Yoga Nidra for Insomnia (Baba Ramdev’s Video, Yoga Poses and Clinical Trials)

We have quite a few users who have found our series of posts on Yoga and its health benefits and Yoga Clinical Trials (as part of our series on Holistic Cures and Treatments) and one common request is for information about Yoga for Treating Insomnia.

So i dug up some materials and i found this really nice video by a very famous and accomplished Yogi in India, Baba Ramdev. Actually, it would be better to say that Baba Ramdev is a Yoga Rockstar – he has literally revived this ancient philosphipcal and physical practice among the masses in India. In addition to this video,  i found some Yoga poses that have been recommeded by the Yoga Journal for treating Insomnia.

Yoga for Treating Insomnia (Video of Baba Ramdev)

This video explains what Yoga Nidra (State of Sleep) and how it can be achieved. He also explains the effects that Yoga Nidra can have on relaxing the body. The video also  provides a demonstration of going into the relaxed Sleep State (Yoga Nidra). The Video is about an hour long so i have summarized parts of it below

Summary of the Video

Baba Ramdev begins with a Sanskrit recitation including recitation of the univeral sound OM. He then goes on to explain what Yoga Nidra (State of Sleep)  is and how it can be used to reduce mental tension, stress and treat insomnia

  • Yoga Nidra a kind of practice with which tension, stress, distress, depression and other psychological diseases are removed .
  • Yoga Nidra as though even while sleeping we are awakes with  conscious, our sleep become yoga-esque
  • With Yoga Nidra, hypertension, migraine pain, depression and it removes all heart diseases
  • 80% ailments after all develop only due to mental tension
  • MIllions, in fact the population of the whole world suffers from mental tension
  • He advocates that Yoga Nidra can be an effective solution
  • It can be practiced at night when going to sleep or if you have time after prnayama, asanas and meditation.

The Yoga Nidra Method for Achieving Complete Relaxation

  • Lie down in Shava Asana (which is the Corpse Pose)  – basically you lie die on the floor with a slight distance between the legs and both hands away from the thighs. The fingers of the hands should be open completely. Eventually the goal is to make the body become like a corpse – peaceful – attentive , you get sleep also and rest but you dont become sluggish you sleep in the lap of yoga.
  • Be absolutely straight, the way you sleep, the way you take rest.
  • The whole body should be let to be absolutely relaxed – its called yoga nidra shavasana
  • Once in the pose, you should concentrate on breathing and mediate on your consciousness, your awareness of the breath moving in and out.
  • The whole idea is to continue being an observer, being in consciousness,  just watching the body
  • Keep experiencing the sensations, the breath going in and going out.
  • Then one by one the mind focuses on one part of the body and then relaxes that part. So being with imagining your minds eye is looking at the toes of the feet,  the big toes, and make them aboslutely loose.
  • Progressively, one moves from the big toes to the ankles, the thighs then the abdomen, chest and eventually the head and the eyes.
  • As you will hear in the video the key is to absolutely let go, to loosen up, to relax
  • Again, remember let go, relax, relax, and loosen up
  • I have personally felt that after the first 5-8 mins when the mind id all agitated and thinking in all directions, it does begin to quite down and that the thoughts slow down and the the mind begins to note subtle

Philosophical and Medical Notes related to Yoga Nidra

In the video there is repeated emphasis on detaching one from the body and becoming an observer. As Ramdev explains,  the moment you become an observer you become detached. You become buddha,  you become liberated. He goes on the explain that the body is the chariot, intellect is the charioteer and the mind is the reins with which the charioteer controls the body. This clearly makes the Mind body connection (which till very recently has been effectively ignored by modern medicine).

Baba Ramdev continues to emphasize that we are the lord of our own body and the mind. One needs to enter in yourself; this knowledge, this commitment, this feeling that i am conscious will remove your tensions, your sorrows. All the tensions,  all the fear  and all the illusions, all worries,  all distress, all sorrows, will quieten.

Many things, such as stress, hormonal changes, medical or emotional problems, and certain medications, can cause insomnia. While there is no blanket solution to this complex and highly individualized problem, the practice of yoga can be helpful to you. Just resolving to do this practice can be beneficial as there is power in resolution. It leads to action.

Yoga Poses for Insomnia

The Yoga Journal lists the following poses that are useful in cases of Insomnia. If practiced regularly, they can be effective in quieting the mind and achieving restfulness.

  • Forward bends – You can do them supported if you wish, on blankets or bolsters, and they should be held for five minutes if possible. These include the following:
    • Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend),
    • Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend),
    • Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose),
    • Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose), and
    • Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend).
  • All inversions are useful if you can’t get to sleep.  These include poses such as
    • Salamba Sirsasana (Supported Headstand),
    • Halasana (Plow Pose), and
    • Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)

Several Clinical trials being conducted to investigate Yoga as a treatment for stress, insomnia and other medical conditions. In fact such studies are increasing in number, highlighting the growing evidence of the usefulness of these techniques

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