Feel Zen in Seconds with the 4-7-8 Breath

self care Oct 06, 2020

This is my secret weapon. Seriously. Who knew a simple breath could be life changing.

Imagine being able to consciously and naturally release a chemical into your bloodstream whenever you needed to focus, relax, calm down or sleep.

Well, you definitely can. I've been using the 4-7-8 breathing technique for over a year now and it has helped me in so many ways.

I used to be a stress ball. It caused me to have terrible periods, acne breakouts, poor sleep and who knows what else. Stress is a silent killer.

The 4-7-8 breathing technique has completely changed the game for me. 

Ever since learning about the 4-7-8 breath, I've feel more zen and in control of my stress response. I used to think that being stressed and anxious was just part of my personality and helped me to get things, but I now realize that was a limiting belief.

I can get the same amount, if not more done, with good quality sleep and the focus that this breathing method brings me.

What is the 4-7-8 breath?

Based on pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) and made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil M.D., the 4-7-8 breathing technique is simple, but effective.

Watch this video or keep reading to learn how to do 4-7-8 breathing:

How to do the 4 7 8 Breathing Technique:

1. Inhale through your nose for 4

2. Hold your breath at the top for 7

3. As if you were blowing out a candle, exhale through your mouth with your lips pursed for 8.

Dr. Weil recommends doing this 4 times with the tip of your tongue touching the little ridge of your gums behind your two front teeth. 

I usually do the 4-7-8 breath 3 times and I haven't added the tongue bit, but I still find this breath works well and immediately.

If I do this breath in bed, I'll yawn before I'm done the 3 rounds and I fall asleep shortly after.

If I'm stressed, this calms me down, brings me back to the present and allows me to focus with a level head.

If I'm anxious and feel my heart racing, I'll do this breath until I feel my heart rate return to normal.

Why the 4-7-8 breath works:

The 4-7-8 breath stimulates our vagus nerve, the longest nerve in our body, which runs from the base of our skull to our colon. This nerve plays a major part in our stress response by activating the parasympathetic nervous system to calm us down.

The sympathetic nervous system is our "fight or flight response. The parasympathetic nervous system is our "rest and digest" response, so that's what we're trying to consciously stimulate with the 4 7 8 breathing method.

When your exhales are longer than your inhales, this tells your vagus nerve that you're relaxed. Your vagus nerve then sends a signal to your brain, through your central nervous system, to activate the "rest and digest" response. 

The result? Instant relaxation. It's works like magic, but it's actually science.

I hope the 4-7-8 breathing technique helps you as much as it has helped me! Try it before you exit this post and let me know how you feel in the comments below!

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