Is Breathwork the New Meditation?

We’ve all had those moments or seasons where we’ve been intensely stressed, needed a break, or just wanted to try something new to gain clarity on a situation. When life gets difficult, many of us turn to meditation. But what if meditation doesn’t cut it? Or you simply can’t reach that state of transcendence? Then perhaps it’s time to consider breathwork.

breathwork training how to start

You might have seen breathwork named the “latest wellness craze.” Some people even refer to it as “meditation on steroids.” Buzzwords aside, it’s a truly unique practice that can be life-changing.

Best of all, it’s accessible, doesn’t have to cost anything and most people can learn how to do it. 

What is breathwork?

It’s a practice of mindful, controlled breath.

Breathwork practitioner and owner of Five Sense Collective, Kirscha Cramer defines it as “A practice that employs the conscious use of the breath. An innate ability we all have, with an unconscious intelligence that allows us to self-regulate to improve physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing.”

What can it do for you?

According to breathwork practitioner Ali Levine, there are many benefits of breathwork. “On a basic level, breathwork allows you to find peace, calm, lower your stress, restore your nervous system to a parasympathetic system, rest and digest vs. a fight or flight reaction. It can also help your immune system over time, and your overall health.”

Levine began to explore breathwork after a difficult period in her life and discovered it had an incredibly profound impact. I became a certified practitioner after going through my own spiritual awakening back between 2019 to 2020. Breathwork was a soul transformation,” she tells me. “I became a daily meditator after meditation saved me when I was going through postpartum depression. After some time, mindset work by itself wasn’t working for me anymore. That’s when I found breathwork, or I would say the breath found me. Once I accessed this wisdom, it became the place I came back to every time and it felt like home. The breath has continued to show up for me in many ways and help me move from breakdowns to breakthroughs and access the highest frequency and consciousness of myself in all situations of my life.”

Even if you aren’t going through a challenging time, Levine tells me breathwork has many benefits including:

  • Reduced stress and anxiety
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Improved mood
  • A boosted immune system



View this post on Instagram


A post shared by A L I L E V I N E (@alilevinedesign)

The basics of breathwork

Much like meditation, you can begin your breathwork practice at any time. The key is to simply commit to it as part of your self-care routine. 

Cramer tells me, “Breathwork can be practiced regularly by setting aside a specific time each day to focus on the breath, such as in the morning or before bed, and incorporating different breathing techniques. You can learn these techniques from your own research or from an expert instructor, such as our Academy breathwork teacher Bryant Wood. As with all new practices, consistency and accountability will be helpful.” 

Give this a try –  “A very simple breathwork exercise a beginner can do, is breathe in (inhale) for four and exhale out for eight and repeat three times. If that feels good in the body, then do it five to ten times,” says Levine.

Cramer also suggests “box breathing,” which is sometimes known as square breathing. “This technique helps to slow down the breath and can be done anywhere, at any time, and can be a good starting point for those new to breathwork.”

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Breathe in for a count of four
  2. Hold the breath for a count of four
  3. Exhale for a count of four
  4. Repeat

Even better, box breathing requires no prior experience and is even easy for beginners to do. “The technique allows for flexibility and can be adjusted to suit the individual’s needs and comfort level, for example, by starting with a count of two and then increasing to a count of four as the individual becomes more comfortable with the technique,” she says.


What to expect during breathwork

Levine tells me that during a breathwork session, as conscious breathing increases, the airways of our lungs open more expansively. “That allows more oxygen in the body which then changes the alertness of our brain. What happens next is our parasympathetic nervous system counteracts this, and brings our body back to a homeostasis state. When we continue this for more than a few minutes, our brain tells our body we are safe and we are able to go deeper with our breath and nervous system.”

While everyone has their own unique experience with breathwork, I’ve tried it several times. Overall, my sessions (especially one I had with Levine) have been profound with my entire body tingling, seeing visions, crying, and being in and out of consciousness. There’s something very psychedelic about a really deep breathwork session.

But keep in mind…

Breathwork can have physical risks. So if you’re not taking instruction from an expert or teacher— it is important to listen to your body and not push too hard. “If you feel lightheaded or uncomfortable during a breathing session—it’s best to work within your limits,” says Cramer.

And as always, check in with your healthcare provider before beginning a new wellness practice.


Where should you start?

If you’re interested in breathwork but want to experience it for yourself before working with a practitioner or going to a class, there are always resources online.

While Levine holds online workshops as well as private remote sessions, there are plenty of free resources on YouTube. Wim Hof, who is one of the most renowned figures in the breathwork industry has several free YouTube videos available. You may also want to check out Samantha Skelly’s YouTube channel. She trained Levine and has lots of videos devoted to the practice. 

Have you ever tried breathwork? What was your experience like? Tell us about it in the comments!

12 thoughts on “Is Breathwork the New Meditation?”

There are 12 comments posted by our users.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Lynn says:

    I have been doing the 4 7 8 for approx. 2 months…. Try to do twice a day…. Really does calm me down…. I do think that on should do this, on a regular daily basis, whether stressed, or, not…. I used Dr Andrew Wells utube video as my guide

  2. Shilpa Desai says:

    Breathwork has always been part of Yogic tradition, vedic wisdom for millenia. West is just exploring it, going crazy after it like Yoga. Pranayams, Kriyas, so much continues to be stolen and renamed with fancy English names without any accrediting where they learned it from, any Indian meditation, breathwork masters, schools, organizations. White yoga mafia is here to colonize, monetize the breathwork and meditation world now.

    1. Jennifer says:


  3. Monica says:

    Love to learn more

    1. Amie Barsky says:

      Hi Monica- Thanks for sharing that you’d like to learn more- Breathwork has been life changing for me, so much so that I now guide people all over the world 🙂 Feel free to follow me on IG @amiebarskycoaching or jump into the next online session April 11th- all the info is on my IG- hope to connect with you soon 💜

  4. Suryanarayana Tippabhotla says:

    Box breathing is propagated by one Shri Ram Verma Ji in You Tube. As part of my Yoga routine, I included this a few months back. It is okay no adverse effects, can be tried.

  5. Desireé says:

    I am a yoga instructor and love to incorporate breathwork. In The Body Keeps The Score, breathwork is noted to promote balance in the nervous system and regulate HRV. This is key in maintaining health and preventing dis-ease!

  6. Philip says:

    I’ve been doing breath work for years but I’ve never noticed any benefits. Which is such a pity as it so simple.

  7. Zach says:

    While I do love breathwork, I think it’s a disservice to pose the question that it could be the new meditation. They are two totally different practices. By nature, meditation engages with the body in a different way. I don’t believe there’s any room for comparison, much like comparing eggs to apples. They’re two separate practices both deserving of respect for the individuals that choose it as a path to deeper wisdom.

  8. Mac says:

    I started breathwork 2020 during the covid quarantine. It strengthens the lungs and increases lung capacity. I can’t get into meditation. How does one “clear your mind”?

  9. Ash Mac says:

    I am a big fan of breathwork! It’s free and easy, which is important for me because I don’t have a lot of disposable income and I’m disabled.

  10. Pam Delaney says:

    I have been doing breath work on my own since 2016, due to a hostile co-worker. This started in childhood. I was diagnosed with severe panic disorder.
    The breath work has really helped me to calm myself down. I do it several times a day. I love that calm feeling I get from doing it.