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How to do 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

This breathing exercise is known specifically for promoting better sleep, calming nerves and swirling minds, and managing reactive emotions and anxiety. The 4-7-8 breath is used to promote relaxation and counteract the fight-or-flight nervous response we experience when we are stressed.

If you experience racing and swirling thoughts that prevent you from relaxing and falling asleep, 4-7-8 breath can help. Some have even called the 4-7-8 breathing technique a natural tranquilizer.

How to Practice 4-7-8 Breath

Inhale for four seconds, hold the breath for seven seconds and exhale for eight seconds.

Prepare

Sit in a comfortable, upright position or lie in bed.

Place your hands on your knees with palms facing upward.

Close your eyes.

Breathe

Inhale. Breath through the nose for four seconds.

Retain. Hold the breath for a count of seven seconds.

Exhale. Exhale forcefully through the nose for eight seconds.

Repeat. Repeat steps one through three.

Check

Steps one through threeconstitute one cycle of 4-7-8 Breathing.

Perform four to eight rounds maximum per sitting. If you are using this exercise to fall asleep, perform as long as you’d like.

The best time to perform this relaxing, tranquilizing exercise is before bed.

Medical and Health Considerations

This breathing exercise is suitable for everyone. However, it may be more difficult for children, pregnant women and elderly people to retain the breath for seven counts and exhale for eight counts. If this occurs, just count faster instead of changing the ratio of the breaths.

As with any new exercise, stop if you feel uncomfortable. Breathwork is an excellent way to improve health and well-being, although it is not a substitute for medical treatment. Consult a doctor if there is a medical condition.

Martha Kein is school director of The American Yoga Academy, a world-renowned online yoga teacher training school training and certifying yoga instructors for 30 years. For more information, visit AmericanYogaAcademy.com.

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