The core concept of breathwork is manipulating your breathing pattern to induce an altered state of consciousness.
Then use this altered state to improve the physical, mental and spiritual sides of your being.
Many breathwork practitioners have given their unique spin on this practice over the years, to give rise to different breathwork techniques.
We have put together the 7 best breathwork techniques, in terms of popularity.
A quick guide
- 1 The best breathwork techniques
- 2 The Best Music for your Breathwork
- 3 Final Word
The best breathwork techniques
Founders: Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof
Holotropic breathwork is about using breathing patterns that take you to an altered state of consciousness, where you can address your physical, emotional, and spiritual pain.
In Holotropic Breathwork, the practitioner lies on the ground, with a ‘sitter’ watching over them, for sessions that last 2-3 hours.
The fast-paced breathing is usually done to music that is rich and uplifting with a pulsing rhythm. This focus on rhythm is because drumming is shown to reduce anxiety, ease pain, and access the unconscious.
During holotropic breathwork, participants breathe rapidly to induce an altered state from which it is believed that a deeper understanding of oneself can be derived.
Holotropic breathwork was developed by psychiatrists Stanislav and Christina Grof. They developed it because they believed altered states of consciousness are a very useful therapeutic tool.
Major influencers: Linda Star Wolf
Shamanic breathwork is the use of breathing techniques to release the inner healer within you.
The Shamanic breathwork process begins by establishing a safe and sacred space through various rituals and ceremonies such as smudging with sage. Individuals lie down and focus on surrendering to their Shaman Within.
They call upon what they consider holy – spirit guides, power animals, and higher powers. Along with music, practitioners slip into an altered state, where their ego is broken and the journey plays out in unique ways.
Linda Star Wolf is generally considered the founding of Shamanic Breathwork. Her book, Journeying beyond the limit of self, is the definitive book on it.
Founder: Leonard Orr
Rebirthing-Breathwork, aka Intuitive Energy Breathing or Conscious Energy Breathing, is the ability to breathe Energy as well as air.
Rebirthing also means to unravel the birth-death cycle. This means healing the big 8 of human trauma.
That’s human trauma, which are the birth trauma, the parental disapproval syndrome, specific negatives, the unconscious death urge, karma from past lives, the religious trauma, the school trauma, and senility.
In Rebirthing Breathwork, you’ll practice “circular breathing” — quick, shallow breaths without any breaks between an inhale and an exhale. You’ll do this for one to two hours, taking breaks if you need to.
This is followed by a release of emotions in the breather, both positive and negative.
Rebirthing breathwork was founded by Dr. Leonard Orr. Orr proposed that correct breathing can cure disease and relieve pain. Orr devised rebirthing therapy in the 1970s after he supposedly re-lived his own birth while in the bath.
Founder: Dana Delong and Ashanna Solaris
Clarity Breathwork is a gentle nurturing feminine approach to healing, transformation, and embodiment.
The idea is that when we start to breathe fully and consciously we are easily able to release what we have been holding on to, leading to an incredible expansion of consciousness, including greater forgiveness and self-love.
Every Clarity Breathwork session involves in-depth intuitive counseling, somatic exploration, and one hour of circular connected breathing practice.
Clarity breathwork techniques were formulated by Ashanna Solaris and Dana Dharma Devi, integrating breathwork, light body meditation & transmission, Reiki & energy healing, somatic experiencing, ritual, dance, and movement.
Founder: Jim Leonard
Neurodynamic Breathwork brings you on powerful journeys into profound states of awareness using only sound and breath.
Neurodynamic Breathwork uses a virtual platform to bring a global class to an altered state using a carefully designed powerful music set and a 55-minute breathing session.
Michael Stone created the Neurodynamic modality of breathwork therapy after he got this idea during a breathwork session in 2016.
Neurodynamic Breathwork, like other breathwork therapy forms, help you confront old negative emotions and then re-interpret these experiences in a way that does not strain and stretch your mind.
Founder: Judith Kravitz
Transformational Breathwork is focused on teaching you to access your self-healing capabilities.
Transformational breath is taking deep in-breaths and then letting the air out — without controlling the out-breath.
Facilitators use hands-on techniques throughout the breathing session, to locate tension points in the body of a practitioner.
The founder Judith Kravitz first encountered breathwork in a Rebirthing session. She then combined conscious breathwork with her expertise as a counseling minister.
She had insights to make it more effective, powerful and lasting. It had become its own thing at this point, and she coined the term Transformational Breath to distinguish it.
It increases oxygenation in your body more than any other breathwork technique.
Founder: Wim Hof
The Wim Hof method is a practical way of using breathwork to be happier, healthier, and more powerful.
The Wim Hof method has three pillars: cold therapy, breathing and commitment.
According to the founder of this method, cold temperatures is what starts your journey towards a more powerful you.
The main benefits of cold therapy are boosted immunity, balanced hormones, weight loss, and better sleep quality.
The founder of the method is Dutchman Wim Hof, also known as The Iceman, after setting Guinness book records for swimming under ice and prolonged full body contact with ice.
Now that you’re on the path of breathwork, you should also know that music plays a huge part in the experience.
This is where our expertise lies, and we thought we should give you a few recommendations as to what music you can play during a breathwork session.
Nirvana Shatakam is a mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva, or the eternal consciousness.
It is a great mantra to destroy your ego, which is very useful in a breathwork setting.
Give it a listen here, before grabbing your own copy.
Sudarshana Ashtakam is a Hindu prayer to Lord Sudarshana.
It is widely popular because of the healing benefits listeners have felt. It should be played during breathwork, if you want to combat any illness.
You can listen to it for free here, and grab a copy if it's right for you.
Tayata Om Mantra is a Buddhist Mantra. It asks the great Buddha to move you past the influences of pain and suffering.
You can find true liberation, only when you have moved past your reactions to your challenges.
Listen to our version here. If you like it, consider getting a copy of the mantra.
There are several other breathwork techniques that can be added to this list.
But we wanted to start with the 7 major styles, so you can see the variety, but more importantly the similarities.
The core is the same, breathing needs to be regulated, made conscious. This unlocks your body’s inner healing functions.
In this state, you can also deal with a lot of the emotional clutter you’ve gathered over the years. Regular use not only makes you healthier but a much more sorted individual.
But even with these central concepts, a certain style might suit you more than the others.
We have another post with a few more of the breathwork techniques listed. So, check that out if you’d like to know more.