Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is a major complaint of executives, workers and parents. It is characterised by difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep.
Medical research suggests that insomnia is a cause of irregular sleep-wake schedule such as shift work, pain, drug use or withdrawal, drinking too much alcohol before sleep, stress, fatigue, emotional or mental problems, or waking up to care for a child. According to the International Sleep Medicine Association, the source of insomnia is sometimes unknown.
I have combined variations of two styles of pranayama and additional head movement to create the Synchronized Breathing Method. This simple solution offers modern applications of ancient breathing techniques taught by Indian yogis. It increases the oxygen content of the blood immensely and improves circulation of vital prana, or life force, throughout the whole human energy system.
International Sleep Medicine Association research divides sleep into four stages of non-Rapid Eye Movement [NREM] sleep:
- Stages 1 and 2 involve the initial processes of going to sleep
- At Stage 3, the person is beginning to slip into deeper and more restful sleep
- In Stage 4, the brain waves and breathing rates are slowest and the greatest rest is achieved. This stage is like being in a trance or deep meditation. A short interval of Rapid Eye Movement [REM] sleep follows, which is when people dream.
To perform Synchronized Breathing Method
- Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and vertical.
- Inhale rapidly through your nose as you tilt your head back while simultaneously inflating your abdomen. Exhale quickly through your mouth as you bow your head down while compressing your abdomen. Repeat 10 to 15 times.
- Just relax with your head held vertically and concentrate on the top of your head [Sahasrara, in Sanskrit], the mid-brow area [Ajna], and the centre of your chest [Anahata] simultaneously while breathing slowly for 30 seconds.
- Repeat Steps 2 – 3 three times.
This method has been validated by physicians and sleep labs in different countries.
By practising Synchronized Breathing Method, for about five minutes daily, it is possible to achieve the slow brain waves that characterise sleep Stages 3 and 4 – even before going to bed.
This practice “awakens” the spiritual “power centre” at the top of your head which regulates the pineal gland and melatonin – the hormone that oversees sleep cycles.
You can do this practice daily before going to bed, or going home from work so you don’t bring stress to your family. You may also incorporate the practice before important meetings and whenever you feel stressed.
The caveat: this method is not recommended for pregnant women or people with neck injuries, migraine, vertigo, or serious heart disease.
All the same, there is yet another great benefit of this breathing technique. What is it you may well ask. The answer: by focusing on the top of the head, the point between the eyebrows and the centre of the chest, you are arousing and activating your faculties of creativity, mental stamina, and inner peace.
In like manner, instead of struggling with insomnia, and jet-lag, executives, workers, and parents, who practice the Synchronized Breathing Methods are able to go to sleep faster and wake up sharp and refreshed with less than seven hours of sleep.