What is Holotropic Breathwork? Benefits and Risks

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Do you need to find more purpose, direction, or balance in your life? Well, look no further.

Holotropic breathwork is a breathing technique that alters your state of consciousness to help you release emotional and deep seeded trauma, to bring you more happiness and joy. By releasing this negative energy from your body, you will feel lighter, whole, and it will bring back the person you once were, before all the baggage and hang-ups we are all accustomed to holding. Holotropic breathwork is breathing in a way that shakes up energy in your body to release any stagnant energy that no longer serves you. Holotropic breathwork patients often benefit from releasing feelings of depression, anxiety, avoidance, chronic pain, fatigue, addiction, and more.

Where did Holotropic Breathwork come from?

Holotropic breathwork was invented by husband and wife psychiatrists, Stanislav and Christina Grof, in California in the 70’s. Stanislav Grof realised that breathing a certain way for an extended period of time while listening to soothing music has real emotional and mental health benefits. Grof explains that when the technique is delivered correctly by an accredited facilitator, breathwork can trigger life-changing healing experiences while in a altered state of consciousness.

Why is holotropic breathing used?

The main objectives of holotropic breathwork is to increase your self-awareness and happiness in your life. It aims to ascend you from your "ego" and take you home to your true self. It's all about being mindful and in the present moment.

What does holotropic breathing feel like?

You will have a different experience every time you complete a holotropic breathwork session. Most people when they start holotropic breathing will have a cathartic and extraordinary experience that can be quite addictive (in a good way). When undergoing a breathwork session, you may have tingling sensations in your hands and feet (which is called “Tetany”), and experience a whole range of emotions from laughing hysterically to crying… Both emotions are normal and assist in the healing process of releasing suppressed emotion.

What are the benefits of holotropic breathwork?

Research suggests holotropic breathwork may be helpful in relaxation, self-awareness, and more. I’ve put together a list that outlines what my clients normally experience as a result of breathwork.

  • Improved self-esteem;
  • Increased compassion for others;
  • Reduced symptoms of anxiety, depression, anger;
  • Increase levels of energy; and
  • Less stress.

Are there any risks to Holotropic breathwork?

Holotropic breathwork can lead to dizziness, muscle spasms and possibly seizures. These reactions are all normal and aims to address stagnant and suppressed emotions. There is no real danger to breathwork… After all, you can’t hurt yourself from breathing, but you may experience what’s called a “healing crisis” after your session. A healing crisis is your body’s attempt to cleanse itself from energy that doesn’t serve you.

Your body is trying to remove waste from your system to make way for the regeneration of the new you. These feelings can last one to two days after your treatment.

Who shouldn’t do holotropic breathwork

It’s important to consult a medical professional before booking a breathwork consultation, however, I have put together a list that should help you identify whether you should take up this practice or not.  

  • Pregnancy or breastfeeding
  • A history of epilepsy or seizures
  • Any issue relating to your heart (Hypertension, cardiovascular disease etc.)
  • Stroke
  • Severe mental illness or
  • Have a family history of Aneurysms.
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Written by

Sarah Michaels

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