This is the 1st in a series of posts exploring various breathing techniques. All of them are momentary aids to relieve stress & tension, to re-energize, re-focus and/or just feel good.
(You can register for the corresponding video series for free here.)
The 1st technique is the 4-7-8 method.
The ‘4-7-8’ is a ratio.
The 4 is a count for your inhalation. The 7 for holding your breath. The 8 for your exhalation.
So, get into a comfortable position, either sitting or standing, with your back relaxed.
Make a whoosh sound as you forcibly exhale all the air out of your lungs. Place your tongue on the soft tissue just behind your front, upper-teeth. This will remain the same for the whole exercise.
- Breathe in through your nose (mouth closed) for a count of 4;
- Hold your breath for a count of 7;
- Breathe out for a count of 8 with your mouth open making a gentle whoosh sound.
That’s one breath.
To begin with, repeat a maximum of 4 times.
The major benefit with this one is the long exhalation – letting your lungs get rid of oxygen to make space for as much new, fresh oxygen as possible.
If you find 8 seconds is too long for an exhalation, shorten the time. But make sure you shorten how long you inhale and hold your breath as well (again, the 4-7-8 is a ratio).
Try this twice a day, consistently.
By imposing certain rhythms on our voluntary breathing, this will gradually affect our involuntary nervous system.
The results come with time.
Regular practice is what’s important, as opposed to intensity of practice.
Additionally – but to a lesser degree – once you have developed this technique, it’s a useful tool for moments when you feel a build-up of stress or tension in the body.
The more you practice the more you will want to exhale longer and longer. For this reason alone, it’s worth a try.