Eight-Stroke Breath for Stress Relief

Of all of the things you can do for stress relief, I know of no better meditation than the Eight-Stroke Breath for Energy and Stress Release. This meditation uses pranayam (breath work) and taps into the life force energy–prana.

Tune In: Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo (chanted three times).

Body Posture: Sit in easy pose, in a chair, or bed; maintain a straight spine.

stress relief
Hands in Gyan Mudra, Thumb & Index Finger Touching

Mudra: Both hands are in Gyan Mudra (thumb and index finger touching), remaining fingers are straight, palms up and backs of hands placed on the knees.

Eye Focus (Dhrist): Close your eyes and focus at the brow point (between the eye brows).

Mantra: Silent, focus on the sound of your breath.

The Meditation: Inhale through both nostrils in 8 equal “sniffs,” or strokes, then exhale in one breath (also through the nostrils).

Time: Build time up to 11 minutes.

End: Inhale deeply, hold the breath for 3-10 seconds (based on your lung capacity), and exhale completely. Repeat two more times. Relax.

Checkpoint: Keep the breath strokes even on the inhale and be sure to exhale fully and smoothly in one breath.

Benefits: Increases energy to balance prana (life force energy) and apana (eliminating force), while reducing stress. Counting the breath focuses your mind on your breath pattern, and this will help manage your stress. Try it before bed for a restful night’s sleep.

Credit: this meditation was originally taught to the West by Yogi Bhajan


Optional HRV Feedback:  Practice HRV feedback either while you are practicing this meditation

8 stroke for stress
Heart Rate Variability during 8-Stroke Breath Med

or right afterwards. It is important not to be distracted by the device while you are trying to meditate; if this occurs, then simply wait until the meditation is finished.

Before starting the 8-Stroke Breath meditation, I placed the HeartMath® sensor on my ear lobe and started the InnerBalance smart phone app.

After approximately 30 seconds, my heart rthythm went from chaos (red) or low heart coherence, then into medium coherence (blue), and at around 1 minute I entered the zone of high heart coherence (green).

Notice that the lower graph is beginning to form an s-like sine wave.