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Holotropic Breathwork: A Breathing Technique That Can Transform Your Mind and Body

While it’s something many of us do unconsciously, breathing significantly impacts our overall well-being. Aside from the obvious (keeping us alive), breathing has the power to alter the way we think, feel and behave.

This is why becoming aware of your breath is essential. If you practice yoga or meditation, you’re likely familiar with several breathing techniques: diaphragmatic breathing, box breathing, and 4-7-8 breathing. However, there’s one technique you may not have heard of: holotropic breathwork.

In Greek, “holotropic” is broken down into “whole” and “to turn towards” translating to “moving toward wholeness." The goal of the practice is to move beyond your body and get more in tune with your spirit. It enables you to connect on a deeper level with yourself and the world around you.

This type of breathwork promotes emotional healing and self-improvement. Unlike most breathing techniques, holotropic breathwork requires fast-paced breathing. The process is designed to alter your state of consciousness and increase your capacity for healing.

Holotropic breathing can be used to treat numerous psychological issues, including stress, anxiety, depression and addiction. It can also promote physical well being by reducing chronic pain and migraines.

How to Do Holotropic Breathing

While each session is slightly different, here is a general overview of what you can expect:

  1. Sessions are led by a trained practitioner. Instructions are provided to change the speed and rhythm of your breath. It’s important to be guided through this type of breathing to avoid hyperventilation.

Also, since this type of breathwork is designed to reach you on a deep level, holotropic breathwork can be emotionally intense. Trained professionals help make sure you’re safe.

  1. You are paired into groups. In each group there is a "breather" and a "sitter." 
  2. The sitter is there to support the breather if necessary. The breather follows the breathing technique, while the sitter observes. They swap roles each session.
  3. A session can last as long as 3 hours. To get the most of the experience, these sessions are longer than normal. Holotropic breathwork is meant to be transformative and life-changing.
  4. Rhythmic music is incorporated. The music helps you focus and enter an elevated state of consciousness.
  5. The session encourages unique self-expression and self-discovery. In other words, you do what feels right to you whether it’s moving freely, making sounds and surrendering to the process.
  6. At the end of the session, you draw mandalas. Everyone’s journey during a session is unique. Mandalas help you access hidden parts of your mind, bring your feelings to the surface and in some cases, recover memories.

A common question many people ask is, “what does it feel like?” It’s normal to be nervous at first, especially since it requires you to dig deep and make yourself vulnerable. It’s an emotional process that requires you to lean in to a wide range of feelings. While it may be uncomfortable at first, the transformation that awaits on the other side is worth it.

The Science Behind Why It Works

According to research, participants who practiced holotropic breathing with psychotherapy had lower death anxiety and higher self-esteem compared to those who only had therapy.

In another study of 11,000 people over a 12-year period, findings indicated holotropic breathwork sessions caused emotional healing and spiritual enlightenment.

Researchers also found holotropic breathing can raise self-awareness, improve temperament and boost resilience. Advanced practitioners were less likely to be needy, overbearing, and aggressive.

Practice Holotropic Breathwork and Start Feeling Better Today!

Many of us struggle with obsessive thinking, worrying and feeling stuck in negativity. This breathwork is designed to shift you out of negative thinking patterns and rewire your brain for increased mental clarity and peace of mind.

Want to start feeling more joy, passion and fulfillment? Your breath can get you there.

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