Balance between Sleep and Wakefulness

"Setting a foundation of balance" was the topic of our yoga day in January. First we experienced the balance between activity and stillness with specific yoga asanas and other practices during a special yoga session before the theory part of the day where I presented what the yoga scripts say about balance. The importance of a healthy balance between a "good night's sleep" and wakefulness came to the foreground. 

"So why do we want to attain balance in our life?" Answer: "Balance gives us a quality of life"

Let's look at sleep and wakefulness. and what the WHO came up with in their WHO technical meeting on sleep and health in Bonn, Germany 22-24 Jan 2004. "Sleep is a physiological state occurring in alternation with wakefulness, and its duration and quality are equally important for the quality of life. Indeed, waking and sleeping are not at all independent from each other and they cannot be separated. Our sleeping patterns have a direct influence on our waking behaviour and our daytime activities influence our sleep."

The consequences of insomnia can be behavioural manifesting in poor performance at work, fatigue, memory difficulties, concentration problems, car accidents, psychiatric problems - depression, anxiety conditions, alcohol and other substance abuse, medical - cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, gastrointestinal, musculoskeletal disorders, impaired immune system function and an increased risk of mortality. (according to the WHO paper on sleep and health)

The answers that yoga give are in two fields: pranayama and yoga nidra.

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With Nadi Shodan (alternate nostril breathing) we bring balance into both hemispheres of our brain, which can bring us into a more harmonious, balanced inner state that allows us to slow down and get some rest if we need the countered balance to our active daily life and during our daily activities it assists us to see things less one-sided and more objective which means we have more a choice of how to act in certain situations rather than "spontaneously" react. And yoga nidra allows us to relax the body and mind either during the day in a break to continue the day refreshed and with clarity of mind or before falling asleep to get a deeper restful sleep than when we take all events and emotions we had attached to the events of the day with us into our sleep.