Therapeutic Breathwork

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What is therapeutic breathwork?

Therapeutic breathwork refers to any type of therapy that uses breathing exercises to improve mental, physical, and emotional health. These techniques promote healing and relaxation. When we direct our breathing in a conscious way, we can affect our body’s ability to manage:

  • Feelings
  • Emotions
  • Physical response to different situations

Healthcare providers trained in therapeutic breathwork techniques will give you instructions based on the needs of your child. There are different types of breathing techniques that are used for infants, children, and adolescents. These techniques can help to meet their developmental and symptom management needs.

How does breathwork help?

Therapeutic breathwork helps bring balance to the nervous system. Turning on the body’s “calming system” can help to:

  • Regulate emotions
  • Relax muscles
  • Reduce mental pain
  • Reduce physical pain
  • Reduce anxiety
  • Reduce tension

What conditions may benefit from breathwork?

Research has shown that breathwork can reduce symptoms of mental, emotional, and physical pain.

Breathwork can help individuals:

  • Reduce anxiety
  • Promote relaxation
  • Improve circulation
  • Improve immune function
  • Improve GI (gastrointestinal) symptoms
  • Decrease muscle tension
  • Improve sleep

How do you perform breathwork?

Breathwork is performed in a safe, gentle manner. It is taught by a healthcare professional who has been trained in breathwork techniques. The professional will:

  • Explain the benefits of breathwork to your child.
  • Demonstrate the exercise for your child.
  • Guide them through the steps.

How long are breathwork sessions?

Sessions can last for 5 to 15 minutes. Timing depends on the goals of the session.

Is breathwork safe?

Breathwork is safe when performed by trained health care providers. Side effects are rare, but could include:

  • Dizziness
  • Agitation
  • Over-excitability

The Integrative Health Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is closely managed to ensure your child’s safety.

What are conditions that would affect using breathwork techniques?

Breathwork exercises may be avoided or adjusted for the following conditions:

  • Recent surgery
  • Congestion
  • Respiratory infection
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Uncontrolled blood pressure

What can I expect after my child has practiced breathwork exercises?

Your child may feel:               

  • Relaxed
  • Energized
  • Less anxious
  • Settled

Does breathwork take the place of traditional medicine?

Breathwork does not replace medical diagnosis and treatment. Our staff can suggest ways to include breathwork exercises into your child’s treatment plan. Speak to your healthcare provider to see if breathwork would benefit your child. Share your questions and concerns with your child’s health care team.

Additional resources

November 2022