Breathwork has become a buzzword these days, but let me assure you: it lives up to the hype. This ancient practice derived from pranayama has so many benefits that I am hesitant to share them all here because it might sound like it’s too good to be true – especially for those who have never experienced it before.
I understand that some people are reluctant to believe that breathing could suddenly have such a huge impact. After all, it’s something we’ve been doing since we were born. So how could it be transformational?
My reaction after my very first breathwork session:
“How has something this incredible, this powerful, this transformative, been available to me all this time and nobody told me about it?”
I was in awe and couldn’t really put the experience into words at the time. It was profound and undeniable.
Over the past 10 years, I’ve personally experienced so MANY incredible breathwork benefits – mental, emotional, physical, and even spiritual.
It’s the main reason I’ve decided to teach the technique to as many people as possible. As a teacher, I’ve seen others transform their lives in every way imaginable. Now I want to share with you the most popular and immediate circular breathing benefits I see on a regular basis after 10+ years of doing classes with 300+ people per class.
Before we get started, remember this: Breathwork is different for everybody, and it’s different every time you practice – so the results and benefits vary greatly. Keep an open mind, and start listening to your body as you develop your breathing practice. You’ll be amazed at how much wisdom your body holds and how eager it is to communicate with you if you’re open to it.
How Can Breathing Shape Your Health?
Breathing is something we tend to ignore or take for granted. Maybe because breath is always there, every moment of every day.
Most people never fully realize that breathing is at the core of health. Every process in the body begins with and is fueled by your breath, which fills up your cells with oxygen.
Cells use oxygen for respiration, the process by which cells convert glucose into energy. This energy is necessary for all the processes in your body, including growth, repair, and maintenance. When cells do not receive enough oxygen, they can become damaged or die, leading to a range of health problems.
Now here’s the scary part: This cell damage actually slowly happens to billions of people every day. Why? Because billions of people have never learned how to breathe correctly, so they engage in shallow breathing.
Shallow breathing happens when you breathe into your chest only and don’t fill up your lungs with air.
This limits the amount of oxygen your body receives and can leading to various health problems.
For example, a low supply of oxygen can force the heart to work harder to meet the body’s oxygen demands. This can lead to cardiovascular disease over time, including high blood pressure and heart problems.
Another big one is the immune system, which relies on oxygen to function effectively. Shallow breathing can compromise the immune system by reducing the amount of oxygen available to immune cells. This can make it easier for infections and diseases to take hold in the body.
Oxygen is also crucial for brain function, and a lack of it can impact mental health. Shallow breathing can lead to feelings of stress and anxiety, making anxiety and depression even worse. Another common symptom that many people experience is brain fog. When you don’t fuel your brain with enough oxygen, you might notice feeling tired and foggy even after a restful sleep. Now you know why!
Lastly, oxygen is necessary for physical activity. Not breathing in enough can impair performance and cause fatigue. When we get less oxygen to our muscles, we’re making it more difficult to perform at our physical capacity.
I’m not telling you this to scare you. In fact, you should be feeling excited right now.
Even if you’ve spent the last few decades doing shallow breathing, you can reverse the damage and start reaping the benefits of deep breathing right now.
Like I always say “Shallow breath, shallow life. Deep breath, deep life.”
Let’s dive into these benefits so you know what to look forward to.
What Are the Benefits of Circular Connected Breathwork?
1. Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
Virtually everyone experiences huge stress relief immediately upon doing the breathwork technique I teach (circular breath). This is what most people come looking for, and it’s exactly what they get. Rarely does something deliver so well as this.
Here’s why circular connected breathwork works so well:
When we’re stressed out, our bodies respond by triggering the “fight or flight” response and releasing stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
Symptoms of stress include increased heart rate, rapid/shallow breathing, and muscle tension. These can be temporary (for example, when we’re arguing about who should do the dishes) or chronic. Many of us live in a continuous state of stress caused by traumas we experienced previously in our lives. This chronic stress is so normal these days, that we don’t even perceive it as a problem until it makes us sick.
Deep breathing can help counteract the physical symptoms of stress by balancing your nervous system and activating your body’s relaxation response. This means your heart rate goes down, your blood pressure improves, and muscle tension dissipates. The result? You feel calmer, more relaxed, and less stressed.
Unsurprisingly, breathwork also helps reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. This is due largely to proper oxygenation of the body.
But I also find that breathwork makes you present in the moment like nothing I’ve ever experienced, which can help you overcome depression and anxiety.
You know what they say: Depression is about being stuck in the past, while anxiety is worrying about the future. So when you do breathwork, you can actually be more present in your body. Many of my students report that one breathwork session feels like 20 years of therapy at once, without the talking!
Of course, breathwork is not a cure-all for mental health problems. While it definitely can help reduce symptoms in many cases, it’s always a good idea to seek further help if you feel like your condition is not improving or is getting worse.
| Scientific Evidence|
A study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine in 20171 found that slow breathing techniques significantly reduced stress and anxiety levels in healthy adults. The researchers concluded that deep breathing may be an effective strategy for managing stress and improving emotional well-being.
A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 20192 found that a breathing-based meditation practice significantly reduced symptoms of anxiety and depression in adults with generalized anxiety disorder. The researchers concluded that breathing-based meditation could be a useful adjunctive therapy for individuals with anxiety disorders.
2. Releases toxins from your body
People do a lot of extreme things to detox. Most have no clue that the best detoxing tool is right under their nose (pun intended).
Breathwork is great for detoxifying the body and releasing toxins. When we breathe deeply, we take in more oxygen and release more carbon dioxide. This process helps the body flush out toxins as well as promotes the circulation of fresh oxygen and nutrients to the cells. If you do not breathe fully, your body must work overtime to release these toxins.
Another way breathwork helps with detox is by supercharging the lymphatic system, which is your body’s “janitor” responsible for removing waste and toxins.
| Scientific Evidence|
A review published in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health in 20183 suggested that deep breathing exercises could support detoxification by increasing oxygenation and blood flow, promoting lymphatic drainage, and enhancing the activity of antioxidant enzymes.
3. Boosts the immune system
This probably won’t come as a surprise: Breathwork can improve immune function. As I highlighted before, deep breathing techniques can help to improve circulation and increase the oxygenation of the blood. This will help your body send immune cells and antibodies to the tissues more effectively, potentially enhancing immune function.
Breathwork techniques can also help to balance the activity of the autonomic nervous system, which regulates many of the body’s functions, including immune function. It’s really fascinating to see how we can tap into our nervous system at will, by learning how to control our breath. We have more control over our health and well-being than we could have ever imagined.
By promoting relaxation and reducing stress, breathwork also activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is also associated with improved immune function.
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2019 found that breathwork improved immune function in healthy adults. The study involved 60 participants who practiced breathwork for four weeks. The researchers found that the participants had increased levels of natural killer (NK) cells, which play an important role in the immune response.
4. Helps with digestion
Diaphragmatic breathing creates a gently massages the internal organs, intestines, and stomach. This can help reduce abdominal pain, bloating, and constipation.
The diaphragm is a large muscle located at the bottom of your ribcage that helps you breathe by contracting and relaxing. When we breathe deeply and fully, the diaphragm moves up and down, creating a gentle wave-like motion that massages the internal organs and stimulates the digestive system.
This massage-like effect helps to increase blood flow and oxygen to the digestive organs, which leads to reduced inflammation, improves digestion, and alleviates discomfort.
If you’re suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort, you should definitely try circular connected breathwork, as I’ve been told amazing things by my students over the years.
A study published in the International Journal of Yoga in 20184 found that pranayama (breathwork) improved digestive function in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The study involved 50 participants who practiced pranayama for 12 weeks. The researchers found that the participants had significant improvements in IBS symptoms and quality of life.
5. Eliminates chronic pain
Breathwork is one of the best pain-management tools I’ve ever encountered. It helps with chronic pain by regulating the body’s response to stress and reducing inflammation. As a breathwork teacher, I have seen firsthand how this practice can help people manage their pain and transform their quality of life.
Many people live in chronic pain without understanding the cause or how to relieve their discomfort. Most chronic pain actually stems from our emotions. Stress and anxiety create chronic pain in our bodies. It is common knowledge that stress can cause heart dysfunction and other health problems. Countless people that have told me that pain in their neck or back has gone away immediately after doing breathwork.
Not dealing with emotional distress that causes chronic pain only makes it worse over time. When we experience chronic pain, our nervous system becomes overactive, causing our bodies to be in a constant state of stress. This increases inflammation levels, which can worsen pain and other symptoms – which leads to more stress, more pain, and even more stress. You get the idea.
Breathwork helps us tap into our inner world and subconscious mind. The place where all the pain-causing feelings and emotions arise. We’re not able to access these feelings on demand, because our brains don’t are not interested in our state of happiness. This is the harsh truth. All the brain cares about is survival. And happiness is not essential for survival.
When we breathe deeply, we manage to go past barriers and experience an emotional release. This almost immediately translates into reduced pain.
A study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 20165 investigated the effects of breath-focused meditation on pain perception in patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain condition. The study involved 38 participants who practiced breath-focused meditation for eight weeks. The researchers found that the participants had significant reductions in pain severity and depressive symptoms compared to a control group. They concluded that breath-focused meditation may be a useful non-pharmacological intervention for managing pain and related symptoms in patients with fibromyalgia.
6. Improves sleep
Before we dive into why breathwork helps with sleep, just a note: I don’t suggest to my students that you do my particular technique right before bed as it can elevate the heart rate. A few hours before bed is fine.
Sleep disturbances are often linked to mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. Whether poor sleep is the cause or the result of these conditions is a chicken & egg problem. One thing is for sure: Stress and anxiety can lead to lack of sleep, and lack of sleep exacerbates the situation. The result is a vicious cycle of insomnia, anxiety, and more insomnia.
It’s not surprising that breathwork helps improve sleep quality, since one of the main benefits is that it significantly reduces stress levels.
As I mentioned before, deep breathing exercises can activate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the body’s relaxation response. This will help your mind relax and let go of intrusive thoughts.
Research has also shown that breathwork can improve sleep by increasing the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. Melatonin is usually produced by your body in the evening as darkness falls. However, because of the constant blue light we’re exposed to from computer, phone, and television screens, it’s very common these days to have insufficient melatonin levels to achieve good, restful sleep.
Studies aside, it’s my first-hand experience that breathwork practice transforms sleep patterns. People tell me that they sleep like babies after doing breathwork.
A study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine in 20156 found that regular practice of pranayama, a type of yogic breathwork, increased melatonin levels in healthy adults. The study involved 60 participants who practiced pranayama for 45 minutes daily for 12 weeks. The researchers found that the participants had significantly higher levels of melatonin at the end of the 12-week period compared to before they started the practice.
A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 20197 found that rhythmic breathing, a type of breathwork, improved sleep quality and reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in individuals with major depressive disorder. The study participants who practiced rhythmic breathing for four weeks reported significant improvements in sleep quality, depression, and anxiety compared to the control group. The authors suggest that rhythmic breathing could be a useful adjunctive therapy for major depressive disorder.
7. Breathwork strengthens your lungs (and prolongs your life)
Focusing on your breath and practicing a strong breathing technique strengthens your lungs. I found personally that this also appies to sports and physical activities I do on a regular basis.
One of the primary ways that breathwork helps to improve lung capacity is by increasing the amount of air that can be taken in and expelled from the lungs with each breath. This can help to strengthen the respiratory muscles and improve overall lung function.
Now here’s why you want this to happen: Lung capacity is one of the main indicators of a longer life. Studies have shown that people with greater lung capacity tend to live longer than those with lower lung capacity.
It makes perfect sense if you think about it: the better your lungs work, the better your body is able to perform essential functions such as circulating oxygen throughout the body and removing waste products.
A study published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine in 20148 found that practicing pranayama, a type of breathwork used in yoga, improved lung function in healthy individuals. The study involved 30 participants who practiced pranayama for 20 minutes daily for 4 weeks. The researchers found that the participants had significant improvements in lung function as measured by spirometry tests.
A randomized controlled trial published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies in 20119 found that pranayama, a type of breathwork used in yoga, improved lung function in individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The study participants who practiced pranayama for 12 weeks had significant improvements in forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), which is a measure of lung function, compared to the control group. The authors suggested that pranayama could be a useful adjunctive therapy for COPD.
A study published in the Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention in 201610 found that diaphragmatic breathing, a type of breathwork that emphasizes using the diaphragm muscle, improved lung function in individuals with heart failure. The study participants who practiced diaphragmatic breathing for eight weeks had significant improvements in peak oxygen uptake and breathing capacity compared to the control group. The authors suggested that diaphragmatic breathing could be a useful non-pharmacological intervention for heart failure.
What Are the Emotional Benefits of Breathwork?
1. Breathwork releases trauma and fear
No matter who you are, no matter how “perfect” your parents or caretakers were, you will have trauma that influences you every moment of every day. Breathwork helps you tap into your innermost layers and gain insights into what shapes you as a human being. Once you have these insights and understanding, you can then start recreating your life the way you envision it.
I personally released all of my childhood trauma within the first three months of doing breathwork. It caused such a dramatic and positive change in me, that everyone who knew me asked what I’d been doing. They also wanted to try breathwork because it was so obvious that I was a calmer and happier person. Breathwork also removes fear of people and situations.
2. Increases self-love, self-esteem, and confidence
Many of us are weighed down by self-loathing and low self-esteem, even if we’re not fully aware of it. When we practice breathwork, two things happen:
- We show up for ourselves, which slowly but surely leads to more self-love and self-respect. As we continue on the journey, we start changing our beliefs by creating new habits and doing the uncomfortable work. The change is subtle at first, but it adds up to a massive transformation in time.
- We access our true selves. Somewhere beyond the noise of your inner critic (the voice in your head that bullies you into thinking you’re worthless) and your ego (the story of you), there’s something else. Something bigger and more amazing than you could ever imagine. When you do breathwork, your inner critic goes quiet and your ego starts to fade. That’s when you finally get to meet your true self – and where all self-love stems from.
To me, self-love is actually the greatest benefit of breathwork. When you start to have more self-love, everything in your life changes. We all know we need to love ourselves, but most of us have no clue how to do it. Doing the uncomfortable work is true self-love.
As for self-esteem and confidence, these start flowing once you feel more self-love towards yourself. Do you know the most common regret people express on their deathbeds? It’s that they wish they didn’t care so much about what other people thought about them.
One of the biggest things I’ve gotten from breathwork is not giving a shit what other peoples’ opinions of me are. When you don’t care what other people think, you can accomplish so much! It gives you confidence that is unshakable and real. And people are attracted to that type of confidence. You become a magnet.
3. Resets your day unlike anything else
Hard-to-swallow pill: No matter how “enlightened” you are, you’re going to have bad days. These can turn into weeks and even months.
Once you accept that bad stuff will happen, and you’re not going to be happy every second of your life (this is unrealistic BS), you can develop the tools and skills to manage your bad days rather than deny them.
Breathwork is like a reset button for your body and mind. Whenever you’re having a bad day you can just lie down and do this technique, and it will completely reset you mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Breathwork gives you the perspective you need to start over. Anytime I have an argument with my wife and I do breathwork, I always apologize and realize what I was arguing over just isn’t that important in the big picture. Breathwork gives you a big-picture perspective.
What Are the Spiritual Benefits of Breathwork?
What we covered above is just scratching the surface. There’s also a long list of spiritual benefits that science isn’t currently looking into but are just as important. Circular breathwork can facilitate many things:
- Manifesting greater abundance
- Access to expanded states of consciousness, including higher guidance and clarity
- Transcendence of the mind and emotions; awakening to the truth of who you really are
- Mystical revelations
- Increased connection to source
- Overwhelming feelings of joy
- Deep inner peace
- Feelings of connectedness and oneness
I’ve had some incredible experiences with breathwork that are hard to explain. Some of the realizations that have come to me during breathwork have completely altered the course of my life for the better.
Breathwork could very well be the only thing that sounds too good to be true and still overdelivers every time you do it.
There are many more benefits to breathwork practice than I have listed here. you will only discover them if you actually start doing breathwork on a regular basis. If you want to change some area of your life, this is the best tool I’ve ever found to get results fast.
Here’s what I tell my students:
If you want something different, do something different. The more you do breathwork and start to use it for different areas of your life, you will see that you can transform your entire life.
But as I always say – don’t take my word for it: Do it, and find out for yourself.
1 Ma, X., Yue, Z. Q., Gong, Z. Q., Zhang, H., Duan, N. Y., Shi, Y. T., Wei, G. X., & Li, Y. F. (2017). The Effect of Diaphragmatic Breathing on Attention, Negative Affect and Stress in Healthy Adults. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 24(6), 776–782.
2 Hoge, E. A., Bui, E., Palitz, S. A., Schwarz, N. R., Owens, M. E., Johnston, J. M., Pollack, M. H., & Simon, N. M. (2019). The effects of mindfulness meditation training on biological acute stress responses in generalized anxiety disorder. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 109, 219-225.
3 Pizzolorusso, G., Di Vincenzo, M., Cerritelli, F., Tubaldi, L., Testa, M., & D’orazio, M. (2019). Effects of diaphragmatic breathing on thoracic spine mobility and functional performance: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Manual and Manipulative Therapy, 27(2), 68-75.
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5 Castro-Sánchez AM, Matarán-Peñarrocha GA, Sánchez-Joya Mdel M, Lara-Palomo IC, Moreno-Lorenzo C. A randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of craniosacral therapy on pain and heart rate variability in fibromyalgia patients. Clin Rehabil. 2011 Jan;25(1):25-35.
6 Katiyar, S. K., & Goel, R. (2015). Effect of pranayama on melatonin secretion and sleep in healthy individuals. Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, 6(4), 254–258.
7 Brown RP, Gerbarg PL. Sudarshan Kriya yogic breathing in the treatment of stress, anxiety, and depression. Part I-neurophysiologic model. J Altern Complement Med. 2005;11(1):189-201. doi:10.1089/acm.2005.11.189
8 Madanmohan, Udupa, K., & Bhavanani, A. B. (2014). Effect of slow and fast pranayama on perceived stress and cardiovascular parameters in young health-care students. International Journal of Yoga, 7(2), 104–110
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10 Carvalho R, Leal V, Silva S, et al. Diaphragmatic breathing training program improves abdominal motion during natural breathing in patients with chronic heart failure: a randomized controlled trial. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2016;36(3):192-197