Pranayama, or traditional yogic breathing, is a technique you can use to help quiet your mind, raise your energy, and increase the flow of vital energy in the mind.
While there are dozens of different pranayama exercises and techniques you might choose from, it pays to understand how each breath will impact your body’s energy and state of mind.
In this post, I’ll outline three of the best pranayama exercises for sleep, and teach you how you can use this simple breath exercises before bed to help you to unwind from your day, relax your mind, and enjoy deeper and more restful sleep.
You can see our full list of pranayama exercises here.
3 Pranayama Techniques To Do Before Bed
While many people believe that Nadi Shodhana, also known as alternate nostril breathing, this exercise is not the most relaxing choice. While it is true that isolating the breath through a single nostril can help to relax the mind, alternating between the two nostrils is likely to create a strong feeling of aliveness, or energy, in your third eye. While this can be peaceful and help with deep meditation, it is not always best for sleep.
A powerful variation on this practice is chandra bhedana, which uses a similar technique but isolates the practice to your left nostril. This side of the nostril is known to have a calming effect, leading to the nickname of “moon-piercing breath.” By contrast, the right nostril will have an awakening or enlivening impact when isolated through surya bhedana, or sun-piercing breath. Thus, adjust your nadi shodhana practice to isolate only the left nostril when working with the breath before bedtime.
Learn more about how to do chandra bhedana.
Bhramari – Bee Breath
Bhramari Pranayama, also known as the “bee breath” or “buzzing breath” is a breath exercise that creates a strong vibration in the back of the skull.
This vibration has a powerful meditative and calming effect on the mind. You might think of it as a humming that “drowns out” the chatter of the ego mind, and allows you to focus on the energy that pulses constantly within you.
When practiced before bed, it can help you to release the stress of the day. If you suffer from insomnia caused by stress and an overactive mind, such that you can’t stop thinking during meditation, then you may find that this breath is right for you!
Learn more about how to do Bhramari Pranayama.
Last but certainly not least among the best pranayama techniques for sleep is ujjayi breath.
Ujjayi is one of the most widely-practiced pranayama, and is performed by inhaling and exhaling slowly with a slight constriction of the throat. This makes it an audible, oceanic like breath, and it has a powerfully soothing effect, even when practiced for just a few minutes.
Many studied have shown the innumerable health benefits of ujjayi breathing, and in addition to helping you get a good night’s sleep, you’ll find that a few minutes of this breath every evening can also have a dramatic long term impact on your health.
Learn more about how to do Ujjayi Pranayama.
Each of these techniques can be powerful in it’s own rite, but you might also consider playing around with the idea of combining them into a longer meditation.
You might also consider trying out this guided yoga nidra meditation, which is designed to help you fall asleep during the meditation itself, and can be done either as a restorative practice or in bed while you fall asleep.