Breathwork refers to any type of breathing exercises or techniques. People often perform them to improve mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. During breathwork you intentionally change your breathing pattern.

There are many forms of breathwork therapy that involve breathing in a conscious and systematic way. Many people find breathwork promotes deep relaxation or leaves them feeling energized.

Breathing for awareness, relaxation, improved focus

People practice breathwork for a variety of reasons. Overall, it’s thought to bring about improvements in emotional state and to decrease levels of stress in otherwise healthy people.

People have practiced breathwork to:

  • aid positive self-development
  • boost immunity
  • process emotions, heal emotional pain and trauma
  • develop life skills
  • develop or increase self-awareness
  • enrich creativity
  • improve personal and professional relationships
  • increase confidence, self-image, and self-esteem
  • increase joy and happiness
  • overcome addictions
  • reduce stress and anxiety levels
  • release negative thoughts

Breathwork is used to help to improve a wide range of issues including:

  • anger issues
  • anxiety
  • chronic pain
  • depression
  • emotional effects of illness
  • grief
  • trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)


Breathwork practices

There are several breathwork approaches. You may want to try out a few different techniques over time to see which type most resonates with you and brings about the best results.

Types of breathwork include:

Shamanic Breathwork
The Shamanic Breathwork Process is a powerful healing journey that inspires individuals to Awaken the Shaman Within and reconnect with their own inner healer. As old wounds and dysfunctional patterns are released and transformed, individuals begin to regain lost soul parts and remember the magic of who they truly are. Empowerment brings wholeness and healing back into their own lives, to the lives of those they love, and to the world at large.

This process is highly experiential and the wisdom and healing gained comes from each individual’s inner experience. Shamanic Breathwork honors and blends the timeless wisdom of ancient traditions with the emerging new paradigm methods of healing and teaching. It functions as the rainbow bridge between these two worlds honoring the best of both worlds while creating a bridge for body, mind, heart, soul and spirit.

In the past, and still in some remote areas, the Shaman was sought out much as a physician, counselor or minister is today. In the Shamanic tradition of old, the healer (Shaman) attempted to restore healing and balance to others by performing sacred rites or ceremonies which usually included prayers, songs and chants. They would also journey into other realms while being assisted by power animals, spirit guides and allies.

While honoring the ancient shamanic lineages, the Shamanic Breathwork Process focusses on Awakening the Shaman Within.There is ample support from Shamanic Breathwork Facilitators and co-journeyers to assist during the session to enable a safe journey for the participant.

The process begins by establishing safe and sacred space through various rituals and ceremonies such as smudging with sage, cedar, and sweet grass while offering prayerful invocations. Individuals lie down and focus on surrendering to their Shaman Within, calling upon that which is most sacred and holy to them, such as spirit guides, power animals, and higher powers. As the drumming begins, journeyers are invited to connect with rhythmic breathing and a chakra-attuned musical journey varying in length typically from one to two hours. As the individual uses the power of deep connected breathing to create a natural altered dreamlike state, the Ego defenses are released and the journey unfolds in a variety of magical ways.
Each person’s shamanic journey is a highly individualized process and no two are ever the same. Some of the states of consciousness reported range from divine, otherworldly bliss states to the struggle to be released from negative forces in the psyche. Rebirthing is a common occurrence, as is the life review where one relives or observes their lifetime experiences. Old patterns of dysfunction may be brought to the surface. Addictions are sometimes transformed during this process, as feelings such as grief, fear, rage and anxiety are released.

The technique: it involves inhaling via the nose while pushing air, that was stored in the cheeks, out through the lips, so allows for continuous playing of a wind instrument.

Vivation is a transformational breathwork technique—a powerful, feelings-level, self-development process that resolves suppressed emotional negativity, resulting in a happier, more creative, satisfying life.

Anger, sadness, anxiety, shyness, fear…we’ve all experienced these emotions; they’re what make us human. But sometimes these feelings get to be too overwhelming, and we “shut down” all of our feelings—even happiness—and experience reduced joy in living. When we “shut down”, the feelings don’t go away, they get hidden deeply inside. But before you can have a happy life, these suppressed feelings need to be healed.

With Vivation, you learn to use your breath and internal resources in an entirely new way, and can easily access and heal negativity stemming from any area of your life. By working with feelings instead of thoughts, Vivation’s results are immediate, and have tremendous, lasting power. And, the results are permanent, because every time you integrate a negative feeling, the next integration gets easier. So your life continually becomes happier and more peaceful.

Also, very importantly, Vivation does not require you to discuss the causes of your emotional distress with anyone to feel better about yourself. Resolving negative feelings occurs privately within your own awareness, sending waves of joy and energy throughout your entire being. By removing internal negativity, you will find it much easier to focus on achieving your goals and creating maximum fulfillment in your life.

An energizing and physically pleasurable experience, Vivation is preferable to other stress reduction techniques because it is efficient, powerful, direct, and internal—and once learned, you can do it all by yourself!

Vivation contains of five elements:
1. Circular Breathing
2. Complete Relaxation
3. Awareness in Detail
4. Integration into Ecstasy
5. Do Whatever You Do: Willingness is Enough

Vivation is:

Energizing, relaxing, refreshing
Self-contained and self-applied
Portable: It can be done anytime, anywhere
Reliable and fast

Does not require you to talk about or even know what your “issues” are
Helps you get over anger and upsets quickly
With Vivation you can:

Create your own happiness
Become self-reliant
Increase self-love
Improve relationships, and even experience more love from others
Enjoy the things you already enjoy even more

and the more you “Vive,” the easier it is to resolve negativity.

Transformational Breath
Rinpoche Tulku Thubten referred to the Transformational Breath as something that “you may call […] a shortcut to enlightenment”. The few scientific studies that cover the impact of Transformational Breath on healing medical conditions, often point to the physically beneficial effects of heightened oxygenation. People who experienced it first-hand talk about Transformational Breath as something that either saved their life, cured them of cancer, brought relief from long-held grievances or allowed them to experience energy flowing through their body (among many other things).

This holistic healing and self-discovery technique was developed by Judith Kravitz, who started working with conscious breath in the mid-70s. She first explored a practice called Rebirthing and, gradually, received insights on how to make breathwork have more lasting and powerful effects in healing and resolving traumas. To establish Transformational Breath as it is known today, Judith has incorporated elements of Kundalini Yoga, sound healing, breath analysis and other practices into one integrated modality.

First and foremost, it is about breathing consciously and without pausing, into the abdomen area (diaphragmatic breathing) and through the mouth. The encouraged technique is taking deep in-breaths and then letting the air out — without controlling the out-breath. Additionally to the breathing, facilitators use hands-on techniques throughout the breathing session, to locate tension points (i.e. places where energy is stuck) in the body of a practitioner. By having specific energetic points on their body pressed while breathing, the practitioner is empowered to release tension — both on the physical and the emotional level.

On top of that, toning and pounding may be encouraged by the facilitators at certain points of a session. This also supports the releasing of charged energy (which we often interpret as “negative emotions”) and enables participants to express themselves freely. Affirmations are often used by the facilitators to support adepts on their inner journey throughout a breathing session.

The group sessions usually lasts around two hours — including preparation time, sharing intentions prior to breathing, the breathwork part itself and then the final relaxation which brings everyone “back to reality”.

Holotropic Breathwork
A broad understanding of the human psyche that includes the biographical, perinatal, and transpersonal dimensions. Recognition of the fact that non-ordinary states of consciousness induced by Holotropic Breathwork as well as similar states occurring spontaneously, mobilize intrinsic healing forces in the psyche and the body.

The basic elements in Holotropic Breathwork are deeper and accelerated breathing, evocative music, and facilitation of energy release through a specific form of bodywork. This is complemented by creative expression, such as “mandala” drawing, and discussion of the experience. Holotropic Breathwork can be conducted on a one to one basis, or preferable in a group situation, where participants alternate in the role of experiencers and “Sitters”.

Before the first breathing experience, participants receive an in-depth theoretical preparation which includes a description of the major types of phenomena that occur in Holotropic sessions (biographical, perinatal and transpersonal) and technical instructions for both experiencers and Sitters. Physical and emotional contraindications are discussed and if there are any concerns, expert assessment is obtained.

Holotropic Breathing is faster and deeper than usual; generally no other specific instructions are given before or during the session as to the rate, pattern, and nature of breathing. The experience is entirely internal and largely nonverbal, without interventions. Exceptions are constriction in the throat, management problems, excessive pain or fear threatening the continuation of the session, and explicit request of the Breather.

Music (or other forms of acoustic stimulation — drumming, nature sounds, etc.) is an integral part of the Holotropic process. Typically, the choice of music follows a characteristic pattern that reflects the most common unfolding of the Holotropic experiences: at the beginning, it is evocative and stimulating, later it becomes increasingly dramatic and dynamic, and finally it reaches a breakthrough quality. Following the culmination, it is appropriate to shift gradually to quieter music and end with peaceful, flowing, and meditative selections. Although this seems to represent the statistical average, is should be modified if the energy in the group suggests that a different pattern is indicated.

The role of the Sitter during the session is to be responsive and non-intrusive, ensure effective breathing, create a safe environment, respect the natural unfolding of the experience, and provide assistance in all situations that require it (physical support, help during bathroom breaks, bringing tissues or a glass of water, etc.) It is important to remain focused and centered while facing the entire spectrum of possible emotions and behaviors of the Breather. Holotropic Breathwork does not use any interventions that come from the intellectual analysis or are based on a priori theoretical constructs.

It is important to leave sufficient time for the sessions, usually between two and three hours. However, as a general rule, the process is allowed to reach a natural closure; in exceptional cases, this can take a few hours. In the termination period the facilitator offers bodywork (energy release work), if the breathing has not resolved all the emotional and physical tensions activated during the sessions. The basic principle of this work is to take the clues from the experiencer and create a situation where the existing symptoms are amplified while the energy and awareness is held in this area, the subject is encouraged to express fully his or her reaction, whichever form it takes. This form of bodywork energy release work is an essential part of the Holotropic approach and plays an important role in the completion and integration of the experience.

Facilitators of Holotropic Breathwork should recognize that, when they utilize a technique which evokes a non-ordinary state in a client, there is a potential for unusually intense projections, including regressed longings for nurturing, sexual contact, or spiritual connection. These projections are often focused on the facilitator. In such cases the facilitator should be sensitive to the imbalance of power in the facilitator and client roles and take care to assist clients with such feelings as they arise. Facilitators make agreements to conduct their practice of Holotropic Breathwork in a ethical manner.

Discussion groups take place on the same day after an extended break. During these sessions, the facilitator does not give interpretations of the material, based on a specific theoretical system, including that of Holotropic Breathwork. It is preferable to ask the experiencer for further elaboration and clarification reflecting his or her insights from the session. Jungian amplification in the form of mythological and anthropological references can be very useful in the discussion of the Holotropic experiences as well as the mandalas. On occasion, references to the facilitator’s own experiences in the past or experiences of other people might be appropriate.

There are may approaches that complement Holotropic Breathwork. However, whenever these are used, it should be clearly indicated that these are not a part of Holotropic Breathwork. If the practice of conducting the sessions itself departs significantly from the above descriptions, the name Holotropic Breathwork should not be used for such a procedure. We ask that it be replaced by a different term and not be associated with our names.

Clarity Breathwork
Is a powerful process of healing and transformation. It deeply supports the clearing away of old energies, patterns, conditioning, negative thoughts and emotions and opens the doors wide for new life and greater consciousness. Most of us don’t breathe fully, we hold back the breath and have been doing so most of our lives. When we start to breathe fully and consciously we are easily able to release what we have been holding and open to an incredible expansion of consciousness, including greater forgiveness and self-love. This inner change brings about shifts in our outer lives for the better.

Breathwork emerged out of the consciousness era of the 60′s to support people in addressing core issues held in the subconscious while also expanding consciousness in order to contact one’s Essence — healing our false sense of separation. Clarity Breathwork supports people to release stress and tension, heal and resolve trauma, gain deeper insights into current life issues, and access one’s own internal healing energy, creativity and greater knowing.

The technique helps to activate the subconscious mind and bring awareness and insights not easily accessed through traditional therapy. Breath opens the energy channels in the body and allows what we have been holding onto to surface and be released. This may be suppressed emotional material, physical blocks in the body, old beliefs structures and identifications, old memories, fight/flight/freeze patterns, and addictions. Clarity combines counseling and insight as well as a somatic experiential process where clients gain a deep level of insight, release emotional baggage and actually feel the patterns shifting and transforming at a deep cellular level.

The first session includes a thorough interview where you explore and discuss current life situations as well as what you know about your birth, childhood, and family patterns, and how they may be affecting your life. You then set intentions for your session series.

After sharing you will be guided in a one hour circular breathing practice and receive one on one support to unravel deeper layers of held tension, stress, belief systems, suppressed emotions and open to a greater sense of well being. The Clarity Breathwork process helps to dissolve the past tensions that you have stored on a cellular level, thus making it possible to experience more energy and aliveness.

At the close of the session there is time to share your experience, integrate and understand the process on a deeper level. Your practitioner will offer relevant suggestions and possible assignments to work with until your next session. These are designed to support you in integrating the work into your daily life.

Is an alternative therapy technique used to treat reactive attachment disorder. This therapy uses a specific kind of breathing (breathwork) meant to help you release emotions.

Supporters of rebirthing claim that by participating in a “rebirth” as a child or adult, you can resolve negative experiences from birth and infancy that may be preventing you from forming healthy relationships. Some even claim to have memories of their birth during rebirthing.

In other words, supporters claim that the technique gives you a do-over of your entrance into the world, without the trauma or instability you originally experienced. The goal is to process blocked emotions and energy, leaving you free to form trusting, healthy attachments. A new age spiritual guru named Leonard Orr developed the rebirthing technique in the 1960s. At the time, it focused only on breathwork. Since then, its definition has expanded to include other types of therapy that simulate birth. Rebirthing therapy is controversial because there is little evidence of its merit.
Rebirthing sessions can take several forms, depending on your age and your treatment goals. Sessions are usually led by trained instructors. They work with you one-on-one or two-on-one, coaching your breathwork and leading you through the technique.

The breathwork technique used in rebirthing is called conscious energy breathing (CEB). With your instructor’s supervision, you’ll practice “circular breathing” — quick, shallow breaths without any breaks between an inhale and an exhale. You’ll do this for one to two hours, taking breaks if you need to. During this time, participants are told to expect a release of emotions or a triggering of difficult memories from childhood. The goal of this type of breathing is to inhale energy as well as oxygen. Practitioners of rebirthing claim that by breathing in energy, you’re healing your body.

Your session may consist of only breathwork, or it may include other techniques. Some practitioners simulate birth by putting you in an enclosed environment meant to resemble a womb and coaching you to escape from it. This may involve blankets, pillows, or other materials. Another popular method of rebirthing involves submerging yourself in a bathtub or hot tub and using a breathing device such as a snorkel to stay underwater.


So, here you have a few of all the different breathing techniques and Breathwork practices. The takeaway here is to get people more aware of their breath and how important it is for us, yet something that is greatly taken for granted.

If you feel anxious, stressed, unwell in general or have difficulties with depression and other mental or physical health issues, start by taking a look at your breathing patterns, are they of quality? Do you take deep breaths with your diaphragm or shallow ones in your chest?

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