If you are not familiar with the 4-7-8 breathing technique, it’s time for you to use and enjoy this very effective form of pranayama. This simple breathing directive has been popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil and there is no reason here to give you express, how to instruction. Learn from the good doctor himself here or just google “4-7-8 breathing” to find lots of other voices.
Three things we would emphasize. The outbreath, as in many other pranayama practices, is quite important. The 8-count exhale is longer than the 4-count inhale (or 7-count hold) for good reason, i.e. to thoroughly empty your lungs of any stale air and to set yourself up for a full and effortless inhale. Secondly, don’t ignore the instruction regarding your pursed lips and tongue. It helps to modulate your exhale and eliminates the generation of excess saliva. Finally, this is a modest relaxation and focusing exercise. You don’t have to force, extend or exaggerate anything.
What’s it good for? It’s wonderful at the beginning of seated meditation or a yoga routine, or even a bit of savasana. It’s simple but complex enough that you must momentarily focus your attention on the breath and counting to the exclusion of whatever else you may be thinking about. After the four or so rounds, you can proceed right in to counting all of your breaths or the mindful focusing on just the long and short of inhales and exhales. On your exhale, you might particularly bring attention to relaxing the tense neck and shoulders, the nemeses of much full-
body relaxation. That can be particularly helpful if you are employing 4-7-8 to help you fall or fall back asleep.
As with all yoga asana and pranayama, don’t be afraid to experiment and observe, or be too quick to judge its efficacy. 4-7-8 is simple, universal goodness.
Don’t be afraid to dive deep and make it your own!