“Health is the state in which you sleep well, digest your food well, are at ease and free from any kind of disease.” - Swami Sivananda
Swami Sivananda is the visionary and yoga master behind Ayurveda, a holistic practice which is considered to be the world’s oldest healing science (more than 5,000 years old). In Sanskrit, an ancient Indian language, it literally means the “science of life.”It is no surprise to us that Sivananda’s quote begins with sleep. Ayurveda holistic and preventive techniques stabilize the imbalances in our health. This includes treating symptoms of insomnia, a common sleep imbalance we all experience to some degree. Below are three simple Ayurveda practices to help remedy insomnia.
“Do not force the mind to meditate. Understand the mind first; study the three gunas. Only then will meditation be smooth and easy.” – Swami Sivananda
Meditation gives us the space to reach a calm awareness. Insomina induced by stress can greatly benefit from meditation. But, let’s face it, distractions can easily creep into our nighttime meditation routine. Ayurveda understands this and encourages a mantra-led meditation. Try introducing a consistent mantra, a sound or vibration, such as om or so hum (so on the inhale and hum on the exhale). It is nearly impossible to silence our mind altogether, but quietly repeating a mantra, synchronizing it with our breath, allows our mind to focus on one thing versus a million. It holds our attention on the meditative practice, allowing our body to absorb the calming and de-stressing benefits of meditation.
“Oil massage slows aging, removes fatigue and body aches, provides sound sleep and body strength, and prolongs life.” - Swami Sivananda
In Ayurveda, self-massage promotes restful sleep while nourishing the seven dhatus, the body tissues (plasma, blood, muscle and skin, fat, bone, nervous tissue and bone marrow, and male and female reproductive tissues) that make up the body’s physical form. A self-massage at least one hour before bed eases muscle tension. Below is a simple self-massage series to set your body up for restful sleep.
Simple Ayurveda Self-Massage
- Massage your palms with the opposite thumb.
- Massage your forehead and chin with horizontal motion.
- Massage your cheeks and temples in a circular motion.
- Move onto your neck and shoulders with upward and downward strokes.
- Massage in a clockwise motion over your abdomen.
- Use firm down strokes on your back.
A Light Dinner & Nutmeg Milk
“The period of life, complexion, strength, health, luster, ojas, and energy are the result of digestive fire.” – Swami Sivananda
Nourishment is the ultimate medicine according to Ayurveda. It supports the agni, the digestive fire, which is essential for restful sleep. Eating a heavy dinner late at night weighs down your angi and leads to indigestion and a false fatigue, two imbalances which can keep you from quality sleep. In addition to a light dinner, drink nutmeg milk 30-minutes before bed. Nutmeg, with its digestive and calming properties, helps promote sleep. Below is an Ayurveda-inspired recipe.
Ayurveda Nutmeg Milk
- ½ cup whole milk
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tsp almond milk
- ½ tsp cane sugar
Combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Allow the mixture to come down to a warm temperature and sip.
We leave you with one last thought from Sivananda, “One gram of practice is better than many tons of theory.” Ayurveda is a massive healing system, but one small practice – an so hum, a palm rub, a sip – can help you fall into a restful, quality sleep and stay there.
Practical Ayurveda by Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center
The Wheels of Healing with Ayurveda: An Easy Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle by Michelle S. Fondin