Breathing is a fundamental aspect of our lives and it is not surprising that it has been the subject of many scientific studies. Recently, a study was conducted to explore the effects of mindfulness meditation and breath work on physiological arousal and mood. The study compared the effects of practicing five minutes of mindfulness meditation or breath work daily, as well as different breathwork practices such as Box Breathing, Cyclic Physiological Sighing, and Cyclic Hyperventilation.
One of the key findings of the study was that five minutes a day of Cyclic Physiological Sighing was the most effective practice for improving mood and various aspects of physiological arousal around the clock. This breath work technique involves taking two nasal inhales to fill the lungs, followed by a full exhale through the mouth. Practicing Cyclic Physiological Sighing has been found to assist in sleep and improve heart rate variability, among other benefits.
Another breathwork practice, Box Breathing, which involves equal timing for inhale-hold-exhale-hold, also showed benefits for stress reduction. This practice can help to improve focus, concentration and overall breathing efficiency. Similarly, Cyclic Hyperventilation, a technique that involves deep nasal inhale and mouth exhales for 25 cycles, followed by 15-30sec breath holds with lungs empty, also had positive effects on mood and physiological arousal, specifically reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.
It’s worth mentioning that mindfulness meditation techniques, in general, have been found to have many benefits for physical and mental health, such as reducing symptoms of anxiety, depression, and chronic pain, improving cognitive function and emotional regulation. However, for some people, breath work practices might be more accessible and easy to integrate in their daily routine.
In conclusion, this study suggests that breath work practices, such as Cyclic Physiological Sighing, Box Breathing and Cyclic Hyperventilation, can be an effective no cost tool for stress reduction. These practices can be easily integrated into daily routines, and have the potential to improve mood and physiological arousal, enhance sleep and overall well-being. The full paper is free to access, and readers can learn more about the psychiatry of breathwork and meditation and why they work and which are most effective. In addition, it’s important to note that the study is a starting point, and more research is needed to explore the underlying mechanisms of how breath work practices affect our physiology.