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4-7-8 Breathing: How to do it, Benefits and Uses

What is 4-7-8 Breathing?

The 4-7-8 breathing meditation is quite simple to master. Simply inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 7 seconds, then exhale for 8 seconds. Dr. Andrew Weil invented this breathing technique, which he refers to as a “natural nervous system tranquilizer.” It is also known as “relaxing breath” since it operates as a natural nervous system relaxant. 

The 4-7-8 breathing technique is based on breathing exercises known as pranayama. Pranayama is the ancient yogic technique of controlling one’s breath. These kinds of mindful breathing techniques have been shown to have a wide range of stress-relieving and relaxation benefits. 

This technique aids in regulating cortisol, a hormone that controls your fight-or-flight response. This is critical because too much cortisol generated too frequently in your body can have significant long-term health consequences. 

How to do the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique?

The 4-7-8 breathing practice is a simple technique to learn. Rooted in yoga, this breathing technique is intended to slow your heart rate and calm your mind. It entails breathing in while counting to four, holding the breath for seven seconds, then exhaling for eight seconds. This approach acts as a natural nervous system relaxant.

Sit with your back straight and shoulders relaxed.

This is considered one breath cycle. You may do this three or four times more. If it is your first time trying this breathing meditation, try doing this four times at a time because it may cause dizziness. 

You can use this technique to counteract stress when you sense it coming on or as a natural relaxant to help you sleep. Repeat as many times as you need to calm your mind, relax your body and renew your spirit, which is the foundation for healing.

The Benefits of Breathing

Deep breathing techniques appear to have a beneficial impact on a person’s anxiety and stress levels, according to some data. Using the 4-7-8 breathing technique is reported to help reduce anxiety, improve sleep, regulate food cravings, and moderate emotional responses such as rage. 

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Mindful breathing techniques, such as 4-7-8 breathing, can induce the relaxation response, as described by Harvard cardiologist Dr. Herbert Benson. We have a natural stress reaction that helps us deal with potentially perilous situations. This fight-or-flight reaction can help us live, but it can be harmful to our health if it is overused for ordinary stressors. This stress response weakens our immune system and can lead to additional health issues such as high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, depression, anxiety, etc. With a profound sense of rest, the relaxation reaction blocks the stress response. 

Some of the possible health benefits of deep breathing techniques, particularly deep breathing through the diaphragm, were identified in a review study published in the Health Science Journal in 2011. The following are some of the potential advantages: 

1. Improvement of Sleep Quality

Sleep disturbance is one of the unpleasant side effects of stress. When your body is in a state of tension, falling asleep can be nearly impossible. Deep, calm breathing techniques like 4-7-8 breathing can help you fall asleep by triggering your body’s relaxation response. 

2. Decreased Anxiety

Pranayama practice was found to lower test anxiety among college students in a study. Another study of senior folks found that deep breathing exercises reduced anxiety after two months. 

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3. Helps Lower Blood Pressure

People who practice slow deep breathing for five minutes have been demonstrated to have lower blood pressure and heart rates. Slow, deep breathing exercises stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers blood pressure through lowering heart rate and dilation of blood vessels. When you slow down your breathing, your brain associates it with relaxation, causing your body to slow down other operations like digestion.

4. Pain is Reduced

Those who engaged in calm deep breathing experienced less pain than those who performed deep breathing that needed a lot of sustained focus, according to a study of 16 healthy persons. Tension, anger, and melancholy were reduced in both groups.

5. Focus has Improved

The effects of eight weeks of deep, slow belly breathing on concentration, emotions, and stress levels were investigated in a 2017 study. People in the deep breathing group did better on focus tests after training and had fewer negative emotions.

6. Decreased Fatigue

In a study that aimed to determine the effectiveness of Relaxation Breathing Exercise (RBE) on fatigue in patients with gynecological cancer undergoing chemotherapy, researchers found a significant decrease in the mean fatigue scores of the patients. They also concluded that conducting RBE four times a day effectively alleviated fatigue better than RBE twice a day on gynecological cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. 

7. Better Stress Management

Deep breathing is one of the most effective methods for reducing stress in the body. This is because deep breathing signals your brain to relax and calm down. This message is then sent to your body by your brain. When you breathe deeply to relax, the things that happen when you are stressed, such as elevated heart rate, rapid breathing, and high blood pressure, all diminish.

8. Improved Migraine Symptoms

To learn how to relax and cope with migraines and headaches, you need to become familiar with your breathing patterns and change them in ways that will help you relax.

Uses of 4-7-8 Breathing and Exercises

Certain breathing techniques, such as 4-7-8 breathing, have been linked to other relaxing techniques. Some people combine the following practices with their breathing:

The 4-7-8 breathing is most commonly used to alleviate tension and anxiety. It is said to grow more beneficial when a person uses it more frequently in helping them control their stress levels.

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The 4-7-8 Breathing

The 4-7-8 ratio is the most significant aspect of this exercise. You can speed up the practice if you have problems holding your breath for seven seconds. With practice, you’ll be able to slow everything down and become accustomed to inhaling and exhaling more deeply. 

After the first few times of performing this, a person may feel lightheaded. As a result, it’s a good idea to do this technique while sitting or lying down to avoid dizziness or falling. 

The ratio is more essential than the overall number of seconds that the pattern lasts. If a person can’t hold their breath for long enough, they can try a shorter rhythm like: 

  •           – breathe in through the nose for 2 seconds 
  •           – hold the breath for a count of 3.5 seconds 
  •           – exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds 
  •  

After several days or weeks of doing 4-7-8 breathing consistently one to two times a day, a person may observe benefits as long as they keep the ideal ratio. 

According to certain 4-7-8 breathing proponents, the more time and frequency a person practices the technique, the more successful it gets.  

Summary

The 4-7-8 Breathing Meditation, often known as “relaxing breath,” works as a natural relaxant for the nervous system. This method is based on pranayama, or breathing exercises, which are an old yogic technique for controlling one’s breath. These types of mindful breathing techniques have been demonstrated to provide a wide range of stress-relieving and relaxing advantages, including enhanced sleep quality, reduced anxiety, improved stress management, decreased fatigue, and improved focus, among others. 

The most important part of this exercise is the 4-7-8 ratio. If you have trouble holding your breath for seven seconds, you can speed up the practice. You’ll be able to slow everything down and get into the habit of breathing and exhaling more deeply with practice. 

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Dr. George J. Ceremuga

Osteopathic Family Physician | Ambassador for Christ​ | Biblical Health Coach | Active Veteran

4-7-8 Breathing: How To Do It, Benefits and Uses