Leslie Bradley remembers lying awake as a child, unable to sleep. "I've been something of an insomniac my entire life," says the 56-year-old owner of Blue Spruce Yoga in Lakewood, Colorado. But after she contracted West Nile virus in 2004, her sleepless nights became intolerable. "I was in really bad shape," Bradley says. "I couldn't sleep at all without taking drugs like Ambien."
After the prescription sleeping pills became less effective, Bradley decided to explore an alternative route, making an appointment to see Ayurvedic doctor John Douillard, director of the LifeSpa School of Ayurveda in Boulder, Colorado. He put Bradley on a regimen of herbs, tea, self-massage, and breathwork. He also helped her understand the best bedtimes for her body type and encouraged her to make changes to her lifestyle, such as eating a bigger lunch, and not teaching evening yoga classes.
Drawing on her yoga background, she began doing Sarvangasana (Shoulderstand), Halasana (Plow Pose), and restorative poses before going to bed. Within three months, Bradley was off the drugs. "All those things combined have basically cured my insomnia," she says. "I feel much stronger and more solid, more vibrant."