Proven Benefits of Breathwork and Red Light Therapy

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The Science Behind Breathwork and How it Works with Red Light Therapy

Breathwork (also called controlled breathing or slow breathing) is widely used to help people address things like stress, pain, anxiety, and other aspects of physical, emotional, and mental health.

In this article, we’ll explain breathwork, show you how to give it a try, and describe why it makes sense with light therapy! 

What is breathwork and where does it come from?

Breathwork refers to controlled breathing practices where you intentionally change your breathing pattern. Breathing techniques are meant to improve a person’s mental, emotional,
and/or physiological state. [1]

Where does breathwork come from?

Controlled breathwork techniques have been used for their health and lifestyle benefits for thousands of years, especially in Asian cultures. Yogic breathing techniques (pranayama), practiced during meditation and yoga sessions, have been popular in Southeast Asia for centuries for their positive impact on spiritual and overall wellness. [2]

Examples of pranayama include abdominal breathing, nostril breathing, forceful breathing, and vocalized (chanting) breathing. [3,4]. These timeless practices have formed the basis for modern breathwork techniques.

In western cultures, breathwork has become increasingly popular in the last 15-20 years, as more and more people in the U.S. and Europe adopt breathing strategies to help with mental and physical health conditions. This has led to more and more clinical research into the science behind breathwork and the potential benefits. [2]

Is breathwork backed by science?

Initial peer-reviewed studies and reviews of breathwork have shown a range of positive results for mental and physical health. Clinical research and patient experiences are showing potential for controlled breathwork to help optimize physiological functions associated with health and longevity. [2]

A 2018 systematic review found that slow breathing techniques can enhance autonomic, cerebral, and psychological flexibility, with potential positive effects for a healthy person’s parasympathetic nervous system and their emotional and psychological control. [5]

Breathwork is also showing positive results in initial studies around physical pain and injury. A 2017 review of studies on breathwork and chronic back pain found improvements in pain levels and quality of life. [6] After reviewing the evidence, the research team wrote:

“Athletic trainers and physical therapists caring for patients with chronic, nonspecific low back pain should consider the inclusion of breathing exercises for the treatment of back pain” [6]

How many types of breathwork are there?

There are several different types of breathwork training programs to choose from but the following are some of the most popular choices. 

Holotropic breathwork: Created by Dr. Stan Grof and his wife Christina in the late 1970s designed to help you with emotional coping and personal growth.

Rebirthing breathwork: Created by Leonardo Orr in the 1960s designed to help release blocked or stored emotion. 

Clarity breathwork: Created by Ashanna Solaris and Dana DeLong in the late 1990s designed similarly to Rebirthing breathwork aimed at supporting healing and mental focus. 

The benefits of breathwork are wide-ranging

These are some of the most common benefits of breathwork that people report when using breathwork:

  • Anxiety relief
  • Relaxation and stress relief
  • Better sleep
  • Increased heart rate variability
  • Pain relief

Breathwork has become a go-to stress relief tool for people in demanding jobs and situations. Major organizations like Nike, Harvard Health, and JPMorgan Bank use breath coaches to help employees and clients perform better. [7]

The Mayo Clinic writes that paced breathing techniques may be helpful with certain symptoms of menopause, like hot flashes. [8]

In the United States, breathwork has also become a popular tool people use to help them address anger, depression, grief, and trauma issues. [1]

How do I start breathwork?

A great place to start your breathwork training is the 4-7-8 method originally created by Dr. Andrew Weil. The 4-7-8 is simple and works like this:

  • Breathe in for 4 seconds
  • Hold your breath for 7 seconds
  • Exhale for 8 seconds
  • Repeat 3+ times

Give it a try! Below is a helpful guided video you can follow along:

Breathwork and Joovv red light therapy

To potentially maximize the wellness benefits, breathwork techinques and light therapy can be used together. Both are simple, complementary, noninvasive therapies you can do by yourself. If you’re game to mix in breathwork training with your Joovv treatments, we recommend the following approach:

  • Find a quiet, peaceful spot
  • Sit on the floor and position your Joovv device (treatment guidelines)
  • Turn on your Joovv and start the guided breathing video above
  • Do the 4-7-8 method as you take in the healthy light

Conclusion: Breathwork and light therapy are beneficial therapies that are supported by scientific research

Breathwork has been used around the world for centuries, but in the last 10-15 years, it’s becoming an increasingly popular strategy for people facing anxiety, stress, mental health, pain, and sleep concerns. Initial clinical research on the physiology of breathwork has shown positive indications for emotional and psychological control, and there’s promising research on breathwork and physical pain as well.

Breathwork is very simple to try and pairs great with Joovv. Give the video and steps above a try for a relaxing light therapy + breathwork dual session.

 

Sources and References:


[1]     Healthline. Timothy J. Legg. April 2019.


[2]    Russo MA, Santarelli DM, O'Rourke D. The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Breathe (Sheff). 2017;13(4):298-309.

[3]     Jerath R, Edry JW, Barnes VA, et al. Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Med Hypotheses 2006; 67: 566–571.

[4]     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: 189–201.

[5]    Zaccaro A, Piarulli A, Laurino M, et al. How Breath-Control Can Change Your Life: A Systematic Review on Psycho-Physiological Correlates of Slow Breathing. Front Hum Neurosci. 2018;12:353. Published 2018 Sep 7.

[6]    Anderson BE, Bliven KCH. The Use of Breathing Exercises in the Treatment of Chronic, Nonspecific Low Back Pain. J Sport Rehabil. 2017 Sep;26(5):452-458. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2015-0199. Epub 2016 Aug 24. 

[7]    Breathwork: Your New High-Performance Habit. Forbes. Charles Hugh Jones. October 2020. 

[8]    Paced breathing: can it help with hot flashes? Richa Sood, Mayoclinic.org. January 2020.