You can’t afford to get sick, and you can’t depend on the present health care system to keep you well. It’s up to you to protect and maintain your body’s innate capacity for health and healing by making the right choices in how you live” – Andrew Weil
This practice is 100% accredited to Andrew Weil, M.D. I’m sharing his discovery because it worked for me.
Andrew Weil is one of my favorite doctors and influencers in the world of integrative medicine. I’m likely partial to him because his simple breathing technique is a tool that tremendously improved my life.
A little about Weil: Weil is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, an approach to health care that encompasses the body, mind and spirit. Dr. Weil is an internationally-recognized expert for his views on leading a healthy lifestyle, his work surrounding inflammatory diseases, his philosophy of healthy aging, and his critique of the future of medicine and healthcare. (1)
How this technique worked for me: Early in college, I suffered a brief spell with what felt like insomnia. I was never able to fall or stay asleep regularly. Melatonin no longer worked for me, and I was taking Advil P.M on a semi-regular basis. It felt horrible. I stumbled upon his breathing technique and thought it was easy and non-evasive enough to give it a shot.
Weil’s patient results:
- Single best method to help patients fall asleep, and fall back asleep when waking up in the middle of the night
- The most powerful anti-anxiety measure that he’s found
- Slows heart rate
- Patients have healed from chronic panic attacks
- Improves mild and chronic digestion
- His patients who have suffered from cold hands their whole lives experience warm hands for the first time as a result of the practice (this is a sign of reducing the fight or flight response in the body)
“This breathing practice is like water cutting the Grand Canyon, it’s not how intensely you do this, it’s not how frequently you do it, it’s the regularity that you do it. You’re sending a signal to your nervous system, and the effects are accumulative. You have to do this twice a day” – Andrew Weil
The 4 7 8 Breathing Technique
You must complete this every day, twice a day religiously. Regularity is what causes the effects of this practice to become very powerful on your mind and body. This is meant to be a routine.
Minimum practice: 4 breath cycles, twice a day, (approx.) 90 seconds a day total.
You practice this more often during the day, but no more than 4 breath cycles at a time until you have developed the practice. If you feel comfortable practicing 4 cycles after 6 weeks, you can increase to 8 cycles at a time, but NEVER more than 8 cycles.
Positioning: You can do this in any position: lying down, seated (feet flat on the floor and back straight), or sitting down on the floor
In yoga breathing, you’re asked to put your tongue in the yogic position. Weil’s technique is the same: touch the tip of your tongue to the ridge behind your upper front teach.
How to do the 4, 7, 8 technique:
Get in a comfortable position
Place tongue in yogic position
Exhale all the air out through your mouth
Close your mouth and inhale through nose quietly for 4 seconds
Hold breath 7 seconds
Open your mouth and exhale air around your tongue, and out of your open mouth for 8 seconds (easier when you purse your lips outward)
Repeat for 4 breathing cycles.
How to use this as a tool (after 4-6 weeks of practicing): This breathing technique is perfect to help you fall asleep, stay asleep, and deal with situations that regularly cause you anxiety or stress (like when someone cuts you off). Weil advises doing this before you respond to someone who says something that irritates you. You can also do the breathing exercise to deal with and overcome severe cravings.
Try it out and let me know how it works for you.
Walk through the 4 7 8 breathing technique with Andrew Weil HERE
You might also like:
How emotional intelligence will change your life: here
Dealing with a difficult personality, here are 3 ways to make it work for you
How to get what you want: here