I’ve always been fascinated by breath. From the moment we take our first breath, until the moment when we take our last, we are imbued with this life force. One of the ways that we connect to that life force is through our breath. As a midwife, I would watch as women would literally breathe their children into the world.
Researchers have shown that by altering the rhythm of our breath, we can have a powerful effect on our emotions. It’s one of the best tools we have to counteract the effects of stress.
I personally really like to use the “4‑7‑8 breath” in my own life. It’s very simple to do, and you can do it whenever you are feeling stressed. I do it every morning and every night before I go to bed.
The easiest way to do it is just to sit comfortably in a chair, feet on the floor, hands on your knees, and inhale for the count of four, hold your breath for the count of seven, and then exhale for the count of eight.
Sometimes it can be useful to put your hands on your belly, because when you inhale, you want to breathe deep into the belly. Hold it, and when you exhale, bring the tummy back in towards your spine, and exhale.
Most women actually breathe the opposite way. They take a deep breath in, and suck in their belly, and then they breathe out and relax. It’s the opposite way you want to breathe.
I want to demonstrate a 4-7-8 breath exercise for you:
Inhale for the count of four, hold for the count of seven, and breathe out for the count of eight. If you do this four times, every morning, and every night, or when you are feeling like you’re really in a stressful situation, I promise you, it will help calm you, center you, and after you finish the series, you’ll feel much better prepared to enter back into your world.
Breath work is a powerful tool, it doesn’t cost you anything, and you can take it with you wherever you go.