What is Integrative Breathwork?
Thousands of years ago the yogi’s (and others) discovered the power of the breath to transform, heal, and change lives. By bringing focused attention to the breathing process all kinds of experiences and insights can be had. Spiritual purification, higher consciousness, and the achievement of an enlightened state of being are just a few of the possibilities that lie in store for you if you focus on the breath.
Today we have found that the practices of these ancient people did indeed create the most optimal of conditions for experiencing greater health and wellbeing – physically, emotionally and spiritually. The explosion of hatha yoga across the USA emphatically demonstrates that something’s going on here!
In the 1970’s Leonard Orr ‘pioneered’ a breathing process he called ReBirthing. Working with different patterns of breath he was able to guide participants through an altered state where they had an opportunity to re-experience their birth. The underlying psychology/philosophy was that birth is a trauma and that we are all significantly traumatized during the process. Re-Birthing is a way to heal that original trauma contained in our cellular memory. According to the yogi’s (and others) our cellular memory creates suffering in our lives. Breathwork is a way to purify, soothe, and heal cellular memory. It goes beyond the couch, beyond talk therapy, beyond religion, culture, and socio-economic status. Breath Connects Us All.
Stanislov Grof continues to explore the possibilities of breathwork and also trains others in his methodology called Holotropic Breathing.(http://www.holisticmed.com/inner/breath/holotropic.html#history) In addition, I’d like to refer you to the work of Alexander Lowen in his book on Bioenergetics, groundbreaking work on the mind/body continuum.
My own experience with breathwork began when I learned Lamaze breathing techniques for Natural Childbirth in 1969. I became fascinated at the process. Since 1999, I have researched, participated and facilitated hundreds of others in various forms of breathwork as a yoga teacher at Kripalu Center for Yoga in Lenox, MA. I am humbled and awed by the process. It amazes me that something as simple as breathing can have such profound effects on our state of being.
Essentially Integrative Breathwork can be thought of as a healing process that engages the mind, body and spirit to cleanse away toxic patterns of being. Shedding the old thereby supports and facilitates new, healthy fulfilling goals and conscious choices. By creating a mild, non-ordinary state of consciousness integrative breathwork illuminates all the different aspects of who you are. Practiced within a safe therapeutic setting and with proper guidance, breathwork carries us into whatever dimension of consciousness we need to visit in order to heal or broaden.
If you’re alive, you’re breathing. And if you can breathe…..you can heal.
Contraindications for Breathwork.
- Serious cardiovascular problems (History of heart attacks, malignant hypertension, arteriosclerosis, and similar physical disorders)
- First trimester of pregnancy.
- People who have active addictions (food, drugs, alcohol, etc.) should avoid breathwork until the addiction is under control (e.g., sober).
- Persons in the midst of crisis (i.e. emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual) should inform the breathwork facilitator before participation.
- Those with asthma, allergies, or other respiratory ailments are safe to practice. Inform the facilitator.