If we spent as much time and effort on getting to sleep as we do for making the best of the time we spend awake, no one would suffer from insomnia. It is the dark secret that we all go there every night but it is treated like people reacted to Jim Morrison’s, “No one gets out of here alive!” Being able to fall asleep is not only something that happens in the dark, but we remain consciously in that same darkness when it comes to getting there. Fifty-four per cent of Americans suffer from insomnia one time or another. Ten to fifteen percent of them can’t get to sleep for periods of up to six weeks or longer. Last year there were forty-two million prescriptions for sleeping pills, which is up to sixty percent from the years before.
There are techniques taught originally by the yogis of India that have worked to help people overcome insomnia for centuries. They focus on specific breathing techniques (called in Hindu Ujjayi Pranayam) , which are an integral part of Hatha Yoga.
These breathing techniques will help you calm down, even if you are sitting, standing or walking, but they will work most effectively in allowing your body to make the transition from being awake to being asleep.
You start by taking five long, deep, slow breaths to help relax you. Next close your eyes and concentrate on the sounds and feelings of your breathing. Continue to slow your breathing down spending more and more time at the points in which you change from inhaling to exhaling and vice a versa. The more time you spend at that point of the breathing cycle the more you will begin to feel drowsy and start to fall asleep. According to Hatha Yoga using this simple basic technique for several nights will help cure insomnia.
Advanced Ujjayi breathing techniques focus on breath retention. Your goal is to inhale for four seconds, hold your breath for 16 seconds and use eight seconds to exhale. You can start out on a lower ratio of inhaling for two seconds, holding your breath for eight seconds and using four seconds to exhale. Gradually you’ll work your way up to your goal by increasing the amount of time you spend inhaling and exhaling slowly while doubling the amount of time you spend holding your breath. On the average it takes someone 11 minutes or more to fall asleep using this advanced breathing technique.
Many people have been able to take control of their insomnia simply by following their breathing cycle more consciously. Once you have developed a natural rhythmic breathing cycle you began to slowly extended taking longer time is to breathe in and out.