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Deep breaths, deep sleep: The ‘filling and emptying the glass’ exercise that helps insomnia

Deep breaths, deep sleep: The ‘filling and emptying the glass’ exercise that helps insomnia

Hello and welcome to another glorious month in Phuket. As I have mentioned be­fore, I am fortunate enough to introduce many people to their first ever yoga class and I consider it such a blessing!

By Kim White

Tuesday 16 July 2019, 12:00PM

Is your glass half empty or half full?

Is your glass half empty or half full?

I see people from all walks of life and happily help them find what yoga means for them. I do this by listen­ing to what they are saying, observing how their bodies move and also by feel­ing out their vibe.

I hear a lot of different stories about life issues, body injuries and mental struggles. However, one of the most com­mon complaints I hear is sleeplessness and a busy mind they cannot shut off. So this month I thought I would share with you an amazing little breathing exercise that I teach to so many people, with great results. The great thing about this exercise is that it is very simple and is achievable by anyone with a little bit of practice and patience.

I call this exercise ‘filling and emp­tying the glass’. Let’s go through the steps together.

1. You can lie on your back or take a sitting position or you can even stand. This exercise can literally be done any­where!

2. Place one of your hands on your belly and place the other on your chest.

3. Close your eyes and just observe the natural flow of your breath. Most of you will feel that the hand on the chest moves more than the hand on the belly. If the hands are not moving much at all, this means you are taking very shallow breaths. We need to fix this!

4. As you observe the natural flow of your breath, I want you to contem­plate that your belly and your chest are a glass and your breath is the water. When you pour water into a glass, the water fills up from the bottom of the glass up to the top. When you empty water from a glass, it empties from the top of the glass down to the bottom. We are going to manipulate our breath in the same way.

5. First we will work just on half the glass. On your next inbreath, bypass the breath filling the chest and direct your breath to fill the belly first instead. It may feel a little weird if you have not done this before but persevere and you will get better.

6. Work just on breathing into the belly (half the glass) for about a minute.

7. When you feel more comfortable with the belly breath, we will work on filling the entire glass. So on your next inbreath, bypass the breath filling the chest and direct your breath to fill the belly first, then keep the belly full and continue to breathe into the chest. Now both belly and chest are full.

QSI International School Phuket

8. When you take your outbreath, keep the belly full, release the chest first and then continue to release the belly.

This is our exercise: inbreath, belly fills first then chest; outbreath, chest re­leases first then belly.

Spend a minimum of three minutes on this exercise, but my suggestion is to spend as much time as you can with it whenever you have a chance. The breathing out technique may seem weird and uncomfortable at first, but as you live in your body more and practice the movements, you will improve.

So why is this exercise so good for restlessness and busy minds? You will notice that as you work on the breath­ing exercise, you have to concentrate on what you are doing. You cannot be half daydreaming if you do this exercise properly. When you concentrate on this simpler task of breathing, your mind pulls away from busy thought and starts to relax into the rhythm of the body, shifting you from living in your busy brain on the frontal temple and moving the thought processes back to the re­laxed brain which is more in the middle of the head.

When the brain shifts, the entire body also receives a different message from the brain and starts to shift into relaxed mode too.

I find this exercise so much better for insomnia than counting sheep. It has never made sense to me to imagine jumping sheep in an already busy mind! Jumping sheep are not calm and re­laxed, neither is trying to imagine them.

When you feel like the world is caving in and your brain may explode, think back to this little article and take the time to empty your cup of the busyness and start filling it with calm clarity.

Happy breathing.
Metta, Kim oxo

Kim White Yoga

One of the main motivations that drives Kim to teach Yoga is her desire to keep true, real Yoga alive; the propagation of Yoga for Yoga. She strives to achieve this through teaching and helping people fall in love with Yoga everyday. She gives you her yoga mind and yoga heart to guide anyone wishing to traverse the beautiful journey that is Yoga. Teaching group classes, private classes, yoga intensives & retreats across the Island.
Call +66 862 769 174

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