Rootine looks at health holistically. We use data to make informed decisions, spanning from micronutrition, to mental health. Per the Journal of Neurophysiology, they found that regions of our brain linked to emotions, attention, and body awareness actually light up when we engage in focused breathing. As noted in What Focusing on the Breath Does to Your Brain(1), “paced breathing exercises can both focus attention and regulate the nervous system.” Breathwork, is known to reduce stress and anxiety, increases alertness, improves, concentration, boosts your immune system and increase vitality (2).
That’s why Rootine is thrilled to partner with the music-driven, science-backed breathwork app, Othership, to bring awareness to mental health this May.
Breathwork encompasses a vast range of breathing techniques designed to enhance your mental, physical, and emotional health. These might seem like pretty big claims for something as simple as breathing, but it’s because our breath is so inextricably linked to our nervous system state.
Othership’s Breathing App focuses on many types of breathwork: Box breathing, diaphragmatic breathing, pursed lip breathing, 4-7-8 breathing, alternate nostril breathing, breath focus technique, equal breathing, and resonant breathing. Othership easily divides the types into three main categories — Up (like a coffee replacement), Down (to unwind + soothe anxiety) and All Around (to process + release emotions).
Diaphragmatic breathing often taught in yoga practice is is known as “efficient integrative body–mind training for dealing with stress and psychosomatic conditions” (3). Doctors have been known to prescribe breathwork given that “psychological studies have revealed breathing practice to be an effective non-pharmacological intervention for emotion enhancement” (3).
Mental health has been rightly more openly discussed post-COVID with the rise in activism by those with expansive followings. Per National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):
- 21% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2020 (52.9 million people) or 1 in 5 adults.
- 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
- 1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 (4).
Another factor that plays a major role in breathwork is HRV (heart rate variability), which refers to the variations in time between each of your heartbeats.
As Othership’s blog on HRV states, “When you inhale, your heart rate (the number of times your heart beats per minute) naturally rises. When you exhale, it slows down again. However, the exact amount the heart rate accelerates on inhalation and decelerates on exhalation varies. This range from your maximum heart rate to your minimum heart rate is your heart rate variability’ (5).
Your heart rate is constantly adjusting as your body encounters new stressors (both good and bad) directly reflecting your parasympathetic’s system’s activity. As discussed in the Journal of Psychophysiology, “The study confirmed that a breathing pattern of 5.5 bpm with an I:E ratio of 5:5 achieved greater HRV than the other breathing patterns” (6). What does this all mean? A higher HRV is linked to lower stress levels and overall healthier body.
So how does one reach a higher HRV? A great first step is practicing down-regulating breathwork at night to prepare for sleep. You can find these styles of breathwork in the “Down” section of the Othership App.
When it comes to mental health, we’re fortunate that Breathwork is a tool we all have access to - especially because everyone doesn’t have access to the same types of mental healthcare. Mental health directly effects our physical health, and oftentimes can be more challenging to treat. Much like nutrition, mental health treatment is not one-size-fits all. There are different approaches that are more successful than others, so it’s up to each of us to explore and determine what works best for us.
While mental health treatments are individual specific, the science strongly supports the fact that breathwork is effective at decreasing anxiety and achieving deeper relaxation. The relationship between physical and mental health is scientifically researched and studied every day — we look forward to seeing where the data takes us and what we will continue to uncover.
In the interim, we’ll be dedicating a few minutes every day to our mental and physical wellbeing by practicing breathwork with our friends at Othership. You can experience the difference for yourself as well — try for two weeks free.
Happy breathing to you.
(1) Bollock, Grace. “What Focusing on the breath Does to Your Brain.” 13 October, 2019. https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/what_focusing_on_the_breath_does_to_your_brain
(2) “17 Breathwork Techniques to ImproveYou Physical and Mental Health.” 16 October 2021. https://www.othership.us/resources/breathwork-techniques
(3) Xiao Ma, Zi-Qi Yue, Zhu-Qing Gong, Hong Zhang, Nai-Yue Duan, Yu-Tong Shi, Gao-Xia Wei, and You-Fa Li. “The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults.” 6 June 2017.
(4) National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI).
(5) How to Improve Your HRV with Breathing Exercises and Breathwork. 16 October 2021. https://www.othership.us/resources/hrv-breathing
I.M.Lin, L.Y.Taia, S.Y.Fan. “Breathing at a rate of 5.5 breaths per minute with equal inhalation-to-exhalation ratio increases heart rate variability” Volume 91, Issue 3 March 2014, Pages 206-211. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0167876013003346?via%3Dihub