In just a few minutes, the breathing technique can trigger your body’s relaxation response and slow down your pounding heart. It can even improve concentration and sleep quality.

The 4-7-8 breath was designed by integrative medicine doctor and author Andrew Weil, but it has roots in the yogic practice of pranayama. The method consists of inhaling for four counts, holding the breath for seven counts, and exhaling for eight counts.


This breathing technique activates your parasympathetic nervous system, helping you de-stress and sleep better. It’s simple, takes almost no time, and requires no equipment to practice.

To get started, sit comfortably in a quiet spot. Position your tongue to rest against the ridge of tissue that is just behind your upper front teeth (you may need to slightly purse your lips if this feels awkward) Breath Exercise. Inhale through the nose to a mental count of four. Then hold your breath to a count of seven. Finally, exhale slowly through the mouth for a count of eight, making an audible whooshing sound (you may need to slightly purse your lips again if this feels awkward).

Repeat this cycle four times to complete one breathing cycle. This exercise is best practiced daily as a preventative stress reliever, but can also be used during stressful moments to help calm your mind and body. The repetition of the counting sequence helps to distract your mind from racing thoughts and can help you feel centered and in control of your emotions.


While it isn’t the most popular breathing technique, this relaxation yogic technique can help people relax and sleep. Like the 5-7-3 and box breathing exercises, it involves counting in for four breaths, holding the breath for seven counts and then exhaling for eight counts. Then a pause for a count of five before starting the next cycle of four breaths and holding. The breath hold is the most critical part of this breathing exercise.

During the hold, focus on a relaxing thought or picture to ease your tension. You may feel a slight lightheadedness when you start doing this, but it should go away with practice.

While research is limited on the 4-7-8 breathing method, it’s known to lower the body’s stress response over time. Try to practice this breathing exercise twice a day, and see if you notice any changes in your stress levels. Identify a recurring moment in your day, such as when you wake up, after work or before bed, to commit this breathing practice to your routine.


During the final step of 4-7-8 breathing, you exhale completely through your mouth while making a whoosh sound for a count of eight. This completes one breath cycle, and you can repeat the cycle three more times.

The repetition of this breathing technique, along with its focus on counting, help calm your mind and slow down your heart rate. It also helps to release tense muscles and increase oxygen intake, which can aid in relaxation.

The calming effect of this breathing exercise is due to its effectiveness in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you relax by shutting down the more stress-inducing sympathetic nervous system responsible for the “fight or flight” response.

While it’s ideally performed seated, with good posture, this breathing exercise can be done anywhere and anytime. Moreover, it doesn’t require any special equipment or space. It’s a simple, effective and quick way to manage anxiety and stress. The key to reaping its benefits is consistency.


Practicing this breathing exercise regularly over time can help you lower your stress levels, as well as alleviate other telltale symptoms of stress, such as a fast heartbeat and shallow breathing. The counting sequence in this technique provides a calming distraction and can help keep your mind off other worries.

This simple breathing exercise is easy to do anywhere and doesn’t require any equipment. Find a quiet spot to practice, and sit up in a comfortable position (though you can do this breathing technique lying down as well). Inhale quietly through your nose to the count of four, hold your breath to the count of five, and exhale loudly through your mouth for the count of seven. Repeat this sequence 10 times. You can speed up or slow down the ratio of 4:7:7, but always be sure to inhale as long as you exhale.