4-7-8 Breathing: How To Do It & Its Benefits
Dr. Andrew Weil developed the 4-7-8 breathing technique based on the ancient yogic breathing – pranayama. This breathing technique is important during stressful situations as it helps control your fight or flight response and regulating cortisol levels. It also helps in regaining control of your breathing and improves your sleeping pattern.
What Is 4-7-8 Breathing?
This breathing technique helps you to focus on deep rhythmic breathing to promote relaxation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique can help in:
- Reducing anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Improve sleep
- Regain control of breathing
- Controlling anger
Generally, breathing techniques help bring the body into a state of relaxation and regain/reset the breathing. These exercises help especially when our mind triggers the fight or flight response or we are in stressful situations. They can also help with controlling anticipatory anxiety and related sleep concerns.
Instead of letting our mind wander and focus on our thoughts and worries, the 4-7-8 breathing helps keep our mind focused on our breathing pattern which can help us soothe our nerves and calm our minds.
Other than this particular breathing exercise, you can also try:
- Alternate nostril breathing
- Mindfulness meditation
- Visualization or guided imagery
- Box breathing
- Deep breathing
…among others to help you relax and keep your mind away from anxiety and worries. All these exercises require you to focus mainly on the effect the breathing is causing your body which can help you from wandering too deep in your worries and thoughts.
For many people with anxiety disorders, panic disorders, or other mental disorders, the 4-7-8 breathing technique can act as a distraction and can help them relax.
How To Practice 4-7-8 Breathing?
Firstly, to practice this exercise, you need to sit in a comfortable, quiet, and stress-free place in either a straight, cross-legged position on the ground/mat or straight in a chair with feet planted firmly and flat on the ground. If you’re practicing this technique for better sleep, then it is recommended you lie flat on your back.
Follow these steps to practice the 4-7-8 breathing:
Step 1: Exhale completely through your mouth while making a whooshing sound.
Step 2: Purse your lips and inhale through your nose while counting silently to four.
Step 3: Hold your breath for seven seconds.
Step 4: Through your mouth, exhale while making another whooshing sound while counting silently to eight.
Repeat the process for a few more breaths.
Note: Every inhales counts as a new cycle of breathing.
Things to keep in mind:
- Holding in your breath is the difficult part of this exercise and it is suggested that you repeat the cycle for 4 breaths before gradually moving to eight and so on.
- This breathing exercise should be done where you can relax your mind and body for maximum results.
- You may also feel a little dizzy and light-headed during the initial practice but it should get better with time and practice. If you’re still experiencing dizziness, then immediately contact your doctor.
Benefits Of 4-7-8 Breathing
Deep breathing exercises can help reduce day-to-day stress and anxiety. The 4-7-8 breathing can also help:
- Decrease fatigue and tiredness
- Reduce symptoms of asthma
- Improve stress management
- Reduce hypertension
- Reduce anger or aggressive tendencies
- Reduce headache or symptoms of migraine
Practicing deep breathing exercises also help regain or reset erratic breathing and can also help control increased heart rate. Many practitioners of deep breathing also use the 4-7-8 breathing with:
The 4-7-8 breathing technique along with other deep breathing exercises has many health benefits for the mind and body. Not only do they help in reducing stress and anxiety, but they also help in better sleep.
If you’re still experiencing sleep issues, you can try the following tips:
- Listening to relaxation music
- Limiting consumption of caffeine, alcohol, or recreational drugs
- Practicing bedtime yoga
If you’re still experiencing anxiety and sleep problems, then it is recommended you talk to a professional for help. You can also write to us at email@example.com for more information.
“When people ask me what the most important thing is in life, I answer: ‘Just breathe.’” – Yoko Ono
Breathe in, breathe out, and relax.