10 Minutes to Restful Sleep
When teaching guests at our retreat, we often hear that at home they have difficulty falling asleep because their minds are too active. And they are not alone. It is very common that people with busy and/or stressful lives find the incessant chatter in their heads makes it difficult for them to fall asleep. Even if they do get enough sleep they can wake up feeling tired because the quality of the sleep was poor.
Two things Tiwariji and Paul will prescribe to help this are Bhramari Pranayama and Shavasana before bedtime. 10 rounds of Bhramari followed by 5 minutes of Shavasana shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes, so it should not be an extra stress trying to fit it in. And it can have a very positive effect, especially if it is done regularly over a period of time.
Bhramari means black bee, and the name refers to the resonant sound you make while breathing during this exercise. It is described in the Hatha Pradipika that you inhale and exhale sounding like a bee, but it is enough to inhale through the nose without the sound and exhale with the bee sound.
Here’s what to do:
- Find a comfortable cross-legged position, sitting on a cushion or pillow to help you sit up tall.
- Close your eyes softly and allow the face and jaw to relax, having your lips together and your teeth slightly apart.
- Allow your breathing to soften and your heart rate to go back to normal or below normal, with your inner gaze at the navel-pubic bone region.
- First fully exhale, empty all of the stale air out of the lungs.
- Inhale for a count of 4 (or to a count that is comfortable, keeping the same count throughout).
- Exhale for double the count of your inhale (again, keep the same count throughout) with the sound of the bee (similar to the mmmm part of OM). Focus on the sound, feeling the vibration of the sound through the skull and at the soft palate in the back of the mouth.
- This is Bhramari Pranayama. Repeat 10 times.
- Afterwards you can sit as long as you like in the space that is left, with the eyes closed and your inner gaze at the navel-pubic bone region.
- Lie down and take Shavasana (Corpse Pose). Make sure you are lying on the ground and not on or too near your bed
- Allow your feet to fall open, your palms to face upwards and your eyes to softly close.
- Feel the gentle movement of the passive breath in and out, letting go of everything except for the breath.
- Stay here at least 5 minutes.
- Slowly come out of the pose.