How to Use Yoga & Breathwork to Get Through Trauma

In Times of Tragedy, Your Practice Is Your Greatest Tool

Subscribe to Outside+ now to get unique access to all of our content, including sequences, instructor tips, video lessons, and much more. In the late afternoon of Monday, I received a text message from my friend Rebecca, who lives in Oakland, California. “Are you all right?” it asked. “There’s a shooter in Boulder.” In my living room in downtown Boulder, Colorado, I was snuggling with my fluffy puppy, Maple, and enjoying the warmth of a comfortable fire in the fireplace on an unusually cool and gloomy day in the mountains.

When news of an active shooter with an automatic rifle surfaced, I began nervously emailing my friends, particularly those in South Boulder, who live only a few blocks from the Table Mesa King Soopers, where there had been allegations of an active shooter with an automatic weapon.

In the aftermath of a mass shooting in a small town or suburb, it’s common to hear a witness on television say something along the lines of “This simply doesn’t happen here.” The unexpected and savage killing of innocent individuals is always difficult to comprehend.

I was absolutely unprepared for how weird and frightening it would be—not to mention how much it would ache.

On Monday, March 22, a shooter opened fire at a grocery shop, murdering ten people.

Wis Holt took the photograph.

When nowhere feels safe

In the United States, mass shootings using automatic guns are indiscriminate. They occur in large cities, small towns, schools, movie theaters, spas, nightclubs, college campuses, and, as of recently, grocery shops, among other locations. This past Sunday, I wrote a lengthy Instagram post in which I expressed my feelings on the tragic shootings that took place in Atlanta on March 16. In the middle of the night, my heart is pounding when I learn that there has been a mass shooting at a grocery store 10 minutes from my house.

  1. Boulder, colloquially known as the “People’s Republic of Boulder,” is a liberal, crunchy town that is both spiritual and sporty, with a slew of yoga instructors, somatic bodyworkers, therapists, triathletes, and ultrarunners among its ranks.
  2. People relocate here for the busy, outdoorsy lifestyle and the lovely small-town feel that can only be found in a mountain community.
  3. It’s also really safe to use.
  4. Bike theft is one of the most prevalent types of crime.

In the course of one year, we have witnessed a worldwide pandemic that has claimed the lives of more than 545,000 Americans (and counting), an economic recession with widespread unemployment, a summer of civil unrest and protests against racial injustice, and a frighteningly hostile and contentious election season that culminated in an armed uprising in our nation’s capital.

Is it unexpected that, in the wake of the recent major shootings, we would be feeling a bit “on edge”?

Regulating your nervous system during crisis

Across the board, our nervous systems are being asked to cope with extreme stress and agitation on a daily basis, while many of us are simultaneously disconnected from our daily support systems, foregoing casual human touch, and hiding our faces behind masks, making it difficult to read emotions and moods. Instead, we’re spending our time on Zoom staring at other people’s faces virtually—while simultaneously meticulously examining the defects in our own looks. There is nothing natural about any of this.

  • Over the course of the previous year, prominent radio broadcaster Krista Tippett interviewed clinical psychologist Christine Runyan for her showOn Being, in which they discussed how our nerve systems have been behaving in general.
  • Due to the fact that its mission is to keep us safe and alive, it must be extremely sensitive.
  • According to Runyan, the continual overstimulation has far-reaching consequences on both ourselves and people around us, as well as on animals.
  • People who react aggressively to that activation, think rigidly, lose their ability to see things from other people’s perspectives and lack the cognitive flexibility to consider other people’s points of view or ideas are many, but they are not the only ones.

Help is available—and it’s free to everyone

Fortunately, we have a tool to assist us in regulating—a one that is accessible to anybody at all time. It’s referred to as breathing. As Runyan explains, “there are a variety of breathing strategies you may do.” If you only do one thing, take a long exhale, since it is a portion of our sympathetic nervous system, namely the dorsal section of our sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for activating our calming response. So take a long breath.” Take a look at as well Nadi Shodhana is a traditional breath pattern that is both relaxing and balanced (alternate nostril breathing) Over the course of the previous four days, I’ve gone from feeling numb to feeling jittery to feeling irritated to crying uncontrollably.

  1. I’m a solitary person.
  2. Since then, I’ve lost a family member as a result of COVID-19.
  3. Over a year has passed since I last saw my 75-year-old folks.
  4. I really want to embrace all of my buddies.
  5. The pain is very intense.
  6. After I finish my work, I like to practiceViparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall position), since I’ve observed that my legs, and particularly my quadriceps, are quite stiff right now.

My yoga instructor, Patricia Gipple, recommends elevating the hips on a bolster or pillow so that they are above the heart and placing the hands interlaced behind the head to stimulate a soothing response from the vagus nerve, which is responsible for the parasympathetic nervous system, in order to achieve even greater relaxation.

  1. I immediately feel pulsating in my thighs, which I interpret as a sign of release.
  2. At the same time, I practice lengthy, deep breathing and repeat the following mantra: “I am” on the inhale, “safe” on the exhale, “I am.” Being reminded that I am not alone is also a great comfort.
  3. We have made it through the ordeal.
  4. In addition, check out 6 Poses to Calm Your Nervous System.

Discover a Sense of Security There will be a memorial service on Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Boulder, Colorado, when the names of the 10 victims of the mass shooting at a King Soopers convenience store will be placed on a poster board. Wis Holt took the photograph.


Neither Tralona Bartkowiak nor Suzanne Fountain nor Teri Leiker nor Kevin Mahoney nor Lynn Murray nor Rikki Olds nor Denny Stong nor Jody Waters were directly acquainted with me before to Monday’s tragedy (but I have friends who were acquainted with each of them). It’s a mantra that’s nearly all-too-common: The emotions you experience when something occurs in your community are vastly different than those you experience when watching 24-hour news coverage of mass shootings unfold on television.

  • In the event that you haven’t been through a catastrophe like this close to home, I pray you never will.
  • And once the storm has passed, you will have no recollection of how you got it through, how you managed to stay alive.
  • But there is one thing that is guaranteed.
  • That is exactly what this storm is about.

So that’s what I try to keep in mind as I muddle through the days, searching for moments of happiness wherever I can find them, whether it’s in a rosy sunset peeking out from behind The Flatirons, seeing the first crocuses of spring, receiving an unexpected phone call from an old friend, or cracking a joke with a random stranger on the street.

I know I won’t always be able to make it, but I’m doing my best.

How Breathwork Can Help Your Trauma

Neither Tralona Bartkowiak nor Suzanne Fountain nor Teri Leiker nor Kevin Mahoney nor Lynn Murray nor Rikki Olds nor Denny Stong nor Jody Waters were directly acquainted with me before to Monday’s tragedy (but I have friends who were acquainted with them). It’s a mantra that’s nearly all-too-familiar: While watching the 24-hour news coverage of mass shootings develop on television, it’s impossible to compare the sensations you get when something like this happens in your community. A palpable death occurs directly outside your door, and the heartbreaking loss of life ripples out tremendously, hurting many more lives in the surrounding area.

  • It is a sentence from Haruki Murakami’s work Kafka on the Shore that I have always admired and quoted often.
  • Not only that, but you won’t know whether or not the storm has ended completely.
  • Your personality will have changed significantly by the time you walk out of the storm.’ All of this is a result of this storm.
  • Pain forces us to grow and develop.

Every day, I work on bringing myself back to the present moment, where I know I am secure and loved. Despite my greatest efforts, I am not always able to get there. Boulder, I adore you.

How Does Breathwork Work?

There are several variants of approaches available, each based on how a person should be exposed to breathwork. Breathwork’s central tenet is that it uses breathing to cure all degrees of pain. Breathwork combines the Eastern medicine approaches of yoga and tai chi with certain Western psychotherapy methods to create a unique blend of healing. Certified breathwork therapists can employ a variety of techniques to meet the needs of their clients, including music, massage, art, talk therapy, and, of course, breathing.

How Does Breathwork Aid in Trauma Recovery?

Breathwork, which includes a variety of suggested breathing methods, helps people become more aware of themselves and heal themselves. The ultimate objective is to promote the whole well-being of the individual via spiritual, mental, and physical methods. A person’s complete being may be brought back into balance by using breathwork to bring all of their parts back together as one. By releasing the tension and pent-up energy that has been firmly ingrained inside the subconsciousness of the person, trauma can be evacuated through breathing exercises and relaxation techniques.

Using breathing techniques, you may restore the equilibrium of your body’s systems by producing space and tranquillity throughout your entire body.

If you have a history of medical conditions that might be aggravated by the possible risk of hyperventilation, speak with your primary care physician or your therapist.

In our rehabilitation programs at The Guest House Ocala, we employ a variety of experiential modalities, including conventional therapy, conscious linked breathwork, horse therapy, somatic experience, art therapy, grief counseling and mindfulness, among other approaches to healing.

Can Breathwork and Bodywork Unlock Trauma?

Leila Louise Fitton wrote the text. I began experiencing panic attacks around two years ago. My symptoms were brought on by a combination of stress from my job and a previous relationship, which I was completely unaware of when they occurred. When they were activated, I would experience anxiety and a sense of being out of control. My entire existence was wracked with trauma, and I needed to confront my feelings in order to prevent the assaults from occurring. I had the sensation that I had been poisoned.

  1. It had worked for him, and although I was apprehensive at first, I decided to trust his judgment.
  2. After that, we continued to work together.
  3. I had tingling feelings followed by numbness on the left side of my face, neck, chest, and even my lips as a result of my anxiety episodes.
  4. It would take around twenty minutes for me to regain my composure after that.
  5. More attacks followed, but I was able to deal with them more calmly each time.
  6. Every night before bed, I’d press the tip of my right thumb on the outside of my right nostril and inhale via my left nostril, a technique I’d learned from my mother.
  7. I continued this process as many times as I felt comfortable for as long as I felt like it — usually around 10 minutes.

It is thought to boost activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for processing our emotions and impacting our ability to be creative and innovative.

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Working through the panic episodes, as difficult as it was, taught me to respect my physical, spiritual, and emotional selves, but most importantly, it taught me the significance of breathing exercises and listening to my body.

After all, engaging in breathwork and bodywork is the most natural approach to feel more empowered, even if it appears to be difficult at first.

Trauma and stress, according to Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk in his book The Body Keeps the Score, cause physiological changes in the body and brain that lead to diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer, according to his book The Body Keeps the Score.


Yoga and bodywork techniques such as myofascia release, deep tissue massage, and rolfing are all designed to address the lengthening and stretching of the body’s fascia specifically (the connective tissue under the skin that attaches, stabilises, encloses and separates all your muscles and internal organs).

  • As a result, deep stretching out the chest and heart area, as well as the thighs and hips, provides a powerful emotional release during a yoga session.
  • What is the mechanism through which breathwork releases trauma?
  • Fight or flight is a stress reaction that involves the activation of these two essential muscles in our bodies.
  • Allowing ourselves to experience the emotions and memories that are a part of these traumas is a life-changing experience.
  • Many people report feeling lighter and more focused after a session.
  • Are there any other methods of releasing trauma from the body?
  • The fundamental response we have to trauma is that our heart rate increases, our muscles stiffen, and we become ready to flee, fight, or remain still.

Interestingly, the locations that a myofascial release therapist may be focusing on may not be in close proximity to the areas where you are experiencing the most discomfort.



It’s something that, in my opinion, certain people can practice more readily than therapies that appear to be more’mystical’ or ‘new age’ in nature.

Muscular tension is released, the nervous system is relaxed, and the body is urged to return to a state of equilibrium when a natural reflex mechanism is safely activated by particular movements in a controlled environment.

Hatha yoga focuses a strong emphasis on maintaining control over one’s breathing and posture.

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The remarkable impact of yoga breathing for trauma

“Are there any military guys that practice yoga and meditation?” I’ve been asked this question with astonishment. It’s true that when the young, tattoo-covered, hard-drinking, motorcycle-driving all-American Midwestern men first arrived to participate in my study (a yoga-based breathing program offered by a small non-profit organization), they didn’t appear to be your typical yoga devotees. But as the study progressed, they became more like yoga devotees. The following statements were made by them after the research concluded: “Thank you for giving me my life back” and “I feel like I’ve been dead since I returned from Iraq and I feel like I’m alive again.” Our unexpectedly good findings demonstrated that the ability to control one’s breath may provide comfort from even the most severe kinds of anxiety.

  1. Who is affected by this?
  2. How?
  3. Why?
  4. The average age is 25.
  5. Although the military prepares service personnel for combat, it does not prepare them for peacetime operations.

They’ve trained under extreme conditions to do things that most civilians would never think of doing: losing parts of their bodies, killing or injuring another human being on orders or by mistake, returning to work and continuing to fight hours after witnessing a friend killed, being separated from families and loved ones for months or even years, and suffering the horrendous physical and emotional consequences of their actions upon their return home.

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, 20-30 percent of the more than 2 million returning Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans are suffering from signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (PTSD).
  • They may also experience painful flashbacks and nightmares during the day, as well as emotional numbness that causes social withdrawal and an inability to relate to others.
  • Suicidal ideation is connected with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms, which may explain the worrisome increase in suicidal behavior among returning soldiers.
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to have significant dropout rates for counseling and medication treatments, with some as high as 62 percent.
  • We discovered via our study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Stanford that the week-long Project was effective.
  • Improvements persisted one month and one year after the intervention, indicating a long-term effect.
  • Now that you’re back home, no one understands what it’s like out there, and no one knows how to assist you in regaining your normalcy.


For the vast majority of us, it is alcohol and Ambien.

Until this study, I had been unable to locate the appropriate assistance for me, despite my efforts to do so.

(For more more on the science behind why breathing may assist us in overcoming anxiety and trauma, check my post on the science of breath).

Phie Ambo, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, followed us during the whole research and documented the veterans’ change.

The breathing routines were promptly adopted by many of the participants in my research, despite the fact that many of them were first apprehensive, believing it would be “hippy dippy sh_ _” or even a “tear fest.” Why?

Veterans are not simply persuaded to accept the role of victim.

Instead, he or she is attempting to accept accountability.

The veterans learn how to take care of their own mental and physical well-being by focusing on their own breathing patterns.

Veterans I’ve worked with have reported that they feel more empowered and relieved of their anxiety, and that they are able to reconnect with the spirit of duty that prompted them to enlist in the military in the first place.

Travis Leanna, the veteran who expressed gratitude by saying, “Thank you for giving me my life back,” is a former member of the United States Marine Corps and a veteran of the Iraq war who participated in our study and then decided to become an instructor with Project Welcome Home Troops in order to help other veterans.

  • However, due to the fact that the organization provides services at no cost, it need funding.
  • As a consequence of the findings of our study, I’ve also built a funding page for their cause, which you can discover by clicking here.
  • Even if you are unable to donate monetarily but would like to make a contribution, you may do so by sharing this article or the cause on your social networking websites.
  • More information on the science of breathing may be found here.
  • Non-veterans who desire to practice Sudarshan Kriya Yoga can do so through the Art of Living Foundation, which offers lessons in the style.
  • She received her doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Originally published on Psychology Today, a portion of this post was adapted.

Demand for psychologists with military expertise rises as troops come home; Stanford and other medical institutions will enhance training and research for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and war injuries; andCan teaching soldiers to meditate help them cope with PTSD?

Release Painful Memories In One Minute With This Healing Breathwork

The most recent update was made on February 11, 2020. Many of us have had traumatic childhood events that have remained with us into adulthood, causing us emotional agony and distress. These painful memories, no matter how apparently trivial, become scars that we carry with us for the rest of our lives if they are not totally healed and released from us. Certain focused strategies, such as this basic breathwork, have shown promise in helping people work through the guilt and trauma held in their bodies.

  1. Place yourself in a peaceful area where you will not be disturbed. Take a deep breath and recall an unpleasant memory that has caused you embarrassment. Visualize every detail and recollect all of the unpleasant emotions—loneliness, fear, wrath, and anxiety—that you are experiencing. Keep an eye out for any opposition that may occur. Even if it is too much for you, you may always attempt it again another day
  2. To continue, take several more deep breaths and repeat affirmations such as, “It is safe for me to feel all of my feelings.” Imagine yourself as a good force traveling back in time to soothe your younger self once you’ve become thoroughly immersed in those painful sensations. You represent perfect serenity, tranquility, security, and most of all love
  3. You are the embodiment of all that is good. Take a mental picture of yourself as a youngster and consider how vulnerable you were at that time. Do a gentle white-yellow light wash over your injured self to soothe and comfort it. Last, give your younger self a firm hug and kiss on the cheek
  4. Finally, say to your younger self, ” “You are cherished. You are deserving. You are important.” Repeat these words over and over again until you can truly feel the reality of them: “You are cherished. You are deserving. You are important “in addition to this, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me at [email protected] Take a few more deep breaths, breathing love and acceptance for yourself while you do this. And a great deal of healing

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Healing Trauma Through Yoga

At least half of all persons in the United States have reported having experienced at least one traumatic event in their lives. The psychological repercussions of trauma are becoming increasingly well-known, but what many people are unaware of is that it may also have a significant influence on one’s physical health. As a result, more doctors are turning to body-based treatments, such as yoga, to help trauma survivors heal.

Trauma and the Body

According to research, when we are subjected to or witness trauma, our bodies respond by activating the fight, flight, and/or freeze response. In the event that you are going down the street and someone comes up to you and attacks you, your brain and body will instinctively react by either fighting back, fleeing the situation, or remaining still. The instinctive response of our animal-like instincts is to appraise the circumstance and behave in the way that it believes would most effectively help us survive.

  • They are then able to continue on with their lives without experiencing trauma symptoms.
  • It is possible that the tension of the circumstance may build up in our bodies as a result of this.
  • We become “locked” in the fight, flight, or freeze response and suffer the consequences of this in situations where the stresses are low and non-threatening.
  • This response can have a negative impact on one’s general well-being by causing sentiments such as fear, anger, and hopelessness.
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Trauma-Informed Yoga

Fortunately, it is entirely feasible for us as humans to assist our brains and bodies in recognizing that they are no longer in danger, as well as to reduce the symptoms associated with traumatic events. However, it is vital to remember that while some information about trauma can be retained in our conscious, logical minds, memories that contain trauma are more likely to be stored in our implicit memory, which is unable to be remembered consciously. This is why techniques that are focused on the brain and the body are required to treat trauma.

Trained in Trauma-Informed Yoga, this gentle, meditative practice allows participants to establish a connection between their minds, bodies, and spirits in a safe environment.

It represents the many ways in which trauma affects the body and allows users to investigate the link between trauma and prana – an individual’s vital energy or life force – in a safe and controlled environment.

How Does Yoga Help?

Trauma-informed yoga, according to research, combines the mind-body effects of trauma with spiritual health and consciousness to create a holistic approach to healing. The process allows you to reconnect with your body in a safe environment, regaining any control, love, or acceptance that may have been threatened during a traumatic experience. There are several ways that the practice of trauma-informed yoga can help to free the body from this ongoing stress response. Through yoga, we can cultivate mindful awareness of the connection between our body, mind, and breath, thereby activating our parasympathetic nervous system and reducing stress.

  1. It has been demonstrated that two yogic practices can elicit this response: breathing techniques (pranayama) and body positions (asanas) (asana).
  2. Trauma, according to this perspective, not only has an impact on our physical and mental health, but also on our spiritual well-being.
  3. Scientifically, the chakra system follows the same path as the vagus nerve, which connects to important glands in our body to govern how we respond to stress.
  4. When we suffer trauma, our chakra(s) might become uniquely misaligned owing to stress.
  5. Expanding our awareness of how trauma influences our spiritual self through the chakra system gives opportunity for both people and healing professionals to investigate and address these challenges.

Things to Consider

Please speak with your doctor before attempting any of the approaches listed here, and always remember to respect and appreciate where your body, mind, and spirit are at the present. You should stop a workout if it does not feel right for you or causes you any discomfort. You should also seek appropriate help if you are having trouble. If you’d want to increase the effectiveness of these techniques even more, feel free to spend a moment after each practice to bring your attention back to your body.

Making a written record of your experience can aid in the process of reflection and digestion.


It is described as the movement of an individual’s energy, or prana, through the body by means of the breath. It aids in the regulation of our breathing as well as the distribution of oxygen more gradually and evenly throughout our body. When faced with a stressful situation, our bodies have a tendency to hold or speed their respiration. This reaction decreases the amount of oxygen available in the body and activates the sympathetic nervous system, raising our level of discomfort. When we cultivate our capacity to regulate our breathing, we are better equipped to restore equilibrium to our system following a traumatic event.

By deliberately inhaling and directing oxygen to these places via the practice of pranayama, we may not only relax but also reduce the pain and tension we experience and hold in our body.

Ujayi(Ocean) Breath

Ujayi, often known as “ocean breath,” is a pranayama method that helps to keep the breath steady and produce a sensation of tranquility. If you want to learn Ujayi, start by inhaling through your mouth as if you were attempting to fog up a mirror. Utilize the same breathing strategy as before, but this time with your mouth closed. Gently tighten the muscles of the neck, then inhale and exhale through the nose with the same audible breath on either side. Continue to breathe through this method for a total of thirty seconds.

We can benefit from practicing ocean breath since it helps to improve our throat muscles and voice chords.


Asana is described as “a seat” in its literal sense. It refers to any pose in which the body is positioned and aligned in a precise way in order to achieve a sense of power (shtira) and ease (sukha) within the physical, psychological, and spiritual selves of the practitioner. By engaging in asana practice, we may increase our awareness of and connection to certain areas of the body. Vital because trauma may frequently cause us to feel alienated from our body, this is important to remember. It is believed that this sense of detachment, also known as disconnection, has a protective purpose by allowing the individual to be separated from the full effect of what is happening during and after a traumatic incident occurs.

Allowing ourselves the room and time to participate in particular asanas while being safe, we may begin to repair and deepen the connection between our minds, bodies, and breathing.

We may also send breath to them by include our breath in the practice of asanas.

Tadasana(Mountain) Pose

In the literal sense, the term asana means “seat.” A yogic asana is any position in which the body is positioned and aligned in order to achieve a sense of power (shtira) and ease (sukha) within one’s physical, psychological, and spiritual selves. It is possible to increase awareness of and connection to certain parts of the body by performing asanas. Trauma may frequently cause us to feel detached from our body, which is vital to remember. It is believed that this sense of separation, also known as disconnection, serves a protective purpose by allowing one to be removed from the full effect of what is happening during and immediately after a traumatic incident occurs.

Allowing ourselves the room and time to participate in the safe alignment of our bodies in particular asanas, we may begin to reestablish and deepen the connection between mind, body, and breath.

Furthermore, by incorporating our breath into the practice of asanas, we may deliberately send breath to them. As a result, trapped energy has a greater chance of shifting, flowing, and finally dissipating.

Healing with Trauma-Informed Yoga

We as human beings are affected by trauma in a variety of ways, including our minds, bodies, and spirits. The opportunity to heal ourselves via approaches such as trauma-informed yoga, on the other hand, provides a great deal of hope. When you are ready to give this practice a try, there are certain key elements to consider, which we advise you to do so. First and foremost, evaluate how you will feel most supported during this one-of-a-kind healing process. Working through the physical symptoms of trauma may result in a variety of physical, psychological, and spiritual changes as a result of the experience.

It is possible that having a skilled healing expert to turn to will make you feel more comfortable and supported during this difficult time.

You can also choose whether you’d want to work with a yoga instructor or a therapist who has received trauma-informed yoga training.

Finding a Trauma-Informed Yoga Instructor

Some characteristics that indicate whether or not a person is a trauma-informed yoga teacher include the following characteristics:

  • You should speak in a way that permits you to have total control of your motions
  • Check in with you at the beginning of each session to determine your current psychological, physical, and spiritual needs
  • Encourage you to pay attention to your body’s signals and to respect its natural boundaries. Hands-on assistance should always be sought first, and if possible, should be avoided entirely. Allow for tweaks and props to be used to accommodate people of varying skill levels. Individuals’ wants and desires should be identified and included into each session. Individuals should be able to think more inwardly on the overall influence of their yoga practice if they are given the opportunity. Provide clear, brief guidelines for going into and transitioning out of various pranayama and asana activities
  • Permit your system to incorporate the influence of the exercise by giving it enough time once it has finished
  • At the conclusion of each lesson, allow time for questions, comments, and personal observations.

You have the ability to choose which person, place, and path best suits your needs when it comes to utilizing trauma-informed yoga. If you are interested in learning more about trauma-informed yoga and how to incorporate it into your life, please visit our website to see a list of our professionals who have received training in this discipline. The impacts of complex trauma, sexual assault, difficult grief and bereavement, anxiety, and depression are all addressed by Arielle Mesa, LGSWArielle is a licensed professional counselor who specializes in counseling adolescents and adults.

She uses a psychodynamic approach that includes mindfulness, yoga, and Brainspotting techniques.


It is a generic phrase that refers to any sort of treatment that makes use of breathing exercises to enhance one’s mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. There are several different types of breathwork treatment available today. Each has its own approach of employing breath for healing that is distinct from the others. It relies on Eastern practices such as yoga and Tai Chi while also infusing Western psychotherapy techniques into its approach. Talk therapy, breathing exercises, art, music, and massage may all be used in conjunction with breathwork to help people become more self-aware.

It should be conducted under the supervision of a licensed expert.

  • Describes the conditions that Breathwork treats
  • Describes the several types of Breathwork approaches used in therapy
  • Provides examples of Breathwork exercises
  • And discusses the criticisms and limitations of Breathwork. The Evolution of Breathwork

What Conditions Does Breathwork Treat?

Any breathwork treatment, in general, has as its primary purpose to assist people in developing a stronger sense of self-awareness and the ability to cure themselves on their own terms. It also assists people in their efforts to achieve general improvements in their emotional, bodily, and spiritual well-being, among other things.

In Breathwork therapy, or Breathworkers as they are frequently referred as, therapists guide participants through a variety of therapeutic breathing exercises. Individuals who are suffering from conditions such as the following may benefit from breathwork therapy:

  • Anxiety, chronic pain, anger difficulties, depression, traumatic and posttraumatic stress disorder, grief and loss, and the emotional consequences of physical sickness are all addressed.

Types of Breathwork Approaches in Therapy

Breathwork therapy is a type of treatment that is offered today in many forms. Many of these are built on similar principles. Breathwork includes a variety of techniques that are well-known, such as:

  • Holotropic Breathwork is a type of breathing technique. The purpose of this sort of breathwork is to develop “wholeness” in all aspects of one’s being: mind, body, and spirit. Participants in the sessions are guided by qualified practitioners who have completed the Grof Transpersonal Training curriculum. While lying down, participants are directed through a series of breathing exercises with the use of “evocative” music and the occasional touch of bodywork. This is intended to cause altered states of consciousness to be induced. Holotropic Breathwork is frequently done in a group setting. Working in pairs and supporting each other’s processes is made possible as a result of this. Immediately following the group breathing exercises, participants typically make mandalas that are relevant to their breathwork experience. The sessions come to a close with sharing and debate. Rebirthing Breathwork is a technique that assists participants in integrating what they have learnt about themselves. Conscious Energy Breathing is another term used to describe this form of breathwork. It is predicated on the concept that all individuals retain the trauma of their birth experience with them throughout their lives. When Leonard Orr claimed re-experiencing his own birth in his bathtub, he was moved to assist others achieve the same level of inner serenity. In Rebirthing, the purpose is to assist people in releasing energy blocks that have been held in their bodies and minds as a result of suppressed trauma. Treatment requires that participants sit or lay down and relax while taking regular breaths. Inhibitions are brought to the surface via the practice of “aware linked circular breathing.” The tensions that have built up over time are then revealed. A technique called Clarity Breathwork is used to promote brain waves that lead to the release of subconscious issues and pent-up energy. Deep relaxation is used to produce brain waves that lead to the release of subconscious issues and pent-up energy. Many of the ideas of Rebirthing Breathwork are included into this style of treatment. However, it does not primarily concentrate on the trauma of childbirth. Clarity Breathwork is designed to address any and all issues that are interfering with the healthy flow of energy and breath in the body. Clarity Breathwork is founded on the premise that the majority of individuals do not breathe to their maximum capacity when they are awake. It is the primary purpose of a Clarity Breathwork Practitioner to educate others how to properly breathe. This may help them to release the emotional energy that has been holding them back. The first step in therapy is an in-depth interview in which you discuss your current difficulties and prior experiences. An hour-long circular connected breathing practice (Biodynamic Breathwork) is included in each session, as well as in-depth intuitive counseling and somatic exploration. The BioDynamic Breath and Trauma Release System, as it is officially known, is a modality that incorporates six elements. It aims to relieve tension, aid in natural healing, and reorganize internal systems through massage and other techniques. Breath, movement, music, touch, emotion, and meditation are the categories of biodynamic breathwork that are practiced. It is recognized that trauma is preserved in both psychological and bodily ways according to this method. Emotional patterns, prolonged stress, and blocked energy are all ways that trauma can be retained in the body. The goal of biodynamic breathwork is to bring these systems back into harmony. Exercises such as deep, linked breathing and reliving imprinted memories and feelings may be included in treatment sessions. It may also incorporate other techniques such as music or sound therapy, vocalization, whole-body shaking, and even dance therapy to alleviate symptoms. Biodynamic Breathwork and Trauma Release System creator Giten Tonkov states the therapy is centered on self-transformation and that it has been proven to be effective. The ability to help others to do the same increases as a result of this. It is not a body of information derived from academia. Create space and relaxation in your physical body is the foundation of this technique.”
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Breathwork treatment can be used in a variety of ways, including:

  • Integrative Breathwork, Shamanic Breathwork, Vivation, Zen Yoga Breathwork, Transformational Breathwork are all terms used to describe different types of breathing techniques.

Examples of Breathwork Exercises

Breathwork treatment, in its various forms, is concentrated on the process of taking in and exhaling air. Breathing exercises are included in each model, although they are different. The overall goal of breathwork exercises is to engage in deep, concentrated breathing that lasts for a prolonged amount of time. Here are a few illustrations:

  • Breathing in a circular motion all the time. Participants take long, deep breaths in and out continually, using their full, deep breaths. They don’t hold their breath at any moment during the performance. This continuous inhale and exhale forms a circle of breath, similar to being submerged in water. The individual is submerged in water to a certain extent or completely submerged. They are instructed to take deep breaths, either above the surface of the water or with the use of a snorkel. Although it is not as popular today as it was in the 1970s, this Rebirthing technique has historically had spectacular effects
  • It consists of 20 linked breaths, which are taken together. The person is instructed to take 20 deep breaths in and out. They take four sets of four short breaths and one long breath in each of four sets of four. It is recommended that the breathing be done through the nose instead of the mouth. As a result of this activity, participants may experience states of consciousness that are “out of the usual.”

Criticisms and Limitations of Breathwork

Various types of breathwork have been the subject of debate throughout the course of the last few decades. Breathwork advocates, on the other hand, contend that it may be incredibly useful in the treatment of a variety of physical and mental health concerns. In support of the benefits of Holotropic Breathwork, the Stanislav and Christina Grof Foundation cites the following study as supporting evidence:

  • As a result of their findings in 1994, Spivak et al. concluded that the transformation of consciousness that happens during Holotropic Breathwork causes not just phenomenal impact but also physiological repercussions as well. Researchers discovered in 1996 that individuals who got Holotropic Breathwork had less “death fear” and had higher self-esteem
  • This was confirmed by a research done by Sarah Holmes and colleagues. According to the findings of a research done by Binovera (2003), participants in Holotropic Breathwork reported improved communication with others as well as a greater awareness of their surroundings.

Despite all of the research and support, breathwork treatment does have certain limits, as well as some contraindications and critics. One main source of worry is that breathwork has been shown to cause hyperventilation in certain people. Hyperventilation can cause medical problems such as dizziness, tingling in the extremities, palpitations in the heart, and muscular spasms in the muscles. Hyperventilation over an extended period of time can result in reduced blood supply to the brain, blurred vision, ringing in the ears, and even cognitive problems.

People who are interested in breathwork, however, should be aware of the hazards involved.

In addition, it is not indicated for persons who have significant mental symptoms or seizure activity, or who are taking a lot of medicine.

History of Breathwork

Many individuals have sought spiritual enlightenment, self-healing, and meditative relaxation via the use of breathing exercises for many centuries. Breathwork has its origins in Eastern traditions such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Buddhism, among others. However, the majority of the breathwork therapeutic techniques that are currently in use were developed during the consciousness-raising era of the 1960s and 1970s. During this time period, a number of different forms of breathwork were developed. Breathwork techniques such as Holotropic Breathwork and Rebirthing Breathwork were featured.

  • Some of them dealt with altered states of consciousness and the effects of psychedelic drugs.
  • It was mostly concerned with the terrible experience of childbirth.
  • Holotropic Breathwork has been practiced for over 30 years.
  • Integrative Breathwork was created by Jacquelyn Small in the year 1991.
  • Grof in the field of Holotropic Breathwork.
  • With the development of Clarity Breathwork, the ideas of Rebirthing were broadened to incorporate a more universal approach to trauma and treatment.
  • There are dozens of models and certification programs accessible to participants and practitioners who are interested in learning more.

There are a variety of organizations that support Breathwork therapists in their training, research, and growth activities all around the world. These are some examples:

  • Breathing methods have been used by humans for generations to achieve spiritual awakening, self-healing, and meditative calm. Its origins may be traced back to Eastern disciplines like as yoga, Tai Chi, and Buddhist meditation. In contrast, most modern forms of breathwork treatment were developed during the consciousness-raising era of the 1960s and 1970s, when many people were becoming more mindful of their own bodies. During this time period, a number of different styles of breathwork emerged. Holotropic Breathwork and Rebirthing Breathwork were two of the techniques used. Some models stressed self-knowledge and personal serenity, while others emphasized social awareness and social justice. Some of them dealt with altered states of consciousness and the effects of psychedelic substances. To give one example, Leonard Orr is credited with creating Rebirthing Breathwork. In this case, it was about the terrible experience of childbirth (or birth trauma). Doctor Stan Grof and his wife, Christina Grof, founded Holotropic Breathwork as a result of their study into consciousness and the effects of psychedelic substances such as LSD. Holotropic Breathwork has been practiced for over 40 years. It has been a long time since the field of Breathwork Therapy has expanded. Integrative Breathwork was created by Jacquelyn Small in 1991. She has developed this method as a result of her collaboration with Dr. Grof in Holotropic Breathwork. As a result of the evolution of Rebirthing Breathwork, the practice of Clarity Breathwork was founded in 1999. A more broad approach to trauma and treatment was introduced with Clarity Breathwork, which built on the concepts of Rebirthing. Breathwork is a field that is still developing today. Interested participants and practitioners can choose from a wide range of models and certification programs that are accessible to them. Training, research, and extension initiatives for Breathwork therapists across the world are supported by a variety of organizations. Examples of such items are:


  1. Questions on how to take a breath (n.d.). Adapted fromBreathwork therapy: What is it?, inTransformational Breath (n.d.). InCRC Health Group is a health care organization. The information was obtained from the website Explore BioDynamic Breath and Trauma Release System. (n.d.) The BioDynamic Breath and Trauma Release Institute is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of biodynamic breathing and trauma release. Geddes, H., ed., retrieved from (1995). The basics of breathwork are covered. As a member of the International Primal Association This information was obtained from the HB FAQs. (n.d.). InHolotropic Breathwork is a type of breathing technique. L. Orr’s article was retrieved (n.d.). What is Rebirthing Breathwork and how does it work? In the International Rebirthing Breathwork Association. It was retrieved from The Fundamentals of Holotropic Breathwork (n.d.). InHolotropic Breathwork is a type of breathing technique. The information was obtained from Rhinewine, J. P., and Williams, O. J. (2007). An investigation into the possible function of a protracted, voluntary hyperventilation method as an addition to psychotherapy (Holotropic Breathwork). The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 13 (7), 771-776
  2. What is Clarity Breathwork? (n.d.). Clarity Breathwork is an in-person experience. It was retrieved from

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