of our current practices and habits have roots in those of the ancient Yogis. What practices can you add to you life to clear away the toxins from the world around you, eliminate that which you do not need and create a bit more space for internal focus?
#1 Yoga is Stretching
Yes, Yoga poses do include stretching. More accurately Yoga poses, or Asana, help you to learn how to lengthen and lift, extend and contract, engage and release muscles as groups and in isolation. The value of Yoga Asana lies in the expression of each posture, not how it looks. When done accurately and with proper technique Asana provide much more than stretching or strengthening, they help you to feel more comfortable in your body and develop the ability to use it safely in every activity.
#2 Yoga is for Women
Originally, Yoga was practiced only by men; holy men. They were held in higher regard than kings and queens. They were considered holy because they had dedicated their lives to understanding why we are here. When Yoga was discovered by the Western world powerful women (queens) began to learn the practice. It’s impact upon American happened by storm. The practices of mindfulness were absorbed by those who were invested in revolution, change of perception and free love – the hippies. The practice spread among men and women like wildfire. There are far more females who practice Yoga today, but if everyone were to practice Yoga it could help to change the world.
#3 Yoga is Expensive
How much do you pay for your daily cup of coffee? Your house to be cleaned? Your chiropractor to adjust your back? Your happy hour? Yoga costs no more. However, the value it brings is immense in comparison. That which you receive from a Yoga practice lasts far longer than any cup of coffee or happy hour cocktail. Consistent and dedicated practice will eliminate your need for caffeine and body treatments. It will enthuse you to keep your house clean on your own. Forget that cocktail, you’ll be able to relax without a sip of alcohol. Attending classes will provide you with the skills and knowledge to apply Yoga to your life and actually save money.
"That which you receive from a Yoga practice lasts far longer than any cup of coffee or happy hour cocktail."
#4 I Can’t Do Yoga
Everyone practices Yoga. It’s not until we are able to identify that which we do that we perceive what we are doing. Have you ever picked up trash? Held the door for someone? Taken a walk in the woods? Listened to your thoughts? Closed your eyes for a moment of peace? Stretched your arms overhead? Told someone the truth? All of these are practices of Yoga. Attending classes with dozens of people and trying to get into a split may not be the way in which you are meant to practice. There are 8 limbs in the Raja Yoga practice. Any of them could be your starting point.
#5 Yoga Doesn’t Align with My Faith
There is Yoga in every religion, but no religion in Yoga. It is like a good stock. Yoga is the bone broth or seafood stock you begin with. It has all of the basics already included: guidance for the treatment of yourself and others, body health, mindfulness and awareness. You get to choose what to flavors to add on. If you place your faith in a single God, worship the Earth, look to various deities for support, or do not believe in dogma, you can add it in. Any Yoga teacher or studio should provide teachings and guidance that allow you to add in your personal flavors to your own practice. If you disagree with the teachings, then try a different teacher or studio until you feel comfortable.
"There is Yoga in every religion,
Becoming A Yoga Teacher
Did you know that anyone can be a Yoga instructor? Anyone at any time can say that they know how to teach Yoga and can easily begin selling Yoga classes. There is no certification required, no registration, no education.
Of course, we know that this is not what makes a person a Yoga teacher. The ability to instruct people to move through various postures does not necessitate special training. However, the skills needed to guide people through a Yoga sequence that intentionally creates physical, energetic and emotional change requires depth of study and practice. The Yoga Alliance provides us with a set of guidelines to follow in our training.
Self Study is one of the most important practices a Yoga teacher must do. While studying the texts, philosophies and practices of Yoga we must apply that which we learn to our lives. We must move with the intention of noticing how it effects our own bodies and live as witnesses and observers of our own thoughts, speech and actions.
Teaching Yoga requires constant practice and study. It requires self awareness, continued study, growth and development. A Yoga teacher is always practicing, but not always posing. They are developing deeper awareness of themselves in order to gain a better understanding of the practitioners whom they guide.
Intense, but not Intensive
The training required to become a Yoga teacher is intense, but it should not be intensive. The quality of the training a blossoming practitioner attends can make the difference between them becoming an instructor or a teacher.
The most common initial Yoga teacher training program is 200 hours in length. A comprehensive program includes everything from history to anatomy and should also cover the philosophy and practices of traditional Yoga. To fully grasp these concepts it is important that a budding teacher apply them to life. To do this, we must walk the walk and talk the talk, everywhere. We must take the time to understand and apply everything we learn. A quality Yoga teacher takes the time necessary to develop themselves, their knowledge and their own practice.
Everyone has their own special set of skills. A quality Yoga teacher does more than instruct poses. They absorb themselves into the practice and radiate their passion into the studio as well as out in the world. Every aspect of their life is dissolved in Yoga. Listen to how your teacher speaks, watch them move, notice what they do while demonstrating or moving through the room. Listen for their unique set of skills.
Learn about your teacher. Do they have a degree? In what field? What lives did they live before they became a Yoga teacher? How does their past effect the way in which they teach? Each one of us applies that which we had learned before we became Yoga teachers to the way in which we teach and live. When you practice with a quality Yoga teacher you will be able to see, hear and feel who they are as a result of their past experiences.
Value Your Teacher
Standing on your head, jumping from downward dog to handstand and being able to wrap your legs behind your shoulders does not qualify you to teach Yoga. In fact, many teachers lack the flexibility to access many of the party trick poses you will find on Instagram. In addition, just because your teacher can do these things that does not mean they can teach you to access the positions in your body or that your body can move in those ways.
Think about your favorite teachers in school. What qualities made them memorable? A quality Yoga offers more than instruction during a work out. They offer space, energy, guidance, support, instruction, direction, passion, enthusiasm and themselves. The practice of Yoga is their way of life and they share their life with you every time they teach.
When you find your quality Yoga teacher let them know how much you value them by paying full price, letting others know what makes them different and showing up to support what they do and to learn and grow with them.
Ashta Anga refers to the eight limbs of Yoga. According to the ancient texts, “The Yoga Sutra of Patanjali,” and “The Hatha Yoga Pradipika,” all eight must be practiced in order for Yoga to occur. Yoga is both the means and the end. It is the combination of the practices of right action, speech and thought. What is right is defined by the eight limbs. When we follow the guidelines provided by the ancient Yogis we are more likely to be upon the right path.
The Right Practice for You
Every body is different and each one of us is unique. Just because all of your friends are taking “Hot Yoga” or “Vinyasa,” style classes that does not mean it is the right practice for you. In fact, it is rare that a hot or active practice is the best place for any of us to begin. The additional stress placed upon your body due to warm temperatures and new, challenging movements can actually hurt you. As with anything new, your first Yoga practice should be slow and well directed. You should be given the opportunity to attempt simple movements, ask questions and provide feedback to your teacher about how you are feeling throughout the session.
Living in Pain
I began practicing Yoga because all of my friends were enrolled in the class and it fulfilled a course requirement. I continued practicing because it initially reduced and then eliminated my debilitating back pain.
My pain had begun in high school as a result of scoliosis and growth spurts while competitively running in track and cross country. I continued to run while in college and continued to damage my back further. Adding insult to injury; my role as a teacher for children with autism required that I lean forward to reach desks and be at eye level with my students. There were days during which, due to the pain, I couldn't stand up straight, sit comfortably or sleep.
Yoga for Healing
Yoga Asana as well as the calming effects of breathing consciously and mindfulness practices helped me to heal. The movement was the perfect prescription for my back. The breathing helped me to remain calm when managing stressful situations and aggressive students. The mindfulness practices helped me learn to slow down and focus so that I could pause before putting my body into an unsafe position or activity.
As I continued to practice I learned the differences between the various modern styles and began to explore the various practices. When I met my teacher, in New York, I was granted access to the lineage of Rajahatha Yoga and began to develop my own practices in a way that best works for my life.
Continuing the Healing
Although I enjoy attending group classes at Yoga studios, my personal practice is what keeps me healthy. I spend less time moving actively and more time slowing down. The more slowly I move, the more awareness I have, and the better I am at addressing whatever issues; physical, emotional, energetic or mindful, that I am dealing with.
If you are ready to begin healing and to feel better through Yoga you might consider seeking out a teacher who has experience in more than just teaching classes. That which you experience physically could be a manifestation of something deeper and vice versa. Seek someone who can offer more than just poses. Find a Guru: a guide who sheds light where it is currently darkness.
It seems as though there is a Yoga studio on every corner. Like coffee shops and breweries, they are popping up everywhere. How do you know which one is the right one?
There is no “Gym Factor”
A gym is designed to be noisy, sweaty and has multiple uses. A Yoga studio has just one: Yoga. You know you've found a good studio the minute you walk in the door. The space is clean, smells nice and is tidy. There are materials appropriate for a Yoga practice.
You'll see things like mats, blankets, straps, backless chairs and some bolsters. The space should feel like home. There should be a place to put your belongings (away from your mat), a clean bathroom (clean enough to walk into barefoot), and an immediate feeling of comfort.
There is no Yoga Show
The teacher at a Yoga studio is there to guide you as you practice. He or she has their own practice they do on their own, outside of the studio. We call this a “home practice.” This is how we prepare to teach and develop our skills. A teacher should be there to teach for you, not at you.
Your Yoga teacher should demonstrate postures in a way that appears accessible for you. They will be watching you while you practice and encouraging you to use tools, try something different or attempt something challenging. Like any good teacher, a Yoga teacher is there to offer knowledge, guidance and encouragement. As they demonstrate the poses, they are considering who is in the room and what they are able to do.
While practicing you should feel as though your teacher is noticing you just enough to help you feel safe while at the same time allowing you the space to focus upon your practice. You should feel as though every instruction given is meant for you to decipher and follow as appropriate for your body, state of mind and current status. In moments when you feel nervous or unsure your teacher will encourage you to try, to push your limit, to make an attempt.
You Learn More Than Poses
Yoga is more than poses. It is a lifestyle. Everything from the way you rise in the morning to they way you stand in line will be effected if you continue to practice. Your mindset, thoughts, ideas, questions, diet, breathing and daily movement will change.
A Yoga studio is a place for gaining knowledge. Your teacher should regularly use sanskrit terms (and explain them). They should tell you why the pose you are doing is important and how it connects to the others in the sequence. You’ll be told to breathe and move at the same time, and in a particular order. You’ll learn about everything from history to religion, science and mythology as your teacher explains the names of postures and the words being used during the practice.
While at the studio you’ll notice that everything has meaning. The plants, imagery, colors and more all fit together in a perfect puzzle designed to effect your senses and enthuse you to practice. Your teacher will explain how everything about the space creates a shift in awareness allowing you to detach from the world outside of the space.
There is No Competition
Yoga is a work-IN, not a work-out. The reason to practice is to reveal that which you do not see. Often, what we do not see is our authentic selves.
You might hear your teacher compliment you or someone else on your posture, form, prowess, etc. They are doing this to encourage you to keep trying, to keep growing, to keep practicing. What you won’t hear is your Yoga teacher shouting at you to “push harder,” “go faster,” “beat so and so.” Everyone is working from their own place and will move forward as appropriate. Yoga is not about getting sweaty or going until you puke. Yoga is a practice of deep understanding and awareness of your Self.
Your Guide is a Teacher
There is a big difference between a teacher, a guide and an instructor.
An instructor simply directs; they tell you what to do in a similar fashion to a drill sergeant instructing recruits. There is little emotion and a lack of connection. They give orders and instructions.
A guide shows you the way, but does not help you get there. Like any camp counselor they give you the tools and show you how, but don’t actually help you along the way.
A teacher can tell you what, why, how, and provide suggestions and corrections along the way. A Yoga teacher lives authentically. You’ll know this because of their behavior; they will be honest, generous, helpful, considerate, patient and ready to provide variations and support to help you access the postures, deepen your breath and increase awareness.
Seek out a Yoga studio that offers more than poses. Seek out a teacher who practices authentically. Seek out a practice that provides more than a work out. Learn to practice Yoga.
Join us at Lake Tahoe Yoga to learn more.
Self-love is at the heart of our overall health. When we are blasted on a daily basis with messages that we aren’t good enough, whether from strangers or the media, it can create permanent damage. Self-love is tied to self-worth, confidence, happiness, achieving goals, and our overall health. Fortunately, there are ways to combat the dangerous self-hate that we cultivate on a daily basis. It starts with making a conscious decision to change. Speak kindly to yourself, love yourself, and support yourself like you would a dear friend. Ask yourself how you would respond if someone you love was facing the issues in front of you. You’d probably react very differently than how you treat yourself. Here are a few ways to build self-love into your daily routine:
1. Start a guided focus practice. If you’ve never practiced before, this can sound intimidating. However, daily mindful focus doesn’t require hours in lotus position. A practice can be three to five minutes. It’s a chance to breathe, accept thoughts as they come before dismissing them, and re-setting your day or night. Many people prefer to practice for a few minutes in the morning when it’s usually quieter and they can take some time for themselves. Choose a space and position that’s comfortable, but not so comfortable that you’ll fall asleep. There are tools you can use, from mala beads to listening to guided meditation. Speak with your Yoga teacher for specific techniques to develop this practice.
2. Actively change how you talk to yourself. When you’re frustrated, take a look at your inner voice. How are you speaking to yourself? Everyone has an inner voice, and many are quite active. However, these voices are uncensored and we can take frustrations out on ourselves. Change how you talk to yourself—it will take time and practice. There are additional tools to help with this.
3. See a mental health expert. Mental health is just as important as every other type of health, but it's often put on the back burner. However, keep in mind that seeing just one mental health expert rarely gives you the chance of finding the best fit. Not only are there millions of experts, but there is also a multitude of types of therapy. "Shop" around and see what resonates with you. This can be frustrating, especially if you're navigating the health insurance field to find this help, but tenacity is worth it. You wouldn’t go an entire lifetime without seeing a GP, would you?
4. Learn to say no. Women especially can find themselves saying yes to everything, including things that aren’t necessary. Practice saying no. It’s one of the greatest defenses a person has. It’s rare that the things we say yes to are a requirement. This doesn’t mean saying no to everything is the ticket to self-love, but it’s a start. You can probably tick off a number of requests and “standing orders” that you don’t like and shouldn’t have to stick with. As you “spring clean” your life, you’ll uncover hidden happiness.
5. Put your health first. Whether this means a moderate amount of weekly exercise or attending a church service if that’s part of your spiritual health practice, health is a priority. If you’re not healthy, you’re not at your best and every aspect of your life will suffer. However, the definition of health can be subjective. Everyone’s exercise regimen might be different, but should be guided by experts including physicians. Spiritual health varies greatly, but it’s part of everyone’s makeup. Maybe your spiritual health is a weekly walk in the woods. Understand what your health needs are and put them first.
One of the best things we can do for self-love is to get rid of the things in our life that are actively destroying it. For many people, it’s technology addiction. Everyone has vices. Knowing what they are and replacing them with healthy habits is one of the best things you can do for yourself. From food addiction to avoiding healthy habits (like seeing your dentist on a regular basis), we are constantly sabotaging ourselves. It’s not entirely our fault, because addiction and outside influences are fierce. However, what we do about it daily is within our control.
Guest Blog: Alyssa Ennis - Community Outreach - Purple.com
The simple act of training our minds is something that yoga practitioners discovered more than 2,000 years ago. Western medicine is only now beginning to catch up.
For insomnia treatment, medical researchers have found that "cognitive behavioral therapy" is a better approach than simply prescribing sleeping pills. Instead of adding chemicals to the body, cognitive behavioral therapy addresses the root causes of sleeplessness.
Mindfulness is a key component of cognitive behavioral therapy. Patients are taught to "challenge negative thoughts and replace them with more accurate, positive sleep thoughts," writes John Cline, Ph.D., in Psychology Today. Patients are also given techniques for "calming an active mind that won’t shut off," according to Stanford University Health Care. The insomnia treatment program of Virginia Runko, Ph.D., CBSM, of the Ross Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, includes training in diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and visualization. Sound familiar? It will if you do yoga.
A recent study randomly assigned two treatment paths to a group of older adults suffering from poor quality sleep. Half of the group received a sleep hygiene education program. They were educated about sleep biology, and told about behaviors to avoid before sleep, such as late-night eating and overconsumption of alcohol.
The other half of the group received training in mindfulness awareness practices. Exercises included different types of meditation, including sitting meditation, and "mindful movement."
After going through their selected training, participants reported their sleep patterns in a questionnaire. Folks who went through the mindfulness training showed significant improvement in sleep quality over the sleep hygiene education group. The mindfulness group also reported fewer insomnia symptoms, fewer depression symptoms, and less fatigue.
Another study showed that cognitive therapy is so powerful, even online training can make a positive difference. More than 8 in 10 people with chronic insomnia who participated in online cognitive behavioral training reported improvement in sleep. Participants rated the cognitive therapy session, where they learned about "coping with an overactive mind and worries," as the most useful part of the training.
Poor sleep quality is a major public health problem. More than half of people 55 and over report some form of sleep disorder. Sleep studies of college-age students show that more than 60 percent suffer from poor quality sleep. The phone and tablet screens that people are increasingly glued to emit damaging rays that suppress melatonin production and disrupt sleep cycles.
Unfortunately, poor sleep quality often goes undiagnosed. People may not even realize that they aren't sleeping well. Losing the regenerative power of sleep can lead to higher levels of anxiety and depression.
By practicing yoga, we help free our minds from thoughts that cause suffering. We expand our consciousness beyond the daily frustrations that can consume us. We're training our bodies and minds to relax—just as we need to do every day to get to sleep.
More than 40 million Americans practiced some form of yoga in 2011—up from just 4 million in 2001. That's a good development for our overall mental health. But we could be doing more. If your friends or neighbors mention sleeping problems, suggest that they consider practicing mindfulness through yoga. It's scientifically proven to work.