Sivananda Yoga – The Secret to Uninterrupted Sleep?

For the first time in the past five years or so, I finally slept, uninterrupted, for 7 hours and 30 minutes straight. While this may be a norm or easy-peasy for some, it was an achievement for me.

Perhaps I was too tired, I thought to myself. That said, it was not as if I had never been that tired (or even more) before. However, I did not recall being able to sleep for so long without waking up in the middle of the night.

The following day when chatting with Master Paalu and a few coursemates who shared the same experience, it then dawned upon us that it could have been largely due to the Sivananda Yoga that was introduced to us earlier in the day which knocked us out at night.

Sivananda Yoga focused on the holistic development of the physical, mental and spiritual well-being. It was premised on the five principles of proper breathing, proper exercise, proper relaxation, proper diet and meditation (positive thinking). I personally thought that these principles were common among the various types of yoga but what differentiated one type of yoga from another would include, amongst others, the asanas involved.

Basically, Sivananda Yoga involved a 12-step sequence as follows:

  • Sirsasana (Head-Stand);
  • Sarvangasana (Shoulder-Stand);
  • Halasana (Plough pose);
  • Matsyasana (Fish pose);
  • Paschimottanasana (Sitting Forward Bend);
  • Bhujangasana (Cobra pose);
  • Shalabhasana (Locust pose);
  • Dharunasana (Bow pose);
  • Ardha Matsyendrasana (Spinal Twist);
  • Kakasana (Crow pose) or Mayurasana (Peacock pose);
  • Pada Hasthasana (Standing Forward Bend); and
  • Trikonasana (Triangle pose)

Based on the flow of the sequence, one would observe that the first asana i.e. Sirsasana aided the invigoration of the body with a smooth blood circulation by the pull of gravity. The progression from the second to sixth asanas gradually opened up the cervical and thoracic regions of the body; while the seventh and eighth asanas provided a massage to the abdominal muscles. Having worked the upper body, the ninth asana would activate the mobility of the spine, nourishing the sympathetic system. The tenth asana would work on the balancing of the body. I liked to think of the eleventh and twelfth asanas as coming full circle with the supply of blood into the brain and the activation of the various body parts and keeping a calm mind while holding in Trikonasana.

I personally liked this sequence because it involved a few poses which I could not do (lol) so it forced me to practise (or rather gave me the chance to practise) these poses. Instead of the usual standing-prone-supine sequence, it was like in the reverse. Also, it was amazing how the body could feel the effect just by doing the asanas. Imagine following all five principles religiously! Perhaps I would get back my 7 hours 30 minutes of sleep daily.



Hou Lijun

Weekend YTT March 2018 Course

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