Anxiety seems to be a fact of life for the many of us. Although anxiety can be debilitating at times, there are many different ways to try to combat it. What works for one person may be very different from what works for another. Sometimes self care can do the trick and sometimes medication can be beneficial. It’s best to talk to your doctor about options that may be best for you.
Various breathing techniques can be used to calm anxiety. Today I am going to introduce you to the 4-7-8 breathing technique that was developed by Dr. Andrew Weil. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is based on pranayama (one of the 8 limbs of yoga) practices.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique can be practiced to reduce anxiety, increase the oxygen level in the body, and help you fall asleep at night. It is said that the more you practice the technique the more powerful it becomes. Therefore you may only notice subtle effects at first. Keep practicing and the effects will get more noticeable.
As with any breathing practice, if you become lightheaded or short of breath stop immediately and return to your normal breath. Perhaps you can start with a modified version of the practice. Ask your yoga teacher or doctor for suggestions.
To practice the 4-7-8 breathing technique:
- Find a comfortable seated position. If you are using the practice to help you fall asleep laying down is fine.
- Close your eyes and place the tip of the tongue on the roof of the mouth right behind the front teeth. Keep it there for the duration of the practice.
- Exhale completely through the mouth making a “whooshing” sound.
- Inhale through the nose for a count of 4.
- Hold (retain) the breath for a count of 7.
- Audibly exhale through the mouth with a “whooshing” sound for a count of 8.
- Repeat for a total of 4 rounds. You can work your way up to 8 rounds as you feel ready.
It’s that simple. This breathing technique can be used any time you need it! It’s quick, easy, and effective. I’d love to hear your experiences after you try it.