Ayurveda at Home: Insomnia

Insomnia, commonly caused by an increase in Vata, the energy of movement in the mind and nervous system, is fairly common and plagues everyone from time to time but especially in the Vata season that we have entered. It may be related to stress, constipation, overexertion (physically or mentally), menopause or depression to name the biggest culprits.   

We have two amazing products in the Boutique: herbal remedy I Sleep Soundly from Banyan that we love and Yogi Tea for insomnia. In addition, the following are suggestions from Ayurveda that you can try at home:

Yoga: Forward bends such as:

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold),

Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold),

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing Dog Pose),

Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Pose), and

Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Fold).

You can do them supported if you wish, on blankets or bolsters, and they should be held for five minutes if possible.


As your forehead gently presses into the bolster or blankets, make sure that your skin moves toward your eyeballs, as opposed to your hairline. This can help stimulate the relaxation response, thereby calming the nervous system and quieting the brain. After a few minutes, you should begin to feel very calm. If, however, you don’t feel calm and continue to feel anxious and agitated, try supported supine poses such as:

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Bound Angle Pose),

Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), and

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose).


While all of these poses should help, the most important of all is Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall Pose). When practiced immediately before bed, it prepares the body for sleep. And if done during the day, it may help compensate for some lost sleep. You can also practice it with lower legs supported on a chair.

Your best bet would be to schedule a private session with an instructor to discuss any specific need you may have in your practice.

In addition to asana, begin to add as many of the following items as you can. Never strain.  



Warm milk with a pinch of (ideally) fresh grated nutmeg before bed

Cherries 10-20 per day

Tomato juice w/a pinch of fresh grated nutmeg before bed

Warm cooked steel-cut oats with cinnamon, nutmeg and honey before bed


Herbal Remedies:

Chamomile tea



More Recommendations:

  • Darkened room (eliminate as much light as possible including lit clocks and power indicators of cell phones, tv’s, etc., by covering them with fabric (especially if the light is blue or green).
  • Inspirational reading or affirmations
  • In bed by 10 pm, supine (before Pitta time of day 10-2am)
  • No computer or over-stimulating TV after 8pm
  • Warm sesame oil massage of head and feet (Pittas: coconut oil)
  • Nutmeg paste (nutmeg powder mixed with ghee) massaged around the eyes and on the forehead before bed (also good for fading and plumping those fine lines!)
  • Cool/cold compress on forehead and eyes
  • Warm bath with honey and lavender (2 oz honey with 5 drops lavender essential oil. Add 2 tbsp. of mixture to bath)  
  • Journal or list anything pressing in the mind
  • Meditate by sitting comfortably in bed, attention on your third eye center and ride the wave of the breath for 5 or 10 minutes, then lie on your back and continue the process until you drift off.
  • Sleep like a contented baby!

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