Yoga For Sleep? A Gentle Way To Fall Asleep

Many people have difficulty falling asleep now and then.  I certainly have.  Here's a practice from the Himalayan Yoga Meditation Tradition that has helped my sleep over the years, and may help you sleep better too. 


In order to do this practice properly, some proficiency at diaphragmatic belly breathing is required.  Click Here for instructions on two easy diaphragmatic breathing practices that will help you breath this way. Once you can breath diaphragmatically,  you are ready to begin the sleep practice.


Instructions for the sleep practice:


Lie in bed on your back, and begin diaphragmatic belly breathing in the corpse posture (as taught in the preceeding link)  for one minute. Then, continuing to breathe diaphragmatically, modify your breath so that the exhalation is twice as long as the inhalation.  In yoga, this is called 2:1 breathing. 

 Use an easy to accomplish count, such as exhaling to a count of 6 and inhaling to a count of 3, or exhaling 8 and inhaling 4.

Your goal is to breathe in a relaxed way, smoothly and deeply, with exhalation twice as long as inhalation.  You are not trying to completely exhale nor completely inhale.  

Be aware of the sensation of the flow of the breath, and take care that the breath flows continuously without jerks, stops, or shakiness.  Pay special attention that there are no pauses between the exhalation and inhalation.



Breathe as follows:



8 breaths lying on your back


16 breaths lying on your right side

32 breaths lying on your left side



You may fall asleep before completing the exercise and this is fine.  This practice will often result in falling asleep and sleeping more deeply and with greater relaxation.
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This article is adapted from a practice set forth on page 197 of Freedom From Stress, by Dr. Phil Neurnberger, Himalayan Publishers.

 

Randall Krause

Book Front Cover Pathways to Self-Awareness(Click for more information)


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