Do you have trouble sleeping at night? Have you ever awakened feeling troubled and exhausted from lack of sleep? Or laid awake, lying on your back, your mind racing as you ponder the “How’s and whys of events going on in your life?
The last couple of nights I have struggled to get a good night’s sleep. I am going through some kind of inner turmoil and personal evaluation of my path, my purpose in life. I question the validity of certain choices I am making and wonder if they will bring in the “results” I seek.
Lack of Sleep Leaves You Feeling Crabby and Ratty
As a Yoga Teacher and lover of yoga I know lack of sleep is affecting my sense of vitality, humour and energy. My daily habit is to wake early, journal and practice yoga/meditate for 20-60 minutes, yet my troubled night’s sleep means I struggle to wake early and lay in bed clock watching and grabbing just 10-15 minutes of personal yoga/meditation before getting ready for the day. I guess I am lucky, as the days when I am not teaching early morning yoga students I am able to do my practice once my girls go to school.
What Do You Do When You Can’t Sleep?
If you can identify with what I am going through and also have trouble sleeping at night – what do you do to regain your calm, let go off worries and get back to sleep?
Do you curl up tight and cover your head with your duvet? Maybe you put your light on and attempt to read, listen to music? Or perhaps you grab your phone, check your emails, social media statuses and updates…
I do all of these things and more….but the one thing that really works, the one thing that instantly calms me down and helps me get back to sleep is my breathing exercises.
Yoga Breathing Exercises To The Rescue
From experience and talking with other yoga students, yoga breathing exercises really help to sooth your mind and release tension from your body. Anytime I have trouble sleeping, here’s what I do. I Breathe.
My Top Three Breathing Exercises To Get Better Night’s Sleep
The following three yoga breathing exercises are the ones I find most useful in helping me to calm and clear my mind and help me get back to sleep.
Yoga is a living science, so I always advise students to try out the different exercises, see what works and then stick with it for a couple of nights and see what difference it makes. In fact, the beauty of all yoga breathing exercises is they can be practiced anywhere and anytime. You don’t need special equipment or travel to a gym, or somewhere special.
1. Observe Your Breath.
Lying on your back, on your bed; turn your attention to your breath. Don’t change your breath; Just observe the way you breathe. Gradually, take a steady breath in through your nose and slowly exhale through your nose. Don’t change or force anything. Just lay still and focus on the movement of your breath – from your belly to your ribs and upper chest.
Anytime you notice your attention wandering away from observing your breath, simply acknowledge your thoughts and gently bring your awareness back to the breath. Stay still and continue in this practice for 2-5 minutes.
2. Counting Each Breath.
Lay on your back on your bed. Spend a few moments tuning into your breath and observe how you are breathing. Breathe in slowly through your nose and count “one”. Slowly breathe out and count “two”. Breathe in and count “three”, breathe out and count “four”…. Continue counting your breaths up to number 10. When you reach number 10, go back to number one. Repeat for 2-10 minutes. If your mind wanders during the practice and you lose concentration, just return your attention to the breath and begin counting from number one.
3. Deep Yogic Breathing
Lying down on your bed. Place your right palm on your lower abdomen and your left palm on your upper chest, just below your collar bones. Make sure your elbows rest on the bed. Breathe slowly in through your nose and as you do so, consciously focus on sending your breath from your right hand up to your left hand, be aware of the hands raising on the in-breath and slowly lowering on the out breathe. Repeat this deep yogic breathing for 3 – 7 more times, each time, allowing the breath to be fuller and deeper.
Have a go at using these yoga breathing exercises and let me know what difference they make to your ability to get a good night’s sleep. I hope you get some relief and wake feeling refreshed, energized and raring to go…
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