Breathe Like It Matters
“Practicing regular, mindful breathing can be calming, energizing, and can help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.” Andrew Weil, M.D.
The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
TIPS for SUCCESS
- Repeat the cycle three times for a total of four breaths.
- Inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth.
- The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time.
- Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation.
- The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important.
- If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. This exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently.
Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.