Conscious breathing is a very powerful and effective tool to prepare for or to induce sleep. When we are stressed our breath is rapid, shallow and irregular. When we are relaxed our breath is slow, diaphragmatic and rhythmic. Through conscious breathing we can shift from a state of stress (which prevents us from sleeping) and into a state of relaxation which enables us to release to sleep.
Lie on your belly, stack your hands and rest your forehead on the back of your hands. In this position the front (or vulnerable part) of our body is supported and held by the surface underneath. This signals the body and mind to release held emotions and bodily tensions. Additionally, the chest is immobilized which enables the primary muscle of respiration, the diaphragm to take over. When we breathe with the chest and shoulders the stress response is activated, but when we breathe with the diaphragm the opposite effect takes place. When relaxed return to a comfortable sleep position.
Attune to the rhythm of the diaphragm and the sensations of the breath moving in and out of your body, follow its wave like flow. The breath carries with it life energy or prana. On the inhale focus on the sensations of receiving, like a flower receives sunlight. On the exhale focus on the sensations of releasing, like a warm breeze blowing through you. Progressively and consciously guide your breath into a slow, gentle and rhythmic pattern.
If the mind continues to wandering off with a cascade of thoughts give it a job to do. Counting the breath is a common approach. Slowly and steadily count the inhale and exhale. Next adjust the length of the breath. Start by matching the length of the inhale to the length of the exhale. This is balancing to the nervous system. Then make the exhale slightly longer than the inhale, i.e. IN-4 EX-6. This facilitates relaxation. Lastly, add a relaxed pause after the exhale, i.e. IN-4 EX-6 Pause-2. This further quiets the mind.
Sonia Weirich E-RYT 500 offers breathing instruction for better health and wellbeing.
Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a session a 30min for $50.