Release the pressure
The 4-7-8 breathing technique explores the relationship between gently building and releasing pressure in the thoracic cavity. In the retention of the inhalation, we can sit and observe the energetic effects of this subtle build-up of thoracic pressure, such as a slight increase in our heart rate. As we consciously release this pressure, with an extended exhalation, we observe a slowing down of the heart rate and a sense of calm washing over us.
4-7-8 Breathing Benefits
Breath Retention, known as Kumbhaka in yogic science, claims to strengthen your diaphragm and lung capacity. It is also said to cleanse the respiratory system of stale residual air and help to oxygenate the bloodstream. The 4-7-8 breath is perfect for letting go of stress and anxiety, making it an ideal prelude to a gentle yoga practise, meditation or even a nights sleep.
Keep an element of ease in your body and mind when retaining the breath. Never hold the breath if it becomes uncomfortable and makes you feel on edge, as this creates the adverse reaction in your nervous system as to what you’re trying to achieve. When exhaling, try not to release the breath too quickly and with too much force. Allow a gentle, even release of your internal pressure. And then once you reach the count of 8, gently invite the breath in once again.
4-7-8 Breathing Method:
- Begin by closing your eyes, taking a full inhale through the nose and exhaling through the mouth.
- Close your mouth and take a full belly breath in through your nose to the count of 4. For this draw your diaphragm down in your torso and allow your belly to expand like a balloon.
- Hold the breath for a count of 7. Gently observe how it feels to hold the breath both physically and mentally. Try to be as passive and non-reactive as possible with anything that arises.
- Very slowly begin to release the out-breath to the count of 8, either through pursed lips or through your nose.
- Gently allow the in-breath to return, repeating the breath cycle several times.
- When you have finished, sit quietly for a few moments, allowing the breath pattern to settle and the body to feel relaxed.