#SleepTalkWithWakefit: In Conversation With Yoga Instructor Charuta Sawant

SleepWalk with Wakefit

“Yoga has completely transformed my life. From an overworked competitive professional, I am now determined to make more people feel the effects of this humble and simple practice.”

Wakefit

As International Yoga Day approaches, Wakefit spoke with Charuta Sawant, the founder of Charu’s Yoga Class. A decade ago, you would have found Charuta hustling hard in the corporate world trying to make a mark for herself. The pursuit of more meaning in life compelled her to pack her bags and march in a completely different direction to become a yoga practitioner and now a full-time hatha yoga teacher. Speaking of her journey and the unusual shift, which she describes as “fabulous”, Charuta says, “Being your own boss comes with its perks. The first difference I felt was the lack of stress.  Of course, there are financial decisions to be made, but it can easily be made if one plans well in advance. In my case 2 years. It wasn’t stressful at all, in fact, it felt absolutely natural to make the shift. My health was better, mentally, and physically.”

SleepWalk with Wakefit

Charuta’s clientele covers a wide range of people, across age groups and from various professional backgrounds. Considering that being a professional in today’s world generally involves sitting at a desk for hours and toiling hard, we asked her how its ill-effects, such as back pain and bad posture, can be alleviated and corrected through yoga. Lower back pain and neck are two of the most common health issues for working professionals worldwide,exclaims Charuta. She says that the only and most effective way to cure it is through exercise. Talking about her one experience while conducting yoga training, she shares, “I was amazed at the immobility of working professionals when I started taking workshops.” She suggests yoga as a remedy to this problem. Even 15 minutes every day is enough. Walking around every 30 min, stretching the back and arms every 2-3 hours in the office are some of the simple ways, according to her. Speaking of the back and its problems, she shares an easy tip that can be tried at home by everyone. To strengthen the back, Charuta says, one must learn how to sit on the floor. You can do this while you watch your favorite TV show, read a book or newspaper, or are scrolling through your social media feed. 

For us at Wakefit, good sleep is the mantra as well as a trustworthy indicator of good health. Speaking of the connection between sleep and yoga, Charuta says, “Yoga is about bringing the body, mind and the breath together. Once we learn how to regulate breathing, the body feels healthier and the mind doesn’t go all over the place. This helps in less stress and eventually, better sleep. Yoga is like an internal re-engineering.” Did Charuta experience a difference in her sleep quality after becoming a yoga practitioner, we were curious, and so we asked her.My sleep earlier used to be broken or restless sometimes, but since I’ve been practicing, my sleep is regular, deeper and restful,” she says. She also shared that periods of interrupted sleep are very few and far between. She credits it to a calmer mind and a stressless lifestyle that she has built over the years. 

One of the most common sleeping disorders that we have come across while conducting sleep surveys across India is insomnia. Though one suffering from chronic insomnia is recommended to seek help from a medical professional, for acute insomnia there are some restorative yoga poses, suggests Charuta. 

A few of these yoga poses are Vyaghra Shwasa (Cat and Cow Pose), Baddha Konasana/Supta Baddhakonasana (Butterfly / Sleeping butterfly legs), Sasankasana (Child’s pose), Raising your legs to a wall and lying there with wall support also helps in getting sleep. She, however, emphasizes the need to visit a medical professional apart from practicing these poses and changing one’s lifestyle and food habits. 

21st June is Father’s Day, and we wanted all the fathers reading this interview to have a special takeaway message. We requested Charuta to suggest some yoga poses that are specifically helpful for new fathers, something to help them handle the stress better. According to research, new fathers, like new mothers, have to deal with erratic sleep schedules after childbirth, which affects their mental and physical health, and Charuta believes that yoga could help in such a situation. She recommends Vyaghra Shwasa (Cat and Cow Pose), Baddha Konasana/Supta Baddhakonasana (Butterfly / Sleeping butterfly legs), Sasankasana (Child’s pose) and 10 minutes of closed eyes & deep breathing exercises to calm the nerves. Deep breathing exercises can be tried by counting 1, 2,3 while inhaling (full lungs) and exhaling counting the same. 

Talking about her biggest inspiration along this journey toward a more peaceful and stress-free lifestyle, Charuta mentions her father who has practiced and taught yoga for 20 years now along with working in an office. For older men, Charuta has learned through her workshops that back and weight issues are the most common health problems. For the former, she suggests postures like Bhujangasana, Salabhasana, Sethubandhasana, Ado Mukha Svanasana, and for the latter, she recommends practicing Surya Namaskars at least 12 daily and slowly increasing the count as they go along. 

Many people with hectic lifestyles complain that they find it hard to manage time to take care of themselves. The irony of it is not lost on them, but they just cannot seem to make time for themselves except after the entire day when it is time for bed. We wanted to know if Charuta would recommend yoga before bed and if it was a good idea sleepwise. She says that restorative yoga or Yoga Nidra can be practiced for 30 minutes before you hit the bed. However, it is best to avoid normal energetic yoga 2-3 hours before bedtime. Yoga energizes the body, hence it is not recommended to do it post 9 pm as the mind becomes fresh and it is difficult to sleep. As a general rule, she says, one should never practice in bed as the spine does not have firm support. But one can practice Sethubandhasana (Bridge pose), Mukta Hasta Padasana (Leg Raises lying down), Savasana (Corpse Pose) in bed. 

This International Yoga Day why don’t we pledge to commit fifteen minutes of our day to ourselves? We at Wakefit are up for the challenge and are ready to improve our sleep further. What about you? 

Quick-fire questions! 

  • What does a yoga teacher do for fun? 

Read, listen to music, try some crazy new postures and fall and laugh and learn from it. Yoga teachers find yoga fun! 🙂

  • What’s your favorite yoga posture? 

Vrikshasana (tree pose) and Padmasana (Lotus Pose). One is tall and reaches the skies, while the other is grounded and deep. 

  • Can you help our readers with a hack to a difficult yoga pose? 

Pull the belly in, tuck the lower spine in (to protect the lower arch of the back), and pull the pelvic floor. Most important, don’t forget to breathe! 

  • Is there a yoga posture both your doggo and you love doing together?

Savasana (Corpse Pose). We both love our sleep!

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