Breathwork is a New Age term for various breathing practices in which the conscious control of breathing is said to influence a person’s mental, emotional or physical state, with a claimed therapeutic effect. Breathwork has no proven positive health impact other than promoting relaxation and can cause distress.
It is is a method of breath control that is meant to give rise to altered states of consciousness and to have an effect on physical and mental well-being.
Derived from various spiritual and pre-scientific traditions from around the world, it was pioneered in the West by Wilhelm Reich.
There are several sub-types of breathwork:
Devised by Leonard Orr in the 1970s. It is claimed to be capable of releasing suppressed traumatic childhood memories.
Created by Jim Leonard and Phil Laut. It claims to improve wellbeing through the use of circular breathing.
A practice that uses breathing and other elements to putatively allow access to non-ordinary states of consciousness.
It was developed by Stanislav Grof as a successor to his LSD-based psychedelic therapy, following the suppression of legal LSD use in the late 1960s.
SOMA is a multisensory meditation experience that can awaken the full potential of your brain, improve circulation, promote your body’s natural healing ability, transmute sexual life force energy and, above all else, make you feel amazing and full of energy.
The second pillar of the wim hof method is breathing. We’re always breathing, yet we’re mostly unaware of its tremendous potential. Heightened oxygen levels hold a treasure trove of benefits, and the specialized breathing technique of the Wim Hof Method unearths them all: more energy, reduced stress levels, and an augmented immune response that swiftly deals with pathogens.
Other types – There are many other types of Breathwork which have emerged over the last few decades, including Integrative Breathwork, Transformational Breathwork, Shamanic Breathwork, Conscious Connected Breathing, Radiance Breathwork, Zen Yoga Breathwork and many others.
The following technique is by Wimhof
Step 1: Get Comfortable
Assume a meditation posture: sitting, lying down — whichever is most comfortable for you. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction.
Step 2: 30-40 Deep Breaths
Close your eyes and try to clear your mind. Be conscious of your breath, and try to fully connect with it. Inhale deeply through the nose or mouth, and exhale unforced through the mouth. Fully inhale through the belly, then chest and then let go unforced. Repeat this 30 to 40 times in short, powerful bursts. You may experience light-headedness, and tingling sensations in your fingers and feet. These side effects are completely harmless.
Step 3: The Hold
After the last exhalation, inhale one final time, as deeply as you can. Then let the air out and stop breathing. Hold until you feel the urge to breathe again.
Step 4: Recovery Breath
When you feel the urge to breathe again, draw one big breath to fill your lungs. Feel your belly and chest expanding. When you are at full capacity, hold the breath for around 15 seconds, then let go. That completes round number one. This cycle can be repeated 3-4 times without interval. After having completed the breathing exercise, take your time to bask in the bliss. This calm state is highly conducive to meditation — don’t hesitate to combine the two.
Why do we breathe?
Regulated by the autonomic nervous system, inhaling oxygen is an unconscious process. Fortunately it’s an unconscious praxis, otherwise we simply wouldn’t have a break, as we’d have to deal with it incessantly. The amount of oxygen that we inhale through our breathing, influences the amount of energy that is released into our body cells. On a molecular level, this progresses via various chemical and physiological processes. Breathing is the easiest and most instrumental part of the autonomic nervous system to control and navigate. In fact, the way you breathe strongly affects the chemical and physiological activities in your body. Throughout the years, Wim Hof has developed special breathing exertions that keep his body in optimal condition and in complete control in the most extreme conditions. The breathing technique is first and foremost premised on inhaling deeply and exhaling without any use of force!
Use the Breathing Bubble!
The Breathing Bubble video below is an audiovisual guide that helps you maintain rhythm and pace during your breathing sessions. Simply watch the bubble as it expands and contracts, and follow with your breath. You’ll hear Wim breathe alongside you, and entrancing background sounds help tune out your surroundings, allowing you to focus on nothing but your breath.