The Absurdity of Sleep
Does yoga help me sleep better? Does meditation help me sleep better?
If you could break wellness into parts like you cut a pie into pieces, one substantial piece would be sleep. The other parts of the pie include diet, exercise, and mental/emotional contentment! Understanding yoga’s history and origin, which includes Ayurveda, we know yoga addresses the whole wellness paradigm. So why do yogis love sleep?
With so much competing knowledge and misinformation on health and wellness, it’s virtually impossible to know what’s appropriate for oneself just by listening to a bunch of studies. Understanding that science doesn't see the complete picture, even though all things are connected, makes knowing what's best for your health very difficult. This is why discoveries and studies eventually get altered and adjusted to reflect; they must reflect a new understanding.
For a good night’s sleep and the maintenance of health and wellbeing, one does not have to look beyond yoga. Yoga helps you sleep better because it covers all the pieces of the wellness pie. Yoga also gives non-dogmatic dietary guidelines (through Ayurveda), a multitude of exercises for physical maintenance, and meditation for mental/emotional wellness. Meditation’s main aim is to quiet the mind and this is the largest factor in sleep! All of these factors add up to great sleep. So the next time someone asks, does yoga help sleep? Yes, it does! Yoga helps you sleep better as opposed to using pills, which do not address the cause and have side effects!
Sleep issues and problems are at epidemic proportions. If the number of people who have sleep issues had coronavirus, nobody would leave their house. Part of the problem is the hours we spend in front of screens and monitors and the type of light they emit. Another part of the issue is the overwhelming amount of time spent on the screens before bed, and the amount of information we now digest due to the internet. Much of this information is replayed in our brains many times over while we are trying to sleep. Then there is just a really busy brain racing through thoughts that, to a large degree, is the by-product of a really busy life.
In our culture, indulging in a serious yoga practice makes one looks like an alien to compared to the money-hungry, success-driven, status “achiever” who has unknowingly sacrificed wellness. All this simply to keep up with the Joneses - not even realizing the joneses are really f***k*d up people. This aspect of our persona can be called the “achiever” because that’s its M.O. This persona wants to achieve material success despite anything else. This persona has been programmed by the values, tendencies, norms, and customs of our culture. This is a psychological law, that “the more we see something the more we believe it," even if it’s crazy!
Ironically, both the yogi and the achiever want the same thing - which is contentment! However, to achieve contentment, their tactics differ drastically. Basically, the achiever wants “more." The achiever sees contentment as something to be acquired. Whether it’s more money, status, adulation, recognition, beauty, strength, flexibility, or youthfulness. The yogi wants “balance”. It’s not true that the yogi takes a vow of poverty. This would be the opposite extreme of gluttony. It’s just that the yogi realizes the more you have, the more you have to maintain. The more you have to maintain, the more stress is added to your life! The yogi can appreciate outer accomplishments as much as anyone, yet realizes that after one’s basic needs are met wellness is not something you can acquire it is something you have to discover. You can’t buy it you have to cultivate it. This is the purpose of a yoga practice.
For the “achiever” to achieve or get ahead you have to work harder and longer, be sleepless, and do more than the next person. These qualities are admired by our culture. We have coined this the “rat race." Those who achieve the most are considered the “most successful." There are many movies, TV shows, and headlines that pay homage to the most successful, the rich, beautiful, strong and dominant this is why we want it, remember “the more you see it the more you believe it." But very few pay homage to the “most content." Therefore, the achiever mentality is propagated by our media and the cycle strengthens. For the achiever, there is no ability to honor our unique circadian rhythm, no ability to honor our sleep needs, diet needs, even our physical and psychological nature. People are becoming more and more unwell because in honoring our uniqueness, we may fall short of achieving our goals (are they really our goals or an ego that’s been programmed by our culture’s goals). So, our goals work against our wellness. For the yogi, wellness and balance are what drive contentment. Sleep is a major part of that.
In the midst of this rat race, there is a lot going on! There is so much to do and to accomplish, care for, worry about, and need not mention all the information to digest. In other words, we are very busy. As pressure builds to acquire all that we want and to maintain all that has been acquired, the muscles tense, and our mind races and it’s killing our sleep.
If you are lacking a good night’s sleep and you are not ready to shift your priorities, please make a little time for some yoga and meditation to help counterbalance the tension and busyness. Who knows, as your sleep improves and you start feeling well, your priorities may naturally shift. Go to poweryoga.com and try for free a 20-minute class and a 10-minute meditation and see for yourself. That’s right--for free!