The Difference Between Breathwork and Meditation
Updated: Jul 1
Written By: Tiffany Hicks
While breathwork and meditation have some overlapping benefits, they differ in many aspects. Considered a passive approach to mental healing, meditation lacks the mindful action of breathwork. At the same time, breathwork comes natural and easy to adapt to while meditation requires weeks of practice and discipline to master. For these reasons, breathwork’s active exercises often provide physiological and psychological benefits instantly whereas the benefits of passive meditation tend to take longer.
The International Breathwork Foundation (IBF) defines breathwork as, “the experiential field of study and practice that encompasses a variety of breathing techniques utilized individually and in groups to cultivate self-awareness and the enhancement of physical, emotional, cognitive, or spiritual well-being.” Thus, it comes as no surprise that Navy SEALs, Olympic athletes, psychotherapists, and other individuals with high-stress careers have incorporated breathwork in their lifestyles.
Overall, breathwork is a personal experience in which individuals establish a deeper connection to their emotional as well as their physical state. This is why individuals express experiencing a boost in their mood along with a decreased feeling a stress. Accordingly, breathworkers and other practitioners who actually guide others through breathwork activities or classes describe breathwork as an essential tool for better navigating life. Thereby presenting yet another contrast, meditation serves as an escape from life, but breathwork offers a roadmap for living.
Perhaps one of the greatest advantages of breathwork is that anyone can do it and they can do it any time whether first thing in the morning to promote focus for the day ahead, in the middle of an anxiety attack during the day, or last thing at night to come down from the day and fall asleep quickly.
In addition, breathwork can also help you:
Improve self-esteem and confidence
Enhance creativity and professional skills
Overcome trauma and addiction
Release grief, anger, and other negative thoughts
Process ADHD, depression, and PTSD
Optimize athletic endurance
Recover from inflammatory conditions
Indeed, breathwork equips individuals with a stronger sense of self that in turn benefits practically every aspect of their lives. So, consider making breathwork a part of your daily life to experience this healthier way of living for yourself!
Cronkleton, E. (2019, April 29). What is breathwork? Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/breathwork
Gerbarg, P.L., Jacob, V.E., Stevens, L., Bosworth, B.P., Chabouni, F., DeFilippis, E.M., Warren, R., Trivellas, M., Patel, P.V., Webb, C.D., Harbus, M.D., Christos, P.J., Brown, R.P., & Scherl, E.J. (2015). The effect of breathing, movement, and meditation on psychological and physical symptoms and inflammatory biomarkers in inflammatory bowel disease: A randomized controlled trial. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, 21(12): 2886-96. doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000568
International Breathwork Foundation [IBF]. (2020). Breathwork definitions. https://ibfbreathwork.org/breathwork-definitions/
Reiss, J. (2019, February 25). Breaking down breathwork: What to know about trying this form of meditation. Yellow Co. https://archive.yellowco.co/blog/2019/02/25/breaking-down-breathwork-everything-should-know-meditation/