One yoga exercise that is beneficial in a number of settings – not least for insomniacs and sufferers of stress – is known as the “Three Part Breath”. You will see in a moment how it got its name, but you can probably already guess. As you will see, this exercise works very well when lying in bed.
You begin by lying flat on your back with your eyes closed. Allow your face and then your body to relax. Simply lie there paying attention to your breath, Do not modify it at all, at this point, just let it in and out. If your mind keeps chiming in with unwelcome thoughts, let them go and keep thinking about your breath.
Slowly, inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your belly to fill up with breath until it feels totally full. Once you come to exhale, breathe back out through your nose, ensuring that you empty your belly properly. Repeat this process for a total of five breaths.
The next time you inhale, allow the belly to fill with air and then take in a little bit more. This will cause your ribs to widen. When you exhale, repeat the previous process of breathing out through your nose until your belly is clear. You will repeat this process again for five breaths.
The third and final part of the three-part breath is as follows: You repeat the steps above for breathing in and once you have got to the point where the ribs expand, take in a little more again, allowing it to expand your upper chest. When you breathe out, similarly let it all go. Once you are doing this, repeat it for about ten breaths and then relax. By now, you should feel very chilled and ready to sleep.
Most of us have a similar problem with our home country’s climate. In the winter, we are often cold no matter what we do to try and fix it, yet when summer arrives it becomes unbearably hot, and this can affect our sleep, our mood and several things in between. As well as a few cooling glasses of water, one excellent way to lower the temperature is a yogic exercise known as the Cooling Breath.
The exercise begins with the subject sitting in a cross-legged position which can be held comfortably. To prepare for any breathing exercise, it is a good idea to breathe in and out, deeply, through the nose about three times. Then you roll your tongue into a tube and stick it out through pursed lips (if you cannot roll your tongue, don’t worry – simply make an “O” shape with your mouth.
You then inhale slowly through the tube that you have made with your tongue. When you come to exhale, exhale through your nose. Repeating this process between five and ten times will make your body begin to cool down quickly. It really works – although if you are in a crowded office you may receive one or two funny looks. Don’t worry about them – they will simply be annoyed that you are feeling cool as a cucumber while they sweat it out. This exercise was developed in India, where the people know a thing or two about keeping cool in hot weather. Try it for yourself and see.
Anyone who suffers from insomnia will be only too aware of the damage it can do to your quality of life. You make extra time to have an early night so you can be confident that you will at least get some sleep, and it just makes you more aware of how tired you don’t feel. It can be absolutely infuriating – which doesn’t make it any easier.
There are some basic yoga exercises which will help you if insomnia is threatening to ruin your life. They will allow you to clear your mind when it seems it won’t stop racing, and they can also be good for clearing tension from your muscles when you really need to feel relaxed. If insomnia has been getting you down, then a three-times a week dose of Ashtanga, a vigorous form of yoga, can be the answer. It is best to do the exercise a few hours before going to sleep, as vigorous exercise just prior to bedding down is a really bad idea.
When you are lying in bed, a good yogic tip is to practise the unfortunately-named “corpse pose”. To do this, you lie on your back and focus on each part of your body starting with your feet – indeed, at the tips of your toes. Focus on releasing tension and softening each body part, and then spend a few minutes breathing naturally, in and out. Your conscious mind may try to cut in during this process. It is simply important that you do not let it engage you. After a few minutes of breathing naturally, you should find yourself drifting off.