Last updated on December 8th, 2023.
Although breathing is a natural part of what you do every day, many people have started participating in what is called breathwork. For those with anxiety and stress of any kind, the practice of breathwork can work wonders for their body.
While they all have different methodologies, the 5 most common types of breathwork share a similar goal of bringing relaxation to practitioners. Through these different breathwork practices, you can improve your overall mental, physical, and spiritual health.
Knowing about the different types of breathwork that exist can help you decide which one is more suited to your needs. Keep reading to learn what breathwork is, what it can do for you, and the 5 most common types.
What Exactly Is Breathwork?
Breathwork is a systematic practice of controlling your breathing for a variety of purposes to bring about calmness and relaxation. During the practice of breathwork, you will change both the speed and depth of your breathing for different lengths of time.
For most breathwork classes, the practice is done with you lying on your back in a comfortable position. The idea is to relax the body and focus entirely on the breath, such as you would do during meditation practice.
The instructor then takes you through a variety of exercises that require you to consistently breathe in and out at different amounts of time. Depending on the type of breathwork you are participating in, these methods are done over and over again for 45 minutes to 1 hour in length.
Many people who practice breathwork regularly say that it is much like meditation, only you are doing more targeted and focused breathing. While meditation involves you focusing on the breath, you are also thinking certain positive thoughts and such. Breathwork is simply a way for you to solely concentrate on various breathing techniques.
It is important that before you begin any breathwork practice you consult with your regular doctor. There are certain risks that you should be aware of that can have detrimental effects on your body, however, if done with the guidance of a certified instructor, you can benefit in many ways.
What Does Breathwork Do to the Body?
Breathwork is said to have amazing benefits to your body and mind when you practice regularly with a method that works for you. Not only can you improve your mental well-being, but breathwork is said to have effects on your physical and spiritual well-being as well.
Here are some of the most common purposes people practice breathwork:
- Increase the development of self-awareness
- Improve self-esteem and confidence
- Bring on a sense of happiness
- Decrease anxiety and stress levels
- Help with addiction recovery
- Move past the negative self-talk
- Heighten the sense of creativity
While this is not an exhaustive list, they are the most frequently mentioned purposes for doing breathwork regularly. It is important to note that many others practice breathwork for a variety of other reasons.
In addition to the various purposes that can have great effects on your overall well-being, breathwork is used as a part of a treatment plan for different mental health issues. This is because by using breathwork, people with certain mental illnesses can focus on breathing to help them move past certain events.
Breath Work and Mental Health
Here are some of the mental health conditions that can benefit from doing breathwork:
- Anger issues
- PTSD and other traumas
- The grief of losing a loved one
- Chronic pain
Again, this is not a complete list, only a few of the most common conditions that can benefit from practicing breathwork regularly. Breathwork can be done by anyone for any reason, as long as they have cleared it with their physician.
For those with mental health challenges such as anxiety, they often go through the day feeling tense with shallow breaths, sometimes without their knowledge. This is often because the overwhelming sensations of what they fear tends to take control of their thinking and other processes.
By participating in breathwork regularly, those who suffer from anxiety are able to learn how to take back control and return their breathing to a normal state. This in turn creates a calmness in the body and allows them to function better.
Breathwork can play an important role in a wide variety of ailments and other physical and mental challenges you may be having. Like meditation, the practice allows you to relax and focus on only your breath letting all other problems fade away for just a little while.
What’s the Most Popular Form of Breathwork?
While there are several different types of breathwork, many people enjoy doing Holotropic Breathwork most commonly. This is mostly because the practice can be anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour in length and gets to the heart of why you are there quickly.
Keep in mind that depending on your personal preferences and reasons for doing breathwork, the type you choose may be different from others who do it. This is why it is recommended to try different types until you find the one that is right for you.
Most people who participate in breathwork have tried different methods and have settled on a preferred method. Holotropic Breathwork is focused on bringing you peace of mind for your emotional well-being.
Those who participate in this popular form of breathwork can often spend hours in the practice doing breathing techniques and using various art methods such as Mandala. The combination of the breathwork and the art are designed to help you take your mind off other things.
Whether you choose to participate in Holotropic Breathwork or another type of breathwork, it can be a life-changing experience. Those who try the practice once or twice often are hooked and desire to continue practicing for the relief they get.
The 5 Most Common Types of Breathwork
Many different types of breathwork exist depending on what works best for you as an individual. While some people benefit more from longer practices, others do better with shorter practice sessions.
Read on below to learn more about the 5 most common types of breathwork to see which one may resonate with you.
Holotropic Breathwork was developed by Dr. Stan Grof and Christina Grof in the 1970s as a form of therapy. The method is designed to help people who are struggling with their emotional well-being and personal growth.
Holotropic sessions can last anywhere from about 20 minutes to an hour or longer depending on the instructor and your individual needs. The practice includes breathing at a methodical and mostly faster pace to help you to get to a deep meditative state.
This type of breathwork is often done within a group and is led by a certified instructor who specializes in this type of breathwork. During the sessions, there is often music and the emphasis on controlled breathing at a fast pace to get you to a somewhat altered state of mind.
Oftentimes, at the end of the breathwork session, you are led through a drawing of a mandala while discussing the session. This is done as a way to decompress after such an intense session of breathing.
Shamanic Breathwork is based on helping you to focus on inner healing and is one of the more unique types of practice. With the common use of tribal music that is used with chanting and setting intentions, the practice can feel more intense.
While many practitioners stick with the origins of Shamanic Breathwork with the tribal music and chants, others alter the methodology slightly with various music to accommodate the variety of students in the classes.
The primary focus of Shamanic Breathwork is to empower practitioners to focus on the self and how to bring themselves back to the lives they were meant to live. Every person who participates in this type of breathwork has an individual experience that can go able bringing healing to their emotional and spiritual well-being.
Rebirthing Breathwork is a type of practice that is also referred to as Conscious Energy Breathing (CEB) and was created by Leonard Orr. the focus of this type of breathwork focuses on various emotions that may be repressed and were caused by various trauma that may have happened at some point in life.
Breathing exercises within Rebirthing Breathwork are designed with circular breathing that is done in a continuous method with no breaks in between. The focus is to bring up repressed memories for working through them.
It is important to note that Rebirthing Breath should only be done under the supervision of a certified instructor that specializes in this method. It is also essential to understand that with this method of breathwork, you will likely experience an emotional release that is brought on by the memories that are conjured up.
Transformational Breathwork is focused on decreasing or getting rid of trauma that was experienced during your birth. Created by Judith Kravitz in the 1970s, the method consists of you producing loud sounds and stomping your feet and hands at times.
Often thought of as a method that allows for adult temper tantrums, Transformational Breathwork can be done in a group or individually. The practice focuses on breathing exercises while stomping the feet and hands to get certain feedback.
The benefit of Transformational Breathwork is the idea that it helps to build a deep connection with you and your spirituality. You can bring in memories or certain traumas and through breathing and stomping can release them.
Wim Hof Breathwork was designed by the instructor himself and is extremely unique and intense in its practice. The method is focused on three foundational skills including exposure to cold, constant controlled breathing, and meditation.
The practice is typically done with practitioners immersing themselves in ice water for about three minutes all the while using conscious breathing methods. The method has been known to not only be healing for your mental health but also have physical health benefits as well.
Through this practice, the immune system is strengthened, you develop your strength and weaknesses, therefore, stress is reduced, and as a bonus, inflammation can be decreased with regular participation. Keep in mind that this method should be done under the supervision of a certified instructor.
While many instructors agree that this type of breathwork, with ice baths, is difficult to set up for a class environment, it is well suited to individual sessions. The instructors who use this method should not only be certified but should be well versed in the methodology of the Wim Hof Breathwork method.
Where Can I Learn More About Breathwork?
If you want to learn more about breathwork and the benefits that it can bring to your life, you can visit the Breathwork Teacher Training Online article. Jon Paul Crimi is focused on teaching others the benefits of breathwork and how it can transform your life.
Through his personal discovery of breathwork and how it changed his life, he has dedicated his life to helping others. Breathwork, according to Crimi, has a way of helping practitioners work through past traumas and life events to reduce stress and anxiety, build confidence, and move forward instead of living in the past.
Through his teaching methods, he has trained many instructors to not only learn the benefits but to pass on the wisdom of breathwork to many students around the world. His teaching methods are focused on three courses that are designed to give instructors the full breathwork experience.
His three courses consist of:
- Five-Day Emotional Detox
- Basics & One-on-One
- How to Lead Couples and Groups
While you can purchase courses individually, to be certified you are required to take all of the training. The cost of the individual courses is currently $999 and for a combo, the three the cost is $1849. There is also an ultimate package for $2100 that includes an additional course on Love & Abundance.
Overall, breathwork practice is designed to help people overcome trauma, addictions, and many other ailments to get to a place of peace. Through the various methods, practitioners can reduce stress and relax from their busy life.