As I get older I’ve started to really realise how important good sleep is. For me, it’s the difference between Disney villain and Disney princess. And god forbid I’m tired AND hungry.

But what’s breath got to do with sleep? Well, breath – good breath – can fundamentally change the way our bodies function. Slowing our breathing down right before we settle in for sleep can help down-regulate our nervous system to a place of rest and digest (what we’d call the parasympathetic nervous system). This, in turn, calms a busy mind, allows tension to be released, and promotes better and more restful sleep (which you’ll benefit from all day tomorrow).

So here are my favourite breathing exercises I practice to help me get a long, restful night’s sleep. May they help you, too:

Setting Up

You can either sit comfortably for these breathing techniques, or come to lie on your back. Just make sure you’re comfortable and supported, your devices are turned off, and the lights are low (this also helps you wind down for sleep).

4-7-8 Breath

To to this breathing technique, all you have to do is breathe in for a slow count of 4, hold your breath for a count of 7, and exhale for a count of 8. Experiment with the speed of your counting – you might need to increase the counts, or you could benefit from slowing them down. As long as this feels restful and calming, and not a struggle.

Belly Breaths

This one’s simple and something we practice a lot in our yoga classes and meditations. Just breathe in slowly and feel your belly expand, along with your ribs – the side ribs, front ribs, back ribs. And as you breathe out feel everything contract and soften back towards centre. We think of the inhale as an uplift and expansion, and the exhale as a total release down and out. You can lengthen the exhale so it’s longer than the inhale – perfect for promoting a slowing down.

Three Part Breaths

Similar to belly breaths, this one actually separates out the stages of the breath into three parts. One, breathe into the belly; two, breathe into your ribs; three, breathe into your chest. Then slowly exhale it out.

Try breathing this way until you can feel each of the three stages of your inhale merging seamlessly into the next. No pressure or tension, this should feel soothing and relaxing.

I hope this helps you wind down and sleep like a princess.

If you need extra support with your sleep rituals, try this 12-minute Bedtime session in the library (try it risk-free with The Yoga Revolution’s membership).

Chloe - TYR Founder & Joyful Living Coach

POSTED: 09/03/2023

Chloe is a yoga teacher, mindfulness guide, and joyful living coach, and she thinks the meaning of life is probably to be as happy as possible.

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