The 4-7-8 breathing technique, according to Dr. Weil, is the most effective anti-anxiety therapy he has ever used.
It is a straightforward technique that supposedly stops inner turmoil in its tracks by bringing about inner calm almost immediately and reducing the body’s inflammatory response to stress chemicals.
Our bodies are now constantly in a fight-or-flight state as a result of modern lifestyles, which causes high blood pressure, shallow breathing, an increase in stress hormones, and panic and anxiety attacks.
However, this popular technique developed by India’s yogis quickly relaxes the mind and treats all these symptoms. Here is how to perform it:
- Sit in a comfortable position, straight up, and place the tip of the tongue on the ridge of the gums, just under the front teeth
- Expand the diaphragm and slowly inhale through the nose for a count of 4
- Hold your breath for a count of 7
- Slightly open your mouth and exhale for 8 counts, drawing the diaphragm in
- Repeat the cycle four times.
- Afterward, you might feel a bit light-headed, but it will pass soon.
Dr. Andrew Weil asserts that although this approach has immediate results, its true strength only manifests after regular, everyday use for eight weeks—at least twice a day. After some practice, you’ll start to breathe more deeply without even thinking about it, and you’ll be amazed by the health benefits.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique’s general idea can be similar to techniques like the following:
- Mindfulness meditation, as it stimulates focused breathing while guiding the attention to the present moment.
- Visualization, which focuses the mind on the path and pattern of natural breathing
- Guided imagery, since it makes you focus on a happy memory or a past story in order to take the mind off your worries as you breathe
- Alternate nostril breathing, which includes breathing in and out of one nostril at a time while the other nostril is held closed