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Is Breathwork a Therapy?

Breathwork is a general term used to describe any type of therapy that utilizes breathing exercises to improve mental, physical, and spiritual health. Many forms of breathwork therapy exist, such as Holotropic Breathwork, Rebirthing Breathwork, Transformational Breath, and more. Each one has its own specific techniques, benefits, and risks.

In this blog post, we will explore what breathwork is, how it works, and what it can do for you. We will also answer some frequently asked questions about breathwork therapy.

What is Breathwork?

Breathwork is the practice of consciously changing your breathing pattern to achieve a certain goal, such as relaxation, awareness, healing, or transformation. Breathing is something we do automatically, without much thought or effort. However, by paying attention to our breath and altering it in various ways, we can affect our physical, mental, and emotional state.

Breathwork is based on the idea that our breath is connected to our life force, or energy. By breathing in a certain way, we can influence the flow of energy in our body and mind, and access different levels of consciousness. Breathwork can also help us release emotions, trauma, and negative thoughts that are stored in our body and subconscious mind.

Breathwork is not a new concept. Many ancient traditions, such as yoga, meditation, and martial arts, have used breathing techniques for thousands of years to enhance health, well-being, and spirituality. However, breathwork as a form of therapy emerged in the 1960s and 1970s, when researchers and practitioners experimented with various methods of inducing altered states of consciousness through breathing.

How Does Breathwork Work?

Breathwork works by stimulating the autonomic nervous system, which regulates many involuntary functions in the body, such as heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, and stress response. The autonomic nervous system has two branches: the sympathetic nervous system, which activates the “fight-or-flight” response, and the parasympathetic nervous system, which activates the “rest-and-digest” response.

By breathing in different ways, we can activate either the sympathetic or the parasympathetic nervous system, or create a balance between them. For example, breathing fast and deep can increase arousal, alertness, and energy, while breathing slow and shallow can induce calmness, relaxation, and sleepiness. Breathing in a rhythmic and balanced way can create a state of harmony and coherence between the body and the mind.

Breathwork can also affect the brain, by altering the levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood. Oxygen is essential for the brain to function properly, while carbon dioxide is a waste product that needs to be eliminated. However, carbon dioxide also plays a role in regulating the pH level of the blood, which affects the activity of the neurons and neurotransmitters in the brain.

By breathing in different ways, we can change the ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood, and thus influence the pH level and the brain chemistry. For example, breathing fast and deep can lower the carbon dioxide level and increase the pH level, which can cause feelings of euphoria, excitement, and creativity. Breathing slow and shallow can raise the carbon dioxide level and lower the pH level, which can cause feelings of calmness, peace, and introspection.

Breathwork can also affect the psyche, by allowing us to access different states of consciousness and awareness. By breathing in certain ways, we can enter a trance-like state, where we can experience vivid imagery, memories, emotions, and insights. Breathwork can also help us connect with our inner self, our higher self, or a higher power, depending on our beliefs and intentions.

What are the Benefits of Breathwork?

Breathwork can have many benefits for our physical, mental, and emotional health. Some of the benefits of breathwork are:

  • Reducing stress and anxiety
  • Improving mood and well-being
  • Enhancing focus and concentration
  • Boosting creativity and problem-solving
  • Increasing self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Healing trauma and emotional pain
  • Releasing negative thoughts and patterns
  • Developing life skills and coping strategies
  • Expanding consciousness and awareness
  • Exploring spirituality and meaning

Breathwork can also be used as a complementary therapy for various conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Chronic pain
  • Asthma
  • Hypertension
  • Insomnia
  • Addiction
  • Eating disorders

However, breathwork is not a substitute for professional medical or psychological treatment, and should be done under the guidance of a qualified therapist or practitioner.

What are the Risks of Breathwork?

Breathwork is generally safe and well-tolerated by most people, but it can also have some risks and side effects, especially if done incorrectly or excessively. Some of the risks and side effects of breathwork are:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Hypoxia
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Muscle cramps
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Panic attacks
  • Psychosis
  • Re-traumatization

Breathwork is not recommended for people who have certain medical conditions, such as:

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Respiratory disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Glaucoma
  • Pregnancy
  • Brain injury
  • Psychiatric disorders

Breathwork should also be avoided by people who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or who have a history of abuse or addiction.

If you have any doubts or concerns about your health or suitability for breathwork, consult your doctor before trying it.

FAQs About Breathwork Therapy

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about breathwork therapy:

Q: How do I choose a breathwork therapist or practitioner?

A: There is no official certification or regulation for breathwork therapists or practitioners, so you need to do your own research and ask for recommendations from trusted sources. Look for someone who has experience and training in the type of breathwork you are interested in, and who has a good reputation and reviews. You can also check their credentials, qualifications, and affiliations with professional organizations or associations. Most importantly, choose someone who makes you feel comfortable, safe, and respected, and who aligns with your goals and expectations.

Q: How much does breathwork therapy cost?

A: The cost of breathwork therapy varies depending on the type, duration, frequency, and location of the sessions, as well as the qualifications and experience of the therapist or practitioner. Generally, breathwork therapy can range from $50 to $300 per session, or more. Some therapists or practitioners may offer discounts, packages, or sliding scale fees, depending on your financial situation and needs. You can also look for free or low-cost breathwork classes or workshops in your area, or online.

Q: How long does breathwork therapy last?

A: The length of breathwork therapy depends on the type, goal, and progress of the sessions, as well as your personal preference and availability. Typically, breathwork therapy sessions can last from 30 minutes to 3 hours, or more. Some types of breathwork, such as Holotropic Breathwork, require longer sessions, while others, such as Transformational Breath, can be done in shorter sessions. You can also practice breathwork on your own, in between sessions, for as long or as short as you want.

Q: How often should I do breathwork therapy?

A: The frequency of breathwork therapy depends on the type, goal, and progress of the sessions, as well as your personal preference and availability. Generally, breathwork therapy can be done once a week, once a month, or as needed. Some types of breathwork, such as Rebirthing Breathwork, recommend doing a series of 10 sessions, while others, such as Shamanic Breathwork, can be done sporadically. You can also practice breathwork on your own, in between sessions, as often or as seldom as you want.

Q: What should I expect from breathwork therapy?

A: Breathwork therapy can be a powerful and profound experience, but it can also be unpredictable and challenging. You may experience a range of physical, mental, and emotional sensations, such as:

  • Relaxation or arousal
  • Warmth or coldness
  • Lightness or heaviness
  • Pleasure or pain
  • Joy or sadness
  • Love or anger
  • Peace or fear
  • Clarity or confusion
  • Insight or doubt
  • Connection or isolation
  • Bliss or despair

You may also have visions, memories, fantasies, or revelations, that may be pleasant or unpleasant, meaningful or meaningless, familiar or unfamiliar. You may feel like you are traveling to different realms, dimensions, or times, or meeting different beings, guides, or ancestors. You may feel like you are dying, rebirthing, or transforming, or like you are losing or finding yourself.

Whatever you experience, remember that it is all part of the process, and that there is no right or wrong way to do breathwork. Trust your breath, your body, and your intuition, and allow yourself to surrender to the experience, without judgment or expectation. Be open, curious, and compassionate, and embrace whatever comes up, as a gift or a lesson.

Breathwork therapy can also have lasting effects, that may continue for hours, days, or weeks, after the session. You may feel more energized, relaxed, or balanced, or you may feel more tired, emotional, or sensitive. You may have new insights, perspectives, or actions, or you may have questions, doubts, or challenges. You may notice changes in your relationships, health, habits, or lifestyle. You may also experience some challenges, such as:

  • Integration: This is the process of making sense of your breathwork experience, and applying it to your everyday life. You may need to reflect on what you learned, felt, or realized, and how it relates to your goals, values, or purpose. You may also need to make some changes or adjustments in your behavior, attitude, or environment, to align with your new insights or perspectives. Integration can take time and effort, and may require ongoing support from your therapist, practitioner, or peers.
  • Resistance: This is the tendency to avoid, deny, or reject your breathwork experience, or the changes that it implies. You may feel scared, uncomfortable, or overwhelmed by what you experienced, or what it means for your life. You may also feel attached to your old ways of thinking, feeling, or acting, and reluctant to let them go. Resistance can hinder your integration process, and prevent you from benefiting from your breathwork experience.
  • Regression: This is the possibility of returning to your previous state of consciousness, or your previous patterns of behavior, after your breathwork experience. You may feel like you have lost the connection, clarity, or transformation that you achieved during your breathwork session, and that you are back to where you started. You may also feel disappointed, frustrated, or hopeless, and doubt the validity or value of your breathwork experience. Regression can happen for various reasons, such as stress, trauma, or lack of support.

To cope with these challenges, you may need to:

  • Seek guidance: You can consult your therapist, practitioner, or mentor, who can help you understand, process, and integrate your breathwork experience, and address any issues or difficulties that may arise. You can also join a breathwork group, community, or network, where you can share your experience, learn from others, and receive feedback and encouragement.
  • Practice self-care: You can take care of your physical, mental, and emotional needs, by eating well, sleeping well, exercising, meditating, journaling, or doing any other activity that makes you feel good, healthy, and balanced. You can also avoid or limit any substance, habit, or situation that may interfere with your integration process, or trigger negative reactions or emotions.
  • Be patient: You can acknowledge that breathwork is a journey, not a destination, and that it may take time and effort to see the results and benefits of your experience. You can also appreciate the progress and growth that you have made, and celebrate the achievements and milestones that you have reached. You can also trust that your breathwork experience was meaningful and valuable, and that it will continue to unfold and reveal itself in your life.


Breathwork is a therapy that uses breathing exercises to improve mental, physical, and spiritual health. Breathwork can have many benefits, such as reducing stress, enhancing mood, healing trauma, and expanding consciousness. Breathwork can also have some risks and side effects, such as hyperventilation, dizziness, or re-traumatization. Breathwork should be done under the guidance of a qualified therapist or practitioner, and with proper preparation and integration.

Breathwork is a powerful and profound tool that can help you discover, explore, and transform yourself, and your life. If you are interested in trying breathwork, or learning more about it, you can contact me, or visit my website, for more information and resources.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, and found it informative and helpful. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback, please feel free to leave them below. Thank you for reading, and happy breathing! 

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