How to cope with insomnia the mindful way podcast with Lisa Sanfilippo

Lisa Sanfilippo, author of Sleep Recovery, explains how to heal your own natural ability to rest and overcome insomnia using yoga and mindfulness techniques

Lisa Sanfilippo

Lisa is a yoga teacher and psychotherapist who takes a holistic approach to sleep and in this episode we’re looking at everything from physical relaxation techniques to emotional blocks that prevent us from getting the rest we need.

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Learn how to incorporate gentle yoga poses into your bedtime routine, discover yogic breathing exercises for relaxation and more. Listen to the podcast now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Acast, or on your favourite podcast app. Alternatively, you can listen online below.

Lisa suffered badly from insomnia in her teens and early twenties. “I asked for sleeping pills from my doctor and they said: ‘Absolutely not. You’re in your 20s – this is going to encourage a lifetime of dependency.'”

Instead, her doctor advised her to seek therapy and encouraged her to pursue her interest in yoga. After her first class, she felt as though she could breathe more freely. “All of the tension had come out of my body, and I just felt like my body was – I guess it might sound weird – like simultaneously, heavier and lighter at the same time,” she says.

“I don’t know if that makes sense. But I felt like my feet were more connected to the ground. It actually kind of feel myself moving. […] It just kind of slowed me down. And, you know, these days are a lot of different types of yoga like power yoga, vinyasa, yoga, hot yoga, and news. If I had encountered that as the first thing I tried to help me with my sleep, I probably wouldn’t have felt like it worked very well for me. But the type of yoga that I did back then got me to breathe better and just kind of drop in and chill out. So that’s the sort of yoga that I teach people for sleep.”

If you’re looking for a yoga practice to help you sleep, Lisa recommends choosing something gentle. Some yoga classes can be too vigorous and more like a workout than a slow wind down.

Her book looks at a variety of different ways to improve your sleep, including physical and emotional blocks that could be causing your insomnia. One term Lisa uses is ‘soul sick’ to describe when you’re unhappy with your path in life. She explains that she experienced feeling ‘soul sick’ when she worked for a think tank.

“it was a good job. And it was exactly the kind of job that I thought that I wanted, you know, when I did a university degree and did a master’s degree. And it just felt wrong. You know, I couldn’t quite get into it and stacked up by my bed were all these books about yoga and books about psychology. I wasn’t reading the political books and all of the publications that everyone else in my industry was reading.

“And it was a big mismatch for me. So I felt a bit soul sick because what what I was doing was what I thought I should be doing, not what I loved. Right? And it might not be about your job it might be about I don’t know, not giving yourself enough time to be in nature, not dancing or singing if that’s what you love to do.”

Find out more about Lisa’s experiences and discover some mindful inspiration in our latest podcast episode. Don’t forget to take a look at the new podcast from our friend Suzy Glaskie as well: Wellness Unwrapped aims to lift the lid on the often bewildering topic of wellness. Upcoming episodes include how to find joy in our life and how to protect ourselves from toxins in the environment.

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Sleep Recovery by Lisa Sanfilippo is out now in the UK (Bloomsbury, £12.99).