My first yoga class was in Brixton sports centre, in London, on a Tuesday night. The teacher, who I think was called John, was excellent. He kept on at the class about the importance of breathing.
At the time, I didn’t get it. Breathing was easy; I’d done it my whole life, with no effort. So why should I spend time practising it?
Years later, when I started my yoga teacher training, the penny dropped. For the first time I really understood that breathing is actually a secret weapon. It can get you through almost anything!
Scared of flying? Breathing can help.
So tired you can’t keep your eyes open? Breathing can help.
In pain? Breathing can help.
Trying to get a baby to sleep? Breathing can help!!
Best of all I’ve managed to get my baby to sleep with it!
The easiest place to start is to breathe in for the same length of time as you breathe out.
I call it IN = OUT.
Have a go. Take a nice deep breath and count in your head as you breathe in. I usually get to four but you might have a longer or shorter breath. Now breathe out to the same count of four (or whatever your number was). Try it a few times to get the hang of it; usually I find my exhalation is naturally a bit longer than my inhalation, so it takes a few breaths to get them equal.
After a few rounds, you’ll have it sussed and be able to breathe in for the same amount of time as you breathe out.
This simple trick has helped me many times. I use it when I’m nervous, like waiting for a job interview. Or when I’m annoyed or frustrated and need to calm down.
However, best of all I’ve managed to get my baby to sleep with it!
The knack is to get so close to your baby that they can hear or feel your breathing. It’s worked best for me when I’ve had my face touching his. Then start a nice relaxed pattern of breathing, where you’re breathing in for the same amount of time as you breathe out. Keep going and your baby will pick up on your relaxed state and hopefully start to relax too. If they are tired, this can make them feel snoozy and with luck drop off to sleep.
I have found it’s really tempting to want to peek and see if your baby is asleep – try to resist (or sneak a look without them seeing you). Keep this breathing up for longer than you think and I hope you get a lovely sleepy baby.
As an added benefit, this exercise should calm and relax you too.