Breathing is automatic, yes? In, out, in out… it’s a universally-acknowledged truth that it happens on its own, one of those clever hind brand things that you only really notice (and you notice pretty fast) when it stops happening or isn’t happening properly.
Or so I thought, until I tried moonbird.
Feeling the stress
My life can be pretty hectic; when I’m not juggling deadlines, I’m wrangling teenagers, and when I’m not planning longevity articles, I’m planning meals, school runs and all the other life admin that comes my way.
However, the importance of setting healthy resolutions and dedicating more time to mental health has been on my mind for a while and it was time to dedicate some time and space to my inner wellbeing.
I had read that breathing exercises can be a great way to get started – there is evidence that breathing exercises can decrease stress levels, lower heart rates, enhance cognitive function and help with anxiety [1, 2].
And to that end, I was delighted to take a device to help me breathe better for a spin.
What is moonbird?
Moonbird is a handheld gadget that acts similarly to a breathing coach, meaning you can mimic its rhythm wherever you are to feel less anxious and more centered. It’s a soft device that “breathes” to encourage you to match your breathing to its rhythm. Although I wouldn’t say I am an anxious person, I certainly welcomed the opportunity to focus on breathing and really take the time to do it properly.
As you hold moonbird in your hand, you align your breathing to the device as it contracts and expands. It aims to encourage users to keep their breathing slow and conscious through breathwork.
|GO LONG||GO SHORT|
|Helps users focus on breathing||Rather pricey|
|Reduces anxiety and stress||Some people may find the material too slippery|
|Includes a carrying pouch and charging cable||There is only one size available|
|Travel-friendly||Company ships only to EU, UK and US (does not currently ship to Switzerland, Canada or Asia-Pacific)|
|Directions are simple to follow|
|Breathing exercises are included in the free app|
|It can be operated without the app|
|You can test it free for 30 days|
How does it work?
Stefanie Broes, founder and CEO of moonbird, is a breathwork practitioner and holds a pharmaceutical sciences doctorate. She started her company to get people to practice slower breathing after noticing how it helped her sleep better when she experienced insomnia.
What are the benefits of slower breathing? Stress and anxiety increase your heart rate and blood pressure, and your breathing quickens – also known as the fight or flight response. Slowing down your breathing can help bring things back to a healthy pace.
While further research is needed on diaphragmatic breathing (DB) (slow, deep breathing), some health conditions like stress and anxiety may improve with DB . Additionally, a 2022 pilot study investigated how mobile tactile breathing devices – moonbird specifically – could improve sleep .
The study’s 39 participants tried the device for a month, and researchers determined that it was “an acceptable solution for sleep problems and participants particularly appreciate the standalone function and design.” Although it appears some participants reported mentions of the device’s size, as it only only comes in one; that said, I have pretty small hands and I found it absolutely easy to use.
Moonbird‘s ease of use is one of its best features. There is no power button on it – it is woken up by gently shaking it. This was slightly spooky as I rather felt it was just waiting for me to use it, but who doesn’t love a responsive bit of tech (and I, for one, will welcome our new robot overlords).
By placing your thumb on the sensor, you can use it quickly without opening the app. Simply place your thumb over the green light and hold it gently in your hand without pressing too hard.
As soon as it recognizes you’re holding it, moonbird will begin inflating and deflating. Although this was a particularly novel experience the first time I tried it, my breathing straightaway began to match its pace once it began “breathing.” Because you ‘feel’ the instructions, you can use moonbird in the dark or with your eyes closed, and this really helps with the relaxation and focus. Once moonbird stops, you have completed one session.
If you need more time, you can finish your session or begin again. Alternatively, you can use the app for guided sessions. My device connected easily via Bluetooth, and the app was super-easy to navigate and use, providing bio-feedback on HR and HRV in realtime. The graphics were neat as well – and I love that you can tell the app when you’re feeling ‘meh’!
How did I feel?
I have never been one for meditation, but breathing properly and meaningfully was something that appealed; moonbird is a tactile experience, and being guided to breathe by the gentle expansion and contraction in your hand was a very relaxing experience. The voice didn’t really add to the experience for me, but it’s straightforward to toggle on and off.
As well as helping me to relax and destress, I found moonbird particularly helped me to breathe diaphragmatically – also called abdominal breathing. By taking slow, deep breaths in through the nose, rather than shallower breaths in through the mouth, breathing feels more ‘satisfying’ (odd, I know, but that is how it feels!) and this sort of breathing also promotes full oxygen exchange. As an asthmatic, I am conscious of having a ‘tight’ feeling in my lungs and feeling like I am not shifting enough air with my breathing, especially when my asthma is triggered by pollution and (curse you!) tree pollen. While I am not decommissioning my inhalers anytime soon, moonbird does help me breathe better, deeper, more effectively. Easy breathing rather than wheezy breathing.
The $199 price point isn’t cheap and this is probably the biggest downside. However, in terms of destressing, I would say for me, it’s an investment! Currently, moonbird is available in one size and four colors – I went for a snazzy sea-green one.
Free delivery, tracking, and a 30-day money-back guarantee allow you to try the product for 30 days without any charge. By doing this, you don’t have to commit if it isn’t the right device for you.
Exchanges and returns
According to Moonbird’s website, you can return your moonbird within 30 days if you’re not satisfied. To return an item, simply send an email to the company (firstname.lastname@example.org). A return shipping label will be sent to you by the company.
Returning a device requires that it be in its original packaging and without any damage. Additionally, you must include your receipt, order number, or proof of purchase. Upon receiving your return, the company will notify you.
Return policies state that customers have 30 days to return their devices, but it is unclear whether you need to contact the company 14 days after receiving your device. Refunds will be credited back to the original payment method within 30 calendar days, according to the company.
Your session feels more official when you hold an object, especially one that performs the task you are planning to do.
With Moonbird, you can combine free guided breathing exercises with a physical device to relieve anxiety. A number of meditation apps exist, but they don’t have a physical component that helps calm your mind.
For individuals with smaller hands, it would be great if the device came in different sizes. In spite of its ergonomic design, the device feels slippery due to the soft silicone material. It would be helpful if the device had a little grip somewhere, but then I guess the upside is nothing feels distracting..
The price of moonbird is a significant downside, but it’s worth repeating. However, a one-time cost may seem worthwhile if you consider the savings you make by not subscribing to a costly meditation app, meditation classes, breathwork classes and the like.
Breathe Peace: World Breathing Day
In a world still taking part in war, how can humans create peace and resolve conflict from where they stand and breathe?
The International Breathework Foundation (IBF) is a non-profit international network open to everyone interested in conscious breathing and breathwork. This includes Conscious Connected Breathwork Professionals, organizations and schools, individuals and practitioners interested in mindful breathing, or those whose lives have been touched by this experience.
“The purpose of the IBF is to promote a heart-centred approach to breathwork, its theory and practice, for the expansion of consciousness and personal and global transformation.”
It was created in June 1994, during the first Global Inspiration Conference (GIC) in Sweden and was officially included as a non-profit organization in The Netherlands in June 2000.
The IBF has an open, respectful and inclusive spirit to all nations, races, religions, spiritual traditions and breathing techniques and does not adhere to any specific practice, religious or otherwise.
World Breathing Day
It is a celebration of one global collective breath to teach, learn, share, celebrate, meditate, dance, be creative, inspire and be inspired by the community of breath worldwide . Consciously breathing together has the power to unite us beyond all the separating lines drawn in our society. We have seen the race, religion and culture wars and how our differences have created fear and separation.
WorldBreathing Day is a reminder that our breathing doesn’t have a color or religion, nor does it exclude anyone. It is all-inclusive in that it is always available to everyone, and focused breathing with moonbird really helps one to appreciate that!