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Research shows: there's a link between your breathing and your mood

February 21st, 2022,

3 min read

Research shows: there's a link between your breathing and your moodfeatured image

When you breathe slowly, your nervous system calms down. You can feel the changes happening in your body, but how can this be explained? What does science say about the effects of slow breathing? Our postdoctoral researcher at moonbird, Elisabeth Honinx, assembles the most interesting studies on breathing.

How slow breathing induces tranquility

Why is it that when you breathe calmly and slowly, both your body and mind start to relax, and when you breathe rapidly and more shallow, tension mounts? This question was never answered by science until 2017, when a Stanford study showed how it might work inside our bodies.

Deep in the brainstem, the researchers discovered, a group of neurons link respiration to different emotions and states of mind like relaxation, attention, excitement, and anxiety.

The main researcher, Mark Krasnow, MD, PhD, professor of biochemistry, calls this cluster the ‘pacemaker for breathing’. “This study is intriguing because it provides a cellular and molecular understanding of how slow breathing exercises might work,'' Krasnow explains.

How breathing influences the activity in your brain

The neurons in your brainstem act as little spies to your breathing pattern. All the information they gather from your breathing, they immediately report to another structure in the brainstem, called the locus coeruleus. This structure sends signals to practically every part of the brain and drives arousal and different emotions.

The neurons in the locus coeruleus exhibit rhythmic behavior whose timing is correlated with that of breathing. “If something’s impairing or accelerating your breathing, you need to know right away,” Krasnow mentions. “So, these neurons tell the brain what’s going on, which makes them absolutely critical. They make us alert, wake us from sleep, and, if excessive, trigger anxiety and distress.”

The link between breathing and your state of mind

If rapid breathing makes us alert, or even feel anxious, the opposite is true as well. Slow breathing tells the ‘pacemaker’ in your brain that everything is safe and at peace. There is no threat to run away from, the body can relax and your mind can come at ease. Slow breathing, therefore, works as a remote control to your nervous system.

We developed moonbird specifically for this reason: to guide you in doing slow breathing exercises, so you will experience more tranquility and calmness in your life. Simply by breathing.

Discover all benefits of breathing with moonbird, we’re here to guide you on your journey.


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Calm breathing is an effective way to reduce anxiety, improve sleep and lower stress levels. It helps to get stress out of your body and calms your mind. Let moonbird guide you: easy, intuitive and effective.

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