If you’ve counted sheep by the millions and doused yourself in litres of lavender and still can’t fall asleep, a quirky breathing technique could send you to the land of nod in no time.
‘Moon breathing’ is an exercise from Kaizen, which is a Japanese method that promises to improve all areas of your life, mainly breaking lifelong bad habits.
In her new book, Kaizen: The Japanese Method for Transforming Habits, One Small Step at a Time, publishing consultant Sarah Harvey explores the philosophy that promises to have you living your best life, including moon breathing.
“For the times when you can’t sleep, I am going to share with you a short breathing exercise that I find helps me when it is 3am and my mind is racing with nonsense thoughts,” she explains.
What yogis refer to as Moon Breath or Chandra Bhedana involves breathing in through your left nostril only. The left side of your body is thought to be associated with the nervous system, and so Chandra Bhedana has been traditionally used to calm it down and promote sleep. Here is a short exercise that you can do anywhere:
- Sit upright or lie down, whichever is more comfortable.
- Close your eyes and relax your eye sockets. Imagine your eyeballs are swimming in cooling pools of water.
- Close your right nostril with your right thumb.
- Rest the second and third fingers of your right hand in your palm and extend your fourth and fifth fingers.
- Breathe in through your left nostril and then close it with your fourth finger of your right hand, while releasing your thumb from your left nostril and breathing out through your right nostril.
- Regulate your breath and keep repeating this action for a couple of minutes until your breathing is really slow and you feel more relaxed.
- Hopefully your brain will feel less wired and you will be able to fall asleep.
A variation on this is to alternate the nostrils as you perform the exercise. “This is called Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breathing and is a really simple way to quickly quieten the mind and settle your emotions, so is a useful exercise to have up your sleeve during moments of anxiety or stress. It really helps to focus the mind and press the reset button on your nervous system,” adds Sarah.