The 4-7-8 Breath Technique: Relaxation Exercise for Stress and Anxiety

Whether you suffer from chronic stress and anxiety or are simply looking for a reliable relaxation exercise to incorporate into your daily routine, the 4-7-8 breath technique is probably a good choice for you.

This technique has gained worldwide reknown in recent years, thanks to an increase in scientific evidence that it can help to relieve many chronic issues, from stress to blood pressure.

In this post I’ll explain how to do this simple breath exercise, and then I’ll briefly outline some of the benefits of 4-7-8 breathing.

If you want to explore more options, you can browse our list of breath exercises here, or check out this post for information on popular pranayama techniques.

How To Do The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise

What Is 4-7-8 Breathing?

At it’s core, the 4-7-8 breath is incredibly simple. All you have to do is sit comfortably and draw your attention inwards to focus on your breath.

  1. First, inhale for four seconds, drawing in a nice, full breath. As you do, focus on the feeling of the breath entering into your body, and try to feel into the vital energy that it holds.
  2. Then, pause for 7 seconds, holding your breath in. This is known as pausing ‘at the top of’ your breath. As you hold your breath inside your body, you may want to bring your attention to your third eye at the center of your forehead. You may feel a slight sensation of lightness.
  3. Finally, exhale for 8 seconds. Allow your exhalation to be long, metered, and complete. The first time you practice this breath, you may be tempted to exhale most of your air quickly, but practice smoothing out the pace of the exhale, to continue breathing out evenly for the full 8 counts.

How It Works: Tips and Best Practices

While the core practice is very easy, there are a few tips that will help you to make the most of this practice:

  1. Find a comfortable place to sit, and make sure you sit with an erect spine. Keeping your torso erect during this breath is important to maintain full control over the flow of the air through your body. Click here to read more about meditation postures.
  2. Never force your breath. If you find this exercise uncomfortable, or feel you cannot hold your breath for the right period of time, try shortening the duration. You can count faster, but try to keep the ration of 4:7:8 consistent, regardless of the actual pace at which you breathe.
  3. This breath is a relaxation exercise, which means that it is best done whenever you need to calm your mind, or in the evening before bed. If you want to work with a more active breath, try these 8 breaths to raise your energy instead.
  4. As you work with this technique, you may take your practice to the next level by focusing on holding a feeling of light, or energy, in the body alongside the breath. As you breathe in and pause, you engage this light-energy, and as you exhale you release it completely. Read more about activating the light body.

4-7-8 Breath Benefits

The 4-7-8 breath has become popular recently in large part to increasing scientific support of the many benefits of this technique.

Among them, this breath has been shown to:

  • Relieve stress,
  • Soothe anxiety,
  • Lower blood pressure and chronic hypertension,
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease,
  • Decrease the impact of asthma,
  • Increase blood flow throughout the body,
  • Prevent chronic fatigue,
  • Counteract aggressiive tendencies, and
  • Prevent or reduce migraine symptoms.

Read more about the health benefits of meditation.

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