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Belgian start-up, Moonbird, is on a mission to teach the world to breathe

By
Moonbird is a hand-held device that uses haptics
It guides breathwork and gives biofeedback
Studies show it can reduce anxiety and improve sleep
The Belgian start-up has raised €3.5 million of growth capital for international expansion

Moonbird is a tactile breathing coach, which provides real-time biofeedback, measuring heart rate and heart rate variability. Studies show it can reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.

Breathing is our most powerful tool to help reduce stress and anxiety. A few minutes of breathwork act as a reset button for the nervous system and calm the fight or flight response. Despite this, it’s so easy to forget about it when we’re caught up in a stressful moment. Many of us spend much of our days shallow chest breathing, or even worse, mouth breathing.

Moonbird solves this problem. Designed by a Belgian start-up, it’s a tactile device that fits in the palm of the hand and softly inflates and deflates, so the user can breathe in time. It can be used on its own, or connected to an app, which offers different breathing exercises and gives feedback on heart coherence, heart rate and heart rate variability, as well as allowing the user to track health improvements.

Studies have shown that people who consistently use Moonbird reap the benefits: 80 per cent of users experience enhanced psychological wellbeing and 78 per cent sleep better. It is recommended to practice at least twice a day, for 10 minutes.

Co-founder, Stefanie Broes, who has a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, says: "We founded Moonbird after seeing more and more friends and family members struggling with insomnia, stress, and anxiety attacks. Sadly, the truth is that these emotions are increasingly part of our daily lives.

“While medication can sometimes be the answer, it is not always necessary and there are other proven techniques people can turn to, including breathwork. Moonbird is designed to be an effective, manageable and discreet tool that goes with you anywhere and everywhere, to nip anxiety and stress in the bud as and when it happens.”

Top tips on breathing

As babies, we're perfect breathers, taking rhythmic belly breaths through the nose. But many aspects influence and change our breathing patterns as we grow, including tight clothes, traumatic events, injuries, unhealthy environments, lack of activity, stressful and sedentary lives, diseases or medication.

This causes people to shift to more rapid breathing, often through the mouth, holding tension in their neck, lifting their shoulders and breathing high in the upper chest. These changes may be subtle and can happen over a long period of time, but eventually will lead to chronic overbreathing.

Chronic overbreathers may experience chest and throat tightness, chest pain around the breast bone, cold, tingly hands and breathlessness. It will also lead to lower levels of carbon dioxide in the body, which decreases the oxygen release from the red blood cells to the body, making overall breathing less efficient, and causing the release of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.

"It's estimated that more than one in 10 people are chronic overbreathers with major health consequences and one in three adults are mouth breathers," says Broes. “When I saw these numbers and learned what the consequences are, I found it striking that so little attention is paid to this when the answer is so simple and literally everyone can do something about it, with very little effort.

“We can live without water for days, food for weeks, but air for just a few minutes. Still, we spend a great deal of attention on what to eat and drink, but not on the quality and quantity of our breathing. Just as in Eastern traditions, I firmly believe proper breathing should be taught at school.

“Overall it’s simple. Always breathe through your nose, inhale by expanding your belly to draw the oxygen to the lower parts of the lungs, and point your shoulder blades towards each other to create the space to breathe freely. Adopting these basics in everyday life, quickly pays dividends.”

Launched in 2019 and headquartered in Antwerp, Moonbird is now gearing up for further expansion. Having raised €3.5 million of growth capital in a recent investment round that will be used for international expansion, it has opened a second office in London.

Retailing at €179 / $199 / £159, Moonbird could be a secondary spend item for health clubs and Broes confirmed they would be open to giving operators a commission.

FIRST PERSON – Kath Hudson, head of news, HCM

As someone who practices yoga and meditation (almost) daily, I thought I had breathwork nailed, but working with Moonbird was eye-opening. It revealed how much my mind wants to drift off to my to-do list when doing a breathing exercise and when this happens my heart rate variability (HRV) – which indicates stress resilience – drops. In fact, when I first started using Moonbird I was shocked by how low my HRV was going.

I developed the routine of using Moonbird before going to sleep and when I woke up, and occasionally during the day. Over the course of a few weeks, I was amazed at how my HRV improved, and better than that, my sleep quality. I’ve also grabbed the Moonbird when I’ve been in a stressful situation and found being guided is much more effective than trying to do my own calming breaths.

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Belgian start-up, Moonbird, is on a mission to teach the world to breathe

By
Moonbird is a hand-held device that uses haptics
It guides breathwork and gives biofeedback
Studies show it can reduce anxiety and improve sleep
The Belgian start-up has raised €3.5 million of growth capital for international expansion

Moonbird is a tactile breathing coach, which provides real-time biofeedback, measuring heart rate and heart rate variability. Studies show it can reduce anxiety and improve sleep quality.

Breathing is our most powerful tool to help reduce stress and anxiety. A few minutes of breathwork act as a reset button for the nervous system and calm the fight or flight response. Despite this, it’s so easy to forget about it when we’re caught up in a stressful moment. Many of us spend much of our days shallow chest breathing, or even worse, mouth breathing.

Moonbird solves this problem. Designed by a Belgian start-up, it’s a tactile device that fits in the palm of the hand and softly inflates and deflates, so the user can breathe in time. It can be used on its own, or connected to an app, which offers different breathing exercises and gives feedback on heart coherence, heart rate and heart rate variability, as well as allowing the user to track health improvements.

Studies have shown that people who consistently use Moonbird reap the benefits: 80 per cent of users experience enhanced psychological wellbeing and 78 per cent sleep better. It is recommended to practice at least twice a day, for 10 minutes.

Co-founder, Stefanie Broes, who has a PhD in pharmaceutical sciences, says: "We founded Moonbird after seeing more and more friends and family members struggling with insomnia, stress, and anxiety attacks. Sadly, the truth is that these emotions are increasingly part of our daily lives.

“While medication can sometimes be the answer, it is not always necessary and there are other proven techniques people can turn to, including breathwork. Moonbird is designed to be an effective, manageable and discreet tool that goes with you anywhere and everywhere, to nip anxiety and stress in the bud as and when it happens.”

Top tips on breathing

As babies, we're perfect breathers, taking rhythmic belly breaths through the nose. But many aspects influence and change our breathing patterns as we grow, including tight clothes, traumatic events, injuries, unhealthy environments, lack of activity, stressful and sedentary lives, diseases or medication.

This causes people to shift to more rapid breathing, often through the mouth, holding tension in their neck, lifting their shoulders and breathing high in the upper chest. These changes may be subtle and can happen over a long period of time, but eventually will lead to chronic overbreathing.

Chronic overbreathers may experience chest and throat tightness, chest pain around the breast bone, cold, tingly hands and breathlessness. It will also lead to lower levels of carbon dioxide in the body, which decreases the oxygen release from the red blood cells to the body, making overall breathing less efficient, and causing the release of the stress hormones, adrenaline and cortisol.

"It's estimated that more than one in 10 people are chronic overbreathers with major health consequences and one in three adults are mouth breathers," says Broes. “When I saw these numbers and learned what the consequences are, I found it striking that so little attention is paid to this when the answer is so simple and literally everyone can do something about it, with very little effort.

“We can live without water for days, food for weeks, but air for just a few minutes. Still, we spend a great deal of attention on what to eat and drink, but not on the quality and quantity of our breathing. Just as in Eastern traditions, I firmly believe proper breathing should be taught at school.

“Overall it’s simple. Always breathe through your nose, inhale by expanding your belly to draw the oxygen to the lower parts of the lungs, and point your shoulder blades towards each other to create the space to breathe freely. Adopting these basics in everyday life, quickly pays dividends.”

Launched in 2019 and headquartered in Antwerp, Moonbird is now gearing up for further expansion. Having raised €3.5 million of growth capital in a recent investment round that will be used for international expansion, it has opened a second office in London.

Retailing at €179 / $199 / £159, Moonbird could be a secondary spend item for health clubs and Broes confirmed they would be open to giving operators a commission.

FIRST PERSON – Kath Hudson, head of news, HCM

As someone who practices yoga and meditation (almost) daily, I thought I had breathwork nailed, but working with Moonbird was eye-opening. It revealed how much my mind wants to drift off to my to-do list when doing a breathing exercise and when this happens my heart rate variability (HRV) – which indicates stress resilience – drops. In fact, when I first started using Moonbird I was shocked by how low my HRV was going.

I developed the routine of using Moonbird before going to sleep and when I woke up, and occasionally during the day. Over the course of a few weeks, I was amazed at how my HRV improved, and better than that, my sleep quality. I’ve also grabbed the Moonbird when I’ve been in a stressful situation and found being guided is much more effective than trying to do my own calming breaths.

More fit tech news
Peloton has secured a critical US$1bn five-year loan to shore up its finances. The loan has repayment terms which are ...
news • 24 May 2024
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news • 02 May 2024
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news • 18 Apr 2024
The JD Gyms Group has completed a deal to acquire Simply Gym from Bay Leisure. The deal comprises four gyms: ...
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news • 05 Jan 2024
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news • 15 Dec 2023
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More fit tech news