What if you could improve your mood, reduce anxiety & negative emotions – just by breathing differently?
But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details.
A Growing Trend
There is a positive trend of people looking for natural ways to feel better.
Sleeping better, regular light to moderate exercise, eating well, and building personal relationships
These are all proven ways to improve mood while reducing anxiety – at least eventually. Adding mindfulness meditation and breath work, however, continues to show more immediate improvements in mood and anxiety levels. [1-5]
We’re going to show you a science backed breath technique to magnify your health efforts – with the “details” you need to find it successful.
Meditation vs. Breath Work
Mindfulness meditation is the practice of non-judgmental awareness – often centered on the breath.
Breath work is the practice of consciously controlling the breath to make a change – hopefully an improvement.
At the risk of oversimplification, mindfulness meditation is the direct practice of “being,” while breath work is a direct practice of “doing.”
The ultimate goal is happiness – a feeling more closely tied to “being.” It’s just that most of us are better at “doing.”
Breath Your Truth is focused on discovering practices that improve our “being” ability. So, we got really excited about this recent study!
Which is Better?
Researchers at Stanford University went after this question in a 2023 study titled “Brief structured respiration practices enhance mood and reduce physiological arousal” . They were hoping to find a helpful practice that would only require 5 minutes of practice a day. Do to that, they compared three specific breath practices with a mindfulness meditation practice over the course of one month.
The three breath practices:
- Cyclic Sighing – sit or lie down, inhale through the nose until lungs are full then inhale once more to maximally fill lungs then slowly and fully exhale through mouth or nose all their breath.
- Box Breathing – sit or lie down, using equal time for each step, inhale → then breath hold → exhale → then breath hold → REPEAT.
- Cyclic Hyperventilation – sit or lie down, inhale deeply (nasally preferred, through mouth if that’s not possible) and then exhale passively through the mouth. Repeat this for 30 breath cycles – followed by a breath hold at the end of the last exhale for 15 seconds.
The meditation practice:
Participants were instructed to sit or lie down with eyes closed and pay attention to the breath & the region between the eyes. If (when) the mind wanders, return it to the breath and forehead.
The Surprising Outcomes
- 90% of the participants had a positive experience while 10% had a negative experience. Both groups had significant improvement in anxiety levels and mood.
- Breath work was more effective than meditation at reducing anxiety and improving mood – with a 5-minute practice over the course of one month.
- Cyclic sighing was even more effective than cyclic hyperventilation (review breath practices).
An Improved Practice
Breathe Your Truth tested – then improved – the study’s breath practice
After we read the study, we got right to work using our own tools to measure tested practices. We pulled out the CapnoTrainers, and tested several people doing the cyclic sigh as described in the study – to watch the effects on baseline CO2. Improvements in baseline CO2 are considered positive, while caution is warranted with practices that suppress baseline CO2 (after a normal recovery period).
We found more than half the people had suppressed CO2 levels after the practice and did not spontaneously recover after 2 minutes.
The practice appeared to be too aggressive for their current breathing ability.
So, we tweaked the technique to create a a practice that hits the sweat spot. We found most people experienced the improvement noted in the study, without the downside of training themselves into over breathing.
Breathe Your Truth’s simple 5-minute breath practice.
- Sit comfortably upright. Breathe easy, allowing the attention to rest on the breath.
- Begin 2 minutes of the cyclical sigh. Start with a two-step sub maximum inhale through the nose (belly first, then whole trunk) and progress to a two-phased maximum inhale through the mouth. All exhales are slow, relaxed, and mindful.
- Then allow the breathing, body and mind to settle for 3 minutes – allowing the breath to become very subtle. Small breath holds may be comfortable and helpful.
Watch the Video
Breathe Your Truth helps you learn more about your own breathing, what it’s like to work with a coach, and even what it takes to become a Breathe Your Truth coach.
 Andersen, E., et al., Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on Experimental Pain Sensitivity and Cortisol Responses in Women with Early Life Abuse: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Psychosom Med, 2020.
 Chen, Y., et al., Effects of MBSR therapy on negative emotions, fatigue, and sleep quality in “post-ICU patients”: A randomized controlled clinical trial protocol. Medicine (Baltimore), 2022. 101(1): p. e28331.
 Doll, A., et al., Mindful attention to breath regulates emotions via increased amygdala-prefrontal cortex connectivity. Neuroimage, 2016. 134: p. 305-313.
 Epel, E., et al., Effects of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Distress, Weight Gain, and Glucose Control for Pregnant Low-Income Women: A Quasi-Experimental Trial Using the ORBIT Model. Int J Behav Med, 2019. 26(5): p. 461-473.
 Errazuriz, A., et al., Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on psychological distress in health workers: A three-arm parallel randomized controlled trial. J Psychiatr Res, 2020.
 Balban, M.Y., et al., Brief structured respiration practices enhance mood and reduce physiological arousal. Cell Reports Medicine, 2023. 4(1): p. 100895.