4-7-8 Breathing

4-7-8 Breathing

 Breathe in, breathe out. Did you know that on average we do it 20,000 times a day? "Breath work" is a term used to describe any type of therapy that utilizes breathing exercises to improve mental, physical and spiritual health. Dr. Andrew Weil, who is a world-renowned pioneer in the field of Integrative Medicine, calls it the simplest and most powerful mind/body technique in his arsenal and says, "If I had to limit my advice on healthier living to just one tip, it would be to learn to breathe correctly."

But why is it so good for you? Breathing is a bodily function that’s both voluntary and involuntary. Through breath control you can voluntarily relax your involuntary nervous system, which regulates the heart, digestion and other bodily functions. Dr. Weil says breath control can lower blood pressure, correct heart arrhythmia and improve digestive problems. Breath work also increases blood circulation throughout the body which can help decrease anxiety, improve sleep and increase energy levels.

One of Dr. Weil’s favorite breathing exercises is "4-7-8 Breathing." Do it at least twice a day for a natural tranquilizing effect for the nervous system.

To watch INTEGRIS APRN and Integrative Medicine expert Juli Johnson demonstrate the technique, visit this On Your Health article (make sure you scroll all the way down the article to view the video).

4-7-8 Breathing

  1. Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
  2. Hold your breath for a count of seven.
  3. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
  4. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Tips

  • 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 always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth; don’t forget the whoosh sound.
  • You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.
  • 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 deeply.