The 4-7-8 breathing technique for deep relaxation can help you relieve your stressed-out nervous system, tap into your inner calm, and allow you to have a good night’s sleep.
This type of breathing technique is built on the pranayama breathing exercise – an ancient yogic practice of controlling your breath. The 4-7-8 breathing exercise has many benefits for relaxation and stress reduction.
Founded and popularized in 2015 by celebrity doctor Andrew Weil, MD, the 4-7-8 breathing technique is an intentional breathwork style that helps calm your mind and body. It’ll help reduce your stress and anxiety.
It involves breathing in for the count of four, holding your breath for the count of seven, and breathing out for the count of eight, hence its name – 4-7-8. When practised regularly, it could help you fall asleep faster.
Want to know how the 4-7-8 breathing technique works and its health benefits? Continue reading. We’ve got you covered.
How 4-7-8 breathing works
The 4-7-8 breathing doesn’t require any specific setting or equipment. Still, you should sit with your back straight, especially if you’re just learning the technique. It’s been said that practising the exercise in a calm, quiet environment could help.
While practising, you’ll place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue behind your upper front teeth because you’ll be breathing out through your mouth around your tongue.
The steps Dr Weil gave out to follow are;
— Breathe completely through your mouth by making a “whoosh” sound.
— Close your mouth and gently breathe through your nose to a mental count of four.
— Hold your breath for a count of seven.
— Breathe through your mouth, making a whoosh sound for a count of eight.
— Redo the process three more times for four breath cycles.
Dr Weil says sticking to the ratio of four, then seven, and then eight counts is more critical than the time you spend on each round of the exercise.
As simple and easy as 4-7-8 breathing is, not everyone can participate in it. If you have difficulty holding your breath, you should speed the exercise up and ensure the ratio is consistent for the three rounds. And with constant practice, you’ll get used to it even more.
The health benefits
Since the 4-7-8 breathing technique is a yoga technique, it helps to bring the body into a more relaxed state and calm it down. It will help you focus your mind and body away from repetitive thoughts and worries. Some of the health benefits of this type of breathing include;
Calm your mind
The repetitive nature of this breathing allows for a calming distraction to your racing mind. The counting pattern is a way to focus your mind on something else other than your worries.
Help you sleep
Calming your mind can go a long way to getting a good night’s sleep, and the 4-7-8 breathing technique is linked with it. It also decreases blood pressure and heart rate, which puts your body in sleeping mode.
Train your body to respond better to stress.
There’s a saying that goes; you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. As true as it may sound, you can train your nervous system to do some cool things with practice and repetition.
Though it takes some time for the nervous system to respond to the kind of breathwork, the more you do it, the more you allow your body to go into the parasympathetic mode.
With regular practice of 4-7-8 breathing (particularly when you’re not stressed), your body will learn to integrate it into your stress response.
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