Overcome Insomnia – Increasingly studies have found that yogic breathing helps in improving sleep quality and for treating insomnia, shares Yoga coach Anu Lall
Anu Lall, author, certified Yoga coach, meditation teacher, and the founder of YogaSmith has her teachings rooted in Yoga, Tibetan, and Thai forest traditions, blended with neuro-linguistic programming. Her 4th and latest book Breath WorkOUT for Life: For a Fitter, Stronger and Happier YOU, combines traditional yoga techniques with scientific evidence to harness the power of breath for mental and physical well-being.
Here’s an extract from the book Breath WorkOUT for Life: For a Fitter, Stronger and Happier YOU that explores how to overcome insomnia
In this extract from the chapter titled ‘Train Your Dragon, Know Your Why’ – she explores ‘Breath Workout’ and how long term yoga and yoga breathing help in sleeping better, with the help of evidences.
Breath WorkOUT calms down the parasympathetic nervous system. As your breath become calmer, you will observe a definite impact of the circadian patterns on your sleep duration, quality of sleep, dreams and many other aspects of sleep. Better sleep is great for healing the mind and the body.
In recent times, diaphragmatic breathing has been studied closely and is considered to be a tool for improving sleep quality and treating insomnia.
A cross-sectional study done on 65 participants tested the effect of long-term yoga and breathing exercises on sleep quality and quality of life (QoLi) using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index15. It reached the following conclusion.
Yoga group participants had better sleep quality and less sleeping disturbances when compared with the control group.
– Mangesh A. Bankaret al. University of North Texas Health Department. Impact of long term Yoga practice on sleep quality and quality of life in the elderly.
This study found an extremely high correlation between yoga and sleep quality. They arrived at the following explanation for this correlation.
Yogic breathing exercises can improve strength of the respiratory muscles and improve oxygen saturation. Considering the fact that sleep apnea is associated with decreased oxygen saturation, improved oxygen saturation due to Yoga might be a possible explanation for less sleep disturbances in the Yoga group.
–Mangesh A. Bankar et al University of North Texas Health Department. Impact of long term Yoga practice on sleep quality and quality of life in the elderly.
Reduce Chronic Pain and Inflammation:
Chronic pain and inflammation is usually the result of an impaired auto-immune system. I take the example of one auto-immune disease here. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory and auto-immune disease with degenerative effects on the central nervous system and is the subject of many studies.
- Yoga breathing helps this condition immensely.
- Yoga helps to regulate the autonomic nervous system.
- It is low cost, highly effective, lacks any risk or adverse
- effects when applied appropriately, seem beneficial.
The use of techniques can help to relax the muscles and reduce pain, stress, and induce a positive state of mind by improving psychological wellbeing.
6 months of Yoga can improve cognitive function, lessen fatigue, and improve disposition and the quality of life18.
The Effects of Pranayama, on Physical Pain and the Quality of Life of Women with Multiple Sclerosis.
Shiraz Medical University. Iran.
Similar benefits have been reported in a wide range of fibromyalgia symptoms including reduced pain, fatigue, stiffness, poor sleep, depression, poor memory, anxiety, tenderness, poor balance, environment sensitivity, vigor, and limited strength.
Managing Blood Pressure:
Yoga breathing is a tool that can be used to manage high or low blood pressure.
In a trial done in India20, twenty two hypertensive patients were taught to perform a specific breathing technique called chandrabhedi, or left nostril breathing by a qualified yoga instructor. Their heart rate and blood pressure were monitored and recorded immediately before and after the intervention. The researchers found it an effective intervention in reducing heart rate and systolic pressure in hypertensive patients and recommended it as part of standard medical management.
In later sections in this book, we will teach this specific technique. Also, as part of the Breath WorkOUT program, we clearly mark out the techniques that have an impact on blood pressure. However, please consult your doctor before starting this program.
Pranayama produces a relaxed state and in this state parasympathetic activity overrides sympathetic activity. Addition of pranayama can be a useful addition to antihypertensive drugs for better control of hypertension in mild cases”
–Goyal, Rajni et al. “Effect of pranayama on rate pressure product in mild hypertensives.” India.
Reduce Weight. Maintain Healthy BMI:
As your breath become deeper, you notice that you can climb stairs relatively easily. You pantless panting and you don’t break out into a sweat. Most of the participants in our Breath WorkOUT programs report an increased ability to climb stairs within one week of practice. Yoga improves body mass and is an excellent tool for managing obesity. It can manage several other body mass related biomedical parameters like fat percentage, waist to hip ratio and blood pressure.
Ayurveda and Yoga therapy approach provides a feasible, promising non-invasive, low-cost alternative to traditional weight loss interventions with potential added benefits of sustainable, holistic lifestyle and positive psychosocial changes.
Rioux, Jennifer et al. in Outcomes from a Whole- Systems Ayurvedic Medicine and Yoga Therapy Treatment for Obesity. New York, USA.
Focused Attention. Enhanced Creativity:
Yoga helps increase mindfulness, enhances creativity and improves focused attention especially in children and young adults.
This may specially interest parents and teachers, as we live in a world where globally the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) market size was valued at USD 16.4 billion in 2018.23 ADHD is classified as a medical condition where the ability to hold attention and the ability to sit still with self-control is affected. This condition has a great impact on the child’s behaviour at school, home and society.
Another study done on young musicians by Bethany Butzer, Ph.D., Division of Sleep Medicine, professor at Harvard Medical School found:
- Yoga participants reported significant decreases in confusion and increases in dispositional flow…
- Yoga and meditation may enhance the states of flow and
- mindful awareness and reduce confusion.
- Yoga Enhances Positive Psychological
Improve Voice Quality And Acoustics:
Voice involves many aspects of the throat which included respiratory and phonatory aspects and resonance. Recently a study was conducted on voice samples in a voice lab, where the subjects were taught a breathing technique called “bumble bee”. The results were fed into a Computerized Speech Lab system, and their acoustic and aerodynamic measurements were analyzed. The results were astounding. Please don’t sue us if you fail the audition for an opera singer. My promise to you is not to make you a professional singer, but how conscious breathing can make your voice the best version of itself.
More about Anu Lall, the author:
Anu Lall is a certified Yoga coach and a meditation teacher. With over half a million followers, Lall is the founder of YogaSmith in Singapore. For about a decade, she has been teaching yoga programs for healing lifestyle-based illnesses in Europe, Australia, India, and Singapore. A Lawyer and MBA from XLRI, ironically, Lall started her career in the pharmaceutical industry giving it all up one day to get trained in mind-body-wellness techniques.
She coaches CEOs and athletes to deliver top performance. Her teachings are rooted in Yoga, Tibetan, and Thai forest traditions, blended with neuro-linguistic programming.