What are breath pacers and why do you need them?

Written by: Yordi Uytersprot



Time to read 4 min

Breathing – it's the most natural thing we do, yet so often overlooked and undervalued in its power to impact our physical and mental state. Luckily, breathwork has been the mindfulness movement's rising star in the last few years.

Along with the increasing popularity of in-person guided breathwork sessions, came the rise of all sorts of breath pacers. Breath pacers are a new category of tools designed to enable people to use the inherent power of their breath .

Breath pacers are tools designed to guide your breathing patterns. They make it easy for you to synchronize your breathing with a set rhythm, promoting relaxation and mental clarity. This article explores the world of breath pacers, detailing their functionality, benefits, and examples of popular devices and apps in the market to help you pick the right pacer.

  1. What are breath pacers?
  2. Why use breath pacers?
  3. Benefits of using a breath pacer
  4. Examples of breath pacers with pro’s and con’s

What are breath pacers?

Breath pacers are devices or applications that guide users through sensory stimuli (eg. visually, auditory, or sensory) to adjust their breathing patterns. Typically, they employ rhythms or cues to help the user breathe more slowly, a practice known as paced breathing. By following these cues, you can easily focus on the exercises and synchronize your breathing with a rhythm that promotes relaxation and stress reduction. 

Breath pacers come in various forms: visual pacers use light patterns (e.g. a shape expanding and contracting in an app or video), tactile pacers provide physical cues (e.g. through vibrations, or pressure via expansion and contraction), and auditive pacers use sound (e.g. audio guides).

Why use breath pacers?

Breath pacers aim to enhance meditation and breathing exercises, especially for those who struggle with maintaining focus. Many find it challenging to keep focus and a steady, mindful rhythm in their breathing practices, which is where these handy gadgets come into play.

These devices serve as an external guide, providing a tangible focus point. By simply following the guidance of a breath pacer, users can more easily immerse themselves in the exercise. They give you something clear to follow, making it way easier to stick with the rhythm and really get into the zone. They're like training wheels for meditation – they help you find your balance so you can get more benefits from each breath.

Benefits of using breath pacers

The concept behind breath pacers is rooted in the physiological impact of controlled breathing. By slowing down our breath, we can activate the body's relaxation response, calming the nervous system .

This practice is particularly beneficial for reducing stress, anxiety, and symptoms of insomnia , as well as aiding individuals with ADHD and autism. Controlled breathing has been shown to decrease the production of stress hormones and increase the release of endorphins, creating a natural sense of calm. Scientific studies have supported these claims, indicating that controlled breathing can positively affect heart rate variability, a marker of stress resilience. Additionally, for those with attention-related challenges, breath pacers can enhance focus and concentration.

What kind of breath pacers exist?

Visual pacers

  •  Dodow   (€49,90 + shipping costs) is a visual breath pacer designed to assist with insomnia. It projects a light onto the ceiling, which users synchronize their breath with. While effective and definitely one of the cheaper options, its reliance on visual cues may not suit everyone and it is not possible to change the breathing rhythm.
  •  HeartMath   (€290,00): is a visual pacer using a sensor, attached to your earlobe or finger, to monitor heart rhythms and guides you through breathing exercises via its app. The goal is to sync your breathing with your heart rhythm through biofeedback, creating a state of coherence for reduced stress and improved emotional well-being.
  •  Breathwrk app   (free version available): apps like these provide a visual guide for breathing. They are accessible, have a free version and offer various settings, but require consistent screen interaction, which might be overwhelming for some users.

Tactile pacers

  •  Moonbird  (€179) offers a handheld, tactile breathing experience. Users hold the device, which expands and contracts, guiding the breathing rhythm. This can be especially beneficial for those seeking a more physical connection to their breath-pacing practice. Users can set different rhythms, and optionally receive biofeedback and audio guidance.
  •  Somnox  (€599) is another tactile pacer, albeit larger, designed to be cuddled during sleep. Its rhythmic expansion and contraction mimic breathing, promoting relaxation. Via the app users can select different exercises and add audio, however, its size and price may be considerations for potential users.

Auditive Pacers (  Calm  ,  Headspace  ,  Othership  ,  Insight Timer  ):

  • Auditive pacers mostly come in the form of an audio guide in an app or a video. The most well-known examples are apps like Calm, Headspace or Othership offer guided breathing exercises through audio cues. They are versatile, often including guided meditations, but typically require a subscription.

In today's fast-paced world, finding tools to help manage stress and improve mental well-being is invaluable. Breath pacers, with their varied formats, offer an accessible, simple way to tap into the natural power of our breath. Whether you are drawn to visual, tactile, or auditive guidance, there is a breath pacer that can meet your needs, providing a gateway to a more peaceful and focused state of mind.

Wondering what moonbird can do for you? See   how breathing with moonbird works.

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