4-7-8 Breath is a relaxing breathing practice in which your exhalations are twice as long as your inhalations. There is also a sustained retention at the top of the in-breath. Dr Andrew Weil, who popularised this technique, describes it as a natural tranquilliser and recommends that you practice it in the evening if you have difficulty falling asleep.
In Sanskrit, when the different phases of the breath are not the same length, it is called visama vrtti (Irregular Breathing), as opposed to sama vrtti, in which the inhalations and exhalations are the same length.
Diaphragmatic breathing triggers the parasympathetic nervous system—decreasing heart rate, lowering blood pressure and releasing muscular tension so it’s a great technique to practice whenever you’re feeling anxious or stressed.
BENEFITS OF 4-7-8 BREATH
- Quiets the mind.
- Calms the central nervous system.
- Reduces stress and anxiety.
- Can help you to fall sleep.
- Improves lung capacity.
- Decreases heart rate.
- Releases muscular tension.
- Block (optional)
TIPS AND MODIFICATIONS
- You can also practice 4-7-8 Breath lying down or seated in a chair, with your feet flat on the ground.
- Relax your rib cage and breathe deep into your belly.
- If your breath feels forced, you may need to shorten your inhalations and exhalations as gasping for air will have the opposite effect.
- Breathe in a deep, smooth, and effortless rhythm, smoothing the transitions between the different phases of the breath.