Breathwork In The Modern Day

Katherine and Kerry Veitch write the second in our Breath series on the evolution of breathwork.

​Breathwork assists us in learning how to breathe deeply and fully again. It helps to awaken the part of ourselves that knows how to breathe, activate and heal ourselves.

We don’t need chemical intervention, psychedelics, Plant medicine or another person or any substance – the idea is that there isn’t anything wrong with any of these, but more that it is all within all of us.  

In the second of our series, Kerry and Katherine take you through modern day breathwork.

Breathwork (‘modern day’)

The breath is "probably the greatest transformer and healer on this planet and its right beneath our nose. It's a thing that is within us and it doesn't cost us anything except a little time and a little attention to just breathe. It’s available and here on this planet available for everybody at this time; it's accessible for everyone." Linda Star Wolf

The type of breathwork most often being referred to when you hear the word ‘Breathwork’ these days is found more at the therapeutic end of the spectrum and is used to access non-ordinary states of consciousness for the purpose of transformation and healing.  

It has seen a recent explosion in popularity and use. It is a re-emergence of the use of the breath that was ‘seen in many ancient cultures andreligions including Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Yoga, Qigong,Shamanism, Sufism, and martial arts.

Similarly, AIR School of Breathwork tells us "The use of the breath to access heightened states of consciousness for healing and reaching the experience of oneness is found in all cultures and religions and is very ancient. In many languages the words for ‘breath’ and ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ are the same."

This re-emergence began in the 60s, thanks primarily to four people – Stanislav and Christine Grof, Leonard Orr and Sondra Ray. These four individuals gave birth to the two original branches of modern-day Breathwork – Holotropic and Rebirthing - from which dozens of offshoots have since been born…

There are indeed a growing number of styles that come under this umbrella term of Breathwork, ever expanding and evolving as more people play with the Breath, creatively devising their own unique ways of working with it, for themselves and others.

Circular Breath

The breath most often used in breathwork these days is the conscious connected breath or circle breath; meaning no pause between the inhale and exhale.

The facilitator guides the process as needed, and the breath often falls into its own rhythm, as the body and breath ‘take over’, their innate wisdom leading the way. The techniques and experiences vary from the virtually still and silent to the loud and highly energised.

Different styles seek to manifest different shades of experience, even where there may be similar visions about the final goals or purpose. The quality of presence of the practitioner plays an important role in the process, as can the atmosphere, the environment, and the thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, intention, desires and will of the breather.

Other elements alongside the breath can be used to heighten the experience, such as music, bodywork, movement, sound, touch, art, prayer, intention, ceremony, energy healing such as Reiki, Talk therapy, such as counselling or psychotherapy, among many other modalities.

Holotropic Breathwork

Holotropic breathwork involves controlling and quickening breathing patterns to influence your mental, emotional, and physical states.

As Stan and Christina Grof explain in their principles-of-Holotropic-Breathwork, "As the process is unfolding, this “inner healer” manifests therapeutic wisdom which transcends the knowledge that can be derived from the cognitive understanding of an individual practitioner or from any specific school of psychotherapy or body work."

Giten Tonkov, founder of the BioDynamic Breathwork and TraumaRelease System, agrees the therapy focuses on self-transformation. “People become more capable of supporting others to do the same. It’s not a knowledge based on academics. It is based on creating space and relaxation in your physical body." Similarly, Leonard Orr states, ‘Relaxation is the ultimate healer. Every breath induces relaxation. Therefore, breathing is the basic healer. Conscious Energy Breathing is the most natural healing ability of all.This ability involves merging the inhale with the exhale in a gentle relaxed rhythm in an intuitive way that floods the body with Divine Energy."

Thanks to Very Well Mind

What To Expect

These Breathwork sessions are done with individuals, couples, and groups, of any age.

They are and should be facilitated by a certified professional.

A session typically lasts from 30 minutes to 2 hours or in some cases longer.

After a number of sessions with abreathworker, the breather can practice the technique on their own, and thus has a lifelong tool. There are certain contra-indications to doing this kind of Breathwork.  

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts." Thich Nhat Hanh 

Breathing In The Present

Breathwork is again being used widely today, and sometimes in large groups, to connect with what is beyond our everyday ordinary consciousness, to go on an inner journey, individually or collectively (whenonline, across the whole globe!), to experience deep awareness, profound insights, access our intuition and find answers within, to heal old wounds and trauma, anger or grief, to find personal freedom, to open to our sexuality, creativity,to a greater capacity for joy, trust, aliveness and even miracles.

Breathwork assists us in learning to be more present, more aware of our breath, our breathing patterns, our ways of being and of our reactions to things. In returning to its natural flow, we have more choice, more freedom, a greater ability to self-regulate and function better in the world.

It allows us more awareness of our bodies, and what they might be telling us. Aswe learn to breathe more fully and freely, and relax with our breath, tension and blocks in our systems are released, and we can be more ‘in flow’, often seea freeing up of where we were stuck in our lives before.

The connection to our own inner wisdom and healing energies and the divine, that is often experienced in Breathwork, is a strong affirmation that we all have everything we need within and that we’re part of something bigger than we commonly perceive.

Breathwork is an amazing tool for self-empowerment and for our individual and collective healing journeys today as we are ready to reach new levels of willingness to move through the wounding; to have increased ability to access new depths of healing, individually and collectively.  

So, as Leonard Orr said ‘let’s stop talking about it and just do it!’.

Kerry Veitch first experienced conscious connected breathing in 1993, she trained with AIR School of Breathwork as a Rebirthing Practioner, and then more recently with Alchemy ofBreath (AoB), where she has worked for the last 4 years, graduating as a Master of Breath, Practitioner and Trainer.

Katherine is a mama, a writer and a Rebirthing breathworker.

She currently works for AIR School of Breathwork s the Administrator. She also co-founded and is part of the team at Breathe, a Festival of Life.She holds breathwork dearly in her life as it has been, and continues to be, a very powerful part of her own healing journey, as well as witnessing this for so many others. 

Breathe, the UK's only breathwork festival will take place over the weekend of the 12th to 15th of August. The comprehensive 3-day programme welcomes a whole host of different breathwork practitioners from across the world, who are there solely to share their wisdom, and passion. From Soma Breath to Transformational, to Wim Hof and Buteyko, to Rebirthing and Integrative Breath, as well as modalities that are less known; the multidimensional programme moves from the mother's womb to cosmic dimensions, reaching the depths and heights of expansive creation.

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