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Coherent Breathing for ADHD: Unlocking Focus and Relaxation

Apr 8, 2024

Dive into the world of coherent breathing, a special technique rooted in rhythmic diaphragmatic deep breaths. This non-drug remedy has been making waves for individuals dealing with ADHD, offering potential improvements in focus and curbing hyperactivity.

As we continue, we’ll uncover the science behind coherent breathing, understanding how it balances the nervous system for a dual effect – enhancing relaxation and attention. Join us on this journey, exploring the impact of coherent breathing on cognitive functioning and embracing the simplicity behind this transformative practice.

We'll delve into research findings that shed light on the efficacy of focused-breathing exercises for children with ADHD. Our exploration includes insights from a study conducted at Ural Federal University.

Finally, let's examine how these techniques can positively impact executive functioning abilities by addressing externalized symptoms through practices such as yoga combined with mindful breathing. This comprehensive approach aims to provide a holistic understanding of how breathing techniques can contribute to well-being.

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Table of Contents

Understanding Coherent Breathing

Coherent breathing, as outlined in scientific research, entails sustaining a rhythmic breath cycle marked by 5–6 breath cycles per minute, devoid of intentional pauses. This breathing technique, widely practiced in religious and cultural traditions like Yoga, Qigong, prayer, mantra, and meditation, has attracted considerable attention in scientific studies. The proposed objective of coherent breathing is to promote synchronization with cardiovascular functions, ultimately seeking coherence or alignment in respiration. Achieving this synchronization involves inhaling and exhaling for an equal duration during each breath cycle. This balanced approach is believed to offer potential benefits in alleviating symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.

The Science Behind Coherent Breathing for ADHD

Coherent breathing is an effective therapy for ADHD because it helps the autonomic nervous system work more efficiently in delivering oxygen to the body's tissues and brain. This increased oxygen supply aids individuals with ADHD in feeling calmer, making better judgments, and experiencing less frustration. According to Ma et al. (2017), engaging in diaphragmatic breathing practice holds promise for enhancing cognitive performance, specifically benefiting individuals with ADHD.

How coherent breathing improves attention and relaxation simultaneously

By practicing coherent breathing, you can achieve a balance between the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system, leading to improved attention and relaxation. The result is a balanced state that promotes focus while reducing stress levels.

Benefits of a balanced autonomic nervous system

  • Better emotional regulation: Coherent breathing can help improve mood by increasing serotonin production in the brain.
  • Increase mental clarity: Enhanced oxygen delivery supports cognitive function, leading to clearer thinking processes.
  • Promote relaxation: Activating the parasympathetic response encourages feelings of calmness which can counteract anxiety symptoms often experienced by those with ADHD.
  • Sleep improvement: A regular coherent-breathing practice may lead to better sleep quality due to its calming effects on both mind and body (Ma et al., 2017)

By incorporating coherent breathing into your daily routine, you can experience a range of benefits that may help manage ADHD symptoms more effectively. 

In addition to the direct impact on the autonomic nervous system, coherent breathing also supports mindfulness practices, which have been proven to be beneficial for those with ADHD. By focusing on breath patterns during these exercises, it becomes easier to develop greater self-awareness and improve concentration skills over time.

Key Takeaway: Coherent breathing is an effective therapy for ADHD that helps the autonomic nervous system work more efficiently in delivering oxygen to the body's tissues and brain. By incorporating coherent breathing into your daily routine, you can experience a range of benefits that may help manage ADHD symptoms more effectively, such as better emotional regulation, increased mental clarity, promotion of relaxation, and sleep improvement.

Mastering Coherent Breathing Techniques

Regularly engaging in this practice for 10-20 minutes a day can bring about considerable enhancements to concentration and tension control. Here's how to do it:

Steps to Practice Coherent Breathing at Home

  1. Get comfy: Find a quiet spot to sit or lie down.
  2. Breathe deeply: Close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths through your nose.
  3. Inhale slowly: Count to four as you inhale, ensuring each count is equal in length.
  4. Exhale gradually: Exhale through your mouth or nose, counting to four - maintaining the same duration as the inhalation time.
  5. Pause briefly: Hold your breath for a moment.
  6. Stay focused: Keep practicing this coherent breathing pattern without letting any thoughts or distractions interfere.

Tips on Incorporating Focused-Breathing Exercises into Your Routine

  • Create a designated space: Set up a calming area in your home with yoga mats or cushions and soothing scents like lavender essential oil.
  • Set a daily reminder: Use your phone or calendar to remind you to practice coherent breathing at the same time every day.
  • Try it during other activities: Incorporate focused-breathing exercises into meditation, yoga, or even during breaks at work.
  • Use an app: If you need help staying motivated, try an app like Focus Bear to guide and remind you throughout the day.

By mastering coherent breathing techniques and making them a part of your daily routine, individuals with ADHD can experience significant improvements in their ability to manage symptoms and maintain focus throughout the day.

Research Supporting Focused-Breathing Exercises for Children with ADHD

Ural Federal University Study

Psychologists at Ural Federal University conducted a study on the effects of exercise on voluntary regulation functions among children aged six-to-seven years old diagnosed with ADHD. The study found that incorporating focused-breathing exercises into their routine three times weekly over two-to-three months positively impacted regulatory control functions within these children. This was achieved by automating proper respiration patterns, which provided enhanced oxygen delivery throughout their brains.

Additional Research Findings

A recent study by Virone (2021) explored how a six-week mindfulness program impacted emotional regulation and impulse control in middle school students with ADHD. The study showed significant improvements in ADHD symptoms, reduced reliance on external cues, and enhanced mindfulness application during challenging situations. More research is needed to understand how mindfulness can further benefit adolescents with ADHD in social and educational settings.

In a study published in Journal of Attention Disorders, researchers found that practicing mindfulness meditation significantly improved executive functioning abilities among adults with ADHD. Participants who practiced mindfulness meditation reported better focus levels as well as reduced stress symptoms.

Furthermore, a study published in the journal 'Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine' found that yoga practice incorporating focused-breathing techniques led to significant improvements in attention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity among children with ADHD. These findings suggest that combining physical exercise with mindful breathing can be an effective approach for managing ADHD symptoms.

Additional Resources for Focused-Breathing Techniques

Key Takeaway: Focused-breathing exercises hold promise for enhancing regulatory functions in children with ADHD, as evidenced by the Ural Federal University Study. Virone's study highlights mindfulness benefits for middle school students, and expert opinions stress coherent breathing's non-pharmacological approach. Mindfulness meditation and yoga, incorporating focused breathing, provide effective strategies for managing ADHD symptoms, supported by various research findings.

Addressing Externalized Symptoms through Focused-Breathing Techniques

Externalized symptoms often associated with ADHD include low self-esteem, difficulty focusing, verbal aggression, forgetfulness, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression, and stress - all of which can be mitigated through yoga practice incorporating focused-breathing techniques to improve executive function capabilities. By combining physical exercise with mindful breathing exercises such as coherent breathing, individuals with ADHD can experience significant improvements in their daily lives.

Yoga Practices that Incorporate Focused-Breathing Techniques

  • Hatha Yoga: This gentle form of yoga combines postures (asanas) and controlled breathing exercises (pranayama) to help enhance focus and relaxation.
  • Vinyasa Yoga: Also known as flow yoga, Vinyasa involves synchronizing breath with movement for a dynamic practice that promotes mental clarity and calmness.
  • Kundalini Yoga: Kundalini is a more spiritual form of yoga that incorporates meditation, chanting mantras, and specific pranayama techniques designed to awaken the body's energy centers while promoting mindfulness.

Another noteworthy pranayama variant is 2:1 breathing. In this yogic exercise, practitioners inhale slowly through the nose for four seconds and exhale twice as long (eight seconds) through the mouth. This technique, without breath retention, induces relaxation, aids in waste gas elimination, and enhances stamina and endurance. Swami Rama, a proponent of this practice, highlighted its therapeutic benefits for the heart, nervous system, and brain.

Benefits of Combining Physical Exercise with Mindful Breathing

Incorporating focused-breathing techniques into your regular exercise routine offers several benefits for those living with ADHD. These include:

  1. Better emotional regulation: Mindful breathing helps reduce feelings of anger or frustration by activating the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for relaxation responses in the body. This leads to improved mood stability and reduced emotional outbursts.
  2. Increased focus and concentration: By practicing coherent breathing, individuals with ADHD can improve their ability to concentrate on tasks at hand. This is because the increased oxygen supply to the brain enhances cognitive function and reduces mental fatigue.
  3. Reduced anxiety and stress: Focused-breathing exercises help calm an overactive mind by encouraging a state of relaxation. ADHD sufferers may find that their stress and anxiousness levels are reduced by engaging in breathing exercises which help to soothe an overactive mind.

Incorporating yoga practices that emphasize focused-breathing techniques into your routine can have significant positive effects on managing externalized symptoms associated with ADHD. By addressing these challenges head-on through mindful movement and breathwork, you'll be better equipped to navigate life's ups and downs while maintaining a sense of balance and well-being.

Key Takeaway: By incorporating focused-breathing techniques through yoga practices like Hatha, Vinyasa, and Kundalini Yoga, individuals with ADHD can improve their executive function capabilities. This leads to better emotional regulation, increased focus and concentration, and reduced anxiety and stress in daily life. By addressing externalized symptoms head-on through mindful movement and breathwork, one can maintain a sense of balance and well-being while navigating life's challenges.

FAQs in Relation to Coherent Breathing

Is there a link between breathing and ADHD?

Yes, there is a link between breathing and ADHD - focused-breathing techniques like coherent breathing can help improve attention, relaxation, and executive function capabilities in individuals with ADHD.

What is an ADHD coping mechanism?

An effective coping mechanism for people with ADHD includes practicing focused-breathing exercises such as coherent breathing daily, engaging in regular physical activity, cognitive-behavioral therapy, time management skill development, and maintaining routines.

Can nose breathing help ADHD?

Nose breathing can indeed help those with ADHD by increasing oxygen intake while regulating carbon dioxide levels more efficiently than mouth-breathing, ultimately improving focus and relaxation simultaneously.

Do focused breathing techniques work for adults with ADHD as well as children?

Yes, research supports the effectiveness of focused-breathing exercises for both children and adults with ADHD. 


Coherent breathing is a game-changer for individuals with ADHD, improving attention and relaxation simultaneously.

Research has shown that focused-breathing exercises can boost executive functioning abilities in those with ADHD, making them a powerful tool to have in your arsenal.

Combine mindful breathing with physical exercise like yoga to address the externalized symptoms of ADHD and take control of your life.

Don't let ADHD control you - try out these breathing techniques and see the benefits for yourself!

Apr 8, 2024

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