It's no secret that a good night's sleep is essential for keeping us happy and healthy, but often our busy lives, fraught with work worries and family issues, stop us from getting enough shut eye. In fact, studies estimate that approximately 70 million Americans struggle with their sleep, and according to this report, disrupted or lack of sleep can lead to physical and mental health problems and poor quality of life.
So how can we get more zzz's in to help us wake up happier and healthier?
Try moonbreathing! The ancient practice that's gone viral on Tik Tok is also known as moon piercing breath or chandra bhedana. It is a technique often used in yoga, and involves regulating your breathing pattern to help stay calm and focused. Moonbreathing stems from the Japanese concept of kaizen, meaning "change for the better," which focuses on improving all areas of your life and breaking lifelong bad habits.
Publishing consultant Sarah Harvey explains in her book, Kaizen: The Japanese Method for Transforming Habits, One Small Step at a Time that the short breathing practice helps her "when it is 3 a.m. and my mind is racing with nonsense thoughts."
So how do you practice moonbreathing? The idea is to do it just before you go to sleep, holding your right nostril closed with your thumb while breathing in and out only from the left nostril. This is best done for at least one minute.
Yoga teacher Sita Sunar explained to Vogue India why moonbreathing works. "If you place your finger below each nostril and take turns exhaling, you will notice that a stronger burst of air emerges from one nostril. These are your nadis that flow stronger or weaker depending on the time of day. Your left side or Ida (connected to the right hemisphere of the brain, or Yin) is more feminine, introverted, lunar-focused and stronger in the evenings. It asks for rest and creativity. Your right nadi, Pingla (connected to the left hemisphere, or Yang) is more masculine, labor-ready and sun-focused, and stronger during the day. Balancing your nadis through breathwork is a big focus of tantra and kundalini yoga, and invokes feelings of steadiness and well-being."
Sita uses the moonbreathing technique before bedtime as it helps her get a more restful night of sleep, and helps to calm any anxious thoughts. "We can practice moon breath at any time, day or night," she explained to Vogue. "Just find a quiet corner, sit or lie down and tune into your natural breath, disengage from the hyper-activity of life and focus. This will help soothe your nerves, still your mind and balance the energies of the body."