While various breathing practice have been around for centuries, science is just beginning to provide evidence that the benefits of this ancient practice are real. Studies have found that breathing practices can help reduce symptoms associated with anxiety, insomnia, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and attention deficit disorder.

You’ve probably read about the benefits of deep breathing — even a few deep breaths can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels and increase parasympathetic tone, but breathwork is a little different. Formal breathwork practices exert some even more impressive positive effects on the body and work in a different and almost opposite way. Here’s the science behind the magic.