For this post let's talk about our sleep...
It's often a taboo topic for some people, as some studies (insomnia statistics) revealed:
People today sleep 20% less than they did 100 years ago.
More than 30% of the population suffers from insomnia.
One in three people suffer from some form of insomnia during their lifetime.
More than half of Americans lose sleep due to stress and/or anxiety.
Between 40% and 60% of people over the age of 60 suffer from insomnia.
On this post, I would like to describe the benefits of Pranayama techniques, especially before bedtime. It really has helped me a lot those past few months, as I was struggling to fall asleep. I've heard of Pranayama for the first time when I did my yoga teacher training, so don't feel ashamed if don't have any clue of what I'm currently talking about. By the end of this post, you will be the king or the queen of Pranayama.
What does Pranayama mean?
Prana is life force, vitality, and power. This is the foundation and essence of all life.
The connecting link between the material world, consciousness and mind. We gain prana from the world around us in different ways:
FOOD, AIR, ENVIRONMENT & CONNECTION TO OUR HIGHER AND DEEPER.
Pranayama is the extension of the life force, by using our breath.
How to apply those techniques?
It means “psychic passage” or purification. This is a practice whereby the pranic pathways are decongested. This is an excellent preparation for meditation.
Place your second and third finger in between your eyebrows and use your thumb to block your nostril each time.
INHALE with LEFT notril- EXHALE with RIGHT nostril- INHALE with RIGHT nostril- EXHALE with LEFT nostril (5 rounds)
It induces calmness of the mind, by regulating the flow of prana.
It removes the congestion or blockage of the nadis and thereby allows the free flow of prana.
The carbon dioxide is more efficiently eliminated.
It removes the stagnant air from the lungs.
If discomfort, you must reduce the duration of inhalation and exhalation. It should be done as though you have all the time in the world.
It means, “cooling” or “relaxing”. Roll your tong during inhalation. The end of the tongue should protrude outside the mouth, but without strain. Then hold the breath, withdraw the tongue and close the mouth - Exhale through left nostril.
Cool down the body. Best to be done after asana practice to restore heat balance in the body. Sooth away mental tension. Useful in case of high blood pressure. Also improves digestion and purify blood.
Some people are unable to roll the tongue. Do not practice in a dirty, polluted atmosphere. Do not practice in cold weather.
Unique form of pranayama, which makes a hissing or whispering sound in the region of the throat. We calle it the“Ocean breath”.
Partially close the glottis in the throat. This is done by slightly contracting the throat. Do not contract your facial muscles (common mistake).
Improves the voice. Releases the physical body and calms the mind. Excellent preparation for meditation. Helps slowing down the breathing and stimulates thyroids glands.
You don't have to do all of those techniques at the same time, one each evening is more than enough. And, you don't need to practice for more than 10 minutes. First of all, taking this time for yourself will definitely benefit you as you will become more mindful to your inner self. And second, it will help you both mentally and physically, as much as you will never want to stop anymore !