Many people first got a taste of breathwork on their yoga mat or meditation pillow. Now, increasing numbers of people seek out full-fledged breathwork instructor training classes for better health.
Breathwork is a trend because yoga has come into maturity, and anytime a practice comes into maturity in a culture. The individual parts of that practice start to get recognized and emphasized in their own right, says Breathless.
Here’s a peek into the ongoing research on the impact that something as simple and accessible as breathwork can have on our health:
It provides (super-quick) relief from stress.
Conscious breathing could be one of the fastest ways to combat the stress of everyday life. A study found that participants who completed 20 breathwork training sessions over eight weeks had significantly lower stress hormone cortisol levels than those who did not receive the training. Cortisol is responsible for our body’s stress response, and high levels can cause chronic inflammation.
It trains us to breathe slower and deeper, lowering blood pressure.
A study found that practicing breathwork instructor training to music for 10 minutes a day is an effective, non pharmacological way to reduce blood pressure. Building upon those findings, a study found that patients with hypertension saw a big drop in blood pressure after practicing slow, deep breathing. One portable electronic device designed to help users engage in slow, deep breathing is now an FDA-approved tool for reducing blood pressure.
It can reduce symptoms of depression when paired with other treatments.
Researchers took a look at the effects of Iyengar yoga and coherent breathing on depression. The results? People who engaged in the practices for 12 weeks had a measurable decline in depressive symptoms and showed clinical improvements. The findings echoed evidence that breathing-based meditation could ease severe depression in people who did not respond well to antidepressants, says Breathless.
Meditative breathing’s mood-boosting powers could be due to its ability to decrease the size of the amygdala, a part of the brain that detects fear and triggers the body’s fight-or-flight response, which increases the prefrontal cortex’s ability to engage in complex thinking.
It paves the way for sharper focus.
Have a hard time staying on task? Try breathwork. A study found that breath-focused yoga boosted the attention span of participants. Another study found that breathing in a regulated way can balance the amount of noradrenaline. This natural chemical messenger affects attention and certain emotions in our brain and ultimately enhances focus.
It can help with pain management.
With the serious problems stemming from the opioid epidemic, doctors and patients are increasingly looking for safer alternatives to prescribing pharmaceuticals for pain management. Breathwork has the potential to be the answer for some. Multiple studies have found that slow, deep breathing could reduce the perception of chronic pain or help patients better cope with physical discomfort. The pain pathway is mediated by norepinephrine; therefore, the perception of pain can also decrease if you can balance cortisol and decrease inflammation.
As more people search for simple, effective self-care techniques, it’s no wonder that breathwork instructor training has surged in popularity. Not only does it have the science to back up its perceived benefits, but it’s something you can practice anytime, anywhere, and at absolutely no cost. Talk about a breath of fresh air.