The Power of Breathwork
There are many different types of breathwork for healing, and we’ll be discussing the most popular ones in this blog post. The main benefits of breathwork are healing trauma that has become stuck in the body and which has manifested in both emotional and physical conditions. Breathwork helps by putting the brakes on the stress response and switching to an optimal state that allows for health, healing and rejuvenation.
We spend a lot of our time in either low grade on-going stress or more acute stressful periods which throw our nervous system out of whack and cause a wide array of problems. Stress can be a cause or contributor to a huge number of conditions so addressing this key factor is vital in feeling better, sleeping better and allowing you to show up as your best self.
Breathwork is a simple and easy technique to learn and incorporate into your life and one that has benefits that you can feel almost immediately. Today we share the most popular types of breathwork and their origins and benefits. There is some overlap in how they are performed and in the results that they achieve but understanding the differences can help you decide which one may suit you best.
This is a traditional yogic breathing practice that involves controlling the breath in various ways to calm the mind, reduce stress and promote overall well-being. Originating in ancient India and written in sacred texts as far back as 800-400 BCE. Pranayama has evolved and developed into various styles and techniques, with different schools of yoga emphasising different approaches to practice. Today it is a widely practiced form of breath control and meditation and is a powerful tool for promoting physical, mental and spiritual well-being.
Pranayama techniques can be easily found and learnt from online resources and are considered safe to practice alone without a practitioner. However, overdoing some techniques can lead to hyperventilation and light-headedness, so move at a pace that you are comfortable with. If you do suffer with any symptoms, stop the practice, and take some deep breaths until you feel better. Some techniques are contraindicated in pregnancy and certain health conditions, so if you have any concerns, then consult with a practitioner prior to practicing.
Holotropic Breathwork is a form of therapeutic breathing that was developed by Czech-born psychiatrist Dr. Stanislav Grof and his wife Christina Grof in the 1970s. It is based on the idea that non-ordinary states of consciousness, induced by rapid breathing and other techniques, can promote healing and personal growth.
The development of Holotropic Breathwork was influenced by Dr. Grof’s extensive research into psychedelic-assisted therapy, which he conducted in the 1950s and 1960s. He found that psychedelic substances such as LSD could induce powerful transformative experiences that had therapeutic benefits.
However, due to the legal restrictions on the use of psychedelics, Dr. Grof and his wife began exploring alternative methods for inducing non-ordinary states of consciousness. They developed Holotropic Breathwork as a safe and legal alternative that could produce similar experiences of expanded awareness and self-discovery.
The name “holotropic” comes from the Greek words “holos” (whole) and “trepein” (moving towards), and reflects the idea that this form of breathwork can help individuals move towards a state of wholeness and integration.
Holotropic Breathwork has since become a widely practiced form of experiential therapy, and it is used to treat a range of issues, including trauma, addiction, anxiety, and depression. It is often practiced in group settings and can involve a combination of breathing, music, and bodywork to facilitate healing and transformation.
Rebirthing Breathwork is a form of therapeutic breathing that was developed by Leonard Orr in the early 1970s. It is based on the idea that unresolved emotional issues and traumas can be released through conscious connected breathing and can promote physical, emotional, and spiritual healing.
Leonard Orr was inspired to develop Rebirthing Breathwork after he had a powerful personal experience of being submerged in water and feeling like he was being reborn. He found that by consciously controlling his breathing, he was able to access deep emotional states and release unresolved traumas and negative emotions.
Orr began teaching Rebirthing Breathwork to others, and it quickly gained popularity as a form of alternative therapy. He founded the Rebirthing Breathwork movement and began training other practitioners in the technique.
Rebirthing Breathwork is often practiced in one-on-one sessions with a trained practitioner, and it involves a combination of connected, circular breathing, relaxation techniques, and guidance to help individuals access and release unconscious emotions and traumas.
Over the years, Rebirthing Breathwork has evolved and branched out into various schools and techniques, each with their own unique approach and methods. Today, it is widely practiced as a form of complementary therapy, and it is used to treat a range of issues, including anxiety, depression, addiction, and trauma.
Like the previous two breathworks, Transformational Breathwork is designed to help individuals access deep emotions and clear blockages in the body. It was developed by Dr. Judith Kravitz in the 1970s. It is based on the idea that by consciously controlling the breath, individuals can release physical, emotional, and mental blocks and achieve greater clarity, creativity, and well-being.
Dr. Kravitz was inspired to develop Transformational Breathwork after she experienced a profound transformational experience through conscious breathing while studying various forms of alternative therapies. She developed her own unique approach to breathwork, incorporating principles from various spiritual and therapeutic traditions, including yoga, meditation, and shamanism.
Transformational Breathwork involves a specific breathing technique that involves deep, diaphragmatic breathing, done through the mouth with connected, rhythmic breaths. This helps to oxygenate the body and release physical and emotional blocks stored in the body. The technique is often combined with sound, movement, and other modalities to enhance the transformative experience.
Since its development in the 1970s, Transformational Breathwork has gained popularity as a form of alternative therapy, and it is used to treat a range of issues, including stress, anxiety, depression, trauma, and addiction. It is often practiced in group settings and is offered by trained facilitators and practitioners around the world.
It may be tempting to find out how to do a specific breathwork and have a go yourself. After all, how hard can breathing be, we do it all day everyday already right? That might be so, however, apart from Pranayama, which can be practiced safely alone from the outset, it would be best to be guided by a qualified practitioner for the latter three.
These types of breathwork can be powerful and transformative and have been known to bring up “stuff” that may be difficult to transform and transmute if you don’t have support at hand. Once you are adept at the type of breathing and what comes up for you, then your practitioner may well suggest practicing at home in-between sessions. However, guidance throughout the session and afterwards is invaluable for most people.
We all have huge capacity to heal and improve our lives, our breath is a powerful force of nature that is often overlooked and taken for granted. Breathwork can completely change how we relate to our body and promote a level of awareness that you usually only get from a long-term meditation practice. If you are interested in trying breathwork and want help in finding a qualified practitioner, reach out to us at email@example.com and we will point you in the right direction.