The simple Indian yoga method will help you forget about insomnia once and for all
It started a week before my best friend’s wedding. My nervousness had reached epic levels. There was no way I could sleep. What worried me the most was my congratulatory speech. My shyness and the dread of what was to come kept me awake for three days straight.
When I met the dawn, unable to sleep for the third time in a row, the mother of the bride advised me to try a technique. According to her, it had been saving her for decades.
I believed her. After all, the advice was given to me by a woman who is licensed to conduct wellness practices. She has been studying meditation, stress, and breathing practices for years. And her advice changed my life.
The easiest way to remember this method is to call it “4-7-8”. Basically, you just need to stretch your breath through your nose for four seconds. Then we should hold our breath for seven seconds. Finally, you need to exhale through your mouth, stretching this for eight seconds.
It’s as simple as that. This breathing exercise slows our heart rate and calms it down. And it happens very quickly: after just a few repetitions. “It works. Although it looks crazy,” I realised.
How it works
Anyway, the first time, I fell asleep so fast that I didn’t even realise it. For the next four days before the wedding, I slept like a baby. Later, I studied tons of literature in an attempt to figure out how and why it works.
When you feel stressed or anxious, adrenaline courses through your veins, your heart beats at high speed and your breathing becomes rapid and shallow. The trick I told you about works like a sedative.
As you artificially slow down your breathing, your body is forced to reduce the rate of your heart following it.There is not enough oxygen to pump ‘fresh’ blood to your body anyway. Holding your breath with deliberately slow exhalation inevitably slows down your heart rate. This is physiological.
It’s also a practice that calms the mind. Simply because you constantly have to count in your mind and focus on your breathing. And also because rapid shallow breathing and anxiety always go hand in hand. You don’t realise it, though. So, by physically influencing the symptoms, you can suppress the cause. Any neurophysiologist will confirm the effectiveness of this way of calming down.
As a consequence, your whole body relaxes. So hard and so fast, it’s like someone gave you an anaesthetic.
Andrew Weil, MD, Harvard Medical School, says the practice of ‘4-7-8’ has been known to Indian yogis for thousands of years. They use it for stress suppression and relaxation. So you can consider it perfectly safe.
Have a good night’s sleep!