A Breath of Calm Air
Updated: Sep 19, 2019
Stress, anxiety and tension, we all pretty much have it and no one seems to like it much. The science of breath, called pranayama in yogic studies, has a simple tool you can start to use right away in order to bring yourself into a natural state of calm.
When we are in a stressful state our breathing pattern tends to get out of rhythm. This disrupts the balance between oxygen and CO2 in the bloodstream and elevates the fight or flight response.
By restoring a deep and peaceful rhythm we kind of 'reverse engineer' our way back into a state of calmness.
Popularized by natural medicine advocate Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4 7 8 breath is something you can practice pretty much anywhere at any time. What you do is breath in through the nose to a silent 4 count, hold the breath for a 7 count and exhale to a count of 8. Repeat 4 times and notice the calming sensation. You can use the graphic above to practice with- feel free to right click on it to save a copy for yourself.
Very important: do not wait until you are in a highly stressed state to practice. Just like you wouldn't get up on stage to portray a role in a play until you knew your lines, you need to do some prep work with this or any technique like it for it to work when you need it to. Practice at odd times during the day; right before you fall asleep is ideal since it will also improve your sleep quality.