History of Breathwork

Contemporary breathwork is conscious breathing, usually lying down and with a range of other approaches like the breathing having no pauses and utilising the navel, chest and upper chest movement for each breath – if it is possible for the client. In this form, contemporary or modern breathwork is different to pranayama – the ancient yogic techniques, which are normally practised in a seated pose and utilise a range of variations – except for the fact that the individual is breathing consciously in both cases. History of contemporary and modern breathwork – best known for starting in USA in the late 1960s … called Rebirthing in the first years because so many people who did this practise in those days had a spontaneous regression to the birth experience in a subtle or intense form. This seems to be a result of people having an experience of an altered state from breathing in this way and trauma or restrictions in the systems of these people who were wanting to go deeper into their authentic selves as a path of self mastery or personal development, would find themselves experiencing birth memories – mostly the traumatic stage of their circumstances at birth. In the new millenium, this regression experience is quite rare and it is opinioned that this is because there is more authenticity in most life style snd more personal freedom available to many people that the traumatic moments of their birth may not be a big issue any more. In this decade, individuals undertaking breathwork sessions may have many sessions with no regression and no memory of past trauma. The main outcome for most clients, at the base level is to leave a session with an increased sense of inner strength and a more positive attitude to their life. Acknowledged founder of modern breathwork? There has been a number of people involved in the early movement and some of them were very connected to the immortal yogi Babji from Hadikan in India, who resided in the foothills of the Himalaya in the 1970s and also spoke of his many other previous incarnations. His ashram used ceremonies which included the sacred fire ceremony, havan or yagna. His main message is truth, simplicity and love. Leonard Orr and many of his associates visited Babaji, who is said to be the yogi with mastery over the physical as spoken of in the book “Autobiography of a Yogi” by Paramahansa Yogananda – written in the mid 1900s and an international best seller for many years. Leonard Orr and Stanislav Grof and others …. Rebirthing Breathwork is a form of conscious breathwork founded by Leonard Orr, an American, in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Another form of conscious breathwork, was founded by Dr Stanislav Grof, a European psychiatrist, in the late 1970s. It was later named Holotropic Breathwork ™ Leonard Orr founded conscious breathing as one of the five aspects of spiritual purification that he still supports today. In his intuitive intervention approach, there is breathing guidance at different points and no encouragement for movement or emotion. He has an informal training for becoming a practitioner or trainer, although some associated colleagues in some countries have made this more formal. His main interest is in teaching to breathe energy as well as air, and to release the birth/death cycle. Stanislav Grof founded conscious breathing that has a distinct emphasis on pressure and force on the breath in the session with a prearranged client directed approach to intervention. In the background is loud and powerful drumming music that induces movement and emotions – some of which can be extreme – with specific support for release. He laid down long term and in-depth training for practitioners and contraindications for clients and his main interest is in the healing potential of non-ordinary states. Sondra Ray worked initially with Leonard Orr and branched off into Loving Relationship Training after finding sucess with clients who released birth scripts and personal lies based in their early birth or infancy experiences. Ensuing practitioners and trainers who participated in the 1970s and started training others in the 1980s called both strands of breathwork ‘Rebirthing’, although each approach was very different. For more than twenty years, all types and approaches to conscious breathing, from minimum intervention to full directed intervention in the session, the full range of breathing in regard to pressure and force or none, use of the nose or mouth and use of types of music/drumming, movement, expressed emotion, or none, came under the title ‘Rebirthing’.  Since the 1990s, and to date, individuals, practitioners and trainers have identified with one term or another:-‘Rebirther’ or ‘Breathworker’. For this reason, both terms are included in the title. The decision was made when having the courses accredited in the Australian Qualification Framework, to allow graduates to take one or another name for themselves by including both. In the decades after 2000, most practitioners have used the Name “Breathwork” as an umbrella term and the translations in different countries of Europe have a wide range. In all cases still, it seems the dominate element globally that is common to all styles and descriptions is – conscious breathing as opposed to normal, involuntary breathing. The Breathwork vocation ‘ Breathwork’ is now an international umbrella term for modern breathwork within the industry, yet it does not fully identify the nature of the process for the general public. This is still in process. Yoga courses also call yogic breathing ‘Breathwork’ of late, while referring to techniques that have been available for thousands of years. Rebirthing/Breathwork as a conscious breathing modality has grown globally and diversified since the 1970s, as more individuals take interest in the body-mind-emotion connection and take responsibility for getting the information and training they need to create, maintain and sustain optimum wellness and enjoyment of life. The breath can become more than a modality for wellness, however. Since br eath is the one element that humans cannot exist without for more than a few minutes, it is understandably a force for potent transformational and life altering tools and techniques.

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