Breathing Techniques For Connecting Body & Mind

Amid the myriad of strategies to enhance physical and mental health, one often-overlooked yet potent tool is the intentional practice of breathing techniques and breathwork. The intricate relationship between the body and mind has long been a subject of fascination and exploration. The practice of intentional breathing techniques has gained increasing attention for its potential to not only foster this connection but also support the pursuit of wellness. Incorporating a breath practice into your routine has many scientific underpinnings and can have a profound impact on all aspects of life. 

We are now entering the 8th week of our 2024 Year Of Transformation program (you can find out more and still join us here), Chef Pete delves into somatic awareness and increasing the mod-body connection through a combination of movement and relaxation. Breath work is an important factor in this process.

The Science Of Breath Work

The Autonomic Nervous System

The autonomic nervous system (ANS) plays a pivotal role in regulating involuntary bodily functions, including heart rate, digestion, and respiratory rate. It consists of two branches: the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS). The SNS is associated with the "fight or flight" response, while the PNS is responsible for the "rest and digest" state.

Deep breathing exercises, such as diaphragmatic breathing and paced breathing, have been shown to activate the PNS, promoting a relaxation response. This activation leads to a decrease in heart rate, blood pressure, and stress hormone levels, fostering an environment conducive to a harmonious connection between the body and mind.

Oxygenation and Brain Function

The brain is highly sensitive to oxygen levels, and optimal cognitive function relies on a well-regulated supply. Controlled breathing techniques enhance oxygenation by improving respiratory efficiency and lung capacity. Deep breaths facilitate the exchange of gases in the lungs, increasing oxygen intake and expelling carbon dioxide.

Research suggests that increased oxygenation through intentional breathing positively impacts cognitive performance, attention, and emotional regulation. This connection highlights the profound influence of breathing techniques on the intricate relationship between the body and mind.

Neurotransmitters and Mood Regulation

Breathing exercises have been found to modulate the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Serotonin, often referred to as the "feel-good" neurotransmitter, contributes to mood stabilization, while GABA acts as a calming agent in the brain.

By promoting the release of these neurotransmitters, intentional breathing techniques contribute to mood regulation and emotional well-being. The neurochemical balance achieved through controlled breathing fosters a sense of connection between physical sensations and mental states.

Your diet can also have a huge impact on your mood – read more on how in this post

Mindfulness and the Default Mode Network

Mindfulness, a key component of many breathing techniques, involves directing attention to the present moment without judgment. This practice has been linked to alterations in the default mode network (DMN), a network of brain regions associated with self-referential thoughts and mind-wandering.

Studies using neuroimaging techniques have demonstrated that mindfulness practices, including focused breathing, can lead to decreased activity in the DMN. This shift is associated with improvements in attention, self-awareness, and a sense of unity between the body and mind.

Learn more on mindfulness and meditation and experience a live meditation for yourself from week 6 of our 2024 Year Of Transformation program 

Breathing Techniques

Breathing techniques, rooted in ancient wisdom and supported by contemporary science offer a gateway to harnessing the power of breath intentionally. A few easy-to-implement practices include:

Diaphragmatic Breathing (Deep Belly Breathing)

  • Sit or lie down comfortably.
  • Place one hand on your chest and the other on your abdomen.
  • Inhale deeply through your nose, allowing your abdomen to expand while keeping your chest relatively still.
  • Exhale slowly through pursed lips, feeling your abdomen contract.
  • Focus on making your breaths slow, deep, and rhythmic.

4-7-8 Breathing (Relaxing Breath)

  • Inhale quietly through your nose for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  • Exhale completely through pursed lips for a count of 8.
  • Repeat this cycle for several breaths.

Box Breathing (Square Breathing)

  • Inhale slowly and deeply for a count of 4.
  • Hold your breath for a count of 4.
  • Exhale completely for a count of 4.
  • Pause and hold your breath for another count of 4.
  • Repeat the sequence.

Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)

  • Sit comfortably with a straight spine.
  • Close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through the left nostril.
  • Close the left nostril with your ring finger, release the right nostril, and exhale through the right nostril.
  • Inhale through the right nostril, close it with your thumb, release the left nostril, and exhale through the left nostril.
  • Repeat this cycle.

Breath Awareness Meditation

  • Find a quiet place to sit comfortably.
  • Close your eyes and focus your attention on your breath.
  • Notice the sensation of each inhale and exhale without attempting to control it.
  • If your mind wanders, gently bring your focus back to your breath.

Tips And Strategies To Improve Breathing

A few easy and simple adjustments can enhance the quality of your breathing, truly ensuring that every breath you take counts

Posture and Alignment

Maintaining good posture ensures optimal lung expansion. Pay attention when sitting or standing – avoid slouching as it can restrict the movement of your diaphragm. Instead, focus on keeping shoulders back and chest lifted 

Regular Exercise

Incorporate activities that promote overall fitness and lung capacity into your workout routine (you can learn more on creating your exercise program for life here).

incorporate cardiovascular exercises, such as walking, running, or swimming, to strengthen respiratory muscles.

Mindful Breathing in Daily Life

Practice awareness of your breath during routine activities. Take short breaks to focus on a few intentional breaths, especially during moments of stress or tension.


Stay adequately hydrated to maintain the thin consistency of mucus in the respiratory tract, facilitating easier breathing.

Learn more on hydrating effectively here

Environmental Considerations

Be mindful of the air quality in your environment. You may consider using air purifiers and maintaining well-ventilated spaces to ensure the availability of clean air.

Incorporating these breathing techniques and tips into your daily routine can contribute to better respiratory health, enhanced relaxation, and an improved connection between body and mind. 


Scientific evidence increasingly supports the notion that intentional breathing techniques serve as a bridge between the body and mind. By influencing the autonomic nervous system, optimizing oxygenation, modulating neurotransmitter release, and impacting brain networks, these practices offer a holistic approach to well-being. Incorporating intentional breathing into daily life may hold the key to unlocking a deeper connection between the physical and mental aspects of existence, providing a pathway to enhanced health and harmony.

As with any health-related practices, it's advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing respiratory conditions.

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