According to the National Sleep Foundation, 90 percent of Americans have struggled during the past month with insomnia—needing more than 30 minutes to doze off or experiencing 30-minute interruptions in slumber.
Chronic insomnia is prevalent, affecting 30 to 40 percent of Americans, according to the National Center for Sleep Disorders Research at the NIH, and persistent yoga can help counteract it. Remind your students that practicing yoga regularly (for an hour to an hour and a half at least three times per week) can reduce stress hormones, heart rate, and blood pressure and thus promote better sleep. If you’re designing a sequence for students with sleep disturbaces, go easy on backbends. Here are the best yoga mats of the year—eco-friendly, high-quality, responsibly made sticky mats to enhance your practice.
Yoga Journal associate art director Abigail Biegert shares two lasting lessons she learned in yoga teacher training this week.
The Hatha Yoga system includes asana along with the six shatkarmas (physical and mental detox techniques), mudras and bandhas (psycho-physiological energy release techniques) and Pranayama (pranic awakening practices). Moving through her asanas like a wet noodle, her eyes heavy with exhaustion, one of your regular students complains she can’t sleep, then either dozes off or fidgets during Savasana (Corpse Pose). If your students do rigorous asanas, they should practice these only in the morning so the burst of energy they bring wears off by the end of the day.

With the exception of sleep-promoting Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), backbends tend to rev up the sympathetic nervous system. So, for example, if a student starts fretting that five hours’ sleep is not enough, he reminds himself that many people function well on less. A 2009 study at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago found that just two months of regular meditation practice can improve total sleep time and sleep quality. The syllable 'ha' denotes the pranic (vital) force governing the physical body and 'tha' denotes the chitta (mental) force thus making Hatha Yoga a catalyst to an awakening of the two energies that govern our lives.
Fine tuning of the human personality at increasingly subtle levels leads to higher states of awareness and meditation. Considering that sleep disorders in this country are on the rise, chances are high that you’ve had a student like this in one of your yoga classes. If their practice is more moderate, they should finish yoga at least four hours before bedtime, as exercise any later in the day can interfere with falling asleep.
In class, steer away from energizing practices such as Kapalabhati (Skull Shining Breath) and instead offer calming ones like Nadi Shodhana (alternate-nostril breathing).
More correctly the techniques described in Hatha Yoga harmonise and purify the body systems and focus the mind in preparation for more advanced chakra and kundalini practices.

Include moves such as Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog), Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend), Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend), Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), and Halasana (Plow Pose). Ask students to exhale twice as long as they inhale, which slows down the heartbeat and induces rest. Give students tips to make it accessible, reminding them that one minute or even one breath is better than not meditating at all. Pick easy inversions such as Salamba Sarvangasana (Supported Shoulderstand) and Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose). Hold poses slightly longer than normal, and use blankets and bolsters to make the practice restorative.
Have students tense and release all their muscles progressively, then extend the final pose—Savasana—so they get a full 15 minutes of complete relaxation.

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