BAY {before ayurveda + yoga}, I had terrible, anxiety ridden insomnia, almost every night! Through my regular practice of deep release yoga, ujjayi prānāyāma, and balancing vāta {excess air + space in my constitution} it truly resolved to the point of now having regular, deep, dreamless sleep… every night {except the rare nights when I ate poorly the day before or stayed up too late}. If I get off track, I always know exactly what the cause was, and how to get back on track the next night.

Yoga and Ayurveda have A LOT to say about healthy sleep. In this article, I am going to JUST talk about sleep positions, from the traditional yogic perspective.

One of the most common questions I now get from clients and students goes…

“what is the best sleeping position?

Or something like… ​

“I sleep on my ______ is that okay?”

It’s an important question… sleep is one of the most important things we do every day to rejuvenate the body, and how you sleep DOES MATTER. ​
There is in fact, a classical yogic expression… 

“A bhogi sleeps on her belly, a rogi sleeps on her back, a yogi sleeps on her side”. 

Intriguing right?

There is PLENTY of modern research coming out now on the value and importance of sleep {hint: it’s VERY critical}, for our mental, emotional and physiological health. {scroll down to the bottom of this article for a video that demonstrates the current research}.

Ayurveda and Yoga have known since time immemorial how essential sleep is for wellbeing. 

Let’s break down what the saying above means, and what the teaching is here.

A bhogi sleeps on his belly…

Bhoga means enjoyment.

A bhogi is one whose life is centered around excess sense pleasure… you know – food, wine, weed, sex, ice cream and so on.

No judgement {well…} but picture a drunkard literally FALLING asleep face down on the bed. That’s a bhogi sleeping on her belly. SO… if you have a habit of sleeping on your belly, try to objectively consider… has your life had a bit of excess overindulgence in sense pleasure? But keep in mind, nothing is linear from the yoga perspective – if you are sleeping on your belly, it could lead you toward more sensory excess in your waking hours, and vice-versa.

Stomach sleeping can lead to neck and low back pain, contribute to differences between the two sides of your body and can increase mental dullness during your wakeful hours.

​A remedy would be to try to stop eating by 8pm and start a pre-bed meditation ritual.

A Rogi Sleeps on Her Stomach…

Roga means sickness.

A rogi is a person who is physically unwell. Remember the last time you had a head cold? You probably found yourself sleeping on your back in order to breath better. And anyone who has ever suffered a back or shoulder injury knows, the only way they could sleep was on their back, possibly with legs elevated a la shavāsana. Shavasana is great for marinating in the effects of your yoga practice, but it is not a great long-term sleep plan.

​Back  sleeping IS better than stomach sleeping. But it is still not ideal. It will block a true deep sleep state, and has a subtle effect on your waking mental state.

Back sleeping can lead to sleep apnea, and while it is at least better than not sleeping at all due to discomfort, in the long-term in can prevent you from actually getting better, keeping your aches and pains in a holding pattern.

Remember, that these things work cyclically – SO if you get sick you’ll end up sleeping on your back, but if you sleep on your back regularly, you may also get sick more often or generally suffer from more aches and pains.

A remedy is to take good care of your immune system with a healthier seasonal diet, and go to sleep earlier – by 10pm.

A Yogi Sleeps on Her Side

Yoga means many things… but for our purpose here, simply put, a yogi is an aware person, consciously pursuing his or her life purpose in alignment with the laws of nature.

Sounds pretty good, right?

Side sleeping is ideal for the physical body – providing a massaging effect to the internal organs, and keeping the spine in a natural curvature. When we feel well, we naturally sleep on our sides. 

And yes, it doesn’t matter which side, and you can switch sides!

Side sleeping supports the natural sleep cycles from waking into deep sleep, into dreaming sleep and so on.

You may even recall that you used to happily and comfortably sleep on your side, but that you can no longer do it since your ________ . {shoulder injury, back injury, sinusitis, allergies, alcohol consumption increased, etc.}.

Comfortable side sleeping can be a good gauge of your overall state of wellbeing.

To Wrap up… 

A good night’s sleep is important {watch the video below!}

AND… if you are going to sleep well, whilst preventing your body from being twisted and arched in all the wrong ways, your sleep position matters… AND if you are sleeping on your back or belly… you might need to pay attention to what is going on in your life!

Deep, restful, dreamless sleep is natural … though for some of us, it takes some simple remedies and lifestyle practices. 

The absolute best way I know to help your sleep is through ayurvedic lifestyle practices. I always give my clients personalized bedtime routines based on their individual body-mind constitution… PLUS specific sleep times, sleep herbs and wake up rituals. How you sleep deeply effects how you live, and vice versa!

Let me know how you’re sleeping… and if I can help you sleep better + more deeply with an Ayurvedic consultation. 

In the meantime… at least try sleeping on your side… “like a yogi!”

Plus… if you are a yoga nerd, here is a talk I gave in a yoga training about the different levels of consciousness – waking, dreaming and deep sleep, as described in one of the oldest yogic texts in existence.

Video {14 min} on HOW Critical sleep is!

“The link between sleep deprivation and cancer is so strong that the WHO now considers poor sleep a carcinogen”

“We can’t find a single psychiatric disorder in which sleep is normal”.

“How to get good sleep? Return to the past, when we slept well. The modern defamation sleep is a silent epidemic. Let us return to a full night of sleep, and you may experience what it is like to truly be awake during the day”.