Cyclic Sighing

Cyclic sighing is a breathing technique in which exhalations are pronounced and prolonged.

In a 2023 study, researchers compared cyclic sighing to box breathing and cyclic hyperventilation (when inhalations are longer and exhalations are shorter) and found that cyclic sighing led to the greatest amount of mood improvements, stress reduction, and physiological arousal. Over the course of a month, five minutes of daily breathing using this technique provided similar benefits to mood and anxiety as five minutes of daily mindfulness meditation. The research team stated:

Overall, breathwork practices, particularly cyclic sighing, were more effective than mindful meditation in increasing positive affect, supporting our hypothesis that intentional control over breath with specific breathing patterns produces more benefit to mood than passive attention to one’s breath, as in mindfulness meditation practice.

To practice cyclic sighing, start by inhaling slowly through your nose. Once your lungs are expanded, inhale once more to maximally fill your lungs — even if the second inhale is shorter in duration and smaller in volume than the first, Then, slowly and fully exhale all your breath. Repeat this pattern of breathing for five minutes. Ideally, both inhalations are performed via the nose and the exhalation via the mouth.