If you find it challenging to quiet down your mental chatter during meditation, breathwork meditation might be the solution you’ve been craving. But first, what is breathwork? “Breathwork is an ancient healing modality that uses just the breath to release anxiety, stress, and reach higher states of consciousness,” says self-love coach and breathwork facilitator Stevie Wright. “Deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness.”
The main difference between traditional meditation and breathwork meditation is that with breathwork, you don’t need to fight your rampant thoughts to get into a meditative state. “So often in personal development, we’re trying to think about how to feel better, but with breathwork, we’re just letting the body do the work, not the mind,” says Samantha Skelly, founder of Pause Breathwork facilitator training. In other words, breathwork helps release the attachment to the thoughts and allows you to drop deeper into your body.
Intrigued? Keep reading to learn who breathwork meditation is best for, the benefits of practicing it, how to do it, and tips to ensure you’re making the most of the experience.
Who is breathwork meditation for?
Like traditional meditation, everyone can reap the benefits of breathwork. In particular, Skelly recommends it to people who are chronically stressed, experience high states of anxiety, or struggle with addiction of any sort, including but not limited to emotional eating, social media addiction, or addiction to external validation.
3 benefits of breathwork meditation
1. It helps relieve anxiety
One of the most significant benefits of breathwork meditation is stress and anxiety relief. “When we can get out of our mind and get into our body, and the breath can break down all of the stuck emotions in our system, we leave the breathwork session feeling clear, more powerful, more aligned, and just more awake,” Skelly says.
2. It helps connect you to your intuition
Breathwork also supports a deeper connection to your intuition. “When we are not fighting the chaos of our mind, we can really feel our body. We can feel for that visceral yes and no,” Skelly says. “Breathwork allows us to connect the mind and body and head and heart. It allows us to go into the body so that we can begin to feel our intuition and feel our truth.”
3. It supports physical well-being
Breathwork supports you on a physical level as well, Skelly says, by strengthening the immune system, alkalizing our blood, and releasing tension in our system. “When we release tension, there are all sorts of benefits, including anti-aging, because we’re not so stressed out, so the metabolic load is not as intense,” she says. “It’s just a beautiful way to really get our bodies back into a state of well-being.”
How to practice breathwork meditation
There are a few different ways you can practice breathwork meditation. You have the option of working one-on-one with a certified breathwork facilitator or participating in a group breathwork workshop. There are also breathwork meditations available online that you can do on your own.
Skelly notes that there are different breathwork patterns that each serve a unique purpose. Some breathwork patterns are integrative, meaning you can easily incorporate them into your daily routine as you’re doing other things. Other breathwork patterns facilitate a more profound transformation. These are a bit more intense, longer, and require that you lie down.
If you’ve never done a breathwork meditation before, Skelly recommends trying a power breath pattern that you can do sitting up or lying down to familiarize yourself with the sensations of breathwork.
To do it, breathe in and out 100 times just using the mouth, pushing the belly in and out as you do it. Then take a really deep breath in through the nose, hold it at the top, and release. You can repeat the pattern once more if you’d like.
“It stirs up and removes a lot of the stagnation of stress and anxiety that’s caught in our throat, chest, and in our solar plexus,” Skelly says. “And it begins to circulate the emotions so that we can land in a place that feels clear.”
5 tips for practicing breathwork meditation correctly
1. Set an intention
To supercharge your breathwork meditation, Wright recommends setting an intention before you begin. “The body will follow your mind, so set a clear intention for how you’d like to feel afterward,” she says. Your intention can be as simple as “I am safe,” or “I am calm.”
2. Know those unfamiliar sensations are normal
The body can respond to breathwork in unfamiliar ways. You may feel dizzy, lightheaded, get a headache, or get tetany, which Wright explains is when your hands get tingly and tense up like lobster claws. “The breath is helping break down energy in the system, and energy has to go somewhere, so it’s going to go out through our extremities,” Skelly says.
Just know that it is all a normal part of the process. If you start to feel uncomfortable, return to your normal breath, and the sensations will dissipate. Skelly adds that you might also feel tightness wherever you hold a lot of energy in your body, such as the solar plexus or in the shoulders. The more you keep breathing, the tension will release.
3. You can do breathwork sitting, standing, or lying down
You can practice breathwork meditation while sitting, standing, or lying down. Wright recommends sitting or lying down for sessions that are over 10 minutes because you may get dizzy.
4. Focusing on your breath alone is powerful
“Just the awareness of breath is powerful,” Skelly says. So, even if you don’t remember a specific breathwork pattern, merely noticing your breath can help shift your emotional state and bring you back to calmness.
5. Remember you are in control
Although you may experience different sensations during a breathwork meditation, know that you are in control the entire time and are guiding the process. “We can stop at any time. We can go deeper at any time,” Skelly says. “It’s your journey, and you get to feel into it to the degree that you want.”