Breathwork Is Trending (and It Could Change Your Whole Life)

We’ve been breathing since the day we were born—why the heck would we need more practice at it? But the ancient technique of breathwork is having a moment—celebs like Gisele Bündchen and Christy Turlington swear by it, and it has some serious mood-enhancing and body-boosting benefits. Here’s what you need to know before you try it.

Meet the Experts

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Wait, What Exactly Is Breathwork?

Practitioner Debbie Attias from New York's Maha Rose Center for Healing describes it as “an active meditation where we alter the breath to reach deeper states of consciousness and awareness.” Ooh, so New Agey. Breathwork can take many forms, but the basic principle is to use breath awareness and exercises to boost your physical, mental and spiritual health. 

Why Is Breathwork Popular Right Now?

The celebrity attention (hey, Gisele) definitely doesn’t hurt. But our hunch is it’s because we’re all super stressed right now. New York City breathwork teacher Erin Telford agrees. “People are seeking inner peace,” she says. “And breathwork is one way to do that that's efficient and effective.” 

How Can You Practice Breathwork?

You can practice breathwork in a group, one-on-one with a practitioner or at home by yourself. Sessions often last for hours and usually involve lying down on a yoga mat and breathing in a highly controlled (and not always comfortable) fashion. Experiences vary, but many people say it can get pretty intense (think: visions, life-changing revelations and outpourings of emotion). Telford was working as an acupuncturist and Reiki master for years before she tried it and says that it was one of the most powerful healing experiences of her life. “It gave me an outlet for all of the repressed anger, resentment, grief and sadness that was in my body.”

What Are the Health Benefits of Breathwork?

One group of Danish researchers found that breathwork noticeably improved the mood of participants, while a study published in the Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy suggested that it might be helpful in treating anxiety and depression. And according to expert Dan Brulé (who counts Navy SEALS, Olympians and Tony Robbins as clients), mastering your breath might give you a leg-up in your career. “Sometimes all it takes is a slight tweak of the breath to open up all kinds of new levels of abilities, skills and possibilities,” he says.

Where Can I Try Breathwork?

Check with your local meditation or yoga center for group sessions, or do an online search to find a private practitioner. Looking for a quick fix? Get a taste for breathwork with this simple three-minute anti-stress exercise. Aaaand breathe.

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Executive Editor

Alexia Dellner is an executive editor at PureWow who has over ten years of experience covering a broad range of topics including health, wellness, travel, family, culture and...