Yoga has become a widely popular practice throughout the world. With various health benefits, this ancient form of exercise and meditation brings joy and alignment to many. Some forms of yoga recommend denying yourself certain pleasures and comforts to help with your spiritual growth. You may wonder if yogis do or should sleep on the floor with this idea in mind.
Sleeping on the floor is not general yogic practice. Yoga originated in India, where most people sleep on grass mats on the floor. Certain sleeping poses are performed on a yoga mat. Yoga instructors advise us to sleep comfortably in a traditional Hindu way with our heads facing North.
Since we learned yoga from the Indian masters, it is understandable that we sometimes wonder how much of their lifestyles we should follow. Most Indian people living in India sleep on grass mats or low cots. Does this mean that we, as yogis, should do the same? We chatted to a few yoga instructors and researched to get to the bottom of this question. Join us as we uncover the answers.
Do Yogis Sleep On The Floor?
Yoga is thought to have been developed as long as five thousand years ago in Northern India. Buddhism and Hinduism were developed around the same time and are said to have influenced yoga as we know it. An interesting fact about Buddhism is that the ninth precept of Buddhism is to refrain from lying in a high-up or luxurious sleeping place.
Perhaps because of the Buddhist influence on yoga, some yogis believe in refraining from sleeping in luxurious beds. However, the overall understanding of studying or practicing yoga is that we can sleep comfortably, preferably on our sides, with our feet facing South and our heads facing North.
Since yoga was developed in India, sleeping on the floor was and still is common for those who practice yoga and also for those who do not. Most Indian people living in India cannot afford luxurious Western-type beds. It is common for Indian people to sleep on grass mats on the floor.
Yoga instructor, Cindy Cardy from SPIRIT Body Mind Sanctuary, explained that in some Eastern cultures, the road to enlightenment involves self-deprivation and discipline. This is certainly notable in Eastern religions, where fasting is commonplace.
Cindy went on to say that sleeping on the floor certainly has benefits; from what she has studied, the best sleep practice for yogis includes the following:
- Sleep with your head facing North, and your feet facing South
- Lie on your side whenever possible
- Use the principals of Savasana to get a good night’s rest
Yogis and non-yogis have experimented with sleeping on yoga mats or directly on the floor. Both those who have attempted this practice short-term and those who tried it for a few days found that their back health and sleep patterns were improved. Although sleeping on the floor seems beneficial for some, it is not recommended as a general practice.
Is It Good To Sleep On A Yoga Mat?
While it may not be part of yoga practice to sleep on a yoga mat outside of class, a few people have decided to use yoga mats as sleeping pads. Although some warn against using yoga mats as a permanent or camping sleeping arrangement, those who have tried it have enjoyed it, for the most part.
For centuries, people in Eastern countries have slept on mats similar to those used in yoga.
Traditional Japanese culture involves sleeping on tatami mats, both traditionally and even now. The Japanese find sleeping on the floor beneficial since it helps keep you cool, helps with aligning your back, and aids a good night’s sleep.
A bonus of sleeping on a yoga or tatami mat is that you can, and should, roll it up and pack it neatly away in the morning. Having a “bed” that packs away during the day provides extra living space that a bed on a frame does not offer.
The most noticeable positive aspect of sleeping on a yoga mat is the realignment of your back. Sleeping on a soft mattress is comfortable, but it does not allow for the amount of movement we need for optimal alignment.
When we sleep on a more rigid surface, it is almost like giving our body a massage throughout the night. Our organs are allowed to shift, our muscles and bones move to accommodate the body as a whole, and we are left feeling more alert.
Since some swear by sleeping on a yoga mat and some think it is a bad idea, we have collected a list of pros and cons. Keep reading to see both sides of the story, and then perhaps it will be easier to decide for yourself.
Sleeping On A Yoga Mat: Pros
- Sleeping close to the floor helps keep you cool during the night.
- Your back has an opportunity to realign as you sleep.
- Your bed is packed away during the day, allowing for more living space.
- You are more grounded (literally and figuratively).
- You will release your feelings of attachment to material belongings.
- Yoga mats are less expensive to replace than mattresses.
- Your body can move at will as you sleep.
- You follow the ninth Buddhist precept by not sleeping on a luxurious bed.
Learn more!!! 8 Yoga Tips For Beginners this article will help you with your first steps in yoga
Sleeping On A Yoga Mat: Cons
- For some, sleeping so close to the floor could be too cold, especially if your home’s floor is made from a cold material, like tiles or concrete.
- If you do not pack your mat away during the day, it will collect dust.
- You need to sweep or vacuum your sleeping area each evening before laying out your mat for sleep.
- You could develop neck and shoulder discomfort. You will then need to purchase a memory foam pillow.
- It could be challenging to use a yoga mat for sleeping if your body is stiff or getting a little older.
- Yoga mats are generally thin, not providing as much support as a regular or blow-up mattress.
There are both negatives and positives to sleeping on a yoga mat. Perhaps the best idea is to try it out for a night or two and see how your body responds before committing either way.
Just like yoga practice, there are certain principles and ideas, and how you use them is a personal matter. If you feel that you would like to follow the Buddhist way of sleeping on the floor, then perhaps that will be a driving force to help you make your decision. (By the way, Buddhism is one of the influencing factors in yogic practice.)
As far as we can see, no law in yoga says we should sleep on the floor or a yoga mat. Yoga was developed in India around five thousand years ago. In India, nearly all the population sleeps on the floor on grass mats or low cots. Yoga also came about at the same time as Buddhism and Hinduism. Sleeping on a high-up or luxurious bed is considered against best practice for Buddhists.
There are both positives and negatives to spending your night sleeping on the floor or a yoga mat. While there are a few health benefits for those who are a good fit, your yoga practice should not solely influence your decision to sleep on the floor. Try it out before committing to this new way of sleeping, and then decide