Last week, while watching Dr. Andrew Weil, I was reminded of a great breathing exercise called the 4-7-8 breath. It is utterly simple, takes next to no time to do, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Try placing the tip of your tongue against the ridge of the roof of your mouth, just behind your front teeth. Keep your tongue their, throughout, exhaling through your mouth, but around your tongue.
1) Exhale completely through your mouth, making a sort of whoosh sound
2) Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose as your mentally count to FOUR.
3) Hold your breath for a count of SEVEN
4) Exhale completely through your mouth for a count of EIGHT (making some noise)
This is ONE breath. Repeat 3 times for a total of 4 breath cycles.
It doesn’t matter how much time you spend, just that your ratio remains 4-7-8. As you get used to doing this, you can work on slowing down the breath, and building up to 8 cycles, perhaps doing it twice a day, though initially you may feel a bit lightheaded…don’t be concerned, this will pass as you get more used to the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. While pharmaceutical tranquilizers are often effective when you first take them, but lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle in the beginning but actually gains power with repetition and practice.
Use this breathing technique whenever anything upsetting happens–BEFORE you react. Use it any time you feel internal tension. Use it to help you feel more balanced. Use it to help you fall asleep. EVERYONE can benefit from this simple, free, stress reduction tool that you can take with you anywhere and everywhere you go.
I have found a great tool to help me fall back to sleep during the night, but I’ll save that for later in the week. Inspired, by of all things, an episode of the Twilight Zone, it has been working really well for me! Sleep…it does an entire body good.
Thank you for the 4-7-8 technique. I will definitely use that strategy. I am REALLY looking forward to your helpful little tip on falling back to sleep when awakened during the night. THAT is a killer for me. It seems that it is getting more and more difficult for me to relax and get back into a restful slumber. Ahhhhhhh…….the mind just does what it wants.
I read about this recently myself and coincidentally tried it Friday while on the plane back from Vegas. We hit some turbulence and I was starting to feel queasy, I employed this 4-7-8 breathing technique and felt much better. (The turbulence also stopped, so it’s hard to say if it worked – but it sure didn’t hurt!)