The Shift Network Blog

2 Simple Yogic Meditation Practices for Optimal Sleep & Wellbeing
Richard Miller, PhD
By Richard Miller, PhD

Imagine something that you could easily do which would increase your alertness; reduce your stress; improve your perception and motor skills; and even enhance your creativity…

… help you make better decisions; keep you looking younger; help you lose weight; reduce the risk of having a heart attack; elevate your mood; strengthen your memory; and help you sleep through the night….

Surprisingly, this “miracle drug” is called sleep!

(And below, I’m sharing a couple of powerful yogic meditation practices which can greatly enhance your sleep and overall wellbeing.)

Every day I come across yet another engaging article that reveals the incredible effects that sleep rewards us with. For instance naps, from just a few minutes up to an hour, can have a multitude of benefits, including the following….


Of course, it’s not just naps which bring all of these rewards. A good night’s sleep is even more important to bringing all of these benefits into your life.

With so many people lacking the sleep that they need to be their happiest and healthiest, practices which improve sleep can be an invaluable tool for enhancing your wellbeing….


How Yoga Meditation Can Increase Your Wellbeing and Joy
AND Help You Sleep

The good news: There is a simple, effective and proven program that can help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and get back to sleep when awake in the night….

My research with yoga meditation (in the form of Integrative Restoration iRest Meditation) has shown that after even their first session, participants often report that they slept through the night for the first time in months... even years!

If you’re unfamiliar with it, iRest is an ancient secular practice of yogic meditation, enhanced for modern times, which is comprised of simple yet effective tools that enable you to break free of compulsive thinking, emotional reactivity and negative beliefs. It also can soothe and balance your nervous system, relieve stress and anxiety and restore inner wellbeing and joy.

Through the use of the tools and practices of yogic meditation, you can learn how to ease your body and mind into states of deep relaxation which can assist you in falling asleep, staying asleep and improve the quality of your sleep.

And yogic “naps” like the following can help you fall into short periods of restful sleep where you awaken refreshed with a renewed sense of wellbeing, ready for the rest of your day.

You can try yogic meditation for sleep for yourself, with these 2 simple practices:


1.  Practice: 10-Minute Meditation Nap

The following practice invites you to enter into a relaxed state of mind and body. This healing nap provides all the benefits listed above. It’s one of the best things you can do each day to help invite a sense of wellbeing into your life, and help you learn how to fall asleep at night.
 

 


2.  Practice: 20-Minute Yoga Meditation for Restful Nighttime Sleep

The following practice is a wonderful way to fall asleep or get back to sleep. By working with it each time you fall asleep, you create a routine that conditions your body and mind to easily fall into deep, restful sleep, which will support you into falling into restful sleep at night. It’s also helpful to use to get back to sleep should awaken in the night.
 

 

Use these two practices regularly for taking a daytime nap, and at night to help you enter into deep and restful sleep. By practicing regularly, you train your body to fall asleep easily and quickly. If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, use these practices to support your body and mind to fall back again into restful sleep.


What is Paradoxical Sleep?

Another thing I think you’d be interested in knowing is that the kind of rest you get during yoga meditation can be the same kind of rest you get during deep sleep. But your sleep experience during meditation can sometimes feel unusual. Let me explain….

At times, during yoga meditation, you may hear your body snoring. In this case your body is asleep even though you experience yourself as awake. This experience is called paradoxical sleep. If you were in the sleep lab with electrodes attached to your head, your brain would be registering deep sleep waves, even though you experience yourself as awake.

Although you’re alert during the practice of yoga meditation, your body is getting the deep rest that it needs for health, healing and wellbeing.

At other times, when you’re listening to the voice of someone leading you through yoga meditation, you may not hear the words being spoken to you.

This is because while you were meditating you fell into a deep, restful sleep. At the end of your practice, you may wonder if you were meditating correctly, because you lost track of where you were in the practice.

Experiencing your body asleep and yourself awake, falling totally asleep, or coming back unsure about how you participated in the meditation are all common to the practice of meditation.

Rest assured that your practice is providing your body and mind with the rest you need for enhancing your health and wellbeing, and training your body to go into restful sleep at night….

Here’s what one woman told me about falling asleep during yoga meditation:

I’m usually a very irritating person. I tend to make myself and everyone around me uncomfortable. During my initial experiences with yoga meditation I would often fall asleep. So at first I didn’t think anything would come from my doing this practice. But over several weeks something changed inside of me. I used to get upset, throw chairs and kick walls. I’m not doing that anymore. I feel more balanced and centered inside. I find myself feeling a lot of joy during my days, and people are saying that they like being around me. I even like being around me!

I tend to have a lot of negative thoughts in my head. But now I find myself reflecting on things rather than reacting the way I used to. Stress and drama seem to be falling out of my life, and I find myself doing what I’ve learned in meditation even as I’m talking to people. I used to take Valium to feel okay. I’m so surprised that I can handle myself now without the Valium. I’m still falling asleep at times during my practice — and don’t know how or why this practice works. But all I can say is, “I want more!”

 

Over the years, I’ve heard testimonials like this from hundreds of people who say that even though they regularly fall asleep during meditation, or lose touch with the sound of my voice, they’ve found that their depression has cleared, their pain has lessened or disappeared, they’re feeling enhanced joy and wellbeing during the daytime, and they’re falling into deep restful sleep at night.

And now I invite you to try the sample practices I’ve shared and sample how yogic meditation can not only benefit your sleep but also reveal your innate capacity for health, wholeness and boundless joy.


PS - If you enjoyed the practices above, please bookmark this page for repeat listening, and if you'd like find out more about the power of yogic meditation, download my free hour-long audio: