Breathing exercises for better sleep, less stress and more clarity

Greatist talked to the experts to gather a bunch of breathing exercises that can be beneficial for over-worked, sleep-deprived and stressed out people (which is all of us, right?).

Here are our top picks that can help you get fired up for the day, move through that afternoon slump and slip into a peaceful slumber.

To wake up your brain, try ‘Skull-Shining Breath’

Kapalabhati or ‘Skull-Shining Breath’ is said to be as potent as a shot of espresso when it comes to getting your brain buzzing. It’s also said to help you look on the bright side of life. Pour me a cup!

  1. Sit upright, and check your posture is good.
  2. Place your hands on your knees.
  3. Slowly inhale through your nose.
  4. Powerfully exhale through your nose.
  5. Engage your core on the exhale, by contracting your lower belly.

Ab workout? Bonus.

To get rid of tension, try progressive muscle relaxation

When your to-do list has your shoulders creeping up to your ears and your jaw on lock thanks to an upcoming presentation, progressive muscle relaxation is the way to go. It involves tensing and relaxing your muscle groups, one at a time, to release tension throughout your whole body. You can even do it while you’re sitting at your desk.

  1. Get into a comfortable seated position and close your eyes.
  2. Focus on tensing each muscle group, one at a time, for 2–3 seconds.
  3. Your breathing should be deep and slow the entire time.
  4. Begin with your feet and toes.
  5. Move up to your knees, thighs, glutes, chest, arms, and hands.
  6. Neck, jaws and eyes are last on the agenda.

How’s that neck feeling now?

To drift off to sleep sooner, try equal breathing

Equal breathing, or Sama Vritti, can help turn off those distracting thoughts that race through your mind right as you jump under the covers so it’s very effective to practice this exercise right before bed.

  1. Get yourself into a comfortable position with your eyes open or closed
  2. Keep your mouth closed. Use only your nose for inhaling and exhaling.
  3. Inhale for four counts.
  4. Exhale for four counts.

Now you’re ready to catch some zzz’s.