According to a recent study published in Cell Reports Medicine, individuals who used assigned breathwork techniques showed greater mood and reduced respiratory rates when compared to those who practiced mindfulness meditation. These findings suggest that breathwork may be a valuable therapy tool for those who are depressed or overactive.
Breathing has become a popular and economical method of enhancing health and well-being as a result of intentional breathing practices. Several scientific studies have shown that slow and nasal breathing may improve asthma patients' quality of life, reduce anxiety, and improve learning abilities.
Breathing work and mindfulness meditation have distinct differences, according to research. Unlike mindfulness meditation, breathwork involves intentionally altering the body's physiological state through controlled breathing techniques. Mindfulness meditation involves observation of one's breath without actively trying to alter it. The goal of increasing present moment awareness is to increase the sense of serenity.
Although increasing evidence supports the use of breathwork for overall health and well-being, further research is required to understand the relative effects of different breathing techniques and the amount of breathing exercises required to achieve these results. Therefore, Melis Yilmaz Balban and colleagues investigated the effects of mindfulness meditation on three different breathing exercises.
The researchers recruited 108 participants who were randomly divided into four different technique groups: meditation, cyclic sighing, box breathing, or cyclic hyperventilation. During the one-month study, participants practiced their assigned technique for five minutes daily.
All four groups experienced significant improvements in positive affect, as well as reductions in state anxiety and negative affect, with the cyclic sighing group showing the most improvement while the mindfulness meditation group showing the least. Additionally, the breathwork group showed significant physiological changes, such as a decreased respiration rate compared to the mindfulness meditation group.
According to research, cyclic sighing, which involves a lengthy exhale and a double inhale, benefits both for mood and physiology. The effects of various breathing techniques on cardiac function have been established, and studies suggest that cardiac rate variability reflects vagal function.
Breathwork, according to a recent research, might be more effective in promoting mental and physical relaxation due to its direct impact on the body's physiological state through controlled breathing.
Although there were no significant differences in heart rate variability between different breathing conditions, deliberate breathing techniques are believed to enhance brain function via vagus nerve pathways. Additionally, breathing can enhance interoceptive processes, which involve sensing and interpreting visceral stimuli via the brain-body axis.
COVID-19 limitations limited the study; data was collected remotely, so it is difficult to know whether or not participants were following through on their daily activities. In addition, the sample size was small.
Intentional breathwork practices, according to the findings, may have a significant impact on physiology and mood, in contrast to mindfulness meditation, by managing the vagal function and stimulating interoceptive processes.
Melis Yilmaz Balban, Eric Neri, Manuela M. Kogon, Bita Nouriani, Booil Jo, Jamie M. Zeitzer, David Spiegel, and Andrew D. Huberman coauthored the research.