Cyclic Breathing


When our bodies become stressed due to pressure we feel is placed upon us or when we become anxious about anything the body produces adrenalin from the adrenal glands located near the kidneys. This adrenalin makes our hearts pump harder and faster to push blood to our larger muscles because adrenalin is naturally produced by the body for situations where we are faced with either a fight or flight for our lives scenario.

Whilst this is occurring our breathing becomes shallow which does not allow enough oxygen into our bodies. Lack of breath to the body can result in panic attacks, fatigue, further anxiety, emotional distress, depression, muscle tension, headaches and may also exacerbate the symptoms of people suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The normal function of the breath is to bring oxygen which is life force energy into our bodies so that not only do we receive oxygen to stay alive but also so that we can exhale any toxins contained within the body in the form of carbon dioxide. A person can survive for a time without water or food but they cannot survive without oxygen.

It is therefore vital to our health and well-being that we remember to breathe in times of anxiety or stress. Bringing oxygen into the body where pain exists also assists that pain to lessen. As a baby and small child this came natural to all of us as watch any baby or young child and you will see they do not breathe into their chests but into their abdomens.

With our busy lives many of us have forgotten how to breathe deeply into our abdomens and instead only breath into our chests, which results in irregular or rapid breathing and that in turn heightens our stress or our anxiety and emotional distress. As less oxygen is available to our blood there is also less time available for our toxic carbon dioxide to be exhaled which can lead to us feeling very tired, lethargic and also depressed.


  1. It increases the circulation of the lymphatic system which in turn speeds up recover and assists with our internal garbage disposal system.
  2. It aids our immune systems by giving us more energy to allow our bodies to regenerate, detoxify and self-heal.
  3. It assists to balance both the left and right sides of our brains, whilst also calming our nervous systems which in turn decreases our anxiety and the stress-related disorders many of us suffer due to our busy lifestyles and interactions with other people which we may find upsetting or stressful.
  4. Deep breathing can be used in any situation and requires no supportive tools to achieve it. All that is required is remembering to use this technique whenever you are feeling stressed, anxious or fearful.
  5. The time required to complete cyclic deep breathing exercises is minimal.


 Should you be someone who is suffering from asthma or any other breathing condition the method of cyclic breathing may exacerbate your condition and it is therefore not recommended that you use it.


Cyclic breathing is a technique used to calm both body and mind whenever anxiety, stress or fear are present.

It is done in rounds whereby you follow the sequence outlined herein in this example of what is known as Hoóponopono Breathing :-

  1. Sit in a comfortable position, both feet on the floor and place your hands either palms down in your lap or on your abdomen.
  2. Breathe as you normally would and be aware of your inflowing and outflowing breath.
  3. Start to breathe in to the count of seven.
  4. Hold your breath to the count of seven.
  5. Breathe out to the count of seven.
  6. Hold your breath to the count of seven.

This constitutes one round and the round should be repeated seven times.

Variations of this which can occur where counting is concerned can be:-

Breathe in to the count of three.

  1. Hold for three.
  2. Breathe out for three.
  3. Hold for three.


Breathe in to the count of three.

  1. Hold for three.
  2. Breathe out for five.
  3. Hold for five.

Your counting should be slow and you should regulate your breath accordingly to your counting. For these additional ways of achieving cyclic deep breathing repeat the rounds until you feel calm.

You will find with practice that breathing deeply into your abdomen over time becomes normal to you once again as it did when you were a small child or baby. You should feel the rise and fall of your abdomen as you do the rounds.

To assist you with achieving this on a regular basis I recommend you do it three times a day, or more often if and when required. The more you practice it and get yourself into a regular rhythm with it the sooner it will become your normal way of breathing. Most new behavioural patterns take a while to develop into an unconscious habit. I have read that it takes our brains up to 21 days to form a new habit which requires no thought for us to do. I would however recommend you make a concerted effort to do it for a month on a regular basis.


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© Cheryl O’Connor 2014.  Images sourced from the internet – creators unknown.


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