Breathwork uses Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing for health, growth and change, in spirit, mind and body. It makes use of specific breath and breathing exercises and techniques for personal growth, professional development, and spiritual awakening.

As a healing modality, breathwork is probably the most "holistic" of all holistic practices, and the most "complimentary" of all complimentary approaches to healthcare and alternative medicine. Breathwork can be integrated into any personal or professional healing practice. It is found to be essential in almost all spiritual practices. People around the world apply Breathwork to achieve peak performance, optimum health, and ultimate potential.

Breathing affects every organ, system, and function in the body. Every physiological, psychological, and emotional state has a corresponding breathing pattern or breathing quality. When you change one, you change the other. Therefore, breathwork has the potential to transform the quality of your life on every level of your being.

Breathwork is often taught as a "Formula for Transformation." This formula has three ingredients:

1. Awareness is the consciousness factor. The message or lesson is “Wake up!”
2. Relaxation is the release factor. The message or lesson is “Let Go!”
3. Breathing is the energy factor. The message or lesson is “Take Charge!”

No matter what healing or growth method is used, or what label is given to it, every miracle event, every healing experience, every positive shift in life, can be linked to one of these three elements. Real power and magic come from blending and simultaneously engaging these three elements deliberately and consistently.

And so in practice, breathwork increases and refines our awareness: it expands our consciousness. We use breathwork to relax more quickly, more deeply, and in more situations. We learn breath control that results in more energy and aliveness, more comfort and pleasure, more personal and spiritual power, more peace.

Breathwork involves: "Three Convergences.”
The first convergence is bringing together consciousness and breath. Most of the time, the breathing is happening but our consciousness—our awareness—is somewhere else. When we develop the habit of bringing together consciousness and breathing, we live more and more in the present moment. When we awaken fully to the present moment we align with reality and we also take a huge leap toward our ultimate potential.

The second convergence is bringing together consciousness and relaxation. The fact is most people are literally sleeping during the most deeply relaxing moments of their life! It is as if the body has to shut off our relentlessly busy mind in order for it to relax and rejuvenate itself! The first time people get the knack of being completely awake and totally relaxed at the same time, it is like a peak religious experience. It changes them forever!

The third convergence brings together conscious breathing and deliberate relaxation. This is a miracle breakthrough because for most people, the situation is this: when they breathe in a powerful way they don't relax; when they relax completely they don’t breathe. Bringing together conscious breathing and conscious relaxation is a key to mastering the Art and Science of Breathwork.

Breathwork is also called "Breath Therapy," and it is based on two ideas:

1) The breathing mechanism in most people was damaged at birth. And because of various shocks and traumatic events thru life, the breath no longer flows in a natural way. Most people use only a fraction of their respiratory capacity. The average person has a number of dysfunctional breathing habits and patterns, restrictions and flaws that inhibit the natural flow of their creative and healing energies.

2) Once the breathing is full and free, when it is healthy and natural, then the breath itself becomes a powerful therapeutic tool! Once we heal the breathing mechanism, we can use the breath and the mind to heal the body, and use the breath and the body to heal the mind. It’s simple magic!

The Five Principles of Breath Therapy:

1. The Technique (there are many techniques, each with a certain purpose or effect.)
2. The Atmosphere (physical, psychological, emotional, energetic, spiritual, social)
3. The Teacher (making use of what has been called the purity of our personal presence)
4. The Mind of the Breather (thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, intentions, desires, purpose, will)
5. The Something Else (a mystical factor, a magical factor… grace)

Chi Kung/Qigong: (Chinese Medical Breathing Exercises) is another way that the theory and practice of Breathwork is presented and taught. This ancient method is based on three principles:

1. Regulate Body (posture, movement, relaxation)
2. Regulate Mind (Awareness, focus, meditation).
3. Regulate Breath (energy, spirit, chi)

Breathwork is also taught within the context of Yoga (Prana yoga, Kundalini yoga, Kriya yoga). One way of organizing the yogic practice within this context is:

1. Shakti (the creative life energy that is activated by meditative awareness)
2. Vayu (the flow of that energy when activated by thought and breathing movements)
3. Karma (the resistance to that flow by energetic blocks, mental effort, or physical tension)

This yoga model can be understood through the analogy of electrodynamics where we have voltage, current and resistance; or in hydrodynamics where we have volume, flow and pressure. During a Breathwork session we play with the dynamic balance of these forces within us, in a kind of alchemical fashion.

Rebirthing-Breathwork is a specific way of breathing where we connect the inhale to the exhale, and the exhale to the inhale, in a relaxed continuous rhythm—like a wheel or a circle—with no pauses or gaps between the breaths. The inhale is active and the exhale is passive. This method is usually learned over a series of 10 individual guided breathing sessions.

Zen and the Art of Breathing is another form or style of breathwork. Think of the forces and dynamics at work in archery. Drawing the bow back is like inhaling. Letting the arrow fly is like exhaling. When a powerful transformation occurs in breathwork, it can often be traced to certain qualities in the breathing. Zen Breathing focuses on developing those special qualities, and making them second nature.

Spiritual Breathing is the essence of breathwork. It requires faith in oneself, trust in our natural divinity, a sense of oneness with all existence, and an appreciation for the perfection of life. It requires a willingness to be with whatever is, as it is, moment to moment, while holding a space of conscious, active, all-inclusive unconditional love. It involves bringing every level of our being to the moment to moment process of breathing. It cannot be taught, but it can be learned!

Many people begin their breathwork training by taking an online course. The course involves 21 lessons in breathwork, distilling 35 years of study and practiced into a 60-90 day self-paced course.

For information about this course or about any of the breathwork methods described in this article, visit: Subscribe to the free monthly newsletter, and download the free e-book: “Introduction to Breathwork.”

Author's Bio: 

Dan Brulé has studied and practiced breathwork with more than 80,000 people in over 40 countries since 1976. His travel and teaching schedule is posted at You can email your questions and comments to him directly at: