How to Cyclic Sigh: Relieve Stress and Anxiety in 5 Minutes

Join me in cyclic sighing - also known as the "physiological sigh" or "double inhale.” This is a breathwork practice with the intention of lowering stress and anxiety.

Mikah Horn
How to Cyclic Sigh: Relieve Stress and Anxiety in 5 Minutes

Have you ever noticed yourself sighing throughout your day and wondered why this happens? Sighing can be our body's way of trying to regulate and decrease feelings of stress or anxiety, and we can also intentionally do this.

Cyclic sighing, sometimes known as the physiological sigh or the double inhale, is a breathwork practice with the intention of overall well-being and specifically lowering our stress and anxiety levels. 

Andrew Huberman is a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford who runs a popular podcast called Huberman Lab. He recently co-led a study from Stanford Medicine that suggested that it can take as little as five minutes to "experience less anxiety, a better mood and even decreased rates of breathing at rest, a sign of overall body calmness."

Here's how to do the "cyclic sigh": 

  • Breathe in slowly through your nose.
  • When you've comfortably filled your lungs (almost to full capacity), take a second, deeper sip of air to expand your lungs as much as possible.
  • Slowly exhale through your mouth.

That sigh out on the exhale is key. Take your time with it. The exhale is what's helping shift our nervous system into the relaxation response.

Remember that everyone's breath capacity is different, so listen to your body and adjust as needed. If you start to feel dizzy, slow your breathing down or take a break.

Try the cyclic sighing practice

If you'd like to be guided through the practice, watch this short video where I walk you through it step by step:

Click here for the transcript.

How often should you do the cyclic sighing breathwork practice?

The study suggests doing the cyclic sighing practice for five minutes daily over a period of time. The more consecutive days that the subjects practice the cyclic breathing, the better their overall mood. I encourage you to work on incorporating it into your daily routine and creating a habit. 

Your next step

Give cyclic sighing a try and experience how it makes you feel. Then, if you're ready to continue doing more yoga, breathing, and mindfulness techniques at home but you need a place to start, then enter your info below and I'll share my Yoga at Home Toolkit with you for FREE!

This free resource is everything you need to get started with yoga at home.

The Yoga at Home Toolkit Includes:

  • Downloadable guide to 10 yoga poses for better health. Print it out and put it by your mat!
  • All of my essential yoga prop recommendations