It is important for everyone to master stress management techniques. The 4-7-8 breathing method is a great way to handle stress. In this article, we provide you with an easy breathing technique that you can start with right away. It is the 4-7-8 breath relaxation exercise from dr. Andrew Weil to challenge your body.
Your Body Needs a Safe State of Mind
Our bodies constantly case internal and external forces that cause stress. Therefore, our body challenges us every day to reach a natural and complex equilibrium called homeostasis. When that homeostasis is threatened, our body experiences stress.
Current findings support the fact that evidence-based stress reduction techniques can lower stress levels and promote health in a natural and easy way. Stress is something everyone experiences once in a while. That also includes calisthenics atheletes. In order to keep performing well, it is important for all of us to understand stress management techniques.
Breathing Excercises and Your Nervous System
Breathing exercises are good for your mental health and recovery. Why is that? It has to do with your nervous system. Basically, we have two nervous systems. One is the somatic nervous system, which you are capable of using with your own will when you make movements. The second is the autonomic nervous system, which does things automatically. It regulates things like breathing, your heart beat, your body temperature and sexual responses. The autonomic nervous system has two main divisions. These are the sympatic nervous system and the parasympathic nervous system.
During every inhale the sympathic system is stimulated. And during every exhale the parasytmatic system is stimulated. This is the reason why breathing exercises are good for getting into a relaxed state of mind and handle stress.
No worries, we are not going to give you a lesson about your nervous systems. Just keep in mind these two things. One, the sympatic nervous system is for being active. Two, the parasympatic nervous system is created to be relaxed and at rest.
The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise Step by Step
The technique we refer to is called the 4-7-8 breath relaxation exercise. It was created by Dr. Andrew Weil.
- Sit up straight and place the tip of your tongue against the soft tissue behind your upper teeth (the tongue lock).
- Do a total exhale through your mouth, making a swoosh sound.
- Close your eyes and mouth and inhale through your nose to the count of 4.
- Now hold your breath to the count of 7
- Do a total powerful exhale through your mouth according to step 1 to the count of 8
Why Do The 4-7-8 Breathing Method?
It is very simple, isn’t it? This exercise is a natural stress managing technique. It relaxes your parasympatic nervous system. Unlike drugs that are effective when you first take them, this breathing exercise never loses its power. To perform well in calisthenics, you need to know how to relax. If you do this exercise each day, it will teach you to control your stress level whenever you need to. You can use this technique every day at different times and after or before being active. You can also use it before reacting to something when you feel getting stressed.
How Often Do The 4-7-8 Breathing Technique?
Dr. Andrew Weil suggested that to do this exercise for at least twice a day in the first month . You can’t do it too frequently. This is also what we experienced at Calisthenics Worldwide. During our research on this technique we tried it ourselves and used it 5 to 7 times a day. Dr. Andrew Weil also suggest that you do 4 breathing cycles every time you do the exercise.
Our Experience with Breathing Exercises
Because we are physiotherapists, we can use the exercise with a lot of patients. Many of them have experienced a greater ability to reduce stress whenever they needed it. Of course, there were also some that did not feel like they needed any new techniques to manage stress. And that’s fine, of course.
We tried the 4-7-8 breathing exercises ourselves before and after our training for over a month. Our experience is not scientific evidence, but we do feel great whenever we use it. Unfortunately, we do not see any relation to muscle growth. But it’s good to know how to reduce and manage stress in any case. For example, when something bad happens to you or when you do not feel motivated to work out.
We invite you to do this breathing exercise at least twice a day for the coming months and we hope you’ll share your results with us. Click here to to see Dr. Andrew Weil himself while demonstrating his breathing exercise. Besides this great breathing technique, another way to get ready for you training is to do a proper warm-up. Find out here how to warm-up for your calisthenics training.
Jari Dohmen has a B.A. in physiotherapy and has been involved with Calisthenics since 2013. Around the time Calisthenics began to proliferate in the Netherlands, he was already keenly interested in both the physiotherapeutic and general lifestyle benefits Calisthenics possesses. Jari started Calisthenics Worldwide (CWW) in 2016, after numerous internet searches for Calisthenics topics that sparked his interest yielded barely any information. Today, CWW is one of the largest and most widely recognized Calisthenics blogs in the world. Become part of the Calisthenics community by commenting on this article.