Breathwork for Ayahuasca: Part 4: Using Breathing to Integrate Your Experiences

Using Breathwork to Integrate Ayahuasca Experiences

Wondering how breathwork can enhance the integration of your Ayahuasca ceremony experiences? Want to learn the most effective techniques to use? Read on spiritual warrior!

Ayahuasca ceremonies can lead to profound personal transformation, bringing about deep insights, new ways of being, and heightened states of awareness. However, integrating these experiences into everyday life can be quite challenging. 

Enter Breathwork.

The good news is that the simple act of breathing can serve as a powerful tool and ally in plant medicine work. Conscious breathing can aid the integration process, helping teachings to “land” and allowing you to fully embody the lessons learned. 

This article explores how Ayahuasca breathwork can support your integration process, and offers practical techniques and insights to make the most of your ceremonial experience.

Why Integration When Using Ayahuasca Matters

Integration is the process of assimilating the insights and teachings from an Ayahuasca ceremony into daily life – making them real and long lasting. Without proper integration, the profound experiences can remain disconnected from your everyday reality, limiting their transformative potential. 

As breathwork can help with spiritual ascension, it can play a crucial role in this process, providing a steady anchor to ground all you have gained from your interaction with the Spirit of Ayahuasca into everyday life, and a way to keep things real.

Challenges of Integration

The shifts in awareness and new ways of being that Ayahuasca brings can really be quite overwhelming. Emotional upheavals, mental confusion, sleeplessness, discombobulation, and physical discomfort post-ceremony are not uncommon, making it difficult sometimes to hold onto the clarity and insights gained during the ceremony. 

Breathwork techniques help to manage these challenges by calming the mind, stabilising emotions, and grounding the body, also helping with sleep (if you have worked with Ayahuasca then you’ll know it can be a real challenge to get any sleep!) and generally facilitating a smoother integration process.

Challenges of Integration

Breathwork as an Integration Tool

Breathwork involves conscious breathing techniques that can balance out energy levels, prevent “ceremony fatigue”,  support physical health, calm the mind, balance emotions, and ground the body. It’s when we are embodied that we can do the best integration work. The breath provides a bridge between the heightened states of awareness experienced during the ceremony and the physicality and practical realities of everyday life.

Breathwork as an Integration Tool

15 Benefits of Breathwork for Integration

Breathwork helps to:

  • Get a good night’s sleep.
  • Restore and balance energy levels.
  • Ground and stabilise new awarenesses.
  • Bring focus to the present moment.
  • Become more embodied.
  • Process and understand lessons.
  • Release stored emotions and traumas and PTSD.
  • Enhance mental clarity and focus.
  • Promote emotional well-being.
  • Foster resilience and adaptability.
  • Alleviate ceremony fatigue.
  • Manage stress and anxiety.
  • Provide a constant anchor during life changes.
  • Support healing for physical health and vitality.
  • Aid in coping with new demands and shifts in perception.

7 Top Breathwork Techniques for Integration

Extended Exhalation Breathing

Extended exhalation breathing is particularly beneficial if you’re experiencing anxiety, an overactive mind, and stress after a ceremony. It activates the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” response, which helps to promote relaxation and a sense of calm.

How to 

  1. Sit or lie down in a quiet space.
  2. Breathe in gently through your nose for a count of 4.
  3. Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8.
  4. Repeat. 
  5. Continue this cycle for 5-10 minutes, focusing on extending the exhale longer than the inhale.

Benefits

  • Induces deep relaxation
  • Reduces physical tension
  • Helps in managing anxiety
  • Helps with getting to sleep
Heart Coherence Breathing

Heart Coherence Breathing is ideal for achieving emotional balance and mental clarity whilst engaging in plant medicine work. It promotes a state of coherence between the heart and brain, which can be especially useful for remaining present, open and heart-centred post ceremony as the medicine continues its work with you – it helps with integrating insights and maintaining emotional stability.

How to

  1. Sit comfortably with a long spine. If tired, then you can do this lying down instead or semi-reclined with pillows under your upper body.
  2. Breathe gently in for a count of 5 and gently exhale for a count of 5, through the nose.
  3. Focus on the Heart: Imagine the breath flowing in and out of the heart area.
  4. Invite/generate a positive emotion: Appreciation, gratitude, love, kindness etc. You have the amazing human ability to do this!
  5. Practise for 5-10 minutes, maintaining a steady and even rhythm.

Benefits

  • Reaching peak states of mindfulness.
  • Brings focus into the heart: heart-centred
  • Alignment and embodiment
  • Connection to higher states of consciousness
  • Balances heart rate variability
  • Reduces emotional volatility
  • Improves overall emotional health
  • Helps positive feelings to flow 
  • Deeply healing/restorative effect on all systems 

For a deeper look at Heart Coherence, you might like to check out the amazing work that the HeartMath Institute is doing here.

Nadi Shodhana

Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing, is a yogic breathing technique which balances the left and right hemispheres of the brain. It promotes mental clarity and reduces stress and anxiety. It cools the body. Good for overactive minds and tropical climates!

How to

  1. Find a Comfortable Position: Sit with a long, straight spine.
  2. Close the Right Nostril – Use your right thumb to close your right nostril and inhale through the left nostril.
  3. Close the Left Nostril – Close the left nostril with your right ring finger, then exhale through the right nostril.
  4. Inhale Through the Right Nostril – Keep the left nostril closed and inhale through the right.
  5. Exhale. Through the Left Nostril – Close the right nostril and exhale through the left.
  6. Continue. Repeat this cycle for 5-10 minutes.

Benefits

  • Enhances mental clarity
  • Induces peacefulness
  • Reduces stress and anxiety
  • Balances energy levels
  • Promotes emotional stability
  • Helps calm, ground, and centre 
  • Cooling
Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing, or “belly breathing,” involves breathing deeply into the diaphragm to enhance oxygen intake and promote relaxation. This technique can help reduce stress and improve overall well-being, making it an excellent choice for post-ceremony integration. Belly breathing activates the Relaxation Response.

How to

  1. Lie down or sit comfortably.
  2. Breathe in deeply through the nose, allowing the belly to rise.
  3. Exhale slowly through the mouth (or nose), letting the belly fall.
  4. Be sure to breathe all the way out, all the way to empty, on each exhalation so there’s nothing more left to breathe out. This will make the next inhale much deeper and more effective.
  5. Continue: Practise for 5-10 minutes, focusing on deep, even breaths.

Benefits

  • Improves oxygen flow and energy levels
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Reduces physical stress
  • Promotes overall well-being
  • Causes body to release feel good hormones
4-7-8 Breathing

4-7-8 Breathing is a technique that promotes relaxation and quickly helps to calm the mind and body. It is particularly useful for reducing anxiety, making it easier to integrate the insights from the ceremony. It’s great for getting to sleep – I’d say it’s the best breathwork technique for that!

How to

  1. Find a Comfortable Position. Sit or lie down in a quiet space.
  2. Breathe in quietly through the nose for a count of 4.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of 7.
  4. Exhale completely through the mouth for a count of 8.
  5. Continue this cycle for 4-8 breaths, or as needed.

Benefits

  • Reduces immediate stress
  • Promotes a state of calm
  • Enhances focus
  • Works quickly 
  • Great for sleep
Box Breathing

Box breathing is a technique that involves equal periods of inhalation, holding, exhalation, and holding again. Visualise or imagine you are moving around the four sides of  a square, for a count of 4 on each side. It is especially beneficial for stabilising emotions and maintaining mental clarity during the integration process. 

How to

  1. Find a Comfortable Position.
  2. Breathe in through the nose for a count of 4.
  3. Hold the breath for a count of 4.
  4. Exhale Exhale through the nose for a count of 4.
  5. Hold the breath out for a count of 4.
  6. Repeat! Continue this cycle for 5-10 minutes.

Benefits

  • Enhances mental focus
  • Reduces stress levels
  • Promotes emotional stability

Sidenote: it’s been taught to Navy Seals to help them maintain calm focus on intense missions. So you can imagine how useful it can be in working in the realms of plant medicine!

Integrating Breathwork into Daily Life

Integrating Breathwork into Daily Life
Creating a Breathwork Routine

Establishing a regular breathwork routine is helpful in a multitude of ways for effective integration. Dedicate specific times each day to practise, ensuring consistency and gradual progress. Start with 5-10 minutes morning, midday and night, then build up the length of practice and frequency for most impact. 

New to breathwork? You might like to check out this great article for a deeper dive and helpful insights: Getting Started With Breathwork – A Beginner’s Guide.

Breathe Through Your Nose

Nasal breathing offers numerous benefits, including improved oxygen intake, boosted immunity, better sleep quality, enhanced heart health, and better mental health. These benefits are particularly helpful in dealing with ceremony fatigue and ensuring restful sleep in the days and weeks following an Ayahuasca ceremony. 

By staying healthy and grounded through nasal breathing, you can better integrate the experiences and insights gained. In contrast, mouth breathing keeps you in a survival state/fight-or-flight response, limiting brain capacity and access to intuition and spiritual dimensions, thus hindering the integration process.

Combining Breathwork with Mindfulness

Pairing breathwork with mindfulness practices, such as meditation or journaling, can enhance the integration process. These practices complement each other, promoting a deeper connection to the insights and lessons from the Ayahuasca ceremony.

Breathwork as a Lifelong Practice

Sustaining the Benefits

I would deeply encourage you to consider breathwork as a lifelong practice rather than a temporary solution. Regular practice helps to maintain the clarity, balance, and well-being gained from the Ayahuasca experience. In addition, there are numerous benefits of breathwork!

Embracing Transformation

By consistently incorporating breathwork into daily life, you can embrace the transformation initiated by Ayahuasca, integrating new ways of being and heightened states of awareness into your everyday existence.

Top 6 Breathwork Trainings for Spiritual Adventurers

If you’re curious and want to experience the spiritual benefits of breathwork, these FREE trainings are a great place to start:

  1. FREE 7-day breathwork program 
  2. FREE 21 Day Master Your Breath Programme
  3. FREE Breathwork Masterclass
  4. FREE Live Virtual Breathwork Masterclass 
  5. Breathless Expeditions Breakthrough Breathwork Experience

If you’re more interested in an in-person breathwork experience, check out Breathless Expedition’s nationwide Breathwork Events.

Final Thoughts

Breathwork is an invaluable ally for integrating Ayahuasca experiences, offering a practical and effective means to ground the teachings and embody the lessons. 

Whether you’re embarking on your first Ayahuasca journey or your hundredth, integrating breathwork into your practice can help purify your body, clarify your intentions, and support the integration of new awareness and states of being.

Want To Start Your
Breathwork Journey Today For Free?

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Anya is a yoga & IRest meditation teacher, breathwork instructor, divemaster and writer, ocean lover and solo adventurer.

She thrives on change and transformation, and spends part of her year working and living in the Amazon with indigenous doctors, learning about their system of healing, and helping to facilitate transformational retreats.

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