Five-Minute Pre-Sleep Full Breathing Technique for Alleviating Chest Stiffness and Discomfort


Five-Minute Pre-Sleep Full Breathing Technique for Enhanced Sleep Quality

Many individuals struggle with insufficient or poor-quality sleep. However, just five minutes before bedtime, employing a simple full breathing technique can effectively ease tension in the body and mind, leading to a more restful sleep.

Not only does this technique relax the entire body and promote quick sleep onset, but it also enhances metabolism. The advancements in internet and communication technology have blurred the boundaries between work and rest. Deep breathing not only relaxes the mind but also boosts basal metabolism, addressing issues like cold extremities or swelling, transforming the body into a more easily slender physique.

Keiko Shimana, head of the Uttal Yoga & Healing School in Shibuya, Tokyo, notes that many women who attend classes due to a sensation of constrained breathing tend to be those prone to tension, leading to stiffness around the chest area.

It feels like struggling to breathe while wearing a tight undergarment. The chest cavity that encloses the lungs is formed by the ribs, and when the muscles around the ribs are tense, neither the lungs nor the diaphragm can function properly, resulting in shallow breathing and disturbed sleep, making it challenging to dispel fatigue. Individuals with restricted rib movement often experience posture issues, often leading to a protruding abdomen.

At such times, trying the yoga technique of 'full breathing' can help immensely. By significantly engaging the breathing movements of the chest and abdomen, the stiff muscles around the chest can fully relax. It's also recommended to practice the full breathing technique before sleep, enabling deeper breathing and full-body relaxation while enhancing blood circulation. Loosening the muscles around the chest helps in posture adjustment, potentially improving the appearance of a protruding abdomen.

Preceding the full breathing technique, the benefits of massaging and stretching:

Massaging the collarbone area, chest sides, and armpits 20 times each helps relax the muscles around the chest.

Starting with loosening the muscles around the collarbone and chest sides enhances the mobility of the chest area.

(A) Diagonal rubbing below the collarbone:

Place the left hand below the right collarbone (preferably touching the skin directly). Rub diagonally back and forth around 20 times, then do the same on the left side.

(B) Rubbing around the ribcage vertically and horizontally:

From the armpits to below the chest, rub vertically around 20 times. Once both sides are done, place hands in the armpits and rub diagonally towards the ribs around 20 times.

Stretching the abdominal sides, left and right, three times each:

When using a computer or smartphone for prolonged periods, maintaining a forward-leaning posture often leads to tension in the abdominal muscles. Appropriate stretching helps soften the muscles around the chest area.

(A) While slowly exhaling, stretch the abdominal sides, inhaling and exhaling three times:

Begin in a cross-legged position and place the left hand on the floor. Extend the right arm upward and stretch towards the left side while exhaling. Inhale while maintaining the stretch, hold the breath for a bit, and exhale. Repeat this inhale-exhale cycle three times.

(B) Increase the stretch gradually, inhaling and exhaling three times slowly:

Starting from the position in (A), make sure not to lean forward and gradually widen the stretch to a comfortable extent without pain. Repeat the breathing three times. Afterward, stretch the right side in the same manner.

Five minutes before sleep, practice the 'full breathing technique' daily:

Modern women often experience stress, presenting an active sympathetic nervous system and excessive upper body tension. Even if initially the breathing feels uneasy during practice, just being conscious of the movements in the chest and abdomen triggers changes in the body," Shimana explains.

The 'full breathing technique' in yoga combines chest and abdominal breathing methods. If before sleep, slow breathing through this technique can activate the parasympathetic nervous system. Additionally, involving muscles like the diaphragm helps boost basal metabolism. If done continuously, one should feel firmer muscles in the waist and abdomen.

(A) Place the left and right hands on the chest and abdomen respectively:

Lie down, bend the knees, and place one hand on the chest and the other on the abdomen to monitor the breathing area. Relax the body and prepare for the full breathing technique.

(B) Inhale through the nose, filling the abdomen with air:

Slowly inhale through the nose for four seconds, expanding the abdomen (abdominal breathing). Visualize a feeling of the hand placed on the abdomen being pushed upward.

(C) Keep the abdomen expanded and inhale through the nose, filling the chest with air:

While keeping the abdomen expanded, slowly inhale through the nose for four seconds, filling the chest with air (chest breathing). Imagine the air accumulating up to the lower edge of the neck.

(D) Maintain the chest and abdomen filled with air and hold the breath for four seconds:

Present a state of air-filled from the abdomen to the chest and pause the breath for four seconds. If uncomfortable, release some air and then inhale slightly.

(E) Slowly exhale the air from the chest through the mouth:

Exhale the accumulated air in the chest slowly within four seconds. Imagine the hand placed on the chest approaching the back.

(F) Slowly exhale the air from the abdomen through the mouth:

Exhale the accumulated air in the abdomen slowly within four seconds. Once the air is completely expelled, return to step (B), and repeat the breathing sequence six times.



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