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A simple breath exercise to relax

your mind and help you fall asleep

 

by Alice Louey

 

This is a helpful breath exercise that I learnt a few years ago that relaxes your mind, and helps you fall asleep quickly.  The use of slow deep breaths eases your body into a relaxed state. Breathe slowly and deeply into the belly; your belly should rise gently with each in-breath, and lower gently with each out-breath.  The important numbers to remember for this breath exercise are  4 – 7 – 8.

Are you ready to begin?
Find a comfortable position to begin; I recommend lying on your back with a pillow under your knees and hands gently resting on your belly. Otherwise sitting comfortably with your hands on your belly will also work.
4 – breathe in slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of 4; you can feel your belly gently rise as you breathe in deeper
7 – hold your breath for a count of 7
8 – breathe out slowly through your mouth for a count of 8; you can feel your belly gently lower as you release your breath

Inhale- 2-3-4, Hold-2-3-4-5-6-7, Exhale- 2-3-4-5-6-7-8

Repeat this breath exercise at least 5 times, and feel free to continue as long as you like.
During each cycle of this breath sequence you will notice that your breath naturally becomes slower and deeper.

Variations:
Some people do find it difficult to either hold their breath for 7 counts, or to exhale for 8 counts; so it’s completely fine to gradually build up to these numbers. Try starting with 4-4-5 (inhale -2-3-4, hold-2-3-4, exhale-2-3-4-5), then when that is manageable try 4-5-6; and when you have the hang of that sequence, try 4-6-7.

Or if you find that holding your breath is hard, just focus on making your out-breath longer then your in-breath; breathe in for 4 counts, breathe out for 5 counts focusing on slow deep breaths into your belly.
In-2-3-4, Out-2-3-4-5
Gradually you will be able to include a pause between your in-breath and your out-breath.

For other tips about having a regular routine amount of sleep, please refer to a previous article on Sleep Hygiene.