How Can 4-7-8 Breathing Transform Your Life?
Modern life can be stressful, and it is easy to get overwhelmed by the endless to-do lists, the pressures of social media, and the day-to-day responsibilities we all face.
Learning techniques to manage your mood and reduce your stress can help you to feel more in control, and improve your sleep, mental health, and overall well-being.
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is one example and can be an amazing way to master anxiety, gain control over your being, and handle the challenges you face each day.
Developed by Dr. Andrew Weil, the 4-7-8 breathing technique is a pattern based on an ancient yoga technique, known as pranayama. The goal is to help the user gain greater control over their breathing, and can also help you to enjoy more restful, restorative sleep.
What Are The Benefits of Breathing Exercises?
Breathing exercises offer a variety of benefits for the body and can improve your overall health. Some of the most important benefits include:
- Reduced blood pressure
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced depression
- Increased immune function
- Teaching your body to calm itself more easily and effectively
- Improved sleep, and the ability to fall asleep more quickly
- Quieting the mind through meditation
How Does 4-7-8 Breathing Work?
The goal of any breathing technique is to bring the body into a deep state of calm and relaxation and have the ability to offer a much-needed boost of oxygen to your tissues and organs.
Most breathing patterns involve holding your breath for a specific period of time, allowing your whole body to replenish its oxygen supply anew.
Building a regular relaxation practice can also help you to rebalance your body, including the fight-or-flight instinct that kicks in when we are stressed or afraid. When we are anxious, your instincts can be overwhelmed, resulting in swirling fears, thoughts, and concerns that quickly take over your life.
This, in turn, can result in sleepless nights tossing and turning, endlessly replaying the events of the day, and bringing up the worst-case scenario.
Using the 4-7-8 technique allows you to overcome this, forcing the body and the mind to concentrate solely on regulating your breath, and not about the fears and worries.
Once you focus on your breathing, your heart rate will decrease and your blood pressure reduce, both of which help you to feel calmer and more in control.
As the old adage goes, practice makes perfect. The more you practice the 4-7-8- technique, the more powerful it becomes, and the easier it will be to slip into a relaxed state. For the best results, it is a good idea to practice at least twice per day.
How To Practice 4-7-8 Breathing
One of the main advantages of the 4-7-8 technique is that you can practice it anytime, any place – all you need is a spot to sit or lie down comfortably, and a private, quiet time when you know you will not be disturbed.
This can be easier said than done, but the more experienced and confident you get at the technique, the easier it will be to do it even when things are not quiet around you. In the early stages, however, try to find somewhere peaceful.
Always try to practice good posture when sitting up (though lying down is recommended if you are trying to fall asleep), and keep your spine as straight as possible – imagine that the vertebrae in your back are connected by a string, and are stacked neatly in place when you sit up straight.
It is a good idea to make sure that you don’t have anywhere to be immediately after the practice, at least in the early stages. Make sure that you are in a setting that allows you to relax completely, as it may take you a few minutes to become fully alert.
Before starting the practice, rest the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth, placed immediately behind your front teeth. You should try to keep this in place throughout the entire practice, though this can be tricky, so don’t place too much pressure on yourself.
Purse your lips before you start – this makes the exhale easier.
When you are ready, allow your lips to part, and make a “whoosh” sound as you exhale all the air out of your lungs, releasing it from your mouth. Close your lips, and inhale silently, drawing the breath up through your nose, and count to four as you do so.
Hold your breath for seven seconds – this is the most important part of the practice and may take time to build up to. Once you have completed this, exhale with another “whoosh” for a total of eight seconds.
Try to repeat all of the above within a single cycle of breath – a new inhale is a new cycle of breath.
Once you have the hang of things, repeat this pattern for a total of four full breaths. As you grow more confident and experienced, you can gradually build your way up to a total of eight full breath cycles.
Growing Your Practice
Once you have mastered the art of 4-7-8 breathing, you can incorporate other practices into your routine, including:
- Alternate nostril breathing – closing one nostril while breathing in and out of the other.
- Mindfulness meditation practices – focused breathing to help you concentrate your thoughts and attention on a single, present moment.
- Guided imagery – encourages you to concentrate on a happy story or a positive memory to take your mind off your concerns or stress
- Visualization – encourages you to focus on the pattern of your breathing as it naturally occurs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are The Benefits Of The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique?
The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a great introduction to mastering your breathing and harnessing its power. It can help to reduce stress and anxiety and offers benefits including reducing blood pressure and improving immunity.
How Long Will It Take For Me To See The Results?
Everyone is different, so you will need to be patient to ensure that you get the best from your practice. Steady, regular practice will make a significant difference in the long run, so stick with it rather than expecting instant results.
How Can I Grow And Extend My Practice?
Once you have mastered the 4-7-8 technique, you can move on to other practices such as guided meditations, mindfulness, and visualization.
If you are looking to add mindfulness to your life, alleviate your stress, and control your anxiety, 4-7-8 breathing is a great place to start.
By harnessing the power of your breath, you will be in a better position to control and manage life, reduce the stress and headache of daily living, and ensure that you are ready to face any new challenges that life has to throw at you with a calm, clear head.
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