Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Savasana Linked to Better Sleep

Savasana is a yoga pose practised at the very end of a yoga class. It is an easy pose of repose that involves only two things: lying down on the back and relaxing. Savasana, also known as the Relaxation Pose or the Corpse Pose, may seem too simple in concept, and indeed some yoga practitioners and teachers consider it irrelevant and even redundant, but Savasana's apparant simplicity is deceptive.
Several scientific studies have found that relaxation during Savasana has superb health benefits. Most notably, Savasana reduces sleep problems at night. Stress, anxiety and muscular tension linked to the nervous system are the main causes of sleep deprivation and insomnia. Deep relaxation during Savasana was found to reduce mental and physical strain, which in turn led to a dramatically improved sleep at night. Furthermore, those who participated in studies reported that better sleep also improved their overall enjoyment of life.
Linked to sleep, a separate set of scientific studies found that well-rested people tend to be slimmer. Sleep deprivation makes the body crave stimulants, such as sweets, sugary drinks and fast food (a humongous amount of sugar is added to fast and pre-prepared food). Excess sugar is, of course, one of the main reasons for weight gain. To keep the extra pounds off all that is needed, it seems, is a good-night sleep.

How to relax
Savasana doesn't involve any mysterious tricks or secret methods. All you need to do is lie down, make the body heavy and the mind still. Relax your limbs, internal organs, throat, face, back of the eyes, the brain. Use your will to take yourself into complete stillness and deep relaxation while staying fully awake. Savasana is a conscious state, not a slumber, but a conscious state free of concrete thoughts. The length of Savasana depends on individual circumstances, but most yoga practitioners seem to favour a 10-20-minute relaxation at the end of a class. If pressed for time, a 3 minute or even a 30 second Savasana is perfectly fine. After relaxation you will feel grounded and refreshed.

A word of advice
Most yoga books, CDs, DVDs, internet videos and yoga teachers recommend to use paraphernalia, such as scented candles, incense, music, sounds, eye pillows, blankets and cushions, to help the body relax in Savasana. There is nothing wrong with using props, but it is important not to become so dependent on them that without external help relaxing becomes impossible. Beginners often use an army of props to wind down, but once relaxation becomes familiar it is a good idea to wean yourself off and use them only when there is a heightened need. That way relaxation is possible anywhere at any time, without being dependent on external circumstances. It is also worth noting that paraphernalia are a very profitable business worldwide and are often marketed as necessary accessories, as if without a large collection of candles, incense and special music yoga is not possible. It is best to exercise your own independent judgement and not fall prey to clever marketing tricks.

Yoga as a natural medicine
The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche apologised recently for neglecting to mention a list of rather nasty side effects caused by their prescription drugs. Prescription drugs often have a violent jolt on the body and most pills only treat the symptoms, not the cause of illness. With this in mind, a natural medicine such as yoga is an intelligent way to balance mental health and improve physical condition. The genius of yoga lies in its unique combination of physical exercises that link the body with the brain. Most people become healthier after taking up yoga and this has been noticed outside the yoga world too. In the UK, yoga is taught in primary schools and prisons. Doctors worldwide have started to prescribe gentle yogic movements as a medical treatment with brilliant results. Although many still sniff at yoga, an ever-increasing number of scientific studies are beginning to support what has been known inside the yoga world for a very long time: that yoga can cure sleeplessness, back pain and heart ache, make people slimmer, fitter and happier.

1 comment:

Andres Hogg said...

I loved reading this piece! Well written! :)

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