I’ve been practicing 4-7-8 breathing for several years now and it’s really a simple way to shift your relationship with stress, anxiety and sleep.

In this portion of the article written by Arlin Cuncic published on October 26, 2021 on verywellmind.com you can learn a bit about 4-7-8 breathing and how to get started and read the full article here.


What Is 4-7-8 Breathing?

4-7-8 breathing is a technique for deep relaxation conceived by Harvard-trained medical doctor and founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine Dr. Andrew Weil. Many use this counting technique to manage stress and anxiety through controlled breathing. Specifically, it involves inhaling for the count of four, holding your breath for the count of seven, and exhaling for the count of eight.


In May of 2015,1 Dr. Weil popularized this breathing technique to help people manage stress and anxiety. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is based on the pranayama breathing exercise that is practiced during yoga for relaxation.


How 4-7-8 Breathing Works

Are you someone who needs to understand “why” something works before you’ll give it a try? If so, here’s the rationale behind the technique.


  • Using the 4-7-8 breathing technique activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for relaxation.
  • When you activate this system, your body suppresses the opposite system (sympathetic nervous system) that is responsible for the stress response (e.g., the fight or flight reaction).
  • While you can use this technique to calm anxiety in the moment, Dr. Weil emphasizes that it is best used as a daily preventative practice.
  • Using this breathing practice regularly helps to make the voluntary practice involuntary.
  • The speed with which you do the breathing practice does not matter. Instead, it is important to maintain the ratio of 4-7-83 so that the exhale is longer than the inhale, according to Dr. Weil.

How to Practice 4-7-8 Breathing

If you want to start this breathing practice but aren’t sure how to get started, it’s helpful to know that it is one of the most straightforward techniques you can learn.

There are some specific techniques involved in the practice of this type of breathing, so it’s important to pay attention to the details.

Here is a list of steps on how to practice this breathing technique. You can also watch Dr. Weil describe the procedure himself.


  • Step 1. Find a comfortable spot where you can sit quietly without being disturbed.
  • Step 2. Gently place your tongue so that it is pressing against the back of your top teeth.
  • Step 3. Exhale all of the air around your tongue through your open mouth.
  • Step 4. Close your mouth and then inhale for a count of 4 through your nose.
  • Step 5. Now, count to seven while you hold your breath.
  • Step 6. Finally, exhale through your mouth for a count of eight. Make an audible “whoosh” sound as you exhale. Once you have exhaled fully, it should feel as though all of the air has left.
  • Step 7. Do a total of four cycles, repeating the previous steps.

The more often that you can practice this technique, the more quickly you will notice results. Ideally, according to Dr. Weil, you should practice at least twice a day though you can do it more often if you are so inclined.


Within just a few short minutes, this breathing technique will help activate your parasympathetic response and slow down your heart rate while lowering blood pressure. You can use 4-7-8 breathing in many different instances, including when feeling stressed or anxious before bedtime, which is another great reason why practicing at night. Once you become comfortable with doing four cycles, you can increase to a maximum of eight cycles.

Learn more in this article. Source: What Is 4-7-8 Breathing?

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