Can Breathwork Trigger The Parasympathetic Nervous System?


Does the PNS help us heal? Can we control this system through breathwork? We know the answers to both of these questions are a resounding yes. It's time to dig deeper into what this means, and how you can use breathwork to trigger your PNS system today.

You may have heard about the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and how it is an important part of our daily health.

You may have heard about the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS) and how it is an important part of our daily health. So what exactly does this mean for you? Well, in simple terms, the PNS is responsible for the “rest and digest” response. It helps us to relax, calm down and recover from stress on a daily basis. The PNS can also be triggered by breathing exercises or other mindfulness techniques such as yoga or meditation.

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Understanding the PNS system

It's important to note that breathing is a conscious activity. You need to make sure you're breathing properly or else you will lose oxygen and pass out. This is why the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is nicknamed "the rest and digest" system—because it keeps your body regulated with its unconscious actions, like regulating heart rate and digestion while you sleep, which makes sense since we use our PNS during many unconscious activities like sleeping.

The sympathetic nervous system (SNS), on the other hand, activates us when we're awake so we can take action in response to danger or stressors in our environment; it kicks into gear whenever our brains tell us there's something dangerous happening around us (like walking down an alley at night). The SNS has evolved over time because it provides quick responses for life-threatening situations when there isn't enough time for careful decision making or rational thought processes; this way, even though humans aren't always aware of what triggered their fight-or-flight response—whether it was seeing a bear or getting cut off on the freeway—the SNS gets them ready fast enough so they can survive whatever they're facing head-on until they can think clearly again after things calm down.

The PNS, Heart Rate Variability and Breathing

The Parasympathetic Nervous System is a part of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS). The ANS controls our body functions and regulates them.

The PNS is responsible for regulating our organs of digestion, elimination and reproduction. It’s also responsible for the fight or flight response.

When we feel threatened, our bodies prepare to defend themselves by increasing heart rate, dilating pupils and releasing adrenaline into the bloodstream – all things that are common symptoms of a panic attack. A deep breath when you're feeling scared can trigger this reaction in yourself which gives you time to think of a solution before reacting impulsively.

Hacking your breathing pattern to hack into your PNS system

The best way to hack into your PNS system is to trigger it through breathing patterns.

You can trigger the parasympathetic nervous system in two ways: slow down your breath and use a combination of long and short breaths. You can also hack into your sympathetic nervous system by speeding up your breath.

How breathwork can trigger the PNS

The key to breathwork lies in the word "breath." Breathing is something we do automatically, but we can also control it and make it work for us. Breathwork is a form of meditation that harnesses the power of breathing to relax you, focus your mind, let go of stress and be present.

Breathing helps calm our nervous system and activates the parasympathetic nervous system which is responsible for rest and recovery after an activity or period of high arousal (stress). This explains why so many people feel refreshed after taking long breaths during breathwork sessions—it stimulates the PNS!

Can't you just breathe?

Breathing is not a conscious action. When you're awake, it happens automatically and reflexively. You don't have to think about it. For example, if you are driving your car down the highway and suddenly realize that you have forgotten to breathe for several minutes, there's no need for alarm—your body will take care of things on its own without any direction from your brain.

And yet... if you don't breathe at all during those same few minutes while driving down the highway, there will be serious consequences! Your blood vessels will constrict as they struggle against oxygen deprivation; your heart rate will increase in order to deliver more oxygenated blood throughout the body; carbon dioxide levels inside your lungs (and therefore inside your bloodstream) will rise rapidly as CO2 builds up from lack of ventilation; eventually these changes become so severe that death occurs within just a few minutes or less (for most people). In fact, this exact scenario plays out every time someone falls into water without being able to swim: he panics and stops breathing altogether—which triggers his autonomic nervous system into overdrive trying desperately to stabilize him by increasing his heart rate and releasing adrenaline into his bloodstream (which raises blood pressure even further). This chain reaction can cause cardiac arrest within mere seconds!

Breathwork can indeed trigger your parasympathetic nervous system.

Breathwork can indeed trigger your parasympathetic nervous system.

The parasympathetic nervous system is the part of your body that allows you to relax and calm down. It also helps with sleeping, focusing on something and improving overall health.

It is triggered by the release of endorphins (happy chemicals) in response to a physical activity such as exercise or sex. The more intense or prolonged this activity is, the greater amount of endorphins will be released, which will lead up to a full-blown state of blissfulness!


The idea of being able to hack your nervous system by hacking your breath is pretty exciting. It shows that you have more control over your body than you might think! First, let's look at how breathing can help you better manage stress. Then we'll go into how this relates to the PNS system in particular.