SLOW DOWN AND BREATHE – THE 4-7-8 TECHNIQUE by The Yogi Psychologist – Julie de Rooij (MSc)
When we experience anxiety or stress simply by thinking about the event, dooming
thoughts sets the system into stress mode and increases the heart and breathing
rates, tense the muscles and rises adrenaline and cortisol levels to make us ready for
any upcoming threat or danger. Our body believes we are already in the battlefield.
The cool thing is that via control of the breath we can enter and communicate we’re
okay. So our lungs and heart can convince the brain things are calm or give us the
sense to self-efficacy – the belief and feeling we’re are capable of handling this
stressful situation, even when we are in the middle of it! Learn this evidenced based
and ancient old breathing technique, towards an overall state of wellbeing, sense of
self-agency and confidence in handling states of stress.
Stress is part of life and sometimes we cannot change the situation for the better.
We can become better at handling and coping WITH stress.
This package includes:
- How stress works
- Questions to ask in stress
- Guidelines and tips for the 4-7- 8 technique
- 10 minute audio recording: a guided 4-7-8 technique
Will help you to:
• reducing anxiety
• enhance sleep pattern
• manage cravings
• controlling or reducing anger responses
• promotes abdominal breathing
• enhanced focus and concentration
• energizing and uplifting mood
• strengthen immune system
• secretion of endorphins by the pituitary gland; “ the feel-good hormone”.
HOW DOES STRESS WORKS?
When we experience a stressful situation, triggered by something happening
on the outside or by an internal event- thinking about something that gives you stress
or detecting a sensation that we associate with experiencing stress- (FYI. our
subconscious mind doesn’t know the difference between something that is
happening in the external world or our internal world). Our system reacts in the same
way. It switches to our sympathetic nervous system, the fight, flight or freeze
response. This helps us to become more alert and awake, to be able to react to this
threat or danger as quickly as you can. Therefore your system is also going to
function faster, which results in faster heart and breathing rates, increased blood
pressure, higher alertness and attention. This is exactly what we need when there is
an acute & actual threatening situation, happening in the external world. When we
face a tiger in front of us, we want to use all the energy we have to run, right?
Nowadays, in this concrete jungle, we don't have to fight or run from tigers, but
our stressors are our boss that cut you off for a raise, our partner that acts
inconsiderate, being stuck in traffic, a loved-one being sick. And we can’t always
respond or react to these stressors, which has the function to bring this charged or
hyper-aroused state down. We will choose to act on what is in line with our values
and the way we want to live, so therefore we choose not to punch our boss in the
The thing is that, all these smaller charges or arousals, we experience in daily
life, if we don’t take time to reduce, release these tensions, they will build up and they
will act through on the thoughts we think, how we feel, what our mood is like, what
our attitude is, how we treat ourselves and others and eventually if we keep on
repeating these patterns, it will change our behavior and personality.
So our stress mode is not bad, it is functional when we need to be alert, active
and ON. Inherent to this, we need our OFF- button too, to create a balance between
these to energies within us. Our off-button is called our parasympathetic system, our
rest & digest mode. This one is responsible for our long-term survival. When this part
is active, our digestive system is working, our cells renew, we store and integrate
new information and helps us grow, learn and evolve from everything we experience,
to integrate the external with our internal world.
The sympathetic and parasympathetic modes are part of our Autonomic
Nervous System and they run without our conscious directing for it. The cool this is
that we can enter this system via the control of our breath. So this means we can
play with our on and off button. We are the ones that can guide our system into a
more relaxed state, by help harmonizing our state and reducing the level of stress,
which gives us more resilience to handle and cope with stress.
HOW MUCH IS IN MY HANDS?
So the first step when we experience stress, ask the following questions;
1. Is there something happening in the external world or my internal world (my
thoughts and feelings)?
2. Can I change something about this situation?
3. If I can change something in the situation, is it worth it for me right now to put the
effort in to it?
PROLONGING the BREATH - THE 4-7-8 Technique
When we inhale we active our system and our heart gets stimulated to beat a little
faster. Then, the exhalations that follows, your heart gets the feedback to slow down
a bit. This has a minimum effect from one inhale to exhalation. If we do this for a
minimum of 6 minutes, the accumulated effect will slow the heart rate down or speed
it up from where we started. So to slow down the system we need to focus on making
the exhalation longer.
THE 4-7-8 Technique
The 4-7-8 breathing technique requires a person to focus on taking a long, deep
breath in and out. Rhythmic breathing is a core part of many meditation and yoga
practices as it promotes relaxation.
Before starting the breathing pattern, adopt a comfortable sitting position and place
the tip of the tongue on the tissue right behind the top front teeth.
To use the 4-7-8 technique, focus on the following breathing pattern:
• empty the lungs of air
• breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds
• hold the breath for a count of 7 seconds
• exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips and making a “whoosh”
sound, for 8 seconds
• repeat the cycle up to 4 times
• You be the judge. If you feel any discomfort or lightheadedness, stop and
pick up you normal breathing.
• Never force or restrict your breath. Do the best that you can and don’t
compromise the quality of the breath. The more you practice, the longer you’ll
be able to perform the exercises, and along the way you’ll notice you’ll expand
• Patience and practice. Pranayama is about care and awareness. Try to stay
focused on the journey, not the destination! Over time, you will start to notice
the benefits of the practice. Try to do the exercise 1 or 2 times a day. The
more practice, the more benefits. And remember it’s about the way we do it
and how much we notice.
• Keeping the ratio is more important that the number of seconds of retention.
When we do this technique for the first time, it’s normal that we cannot hold
our breath for long enough and their may try a shorter pattern instead, such
- breathe in through the nose for 2 seconds
- hold the breath for a count of 3.5 seconds
- exhale through the mouth for 4 seconds
• Precautions. If you are pregnant, suffer from diabetes, high or low blood
pressure, heart conditions, epilepsy, or vertigo, please consult your health
care provider before performing any of these breathing exercises.1
1 The.Yogi.Psychologist – Julie de Rooij(MSc) – Mental Health Psychologist & Yoga teacher