What is Holotropic Breathwork?

Holotropic Breathwork is an experiential method of psychotherapy, which was developed by psychiatrists Christina and Stanislav Grof, M.D. in the 1970s.

This method was developed on the basis of ancient spiritual practices and modern conscious research; combining accelerated breathing, evocative music and a specific form of bodywork.

This technique is a form of somatic medicine and is effective in releasing residual bioenergetic and emotional blocks. This can take a participant on a profound inner journey that surfaces suppressed emotions or traumas.

Participants are encouraged to express their experiences through follow up talk therapy sessions with trained professionals or to use complementary methods such as painting or verbalizing their experience to facilitate the completion and integration of this method.

Grof explains that this method of self-exploration that it is spontaneous and autonomous; governed by inner healing intelligence, rather than following instructions and guidelines of a particular school of psychotherapy.

Holotropic breathwork is unique and significantly differs from other forms of traditional psychotherapy, depth psychology and psychoanalysis in that is emphasizes direct emotional expression through the therapeutic potential of holotropic states of consciousness.

What are Holotropic States of Consciousness?

This refers to a non-ordinary state of consciousness, the specific combination of techniques provide access to transpersonal domains of the unconscious which holds the deep psychospiritual roots of emotional and psychosomatic disorders.

This profound healing power of holotropic states of consciousness have been used for millennia by ancient and native cultures in their ceremonial healing practices, and can successfully operate on deep levels of the psyche to bring about significant psychological transformation. These techniques create phenomena that are yet to be explained in the academic realms of psychology, thus creating challenges for the current conceptual framework of academic psychiatry.

In response to these “challenges” Grof suggests that a new understanding of consciousness; and of the human psyche in health and disease is needed.

From my personal experience, I believe Holotropic Breathwork is a profound tool that allows one to heal and confront emotional blockages in a way that allows true release.