Laurie Larson is a freelance writer based out of North Carolina. She writes on home, health, and lifestyle topics to help others live a happier and healthier life.
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If you’ve been practicing yoga for some time, you know the long list of benefits: it helps you feel better, it’s a great way to start your mornings energized, and your muscles are stronger and more toned.
That’s not where it ends, though. There are many benefits of yoga that are not so readily apparent. For example, regularly practicing yoga can help improve your respiration, keep your metabolism balanced, protect you from injuries, and even improve your sleep.
Yoga can improve my sleep?
It sure can. Now, we aren’t talking about doing a full Ashtanga practice before bed, but doing light yoga practices such as pranayama and meditation could be just what you need to take your ZZZs to the next level. If you don’t already, you should consider adding these relaxing yoga practices to your regular nighttime routine. Not convinced? You might be after reading these four benefits of performing yoga before bed:
1. It relieves stress
Stress is one of the leading causes people can’t sleep at night. How are you expected to peacefully fall into sweet dreams when you can’t stop replaying the day’s events or panicking over encroaching deadlines? If it’s not bad enough that it makes the falling asleep process challenging, it also ruins our deep REM sleep, leaving us to wake up without feeling restored.
Cue the calming powers of yoga and meditation. Yoga teaches us to focus on our breath and live in the present moment, focusing on the here-and-now to shove worries away. By keeping this mentality right before bedtime, you’ll let your mind clear out and prepare for great sleep before you even make it in the bed. By performing pranayama exercises before bedtime, you’ll be able to gain control over your breath effectively clear your mind.
2. It reduces your pain
Pain is another leading disruptor of a good night’s sleep. If you can’t get comfortable at night due to your neck, back, or other muscle pain, there’s no way you’ll be able to rest peacefully. The good news is, yoga happens to be a great option for relieving your pain.
In fact, some people report a preference for yoga as a treatment for their pain over traditional medications. Incorporating some gentle yoga stretches before bedtime will help stretch out your muscles, ease your pain, and prepare your body for a comfortable night of sleep. You don’t need to perform a whole flow. Start with upside-down relaxation. Sit facing a wall, lie back with your legs extended up the wall, rest your arms palms facing up by your sides, and focus on your breathe for up to two minutes. Other stretches you should incorporate before bed include winding down twist, child’s pose, and hugging your knees to your chest in rock-a-bye roll.
3. It gives you a better attitude about your rest
Do you excitedly crawl into bed each night, or do you push it away and often de-prioritize it for other tasks? Unfortunately, many people belong to the latter group. When you practice yoga, it helps you learn to appreciate moments of rest. Instead of neglecting your sleep, practicing nighttime meditation will help you embrace the importance of quiet, restorative moments for restoring your body.
4. It improves your sleep quality
The biggest benefit to performing yoga before bedtime is the improvement in your sleep quality. Taking the time to relax in a meditative state while you stretch out your body, release tension, breathe deeply, and clear you mind sets you up perfectly for a night of deep, quality sleep.
If you’re ready to see what performing yoga before bedtime can do for you, start by adding it into your nighttime routine tonight!
Written by Alyson Calla. Exclusive for theyogashala.org
The word ‘detox’ is often used as a synonym for weight loss diets, but what the health and wellness industry often get wrong about detoxification is that it is not the same as restrictive eating or going on juice fasts.
What ‘detoxification’ really means?
The basic definition of detoxification is to free the body of toxins, not of calories. Toxins, or free radicals, are harmful chemicals from the environment that enter the body through several ways, one of which is through the food we eat. Live Science explains that the presence of free radicals may result in the destruction and mutation of cells which is what happens with the growth of tumors. Researchers also believe that they are linked with a host of chronic illnesses including macular degeneration, cardiovascular disease, inflammatory diseases, and certain types of cancer.
Where does veganism come in?
The main sources of toxins in the standard diet are:
- Deep fried foods that are high in trans and saturated fats
- Dairy products
- Produce grown with pesticides
- Processed and canned foods
Healthline points out that processed meat and artificial trans fats cause inflammation. While inflammation is essential for healing, the prolonged state has been thought of by the medical community as the root of all disease. To reverse the damage caused by free radicals, eat plant-based foods that are high in anti-oxidants. Some examples are:
- Leafy greens such as kale and spinach
- Different types of berries
- Fruits such as watermelon, apricots, and oranges
- Lentils, beans, and grains
- Other vegetables including artichokes and bell peppers
As long as it is organic, a vegan diet abundant in antioxidant rich foods and other essential nutrients will help cleanse your body of unwanted substances.
Signs of toxicity
Frequent headaches, noise sensitivity, cognitive impairment, inflammation, and reduced immune function are some of the symptoms of toxin concentration in your body. If you’re someone who’s prone to breakouts, one of the known causes of acne is inflammation caused by a poor diet. For instance, Natalie Portman revealed that finally going vegan and cutting out eggs and dairy eliminated her problems with adult acne. Dairy in particularly is an inflammatory as it contains a lot of excess hormones which can trigger a reaction and in turn, pimples.
A few other symptoms are fatigue as well as chronic muscle and joint pain, which are also linked to inflammation. Argentine international soccer player Sergio Aguero suffered from muscle injuries which he attributed to a diet rich in meat, sugar, and pasta. After cutting out these inflammatory foods, the Argentine striker experienced significantly less injuries and improved his game. Similarly, if your back is constantly in pain or your joints are swollen, it might be time for a diet change.
The bottom line
A lot of the food we eat - even some plants when covered in pesticides - contain toxins. While the body’s immune system is capable of eliminating toxins naturally, too much of it can cause the immune response to slow down and become overpowered. This means that people who consume food that have high amounts of these harmful chemicals are more prone to disease.
In order to cleanse your body of harmful substances, a well-rounded vegan diet is the closest diet for detoxification. This is synonymous with what The Yoga Shala referred to as mindful eating in a previous article. You can still enjoy your foods, as long as you practice awareness of what you feed your body.