The breath is your number one go-to tool for every ailment under the sun. You carry it around with you everywhere you go and it’s free. The only question is: how do you use it?
And the answers could (and do) fill multiple books.
The ancient art of breathing techniques, known as Pranayama in the yogic traditions, are vast. Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least 12 that I have learned through the years. Breath work has been a part of every schooling I’ve ever done. Today, I’ll share with you a Pranayama technique that was made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil, a pioneer in Integrative medicine in the US.
How to practice the 4-7-8 Yogic Breathing Technique
The technique is as simple as can be. Sit on a chair, with your legs uncrossed, feet flat on the floor. Rest your palms on your thighs or knees, keeping your back upright. Lightly touch the tip of your tongue to the back of your two front teeth. Prepare by exhaling fully.
After exhaling fully, inhale while counting to 4. At the top of the inhale, hold your breath for a count of 7. Then, release the breath for a count of 8. Repeat this 4 times.
Notice, I said counts and not seconds here. You could do this with a timer and follow the seconds but it is not important that you are right on time, it is simply important that proportions are correct. If you can maintain the same counting speed through the inhale, the hold, and the exhale, that’s good enough.
4-7-8 Breathing works for your mind, body and soul
On a physical level, this method is useful because it encourages the activation of the part of your nervous system that is responsible for resting, digestion and regeneration. This means, in simple terms, that when you practice this 4-7-8 method, your body and mind automatically release stress.
This automatically affects your body on a mental level by alleviating stress and resetting your brain. This method, practiced regularly, teaches your body to search for moments and reasons to naturally shift into a relaxed mode.
On a spiritual level, this practice helps clear out the central passage of energy in your body which allows you more access to your intuition and other psychic gifts that you might have.
Simple. Effective. Free. Done in a minute (or if you’re counting seconds 1 minute and 16 seconds ;)).