Breathwork trends are on the rise! Meditative styles of breathing are ancient means to health and wellness, but a sudden surge of interest in breathwork exercises comes at an understandable time.
Considering how this year has been nothing but hectic for most people, the increase in those researching “how to practice breathing” is an example of an arguably natural process to re-calibrate – individually – and as a society.
Breathwork routines (e.g. Holotropic breathing, asthma breathing exercises, 4-7-8 breathwork) are a form of somatic (i.e. voluntary) control which activates the parasympathetic nervous system – bringing calm relaxation to the body.
Introduction to Deep Breathing and Breathwork for Stress Relief
Though there are countless formats and styles to a regular breathwork routine, the bare-bones mechanism behind potential stress-relief and wellness-promoting properties is pretty straightforward.
Best of all, it’s free of cost, accessible to virtually anyone, and potentially effective against common forms of overactivity (e.g. anxiety, chronic stress).
Click here to skip to Dr. Weil’s 4-7-8 breathwork video
So – whether you’re wanting to learn to harness your breath because of popularized strategies like from Wim Hof, or if you’re simply curious to feel for yourself what it feels like to relax through breathing then keep reading.
How Breathwork Boosts Health and Wellness
Many of the reasons to learn and practice breathwork come from the potential role in stress-relief. To breathe is an example of both automatic and voluntary nervous system control, and is why it’s considered a natural mindfulness tool.
Deep breathing is also advantageous to bring balance to common sleep problems, to stimulate metabolism, and to potentially offer long-term protections against biomarkers of disease when practiced regularly.
Feel free to scroll down below for the video of the 4-7-8 Breathing technique developed by Matcha.com co-founder Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., including why breathwork and a morning bowl of matcha are two of Dr. Weil’s most trusted anti-stress tools.
Before jumping into the technique, let’s review some of the wellness promoting properties that a daily breathwork practice can bring to you.
Circadian Rhythm and Breathwork Deep Breathing
First-up, one of the most popular outlets for deep breathing is to help relaxation before sleep. A healthy sleep cycle for most of us is at odds against device-use at night, city-living, excess caffeine from coffee, and even stressors from work which tend to come out in the evening.
In fact, it’s estimated that 1 out of 6 Americans have some form of regular sleep disturbance, highlighting the wide-reaching potential benefits of a breathwork routine.
Research shows that deep breathing is reported in a number of studies as a counterweight against an overactive autonomic nervous system. Breathwork routines are thought to strengthen vasovagal tone, lower blood pressure, and promote brain-waves associated with a relaxed state .
- Fun fact: The amino-acids found in matcha help promote alpha brain-waves, whereas deep breathing can bring balance to delta brain-waves. Both types are associated with relaxation and together may offer synergistic benefits.
Metabolism Benefits of Breathwork
The deep connection between metabolism and how you breathe is actually many-fold. Perhaps least considered is how deep breathing is required to exhale metabolic products (e.g. CO2) and is a necessary function for health.
Under normal conditions, respiration rate should be accordant to metabolic output. However, when breathing is too shallow (or tense) there are impacts to metabolism.
For example, for someone experiencing anticipatory anxiety, metabolic output may not change, but the balance of oxygen to carbon-dioxide can become inverted due to rapid breathing .
On the other hand, balanced breathing may contribute to healthier blood pressure, blood sugar, and a more level stress hormone response [2-3].
- Mix and Match: You can combine the enjoyment of daily stress-busting rituals like breathwork, drinking matcha (may balance cortisol), and taking care of houseplants.
- Matcha green tea may also boost metabolism similar to breathwork, which may contribute to healthy weight-loss and cardiovascular system
Physical Health and Deep Breathing
The strong relationship between the breath and the body is such that impatterned breathing is thought to have physical and mental side effects.
For example, when breath is chronically fast and/or shallow, it’s reported that muscle tension may occur and even a reduced immune-response .
Mental Health Benefits from Breathwork Routine Daily
Considering that strained/shallow breathing is thought to be associated with anxiety levels and depression, it’s feasible that the mental effect of this stress may be at least one pathway for the reduced immune response for one [2-3].
- Related: Other Immune-boosting tips here
And for two, without the assist of regular deep breathing it’s thought that sense of pain may increase, potentially causing a negative feedback loop with muscle tension, sense of pain, and poor self-reported wellness [3-5].
Breathwork Matcha Bundle: Drink Matcha to Prepare for Breathwork Meditation?
It’s likely no coincidence that Zen Buddhist monks have prepared for meditation (e.g. breathwork) for centuries – nearly a millennium in fact – by the simple joy of drinking matcha.
It’s a widely held fact that the anti-stress properties of matcha tea may be able to fight physical manifestations of stress similar to breathwork; potent antioxidants may work to fight stress-related free radicals, and those same polyphenols are known for potential blood-pressure benefits.
To top it off, the calming L-theanine amino-acid may promote clear thinking while easing anxieties.
For these reasons, consider following the simple breathing practice from Dr. Weil below, and drink a bowl of matcha either before or after.
- If you’re doing breathwork for sleep health, then it’s recommended to keep your matcha to the morning breathwork session only due to caffeine.
- Related: Here’s how matcha may help sleep unlike coffee
4-7-8 Breathing from Dr. Andrew Weil
Dr. Weil developed this specialized guide to breathwork based on yogic breathing which dates back millennia. It’s the most simplified means of daily breathwork (recommended morning and night), and is more of a guide than a hard rule.
Here’s how it works:
Breathwork 4-7-8 Breathing Video Guide
(Don’t forget to follow our IG!) As Dr. Weil said, it’s important to adopt this practice as a twice daily strategy for best results. It can be practiced morning and night, and at your discretion if you tend to wake up during sleeping hours it can be useful to fall back asleep.
- See other sleep biohacks here
- For a full written account of the practice, here you go
When you first start out, use the counts of 4, 7, and 8 as a guide rather than a hard rule. And compared to other more complex breathework routines, this simple option is easily to understand, effective to practice, and does not take more than a few minutes each day.
Two of Dr. Weil’s Favorite Stress-reduction Techniques
It might not be too surprising to learn that besides the 4-7-8 breathing routine, one of Dr. Weil’s most treasured stress-reducers is, in fact, Matcha Green Tea.
Matcha Powder and Daily Breathwork
Some would argue that these daily practices are a match(a) made in heaven, and we fully recommend each person experiment with the synergies to be found between them.
While anyone can access the simple “Four, Seven, Eight Breathing” technique, there is only one certain source for the very best, farm-direct Japanese matcha tea.
* * *References
 Jerath, R., Beveridge, C., & Barnes, V. A. (2019). Self-regulation of breathing as an adjunctive treatment of insomnia. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 780.
 Caldwell, C., & Victoria, H. K. (2011). Breathwork in body psychotherapy: Towards a more unified theory and practice. Body, Movement and Dance in Psychotherapy, 6(2), 89-101.
 Lalande, L., Bambling, M., King, R., & Lowe, R. (2012). Breathwork: An additional treatment option for depression and anxiety?. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 42(2), 113-119.
 Anderson, B. E., & Bliven, K. C. H. (2017). The use of breathing exercises in the treatment of chronic, nonspecific low back pain. Journal of sport rehabilitation, 26(5), 452-458.
 Larsen, K. L., Brilla, L. R., McLaughlin, W. L., & Li, Y. (2019). Effect of Deep Slow Breathing on Pain-Related Variables in Osteoarthritis. Pain Research and Management, 2019.