Cyclic breathing exercises

A team of researchers at Stanford University reports evidence that people who engage in cyclic sighing breathing exercises see a greater reduction in stress than those engaging in mindfulness meditation. In their paper published in the journal Cell Reports Medicine, the researchers describe their study of several different types of stress reduction techniques.

Stress techniques have been developed to help people reduce stress without resorting to drugs. One such technique is mindfulness meditation, during which a person attempts to relax by putting themselves in the moment in a nonjudgmental way for a period of time.
Other techniques involve engaging in breathing exercises. In this new effort, the researchers compared three types of breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation to assess their effectiveness:

  1. cyclic sighing;
  2. box breathing;
  3. cyclic hyperventilation;

Research for the study was conducted; 114 volunteers engaged for five minutes each day for a month at the time of their choosing.
Each volunteer kept a stress journal to assess the effectiveness of their stress reduction activities.
The researchers found that for the most part, the volunteers reported that they found the exercise a positive experience—90% reported positive feelings. They also found that those volunteers using breathing exercises showed more stress reduction than those doing mindfulness meditation. And they also found that those who did cyclic sighing reported the greatest reductions in stress compared to the other breathing techniques.

Daily practice of exercises
Phases of exercise
Duration of phases
Cyclic breathing exercises
Cyclic breathing exercises

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