From holotropic hyperventilation to a method called ‘power breathing’, manipulating your breathing has lately been sold as a method to enhance your work out performance, make your mind quicker, or even enter an altered state of consciousness. And while ‘breathwork’ might seem like yet another passing trend, a lot of its principles are old and supported by the most recent science.
For example, the breathing by alternating nostrils technique – breathe in through one side, breathe out through the other side – is a technique that’s proven to reduce anxiety. It is used by Navy SEALs – and it seemed to work for Hillary Clinton when she found out she had lost to Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential race.
Calming your nerves in the face of danger is one thing – but could breathwork calm you enough to help with sleepless nights? A new study indicates that it can. Regulating your breathing is a central part of kundalini yoga, a Hindu practice that was developed as a way of spiritual liberation. In a two-month trial, people who suffered from insomnia were split up into two groups: the first group applied several contemporary sleep hygiene methods, from restricting alcohol and caffeine and installing blinds to optimizing the room temp; the second took daily kundalini classes.
At the end of the two-month trial, yogic breathwork was discovered to have performed better than modern sleep hygiene in lowering the time it takes to fall asleep, while improving the overall sleep quality. If you are tossing and turning till the sun comes up, learn to quiet your racing mind, one breath at a time – it’s actually something to sniff at. Here is how to nail it, if you do not have enough time for a kundalini class:
1 — Put your right thumb over the right nostril. Close your eyes, inhale fully and slowly through your left nostril.
2 — Release the right nostril and put your ring finger over the left nostril. Breath out through the right nostril, then breathe in slowly. Blocking and exhaling left.
3 — Rinse and repeat the entire process for five mins, working up to a full 10 mins, if you can.
Author: Steven Sinclaire