Can’t sleep? Try this easy breathing technique for insomnia.

From time to time everyone may have a little difficulty getting off to sleep or insomnia. The causes can be from perhaps a simple change in your usual routine or a stressful life event. Sometimes there isn’t an obvious reason at all. You just cant seem to “drop off”.

Recently I’ve returned to some basic Pranayama (yogic breathing exercises) to help me sleep. Those who are familiar with my blog will know I’ve had a bit of a stressful time recently and with that the ability to sleep disappeared. Let’s say it went “totally up the swanny”.

I have to say I’ve not always been a massive fan of Pranayama. A combination of a deviated septum (wonky inside of nose) and asthma unfortunately always left me kind of more stressed than relaxed.

Yet this simple breathing technique that I call the “2-1-2” has been quite honestly miraculous. It’s super simple and bar a few contraindications most people can do it. So here is for you. I hope it works for you too!

Firstly the contraindications.

Basically don’t try this if:

  • You are pregnant.
  • Have unmedicated high blood pressure.
  • You have heart disease.
  • You have eye problems such as Glaucoma.
  • You have ear problems.


Also worth noting is the idea is to get relaxed, so don’t be taking in great big gulps of air and adding tension. Be gentle. Nice gentle soft breathing is the key. If you find tension creeping in, step it back by taking smaller breaths.

The number “2-1-2” refer the ratio of breath duration. The first “2” of the “2-1-2” refers to your inhalation. The “1” is a gentle pause before the last “2” which is your exhalation.


In practise:

Breathe in for a count of 2, pause for a count of 1 and then breathe out for a count of 2.

The counts can actually be longer if you wish, choose whatever you find comfortable. The important bit is the “pause”. Keep it half the duration of your inhalation and exhalation.

With time you will feel yourself physically and mentally relaxing with every out breath. Focus on the counts if it helps, I find this extremely beneficial if I have anything on my mind.

Repeat the technique over and over. Again, I emphasise the importance of keeping it a soft and gentle breathing technique. Do not continue if you find the technique does not agree with you.

I’ve been doing this most nights for a couple of months now and each time I drop off to sleep a little faster. It’s like my body knows and recognises it’s “sleep time” when I start.

Let me know how you get on. I’d love to know if you find it helpful. Here’s a little helpful infographic to help you remember what to do and share with your friends.

Breathe in for 2, Pause for 1 breath and exhale for 2 breaths

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