The best exercises to fall asleep quickly: what is 'square breathing' and yoga Nidra

Olena RasenkoLife
Searching for sleep solutions has become a mass trend

Nidra yoga and square breathing can help you fall asleep quickly without any medication. Recently, many people have begun to suffer from insomnia, and the issue has become especially acute during the pandemic when nervous tension has increased many times over.

According to Shape, citing Haley Perlus, Ph.D., a psychologist, it is enough to practice five simple breathing exercises from Nidro Yoga to get a good night's sleep. According to her, the magic is in the way you breathe.

"Deep breathing exercises can physiologically calm you down by lowering your heart rate, relieving muscle tension, which can help reduce feelings of fight or flight," Perlus explained.

In turn, psychiatrist and sleep specialist Alex Dimitriou, MD, said that there is a certain "choreography" of breathing that should be followed.

"These exercises can help you focus on something other than what's keeping you awake," Dimitriou said.

According to him, once you are in a relaxed state with modulated breathing, "you can start breathing more normally and efficiently and regulate your blood pressure. In general, breathing exercises can not only help you fall asleep, but also eventually regulate your sleep," he added.

Perlus noted that there are many effective schemes and practices, but the best choice is "what works for you."

Five simple breathing exercises for sleep

Abdominal breathing

"This technique involves deep abdominal breathing. You should put your hand on your stomach and feel it expand into your hand as you inhale and contract as you exhale," Perlus said.

She said this kind of belly breathing can help reduce anxiety, depression, and stress, as well as relieve emotional exhaustion and depersonalization that can be caused by burnout at work.

How to practice:

Sit or lie down on the ground or the bed in a comfortable position. Place one hand under your ribs so that it rests on your stomach and the other on your chest.

Take a deep breath through your nose, allowing your abdomen to slowly push your hand out. Make sure your chest does not move. With your lips pressed together, exhale as if you were whistling. As you exhale, you should use your hand on your stomach to gently push all the air out as your stomach goes in.

Perform this cycle about 3-10 times, taking your time and concentrating on each one.

Yoga Nidra

According to Dr. Dimitriou, yoga nidra is similar to meditation, but differs in that you lie down and the goal is to "go into a state of deep, conscious sleep."

How to practice:

Select a yoga Nidra guided video from an app or website of your choice. (Dr. Dimitriou suggests Peloton, Oura, or YouTube. His favorite is a 20-minute yoga Nidra video on YouTube.)

Follow the directions until you fall asleep.

Square breathing

This sleep breathing technique, sometimes called "boxing breathing," is another recommendation from Dr. Dimitriou.

"Square breathing gives you something physical to focus on, and counting the seconds and synchronizing your breathing can have a grounding effect and reduce mind wandering," he explained.

"With square breathing, the extended exhalation phase also causes the lungs to put a little pressure on the heart, which in turn causes the heart to beat more slowly," thereby activating the parasympathetic nervous system to help you fall asleep.

How to practice:

Breathe in for four counts. Hold for four counts. Breathe out for four counts. Rest for four counts. Repeat, continuing as long as you wish, or until you fall asleep.

4-7-8 Breathing

This technique is credited to Andrew Vail, M.D., who developed it as "a type of pranayama, an ancient yogic technique that helps people relax by replenishing oxygen in the body," said Perlus.

How to practice:

Sitting with your back straight, place the tip of your tongue on the ridge of your palate just behind your upper front teeth and hold it there throughout the exercise. You will exhale through your mouth around your tongue.

Exhale completely through your mouth. Close your mouth and calmly inhale through your nose, counting to four in your mind. Hold your breath for seven counts. Exhale completely through your mouth for eight counts. This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times, for a total of four breaths.

Alternative breathing through the nostrils

"A study conducted in 2013 found that people who tried nasal breathing exercises felt less stressed afterward," said Perlus.

How to practice:

Sit cross-legged. Put your left hand on your knee and press your right thumb to the right side of your nose. Exhale completely, then close your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril. Then close your left nostril with your ring finger. (If this is uncomfortable, you can use your index or middle finger.) Open your right nostril and exhale through it. Inhale through your right nostril and then close it with your thumb. Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side. This is one cycle. Continue this rotation for five minutes, ending with an exhalation through the left nostril.

As OBOZREVATEL previously reported, experts explained how to improve sleep quality.

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