By Joseph Santiago

Breathwork is a workout that you should start already if you haven’t. The benefit of this practice is one that you’ll continue to experience with more practice. If you start breathwork, the first thing you would notice is that it’ll help you gain complete control of your breathing. This is because it will increase your breathing self-awareness. In addition, it will also help you feel more calm, grounded, and confident. 

But what it’s all about, and how can you benefit from it? From my breathwork experience, I’ve put this article to help you understand it and how it can benefit you. Continue reading to find out more.

What Exactly is Breathwork?

As the name suggests, this is a deliberate and controlled way of breathing. It can only involve taking deep breaths and regular intervals at its very basic level. 

How did it come to being? Its roots can be traced back to the Pranayama concept in yoga. Breathwork is also a concept with broad application in different Eastern practices and Tai Chi. There are different types of breathing exercises, but it basically comprises a conscious change in how you breathe. The fantastic thing about the exercise is that it’s a powerful and reliable tool that can facilitate transformation and healing. 

There are so many benefits to gain from this daily exercise. These benefits are primarily to the spirit, mind, and body. I’ve enjoyed so many benefits from regular breathwork. For example, it has made it a lot easier for me to attain a deeper state of mind and focus. 

Breathwork is undoubtedly a handy practice to turn to. Still in doubt? Here’s a quick overview of some of the benefits, especially on physical, emotional, and mental health. 

Benefits of Breathwork

There’s so much ongoing research to show the benefits, and here are some of the benefits. 

Instant Relief from Stress

This type of exercise is a quick way to combat the stress from our daily living. One of the studies in the journal Frontiers in Psychology gave promising results. In this study, 20 participants took part in breathwork sessions for eight weeks. At the end of this training period, there was a significant reduction in their stress hormone cortisol

Cortisol is a steroid hormone responsible for our stress response. High cortisol levels can lead to chronic inflammation in the body. 

Lowers Blood Pressure

According to a 2001 study, breathwork is an effective nonpharmacological treatment for high blood pressure. Another 2015 study also gave evidence to support this claim further. Today, there’s an FDA tool for people to build slower to help them reduce their blood pressure. 

Improves Symptoms of Depression

Results from a 2017 study on the effects of coherent breathing and Iyengar yoga on depression are inspiring. Participants had a significant decline in their symptoms of depression, and they also had clinical improvements. 

Another 2016 report also gave evidence to show that breathwork can improve severe depression. It’s a handy tool for people who don’t respond well to antidepressants. The reason why it is effective is that it reduces the size of the amygdala, the part responsible for fight-or-flight responses. This, in turn, increases complex thinking in the prefrontal cortex. 

Initiates Sharper Focus

If you’re having a hard time maintaining focus on a different task, you might want to consider breathwork exercise. According to a 2018 study in the journal Consciousness and Cognition, breathwork can improve attention span. Results of another study from Trinity College Dublin gave similar results. 

The two studies show that breathwork creates a balance in natural chemical messengers and noradrenaline. Both substances have an effect on specific emotions and attention, thereby enhancing focus. 

Pain Management

There are several studies that show that deep breathing can help reduce chronic pain perception. These studies also suggest that patients can endure physical discomfort easier with deep breathing. 

Norepinephrine mediates the pain pathway, and creating a balance in cortisol to decrease inflammation can reduce pain perception. Evidence from a 2017 literature review supports claims that taking deep breaths can decrease back pain. 

I’ve only mentioned five benefits because of my experience and supporting research evidence of each benefit. Let us now look at the different types. 

Types of Breathwork

After discovering that breathwork is a handy healing tool, I devoted time to learning different techniques. Not all of these techniques were helpful, but here are the ones that stood out:

Pranayama

You’ll be familiar with this breathing exercise if you’ve done yoga before. It’s a popular breathing exercise that people together with different yoga poses. Pranayama helps people build up self-awareness which in turn boosts confidence. It also allows people to overcome energy and emotional blocks, both of which hinder life force.

Holotropic Breathwork

People practice this type of breathwork exercise to induce a trippy experience. Many describe the effects as that of a hallucinogenic substance because of its intensity. The aim of holotropic breathwork sessions is to attain an altered state of consciousness through breathing. Eventually, a person will start to feel wholeness between the mind, spirit, and body. 

Rebirthing

The aim of this breathwork is to free up blocked energies from trauma. It brings about a certain type of emotional release. The breathwork supports the principle that everyone has suffered trauma, and it’s stored within the body. It then manifests are stress and anxiety, but the breathwork technique help to release the stored energy. 

Wim Hof Method

This is a combination of cold therapy and breathwork. It’s an intense type of breathwork exercise, and it can be said to be a form of hyperventilation. Wim Hof’s method has a unique way of creating a rush of confidence and energy for improved wellbeing.

How Breathwork Works in the Body

The mechanism of breathwork action is simple, and what happens is that you learn calmness during the process. You’ll be able to change or slow your breathing pattern in different circumstances consciously. Ultimately, it activates the parasympathetic system, which is the system that mediates fight-and-flight response. 

Breathing is usually shallow in a stressful situation, and it stimulates the activation of different stress hormones, including cortisol. Following the release of these hormones, the body starts to prepare for flight or fight. Blood pressure and heart rate also begin to increase, but you can quickly arrest the situation with breathwork. 

Breathwork makes it easy for people to trick the body into thinking things are not as intense. It brings about steady blood pressure and heart rate and an overall state of calmness. 

Another mechanism that breathwork utilizes is an increase in the oxygen level in the blood. This makes it easier for blood to reach organs, muscles, and the brain. An exciting thing about breathwork is that you can practice it anytime and anywhere. 

For people who plan to start practicing breathwork, it’s best to start with a basic session. Thankfully, a couple of certified teachers teach breathwork for beginners. You can also find helpful sessions from qualified instructors online. These instructors will guide you through breathwork practice.