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Difference Between Breathwork and Pranayama

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As a yogi and student of a spiritual path, you may have heard of the terms "breathwork" and "pranayama" used interchangeably. Pranayama is a specific set of techniques that come from the yoga tradition. In contrast, breathwork, which includes Pranayama, is a more general term that refers to any practice involving consciously and intentionally using the breath.

By the end of this blog post, you will clearly understand the differences between breathwork and Pranayama.

What is Breathwork?

Breathwork is a holistic practice that uses the breath to bring physical and mental benefits. It consists of various techniques, including focused breathing, energy work, and visualizations, and can be adapted to meet the needs and goals of the individual practitioner. 

Breathwork posture

The origins of breathwork are unclear, as the practice of intentionally breathing for physical and mental benefits has likely been around for as long as human beings have been aware of the breath. However, the term "breathwork" as it is used today can be traced back to the 1960s / 1970s with the work of several pioneering figures like Stanislav Grof and Leonard Orr in psychology and consciousness studies.

Breathwork enhances overall well-being, reduces stress, increases energy, and brings greater clarity of thought. It can also help to process emotions and facilitate deep healing. Breathwork is often done in a group setting or with the guidance of a coach and can be practiced on its own or as part of a broader spiritual or wellness practice.

As a yogi, I have found breathwork to be a valuable tool for cultivating inner peace, clarity, and self-awareness. I encourage those seeking to deepen their spiritual practice and enhance their overall well-being to consider incorporating breathwork into their daily routine. May the breath be a source of inspiration and transformation for all who seek it.

What is Pranayama?

Pranayama is an ancient yoga technique that focuses on energy, breath control and the regulation of air intake. This functional practice is believed to have practical benefits such as improved respiratory function and increased energy and more subtle benefits like improved focus and concentration. It is also believed to enhance the connection between the body and breath and promote relaxation and stress relief.

Pranayama posture

The term "pranayama" is derived from the Sanskrit words "prana," which means "life force," and "ayama," which means "control." The practice of Pranayama is believed to have been developed by the ancient sages of India to cultivate the life force and harness its power for physical and spiritual development.

There are many pranayama techniques, each with its own instructions and benefits. Some common pranayama techniques include alternate nostril breathing, Kapalabhati (skull-shining breath), and Bhramari (humming bee breath).

As a yogi and student of a spiritual path, you may have heard of the terms "breathwork" and "pranayama" used interchangeably. Pranayama is a specific set of techniques that come from the yoga tradition. In contrast, breathwork, which includes Pranayama, is a more general term that refers to any practice involving consciously and intentionally using the breath.

Breathwork VS Pranayama

FocusBreathEnergy of the body
ActivityActivePassive and more gentle
GoalRelaxation, transcendenceSpiritual growth
PostureOn the backSeated yoga pose
HistoryModern practiceAncient practice


Breathwork is a broad term that encompasses a variety of breathing techniques, ranging from deep breathing exercises to meditation. On the other hand, Pranayama is a practice derived from yoga that focuses on the precise control of energy and breath.


The major difference between breathwork and Pranayama is their approach to the breath. Breathwork focus on the breath itself, while Pranayama emphasizes the energy associated with it. Breathwork is a practice that takes a mindful approach to breathing, allowing you to explore your breath, deepen your awareness, and experience more peace and presence within.

On the other hand, Pranayama is a practice that focuses on the flow of energy within the body, and the breath is used to control and manipulate the energy. Pranayama also works with the body's energy channels, known as chakras, allowing you to bring balance and harmony to the entire system.


Breathwork is a more active practice, while Pranayama is more passive. Breathwork typically involves more rapid and intense breathing techniques that can be used to help release emotional and physical blockages. Pranayama is a more passive practice focusing on controlling the breath to improve physical and mental well-being. Pranayama breathing is slower and more gentle and is used to bring calm and inner balance. Both practices can reduce stress and tension, but the approaches are different.


Breathwork is usually done for relaxation, while Pranayama is usually done for spiritual growth. Breathwork focuses on controlling the breath, while Pranayama focuses on controlling the energy within the body that is connected to the breath.


Breathwork is typically done on the back, whereas Pranayama is often done in seated yoga pose.


Breathwork is meant to be done in a dynamic way, where the breath is allowed to flow freely, and the focus is on the feeling of the breath rather than any specific pattern. On the other hand, Pranayama is meant to be done more static, with a focus on precision and control.


Breathwork and Pranayama are two distinct practices used for centuries to promote health and well-being. Breathwork is a more modern practice that uses breathing exercises to achieve physical and emotional health. On the other hand, Pranayama is an ancient practice developed in India thousands of years ago. Pranayama is more focused on the spiritual aspects of life, and it uses breath control to achieve a heightened state of consciousness.

Similarities between Breathwork and Pranayama

  • Both practices involve the conscious regulation of breathing to create an awareness of one's inner self and bring about a balance and harmony.
  • Both can be practiced in a variety of ways, such as focusing on specific breathing patterns, holding the breath, and varying the speed and depth of inhales and exhales.
  • Both practices place emphasis on the rhythm and flow of the breath and use this to create positive states of mind, body, and spirit.
  • Both breathwork and Pranayama are tools that can be used to reduce stress, release tension, and restore balance to one's life.


In conclusion, while breathwork and Pranayama involve conscious regulation of the breath, they have distinct goals and objectives. Breathwork has a more holistic approach, focusing on breath regulation's physical, mental, and emotional benefits. Pranayama, on the other hand, is more focused on spiritual goals and the development of energy channels in the body.

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About the Author: Tom Vincent

Tom Vincent graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics and social studies. He then started his higher education at the University of François Rabelais in Tours with a DUT Information Communication. To expand his knowledge, he also followed a professional degree in e-commerce and digital marketing at the Lumière University of Lyon. On this project, he is in charge of articles covering language, industry and social.
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