Research Outline



In order to become the leading resource on breath, provide a comprehensive report including 1) an all-inclusive list of scientific/clinical studies that have been conducted on breath, including a summary of the study and the results, 2) an exhaustive list of breathing exercises including for each a summary of the exercise and the claimed effects, 3) a historical account of breathwork from as far back as can be found to the present day, 4) an anatomical explanation of the human body's breathing systems and functions, and 5) a biological explanation of breath, including what cells do when a mammal inhales/exhales and how oxygen molecules are used in the blood. The research should cover all aspects of breath from all angles, including health/fitness, wellness, and spirituality/religion and all time periods (Biblical to present social media).

Early Findings

Breath Studies

  • One systematic review of fifteen breath-control studies found that "slow breathing techniques act enhancing autonomic, cerebral and psychological flexibility in a scenario of mutual interactions." Slow breathing can cause "increased comfort, relaxation, pleasantness, vigor and alertness, and reduced symptoms of arousal, anxiety, depression, anger, and confusion." This review was conducted in 2018 and published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. The authors were Andrea Zaccaro, Andrea Piarulli, Marco Laurino, Erika Garbella, Danilo Menicucci, Bruno Neri, and Angelo Gemignani.

Breathwork Exercise

  • Belly breathing is a common breathwork exercise that assists with reducing stress and helping one relax. The instructions for belly breathing are as follows: "Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position. Put one hand on your belly just below your ribs and the other hand on your chest. Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let your belly push your hand out. Your chest should not move. Breathe out through pursed lips as if you were whistling. Feel the hand on your belly go in, and use it to push all the air out. Do this breathing 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath. Notice how you feel at the end of the exercise."

History of Breathwork

  • Modern breathwork in western cultures originated in the 1960s with Leonard Orr and Stanislav Grof, M.D.
  • Orr founded the Rebirthing Breathwork movement, which "is based on nasal breathing and is practiced without any other exterior stimulus rather than the advice of the rebirther guiding the session."
  • Dr. Grof created the Holotropic Breathwork modality, in which participants could access healing, non-ordinary states through the use of breath and music.

Human Respiratory System

  • The parts of the human respiratory system are: nose, nasal cavities, sinuses, mouth, throat (pharynx), voice box (larynx), windpipe (trachea), large airways (bronchi), air sacs, and lungs.

Breath Biology

  • During each breath, air passes into the air sacs in the lungs (alveoli) and external respiration occurs. External respiration is "the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between the air and the blood in the lungs." The oxygen is then carried throughout the body via the blood.
  • A video explaining this process can be viewed here.