I am very interested in non-medicine ways of helping sleep, so was very intrigued to come across ‘Breathe better, sleep better’. Alison Francis, writing under the name Anandi, describes her experiences with insomnia over the course of 15 years, as well as her experiences with a form of yoga centered on breathing as a way to well being and better sleep.
Phrased in my (hopelessly Western) way, yoga can be seen as a multicomponent practice involving physical poses, greater awareness and regulation of breathing, and relaxation/meditation, with different schools emphasizing these different parts. It been shown to decrease arousal and exaggerated stress responses. Some studies have shown amelioration of depressive symptoms, and some preliminary studies have shown improvement of insomnia (1). Enough data appear to be available for the U.S. National Sleep Foundation to recommend it for insomnia (2).
In this book, Anandi describes the yogi traditions of prana, the energy force of life, and the vayu, the aspect of prana related to breathing. She says ‘At last I found that the breath was my teacher, not the obsession I developed for getting myself into even more challenging yoga poses.’ From that beginning she created a five week program of exercises, which she describes clearly. It is a thoughtful book, well written and gives a sense of caring as she makes a strong case for understanding the role of breathing in well being.