A sigh of Relief, Release - Whatever You Need <3

Here's another blog post originally written for Natural Route Health, slightly edited. 

Take a moment to breathe deeply, and sigh with me. 

xo M

Have you ever noticed how often you sigh? Sighing is incredibly helpful for all areas of our health: mental, emotional, physical, and energetic.

We sigh involuntarily 12 times an hour, and we can consciously use this breath anytime. This breathing technique has been used by yogis for thousands of years, and research shows that sighing has many benefits:

  • Stimulates the main nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system - the vagus nerve - which slows down heart rate, lowers blood pressure, and calms the body and mind
  • Helps maintain lung and heart health
  • Brings relaxation to the neck and shoulders
  • Helps regulate a dysregulated nervous system
  • Supports us in finding a consistent flow of breath (versus when we unconsciously hold our breath). 

I use sighing breaths at the beginning of many 1:1 and group Sound Therapy & Reiki sessions (*Sound Baths), for clients to come into the present moment and begin the process of releasing stress and tension. 

The sighing breath is very simple to practice: one method is to simply intend to extend your exhale to twice the length of your inhale. My recommendation is to take a gentle, curious and exploratory approach - find the sweet spot that feels like a deepening of your breath without restriction or resistance. There are many ways to practice the sighing breath, here's a short guided version for you:

Start by finding a comfortable position:

  • Standing, feet hip width apart; softening the shoulders, jaw and muscles in the face
  • Seated, reaching the top of your head towards the sky, allowing for the natural curves in your spine
  • Laying down
  • Or any other position of your choice - choose your own adventure ;) 

    Begin the practice:

    1. Breathe in, observing how your body moves. 
    2. Breathe out, noticing again the natural movements that occur through your ribcage, belly, chest. 
    3. Repeat for a few rounds of breath.
    4. Breathe in through the nose, counting the length of your inhale.
    5. Breathe out through the mouth, extending or doubling your count.

      Notice how you feel…see if you’d like to change the count to find more comfort with the sighing breath. Take 3-5 sighing breaths, again noticing how you feel after each one. Explore, seeing if you’d like to increase or decrease the amount of sighing breaths you take each time you practice.

      Repeat as desired, anytime, anywhere. 

      Learn more about how sighing soothes your nervous system in the references below, and feel free to reach out with any questions. 


      *A Sound Bath is like a delicate massage for all of your cells, through the use of sounds and vibrations. Learn more here: https://www.natural-route.com/blog/deep-relaxation-through-reiki-amp-sound-therapy


      Hours & locations

      1:1 & Small Group Sound Baths (virtual and in person): available in my downtown Kingston studio Mon/Weds/Thurs, other days upon request.

      1:1 Sound Baths (in person): available at Natural Route Health in Kingston's West End Tues only

      Big Group Sound Baths at various locations - reach out to chat about options!



      1. Soothe Your Nervous System with 2-to-1 Breathing, Clarke, J, Yoga International, online. https://yogainternational.com/article/view/soothe-your-nervous-system-with-2-to-1-breathing/
      2. Breathing for Life: The Mind-Body Healing Benefits of Pranayama. Patel, S. www.chopra.com, 2020 Aug 25. https://chopra.com/articles/breathing-for-life-the-mind-body-healing-benefits-of-pranayama
      3. The psychophysiology of the sigh: II: The sigh from the psychological perspective, Vlemincx E, Severs L, Ramirez JM, Biological Psychology, Epub 2022 Mar 11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301051122001296?dgcid=api_sd_search-api-endpoint
      4. The effects of sighing on the cardiovascular system, Evgeny G. Vaschillo, Bronya Vaschillo, Jennifer F. Buckman, Tam Nguyen-Louie 1, Sydney Heiss, Robert J. Pandina, Marsha E. Bates, Biological Psychology, Volume 106, March 2015, Pages 86-95. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4386588/
      5. A sigh of relief or a sigh to relieve: The psychological and physiological relief effect of deep breaths, Elke Vlemincx, Ilse Van Diest, Omer Van den Bergh, Physiology and Behavior, 2016 Oct 15;165:127-35. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27404329/
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