THE 4-7-8 OR RELAXING BREATH
This breathing 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.
Try to 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 weeks of practice.
Later you can extend it to eight – ten breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it is normal and 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.
When to use it:
- Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react.
- Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension or stress.
- Use it to help you fall asleep.
How to do the 4-7-8 Breath
The 4-7-8 breathing exercise is simple and takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere.
Sit with your back straight or lie down if you prefer that.
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.
• Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
• Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
• Hold your breath for a count of seven.
• Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
• This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that with this breathing technique, you always 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.