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Stress Reduction Breathing Technique

Video Summary: Stress Reduction Breathing Technique

Here are the KEY points covered in this video.

4-7-8 Breathing Technique

**** I put the 4-7-8 Exercise at the TOP of this post. Read below for more of the general information and physiology that I cover in the video. ****

  • Set-Up - sit in a tall posture without a backrest, so your head is perched on top of your tailbone, feet are flat on the ground. Maintain a relaxed body from hands, shoulders and feet.

  • Mouth is slightly open, lips touching lightly and tongue resting behind top teeth.

  • 4 Second Inhale - draw in through the nose to fill the lungs. Feel your abdomen expand which signifies your diaphragm is drawing down fully.

  • 7 Second Hold - at the top of your breath hold for 7 seconds.

  • 8 Second Exhale - let the air pass slowly through the mouth creating a soft sound as it passes around your tongue and through your lips.

  • 4 Sets - Repeat this breath in sets of 4 (i.e. 4, 8, 12, ...) based on your available time. For example, use a higher number of breaths when trying to fall asleep.

  • Eyes Closed vs. Eyes Open: This can be performed with eyes-open or eyes-closed, while in the car (eyes-open of course!), or during other stressful moments of your day.

Developed by Andrew Weil M.D., this technique is recommended twice daily for stress, relaxation, and improved sleep. I recommend this to all patients as part of a stress management program.

Other Video Notes:

• The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) is made up of two arms - Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) and the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS). The ANS is a division of the Peripheral Nervous System and has auto-regulatory control of many bodily functions, such as heart rate, digestion, sexual arousal, respiratory rate, and other functions.

SNS: The Sympathetic Nervous System is commonly referred to as the "fight or flight" side of our nervous system. It regulates bodily function in response to excitatory stimuli, such as running from a bear.

PSN: The Parasympathetic Nervous System is commonly referred to as the "rest and digest" side of our nervous system. It regulates bodily function during times of recovery and rest to promote regeneration of tissues and replenishment of energy stores.

• These systems do not work in isolation. In other words, there is not a switch that places us in either SNS or PNS activation. Rather, they work concert depending on the needs of the body. Given the current state of stimulation in our society - i.e. alarms, alerts, media input, connectivity to devices, work-stress, family-stress, etc. - It is common for our body to remain in a SNS dominant state.

Figure: Schematic of Autonomic Nervous System (Ref.

There are many ways in which we can effectively interrupt the SNS-dominance and increase PNS-dominance in our day-to-day lives. This is extremely important and cannot be understated for proper recuperation, healing and pain management. Some effective methods of increasing PNS-dominance include:

  • Acupuncture

  • Massage

  • Meditation

  • Walks in nature

  • Singing

  • Reading

  • Breathing techniques

For more information please contact me directly.

RESOURCES Dr. Andrew Weil – 4-7-8 Breathing

DISCLAIMER: This information is not intended to replace Medical advice from a Physician. Consult a Physician prior to beginning any new exercise, dietary or lifestyle changes.

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