Breathing, a simple act we do without a second thought, can be a potent tool for managing stress, boosting energy, and enhancing focus. Let's dive into the science behind this phenomenon and explore four transformational breathing techniques.

The Science Behind Loss of Focus or Stress

Our body's response to stress is orchestrated by the autonomic nervous system, comprising the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The sympathetic nervous system primes our body for action – the 'fight or flight' response. Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system promotes the 'rest and digest' state, encouraging relaxation. The key to staying centered is balancing these two systems, and that's where controlled breathing comes into play.

How Breathing Can Help

Breathing exercises can profoundly impact our physiology. They offer a direct pathway to soothing an overactive sympathetic nervous system, paving the way for calm and focus.

By consciously altering our breath, we can switch gears from stress to tranquility, from chaos to clarity.


Breathing Technique for Instant Stress Relief: Physiological Sigh

The Science Behind Physiological Sigh

The physiological sigh, a breathing pattern characterized by two rapid inhales followed by a longer exhale, is nature's way of stabilizing our breathing when we're asleep or sobbing. This technique has been spotlighted by Dr. Andrew Huberman of Stanford University for its ability to rapidly reduce stress when practiced voluntarily.

How to Do Physiological Sigh

  • Inhale deeply through your nose.
  • Without pausing, inhale a bit more.
  • Exhale slowly through your mouth.

How to Find it in the Oxa App

The Oxa app offers an "Instant stress relief" exercise, guiding you through the physiological sigh technique with intuitive visuals and feedback.


Breathing Technique for Instant Focus: Box Breathing

The Science Behind Box Breathing

Box breathing, a method used by athletes and military personnel, is known for its effectiveness in enhancing concentration and performance. By equalizing the inhalation, hold, exhalation, and pause, box breathing can bring about a state of balance and focus.

How to Do Box Breathing

  • Inhale for 4 seconds.
  • Hold your breath for 4 seconds.
  • Exhale for 4 seconds.
  • Hold again for 4 seconds.

How to Find it in the Oxa App

The Oxa app incorporates box breathing exercises, offering real-time feedback to help you maintain the perfect rhythm for maximum focus.


Breathing Technique for an Energy Boost: Cyclic Hyperventilation

The Science Behind Cyclic Hyperventilation

Popularized by Wim Hof, cyclic hyperventilation is a controlled breathing exercise involving rapid, deep breaths followed by periods of breath retention. This technique can

influence the autonomic nervous system, enhancing mood, stress resilience, and energy levels.

How to Do Cyclic Hyperventilation

  • Sit or lie down comfortably.
  • Perform 30-40 deep, fast breaths.
  • Exhale completely and hold your breath for 60 seconds.
  • Inhale deeply, hold for 15 seconds, then exhale.
  • Repeat for three cycles, allowing your Breathing to return to normal afterward.

How Not to Do Cyclic Hyperventilation

While cyclic hyperventilation offers many benefits, it's crucial to practice it safely. Avoid this technique if you're pregnant, have cardiovascular issues, or have any health condition that intense breathing exercises could aggravate.

It is also essential to engage in safe practice while seated or lying down to prevent dizziness or fainting. It is not advisable to do it while driving or in the water.

How to Find it in the Oxa App

The Oxa app can guide you through cyclic hyperventilation, ensuring you maintain the correct pace and duration for a safe and energizing practice.


Breathing Technique to Boost HRV: Resonance Breathing

What is HRV

Heart Rate Variability (HRV) is a measure of the time variance between heartbeats, indicating the balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

A higher HRV is linked to better stress resilience and overall well-being.

The Science Behind Resonance Breathing

Resonance breathing, also known as coherence breathing, maximizes your HRV, promoting relaxation and mental clarity.

By breathing at a specific rhythm, you can synchronize your heart rate and breathing pattern, enhancing your body's stress response system.

How to Do Resonance Breathing

  • Breathe at a rate of about four to seven breaths per minute.
  • Find a quiet space where you can sit or lie down comfortably.
  • Use the Oxa app or another HRV tracker to find your ideal breathing rate.

How Live Biofeedback Devices Can Help

Devices like Oxa provide real-time biofeedback, allowing you to monitor and adjust your Breathing in real time for optimum results. This technology makes it easier to maintain the resonance frequency, enhancing the benefits of the exercise.

Mastering these breathing techniques can be your secret weapon for staying centered. Whether you need instant stress relief, a surge of focus, an energy boost, or a way to enhance your HRV, controlled breathing is a powerful, accessible tool.


Q: What happens when you focus on your breathing?

Focusing on your breathing reduces stress, enhances concentration, and improves emotional regulation. This practice activates the body's relaxation response, promoting calmness and self-awareness. Regular mindful breathing can lead to better sleep, increased resilience, and overall well-being.

Q: How often should I practice these breathing techniques?

Regular practice yields the best results. Even a few minutes daily can make a significant difference in your stress levels, focus, and overall well-being.

Q: Are there any risks associated with cyclic hyperventilation?

While beneficial for many, cyclic hyperventilation can be intense and is not suitable for everyone. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare professional before starting, especially if you have any underlying health conditions.

Q: How does the Oxa app enhance the practice of these breathing techniques?

The Oxa app provides live biofeedback, guiding you to maintain the optimal breathing rhythm for each technique. This personalized approach ensures you get the most out of your practice.

Embrace the power of your breath and discover how these techniques can transform your ability to stay centered, focused, and energized, no matter what life throws your way.

Angelina Sarycheva
May 28, 2024

MA, CPT accredited by The International Sports Science Association, is a health writer and Content Lead at Oxa Life. With over five years in the health and wellness industry, her expertise, rooted in hands-on experience with leading wellness brands, is to deliver impactful health content to a global audience.

Ready to begin?

Get the Oxa Sensor and your choice of garment - lounge-wear shirt, bra, or adjustable chest strap. Your purchase includes access to the Oxa app which gives personalized data summaries and insights, as well as access to breathing exercises to teach you how to harness the power of your own breath.