Meditation v/s Breathwork: What’s The Difference?

Last Update on October 5, 2021 : Published on October 5, 2021
breathwork vs meditation

Meditation has a wide spectrum. We term anything that is related to calm ourselves down as meditation. We should understand that it’s not the case. Meditation can be combined with various other calming techniques but that doesn’t make everything a form of meditation.

In this article we will be understanding the difference between meditation and breathwork. For a long time I didn’t know that they were different. I just thought that breathwork is another branch of meditation.

Well, we can’t completely separate breathwork from meditation. Breathwork can be meditative but their basic principle may differ from each slightly.

Did you know they were different? If not, let’s find out how these two are different from each other.

But first let’s throw some light on each!

What is Meditation?


Meditation is explained in many different ways. The basic meaning of meditation is that it is a technique you can use to achieve a sense of calm. It involves relaxing the mind and body through various exercises.

Also read: 10 Best Meditation Apps To Help You Find Your Calm & Relax

Meditation can help you become mindful about yourself and what’s going around you. It is basically a process of letting your thoughts flow freely or completely drifting away from negative thoughts. Depends on what type of meditation you are practicing.

Meditation can benefit you in many ways. It provides a sense of calm, reduces stress and can improve your overall mental wellbeing.

Now shall we move on to breathwork?

What is Breathwork?

what is breathwork

Breathwork is just a Gen Z term for breathing exercises. The technique here is very, very similar to pranayama which originated in India. Breathwork focuses on various breathing exercises which are specifically used to control the breathing.

Breathing exercises are considered to be beneficial for physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. Most importantly breathwork is used to relax our autonomic nervous system. Remember the fright and flight response? Breathwork can help you get out of that mindset.

Did you know breathwork has science backed benefits?

  • Helps in disturbed sleep and fixing sleep routine
  • It works wonders in managing mood
  • Physical benefits like improved lung health, blood circulation, etc.

Now that you have a basic understanding of meditation and breathwork individually, let’s see how they differ from each other…

How are Meditation and Breathwork Different from Each Other?

1. Breathwork and meditation have differences in breathing

Breathwork has a lot of active and intense kinds of breathing. The exercises are focused on a lot of vigorous breathing techniques. It’s not just the casual inhalation and exhalation process, it’s slightly more than that.

Rebirthing technique, holotropic breathing and Wim Hof method are some examples of breathwork.

When it comes to meditation, breathing is rather simple. It just involves our everyday breathing, you’re not expected to do anything with it. In some meditation techniques you might require deep breathing but that’s about it.

2. Meditation and breathwork defer the level of calmness involved

Meditation gives a lot of attention to calm your mind and body. Most of the exercises and techniques involved in meditation goes through calmness. It also focuses on relaxation, improving attention, focus and concentration. There are a lot of meditation techniques to improve sleep as well. But everything is done in a calm and relaxed manner.

Breathwork deferred with meditation here a lot. Not all techniques involved in breath will focus on achieving calmness. Some breathwork exercises are quite active in nature. In some cases it can get so intense that you get agitated and can even have intense emotional responses.

3. Meditation and breathwork differ in the level and efficiency of bodywork

Both meditation and breathwork involve bodyworks in their practices. Breathwork involves a lot of bodywork which helps us release the emotional burden that we have. Experts say that breathwork works incredibly well in eliciting emotional responses which have been suppressed.

Meditation on the other hand is also capable of doing so but the efficiency is not that great. Every time you indulge in breathwork via meditation you might not always release stored emotions. Breathwork can almost certainly release every time you engage in bodywork.

4. Meditation and breathwork differ in the movement involved

Meditation mostly sitting or standing or being still. There is not much movement involved unless it is that kind of technique. Stillness is encouraged so that you can quickly return to being calm and relaxed.

Whereas breathwork involves movement. It is not considered a distraction. Breathwork focuses on releasing your stress, tension and suppressed emotions. To do it requires warm up, preparation and a lot of movement.

Also read: 11 Breathing Exercises To Help With Better Sleep

Interesting? I had a lot of blurred lines between breathwork and meditation but now I see everything clearly. I hope I managed to clear the blurred line for you too.

Breathwork and meditation may not be completely different from each other. I think they are intertwined but there are some clear differences between them. Do you now know how both meditation and breathwork differ from each other? Comment and let me know your thoughts on this!

Mediation v/s breathwork, which is better? I think it completely depends on what you want for yourself. You know the difference so choose for yourself wisely!

Thanks for reading.

Take care and stay safe!

About The Author

Kirti Bhati
Kirti Bhati

I am an English literature (major) and psychology (minor) graduate from St. Bede’s College, Shimla. Postgraduate in Clinical psychology from IIS University, Jaipur. She has published a Research paper on Music therapy in the military population and Workplace stress in a national seminar conducted by Fortis hospital (gurugram) and international seminar conducted by St. Bede’s College, Shimla, Respectively. Authored a dissertation work on ‘effect of social media addiction on the mental and physical well-being in adolescents’ Currently working at calm sage as a writer.

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