About a year ago I started using a breathing technique by Dr. Weil called 4-7-8.

The first time I did it, I thought, ” Well, that did nothing,” and then… I woke up to my alarm : ) Falling asleep, staying asleep and enjoying a good sleep are all very common issues that I hear my members talk about in the studio. Stress and hormones are some of the most common reasons I hear for poor sleep. I often find myself lying in bed, head full of running thoughts, unable to slow down and sleep.  The 4-7-8 technique has been very helpful for me.

Dr. Weil is well known for the 4-7-8 breathing technique, (also known as the Relaxing Breath). It is the perfect, portable stress reliever. It puts us in a relaxed state almost immediately, it only takes a few minutes, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. I use this technique often when I am having difficulties sleeping because my head is full and I cannot stop thinking about how to torch… I mean teach tomorrows class : ))) It slows down my heart rate and helps me slow down my mind so I can go to sleep. I did not know until recently that it is more valuable to do it 1-2 times/day, everyday. Dr. Weil claims that the benefits are cumulative and that it is impossible to breathe and be in a state of anxiety.

Among many other roles, Dr. Weil is a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, and internationally recognized for his views on leading a healthy lifestyle. He is well known for his philosophy on healthy aging, and his critique of the future of medicine and health care. According to his website he has a Harvard education and many years of practicing natural and preventative medicine.

Here are the instructions as outlined on his website.  I’m also including a video of Dr. Weil demonstrating the 4-7-8 breathing technique. I find it helpful to watch how it is done. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose, not even sleep 🙂

“Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

1) Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
2) Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
3) Hold your breath for a count of seven.
4) Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
5) This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.”