What Is the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique


The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a special way to breathe that can help you feel better. It's all about controlling your breath. It comes from an ancient yoga practice called pranayama.

Imagine when you're stressed or worried your body can feel all nervous. But this breathing trick can calm you down and feel more relaxed.

Dr. Andrew Weil, the person who made this technique famous calls it a "natural tranquilizer for the nervous system." It's like a soothing tool for your body and mind.

This article will explain where this technique came from, how it works, and why it's good for you. Let's get started and learn how to do it.

How does the 4-7-8 breathing technique work:

Breathing exercises can help relax your body and mind. By following special breathing patterns like the 4-7-8 method, you give your body a fresh supply of oxygen. This helps your organs and tissues work better.

These breathing techniques also help control stress. When we're worried or anxious our bodies can feel tense. But with the 4-7-8 method, you focus on your breath instead of your problems. This can calm you down especially at bedtime if thoughts are keeping you awake. Some experts even call it a "natural way to calm the nervous system."

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is similar to these practices:

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing: Breathe through one nostril at a time and hold the other one closed.

2. Mindfulness Meditation: Focus on your breathing and stay in the present moment.

3. Visualization: Concentrate: on how you naturally breathe.

4. Guided Imagery: Think about a happy memory or story to take your mind off worries as you breathe.

Why Taking Deep Breathes Good For You?

Think of deep breathing as a secret switch that helps your body relax. Our bodies have a system that controls automatic actions like our heartbeat or digestion. This system has two main parts: one that handles stress and another that handles rest.

The stress part is called the sympathetic nervous system. On the other hand, the part that helps us relax is the parasympathetic nervous system. This part is sometimes known as the "rest and chill" system. The major role of this part is to save energy for important body tasks like digesting food.

When we take slow and deep breaths like in the 4-7-8 breathing technique, we turn on the relaxing part and turn off the stress part. That's why deep breathing makes us feel so calm.

Deep breaths also work with a special nerve called the vagus nerve. Think of this nerve as the manager of the "rest and chill" system. It looks after your mood, digestion, and heartbeat. Next time before you start deep breathing notice how you're feeling. I can say you might just feel more relaxed.

Here are the benefits of deep breathing techniques in a simpler way:

1. Reduced Anxiety:

   - College students and senior citizens experienced less stress and anxiety through deep breathing.

2. Lower Blood Pressure :

   - Just 5 minutes of slow deep breathing can lower blood pressure and heart rate.

3. Improved Sleep:

   - Deep breathing like the 4-7-8 technique helps you relax and fall asleep easier, especially when stressed.

4. Less Pain :

   - Relaxed deep breathing reduces pain and also decreases feelings of tension, anger, and sadness. 

How to do 4-7-8 breathing:

To do the 4-7-8 breathing technique follow these steps:

1. Position Your Tongue: Firstly find a comfortable and peaceful place to sit. Put your tongue near the roof of your mouth and touch the back of your front teeth.

2. Breathe Out: Start with a strong exhale through your lips making a whooshing sound. This prepares you for counting.

3. Inhale and Count to Four: Breathe in through your nose while counting to four in your head.

4. Hold and Count to Seven: Gently hold your breath while counting to seven in your mind. No need to push or stress.

5. Exhale and Count to Eight: Exhale slowly for eight counts with slightly tighten lips around your tongue. You should hear a whooshing sound. Congrats you've finished one round of 4-7-8 breathing.

6. Repeat: Follow the same steps for three more cycles. Inhale for four counts, hold for seven, and exhale for eight.

In the beginning, you might feel a bit uneasy when trying this technique. So it's a good idea to do it while sitting or lying down to avoid dizziness or falls.

The total number of seconds isn't as important as maintaining the right ratio. If holding your breath for 7 seconds feels too long then you can try a shorter pattern like this:

  • Breathe in through your nose for 2 seconds.

  • Hold your breath for a count of 3.5 seconds.

  • Exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds.

As long as you stick to the correct ratio you will start noticing the benefits.

But yeah till now there isn't a lot of scientific research that claims about 4-7-8 breathing or similar techniques. Most of the evidence comes from people sharing their positive experiences.

Tips And Tricks To 4-7-8 breathing:

Here are some easy tips to help you practice deep breathing techniques:

Set a Breathing Schedule:

You can use an alarm or timer to remind you to breathe deeply. This might sound a bit funny but it's a very helpful way to make a routine. When your alarm goes off instead of reaching for your phone right away you must first try a few rounds of deep breathing exercises.

Practice Before Stressful Times:

Start practicing deep breathing even when you're not feeling stressed. This way when a high-stress situation comes along you'll already know how to use deep breathing to stay calm. You don't want to try deep breathing when you're in the middle of a stressful moment. It will come automatically as you will become habitual to it.

The cool thing about relaxation breathing is that it's your little secret. I mean to say you can use deep breathing anytime and anywhere and no one will get to know.


Deep breathing is helpful for many many people out there but it's just one way to feel better. There can be a chance that you don't see results so quickly. But it doesn't mean you quit. You need to understand that learning anything new takes a little time.
There are other methods also which you can do to get your mental peace. If your anxiety is still really strong or gets worse then think about talking to a mental health pro. They can help.
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