Last updated on December 8th, 2023.
You have experienced breathwork and felt its incredible power. Perhaps your physical condition, such as asthma, has benefited from different breathing techniques. Or, perhaps you have experienced how powerful breathwork can be in shifting trauma. Maybe you have discovered how beneficial breathwork is for emotional regulation and soothing anxiety, or that breathwork has given you some spiritual awakening.
Perhaps you have had the ‘what the hell is this?!’ experience, and immediately after thought, ‘I have to learn more about breathwork!’, and then the certainty that ‘I HAVE TO TRAIN IN THIS RIGHT NOW!’
Whatever your reason for wanting to dive deeper into breathwork, I cannot recommend it highly enough – it is a key to physical well-being, emotional health, mental clarity, creativity, connection, spirituality, and SO much more. It changed my life and the lives of the hundreds of people I have trained, and I know that it has improved the thousands of people I have had the good fortune to breathe with.
Where do you start once you have felt ‘the call’ to go deeper into breathwork? There are hundreds of different styles, methods, schools, and teachers. How do you find the one that is right for you? In the following article, I will outline a few guidelines on choosing breathwork training to help you get the most out of your journey on one of the most astonishing and exciting pathways you can find.
Who You Are
Maybe you are already in the wellness profession – yoga teacher, therapist, reiki practitioner, meditation teacher, or workshop leader. Perhaps you have been following a particular method for many years but have finally decided the time is right for you to dedicate more time and energy to the practice.
Alternatively, you might be utterly new to the wellness field. You may never have gone to a shamanic drum circle or experienced craniosacral therapy, and you may even be put off by some of the esoteric aspects of the alternative world.
Luckily, breath is one of the magical things that does not care about your experience or your preferences because, in many ways, we are all experts in it already. We all know how to breathe; we have been doing it every moment. It is one of the most incredible things that binds us all together.
Wherever you are on your breathwork journey, there is a training program that is right for you.
What are you looking for?
The first thing to be clear about is what kind of breathwork program you are seeking. Is it for your personal growth and development, or do you wish for training to prepare and certify you to lead, teach, or facilitate? If it is for your well-being or growth, then you are in luck because there are so many facilitators, methods, and schools out there of ALL different flavors and varieties that offer a lot and a lot for free.
If it is a qualification or certification you are looking for, then that is slightly different, but there is still a considerable amount of choice. Most of the guidelines I offer here are for those who wish to train to become facilitators or teachers. However, the advice is still valid if you seek a personal development course.
What can you commit?
You must be intentional about how much time and energy you want to devote to breathwork training. Are you looking for a course that is just a weekend or a few week’s immersion, or are you willing to commit to studying over a more extended period?
Consider other things that might happen and whether you can fully commit to a potentially demanding and life-changing course. I have had many students sign up only to realize the practicalities of life mean that they couldn’t finish the course.
Generally, the longer a course and the more study hours you have to complete it, the better the experience will be. Breathwork training is like anything else – the more you put in, the more you get out of it. The trick is to find a course that empowers you to do that.
Decide on Your Budget
This is a crucial aspect because the cost of breathwork training can drastically vary and is not necessarily a good reflection of the teaching’s quality (or quantity). Be clear about what you want to spend, but also be open to what is offered. Training in breathwork is an investment in yourself, and no price can be put on something that genuinely helps you transform into the person you were meant to be.
Many schools offer payment plans, bursaries, and scholarships to make their training accessible. If price is a consideration, ALWAYS ask if these are available.
Online or Offline
The traditional way, and the only way to learn anything used to be, was by attending in person. However, we live in a different age where learning anywhere is possible. Most people prefer an in-person experience, but that is not available for everyone and is not necessarily superior. If you wish to study in person, then be prepared to travel. Which, of course, can be more expensive. If you are happy to work online, you probably have more choices.
If becoming a facilitator is your goal, I would not recommend any training that does not have some ‘live’ component with an actual teacher, even if this is online. You cannot learn to hold space for people in the moments of most profound transformation just from reading PDFs or watching videos. It would be best if you had some time with a trainer.
Groups or One-on-Ones
A great way to learn is in a group or a cohort, but that is not the only way. Several programs are offering flexible one-on-one learning. Again, this is a choice for you. One is not necessarily better, and both have advantages and disadvantages.
If you are thinking about group training, a good question to always ask is about group sizes and teacher-to-student ratios. There are some courses with hundreds of people in an online seminar, meaning the personal attention you will receive will be much less than a group course of just a dozen or so people.
Where to Start
If you wish to become a breathwork facilitator or teacher and reach the highest standards of practice, the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance (GPBA) website is an excellent place to start. This has a list of all the schools that have met their stringent criteria of teaching standards.
The GPBA however, is not a governing body but a voluntary association. A listing on there is not necessarily a guarantee of quality, but it is a great place to start. Many great teachers and facilitators are not members!
Where Else to Look
Most people start their search by Googling – and you will get dozens of options to come up, and many, many adverts will begin flooding your inbox! Several Facebook communities serve as discussion forums. If you ask a question in there about training, you will quickly get a lot of feedback!
An old-fashioned way is to ask facilitators or teachers who they trained with and who they would recommend! Most good teachers will give impartial advice on their experiences.
The Most Important Advice
The most important advice I give to anyone who wants to train in breathwork, especially if you invest thousands into facilitator training, is to do your due diligence and research at least three or four alternatives. First, find some schools (or teachers) you resonate with and you like the sound of their philosophy, approach, and style of breathwork. This might be from the GPBA, personal recommendations, or research on the web.
Next, read the website and the course prospectus of each school thoroughly. You will quickly know which ones you like and do not like. Always try to meet the person who will be teaching the course and not just the person who is selling the course. This is important as they will guide you through what could be one of the most important journeys of your life.
Some other recommendations
Becoming a breathwork facilitator is as much of our journey of growth and transformation as it is holding others. The only way to safely facilitate someone in a vulnerable space is if we are willing to repeatedly go to those wounded and edgy places in ourselves. Therefore, the best breathwork training courses will include some element of personal development; the more profound this is, the better the course.
You cannot learn to become a breathwork facilitator just by reading books, watching videos, or listening to a teacher. Facilitating is a skill you only develop by encouraging, so the best courses will include some practice elements. The best schools will also offer spaces where you can reduce the public and not just to peers.
Many schools want their students to be good but not so good that they are ever in competition – so steer away from any schools that ask you to sign non-compete clauses. Schools with a ‘guru’ culture with a celebrated or revered teacher who is THE expert, always right and always at the top, ring alarm bells for me. Everyone is human, has more to learn, and makes mistakes. If this is not acknowledged, then there is a much larger possibility of an unhealthy power dynamic with the potential for abuse.
The best schools will also be the best communities that support you after you have completed your training. Having a certificate is usually just enough to get you started, but you are more likely to succeed in doing what you love if you have the ongoing support of the school and your colleagues and peers.
A Final Word
We only get one life and must make the most out of it. For ourselves, for everyone else around us, and do our absolute best to make it better for all those yet to come.
Training in breathwork and becoming a breathwork facilitator was undoubtedly the best decision I have ever made. Since I began my journey ten years ago, I have done things that I never thought possible – I have run retreats worldwide, founded an international breathwork school, met some of the most inspiring people imaginable, and created two global festivals. It helped me reach my potential and become the best possible version of myself that I could be.
But the most rewarding aspect of my job is holding people in a space of transformational change and seeing them light up. Watching them grow and develop into people they never thought possible. I am seeing them move on from crippling trauma or patterns of behavior that have kept them small all their lives.
I do this work not because I enjoy it (although I do) but because I feel a duty to. I see so many people struggling and suffering unnecessarily, carrying pain that is not theirs and can be released. I see so many people with so much light inside them, but they keep themselves small to please others.
It does not have to be like this. Breathwork is a way of making a change, one of the simplest, easiest, most joyful ways of lighting people up that is accessible to everyone. If you feel called to train in Breathwork, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE do it. The world and the future need you.