SAN ANTONIO – Sleep is something we all need but may not get enough of. Numerous reports show a lack of sleep contributes to several health problems and can affect our day-to-day lives.
According to the CDC, a third of U.S. adults report they get less than the recommended amount of sleep — at least 7 hours or more per night for adults. Lack of sleep can contribute to chronic diseases, including heart disease, obesity and depression.
However, other studies show incorporating yoga in a daily ritual can ease sleep trouble for many people.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, yoga is defined as ancient and complex practice, rooted in Indian philosophy. Some of the benefits include, stress relief, improved mental and emotional health, and better sleep.
Stacie Orsagh is the executive director at the Ester Vexler Yoga School (EVYS) in San Antonio. She said yoga has become part of her everyday life.
“I practice what I teach, what I preach. So that I can be an example. It’s hard. It’s hard and I don’t always want to do it. But if I don’t do it, I am not giving the best of myself and honoring my body,” she said.
EVYS was established in 2007 and is the only nonprofit yoga school in South Texas. The school focuses on alignment, yoga philosophy, and modifications and props. Since its inception, over 160 students have graduated.
“Everybody deserves to learn how to take care of themselves so that they can teach future generations. We are donation optional, all of our classes are donation optional, which mean nobody is ever turned away from lack of funds, because we believe everybody deserves to feel good,” Orsagh said.
Orsagh said, in order to get the best rest, it’s important to focus on stretching, breathing and body awareness.
Elise Vader, a physician’s assistant at University Health, said a lack of sleep can be caused by a number of different things.
“So there are a lot potential underlying causes to sleep deprivation. It can be anything from underlying medical issues, like people dealing with chronic pain, mood disorders like anxiety or depression. Sometimes medication can contribute to insomnia or sleep deprivation,” she said.
Other causes include a use of electronics, too much caffeine, tobacco use or sleep apnea. When the lack of sleep becomes so serious it begins to interfere with our daily lives, Vader urged people to seek medical help.
However, she believes yoga be beneficial to most who suffer from lack of sleep.
“A lot of times when people are lying in bed awake, and their mind is just racing and they are starting to get this anxious feeling that just stimulates your mind and your body further, and the more stimulated you become the more difficult it becomes to fall asleep. So if you can come up with ways to relax both your body and your mind, you’re setting the perfect stage for good rest,” she said.
According to the Sleep Foundation, 55% of yoga practitioners reported improved sleep. Another 85% reported reduced stress.
Although there are many benefits to yoga and mindful movement, experts believe the biggest challenge is making the time.
However, Orsagh said it begins with breaking our own barriers.
“You have everything you need inside of you starting with your breath. The second thing is to listen to your body. Become so in tune with your body that you recognize warning signals,” she said.
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