Benefits of Breathwork

What Is Breathwork And What Are Its Benefits?

Everyone experiences breathwork differently, but everyone comes out the other end with therapeutic benefits.

If you’re already in the health and wellness scene or have been looking for alternative or supplemental treatment, then you’ve probably seen the word “breathwork” used once or twice. Pamphlets are your local wellness spa, advertisements at your local health food store, or flyers in your mail advertise the service, but so far, you haven’t looked into what it is until now.

What Is Breathwork?

The concept of breathwork has been around for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of years. Just like any alternative or supplemental treatment, science is only just catching up and validating its benefits. It’s no secret that practicing breathing has benefits for the mind and body, but what separates breathwork simply practicing deep breathing?

We’re always breathing, in and out, every day. If you weren’t, then you wouldn’t be here reading this. Deep breathing is easy and convenient to do no matter where you are. It’s a practice many uses to promote relaxation, reduce anxiety, and even helps reduce pain. However, breathwork differs from deep breathing as it has you employing breathing in different techniques. Some amateur breathwork can be done at home, but more advanced techniques should be done under the supervision and guidance of a trained practitioner as you’re intentionally changing the way you’re breathing in a way to reap different benefits. The reason it’s better to learn breathwork under a trained practitioner is, if performed incorrectly, could cause hyperventilation, heart palpitations, or dizziness.

However, there’s relatively few risks if performed correctly and there’s plenty of benefit for performing breathwork. Let’s take a look at how breathwork can benefit your mind and body.

Breathwork For The Mind

As mentioned before, deep breathing has mental benefits. Now, imagine if you could manipulate your breath to treat mental issues such as depression, anxiety, or stress? Here are a list of some other issues breathwork can help calm.

  • Anger
  • Trauma
  • Grief
  • ADHD

There are different breathwork techniques to try depending on what issue you’re suffering from, but at its core, you’re using breathing to activate and work alongside your parasympathetic nervous system. The parasympathetic nervous system is the balance to our sympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system is what tells our bodies that we’re in danger. Our bodies shut off certain processes and increases stress hormones called cortisol.

Not only do breathing techniques activate the parasympathetic nervous system, but it calms your sympathetic nervous system as well. You’re using breathwork to tell your body that you’re not in any immediate danger. This gives your body the chance to detoxify itself of the imbalance caused by your fight-or-flight response. Not only that, but breathwork can help focus your mind for those who suffer from ADHD and cannot seem to set their mind on the right path.

Breathwork For The Body

The mind is not the only thing that benefits from breath work. Practicing breathwork can help lower your blood pressure. This goes hand-in-hand with stress and anxiety because those who suffer from stress suffer spikes in blood pressure. Constant spikes in blood pressure puts you at a higher risk of heart disease such as heart attack or stroke. Stress itself has been linked to blood pressure due to the unhealthy ways many people react to stress. Some turn to comfort food and other unhealthy habits such as smoking or alcohol. Other causes of high blood pressure are:

  • Being overweight
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Other underlying medical issues

All of these are issues that can be alleviated with breathwork. Practicing breathwork gives you the energy to get up and get physical activity done. Even if stress and pain is keeping you down and relatively sedentary, practicing breathwork helps alleviate that stress to even get the minimum physical activity you should get a day to help stave off disease and weight.

Everyone’s experience with breathwork is going to be different. You have to consider what medications you’re taking and what medical conditions you’re trying breathwork for. If it’s your first time trying breathwork, it’s suggested to work with a trained practitioner.

References:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0306453005000831

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stephen_Porges/publication/21641337_Vagal_tone_A_physiologic_marker_of_stress_vulnerability/links/0c96052703a1664e06000000/Vagal-tone-A-physiologic-marker-of-stress-vulnerability.pdf

https://stke.sciencemag.org/content/3/141/ra70.abstract

https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1988-04874-001

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1550413108003963