The History and Origins of Breathwork

Any form of therapy that makes use of breathing exercises to enhance one's mental, physical, and spiritual well-being is referred to as breathwork. Breathwork therapy comes in a variety of formats nowadays. Each uses breath in a certain way to promote healing. It incorporates Western therapeutic methods along with Eastern disciplines like yoga and Tai Chi. Breathwork can incorporate components of conversation therapy, breathing exercises, art, music, and bodywork to promote self-awareness. You can employ this therapy with groups, couples, or individuals. A trained expert would need to facilitate it.

What are the various breathing techniques used in therapy?

Modern breathwork therapy comes in a variety of forms. They have a lot of common underlying principles. Breathwork techniques include some of the following:

Holotropic Breathwork - The aim of these kind of breathing exercises is to develop "wholeness" of the mind, body, and soul. Practitioners with the Grof Transpersonal Training certification oversee the sessions. Participants are led through lying-down breathing exercises while "evocative" music plays in the background, with occasional massaging. An altered state of awareness is intended by doing this. Groups frequently do Holotropic Breathwork. As a result, individuals can collaborate in pairs and aid one another's processes. After the group breathing exercises, participants typically start making mandalas that correspond to their breathwork experiences. Sharing and conversation come to a conclusion at sessions. This aids participants in putting what they have discovered about themselves into practice.

Rebirthing Breathwork - Conscious Energy Breathing is another name for this form of breathwork. It is predicated on the idea that every human carries the trauma of birth with them. Leonard Orr claimed to have relived his own birth in his bathtub, which gave him the motivation to encourage others to experience the same inner calm. Rebirthing aims to assist individuals in releasing energy blockages that have been held in the body and mind as a result of trauma that has been repressed. Participants in therapy are instructed to lie down, unwind, and breathe normally. Inhibitions come to the surface when "aware connected circular breathing" is used. The tensions caused by earlier trauma are then revealed. Deep relaxation is utilised to stimulate brain waves that cause subconscious problems and stored energy to be released.

Clarity Breathwork - Many of the principles of Rebirthing Breathwork are the foundation of this kind of therapy. But it doesn't just concentrate on the trauma of childbirth. Any and all problems that obstruct a healthy flow of energy and breath are addressed through Clarity Breathwork. The foundation of Clarity Breathwork is the notion that most individuals don't breathe as deeply as they could. Teaching individuals how to breathe fully is the major objective of a Clarity Breathwork Practitioner. Their emotional energy may be released as a result of this. An extensive conversation regarding current issues and earlier experiences takes place before therapy even starts. In-depth intuitive counselling, somatic investigation, and an hour of circular connected breathing practice are all included in sessions.

Biodynamic Breathwork - This method incorporates six components and is officially called as the BioDynamic Breath and Trauma Release System. It aims to reduce stress, encourage the body's natural healing process, and redesign internal organs. Biodynamic breathwork falls within the categories of breath, movement, sound, touch, emotion, and meditation. This strategy acknowledges the psychological and physical ways in which trauma is stored. Through emotional patterns, ongoing tension, and blocked energy, trauma may be preserved. The goal of biodynamic breathwork is to bring these systems back into harmony. Exercises like connecting, deep breathing and going over old emotions and feelings could be included in therapy sessions. It might also incorporate dance therapy, vocalization, whole-body shaking, music therapy, or sound therapy. The BioDynamic Breathwork and Trauma Release System's creator, Giten Tonkov, claims that the therapy emphasizes self-transformation. "People improve their capacity to help others achieve the same. This knowledge is not based on scholarly study. It is built on giving your physical body room to breathe and to relax. 

Other types of breathwork therapy include:

  • Integrative Breathwork
  • Shamanic Breathwork
  • Vivation
  • Zen Yoga Breathwork
  • Transformational Breathwork



The history... 

Through breathing exercises, humans have sought spiritual enlightenment, self-healing, and contemplative relaxation for ages. Eastern disciplines like yoga, Tai Chi, and Buddhism are the ancestors of breathwork. However, the majority of the breathwork therapy that is currently practiced got its beginnings in the 1960s and 1970s during the consciousness-raising movement.

During this time, various types of breathwork were developed. Rebirthing Breathwork and Holotropic Breathwork were two among them. Some methods put a strong emphasis on inner calm and self-awareness. Others focused on psychedelic effects and altered states of consciousness. Leonard Orr, for instance, created Rebirthing Breathwork. It emphasized the difficult birthing process. Dr. Stan Grof and his wife, Christina Grof, founded Holotropic Breathwork as a result of their studies on consciousness and the effects of psychedelic drugs like LSD.

The field of breathwork treatment has expanded since the 1970s. Jacquelyn Small established Integrative Breathwork in 1991. This strategy is based on her collaboration with Dr. Grof in Holotropic Breathwork. Also founded in 1999 was Clarity Breathwork, a development of Rebirthing Breathwork. Rebirthing's core ideas were elaborated upon by Clarity Breathwork to encompass a broader perspective on trauma and therapy.

The practice of breathwork is still developing today. Both interested participants and practitioners can choose from dozens of models and certification programs. Many organizations support the global training, research, and growth initiatives of Breathwork therapists. These consist of: 

  • The Stanislav and Christina Grof Foundation (formerly called the Association of Holotropic Breathwork International (AHBI))
  • Rebirthing Breathwork International (RBI)
  • The Global Professional Breathwork Alliance (GPBA)
  • The International Breathwork Foundation (IBF) 



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