Psychedelic Breathwork

Man laying down and lifting his hands and having a psychedelic breathwork experience.

Psychedelic Breathwork

Can you get ‘high on your own supply’ and experience emotional release, trauma resolution and healing through breathwork that is akin to psychedelic plant medicine work? 

It’s a good question and the short answer is ‘YES’.   

Breathwork, particularly psychadelic breathwork, is becoming an increasingly popular and powerful alternative to journeying with plant medicines, psychedelic drugs and substances. 

As the benefits of breathwork gain wider recognition, interest in the deep healing,  therapeutic applications and spiritual benefits of Breathwork methods and techniques is on the rise, including inquiry into the release of DMT the Spirit Molecule. 

Psychedelic breathing is known for its potential to alleviate negativity and traumaIf you’re considering exploring the benefits of psychedelic breathing, wanting to access higher levels of consciousness, and curious to know if breathwork can be a safe and effective alternative to psychedelic substances and plant medicine then this guide aims to shed light on key aspects.

If you’re new to Breathwork you might like to also check out  How to Get Started with Breathwork – a Beginners Guide

Exploring Psychedelic Breathwork:

  • Understanding the essence of psychedelic breathing.
  • Exploring breathwork’s potential to induce altered states of consciousness. 
  • Distinguishing between psychedelic Breathwork techniques and psychedelic substances and drugs.
  • Delving into four breathwork techniques designed to elevate your consciousness.
  • Highlighting seven potential risks associated with psychedelic breathing practices.

We will also cover the best breathwork workshops, online breathwork courses, FREE resources, and guided offerings available, ensuring you have everything you need to embark on your inward and upward adventure.

Before delving into specific techniques, let’s establish a comprehensive understanding of what psychedelic breathwork involves.

What is Psychedelic Breathing?

At its core, psychedelic breathing encompasses a range of breathwork techniques aimed at facilitating altered states of consciousness. 

These practices serve as tools for personal growth and therapeutic intervention, particularly if you’re seeking to use breathwork to overcome negativity and trauma. 

Frequently involving rapid breathing over extended durations, these techniques guide practitioners towards a heightened awareness of their emotional blockages and inner selves.

Altered states of consciousness

Can Breathwork Cause Altered States of Consciousness?

Can breathwork serve as a gateway? Absolutely. Psychedelic breathwork techniques such as Breakthrough Breathwork, Holotropic Breathwork, Rebirthing and Shamanic Breathwork function as an intensified form of mindfulness and meditation. 

By harnessing the power of breath, it cultivates a tranquil internal environment, allowing individuals to redirect their focus inward, quiet their minds, and detach from external distractions. 

In essence, psychedelic breathing offers a pathway to explore the depths of your consciousness and embark on a journey towards healing and self-discovery. 

Psychedelic breathing and psychedelic substances or drugs often stand side by side in discussions about accessing altered states of consciousness and promoting healing. 

If you’re ready to begin this transformative adventure, let’s embark together, equipped with knowledge and a readiness to explore the realms within.

How Breathwork Impacts The Subconscious Mind

There is a direct pathway into altered states and a direct way to access the subconscious ‘storage closet’ through the breath. 

Techniques typically feature more intense, fast-paced, rhythmic and dynamic practices such as ‘‘superventilation’. 

These styles of Psychedelic Breathwork  are designed to access the subconscious to release blockages in the system as well as potentially liberating the body’s natural DMT (N, N-Dimethyltryptamine) which is also called ‘the spirit molecule’ because of its involvement in mystical experiences, and our access to higher states and realms. 

DMT is a part of the Ayahuasca experience, so think of using your breath to access the heights of spiritual and mystical experiences, without the trip to South America! 

Johannes Egberts says styles such as Breakthrough Breathwork and Holotropic Breathwork are akin to “blowing the roof off” as they “work through activation of the sympathetic nervous system to clear blockages in the body and mind, bringing subconscious experiences to the surface, removing physical, emotional, and mental debris and toxicity; and providing a path for self-discovery and spiritual awakening. These techniques are also safe, all-natural, and empower us to be our own healers.” 

Much like working with plants such as Ayahuasca, he says that it’s possible to do a vast amount of personal and spiritual work in just one ceremony, clearing away years of emotional baggage, as well as accessing higher states of being, feeling a deeper sense of connection to self, to others, and to all that is.

For a deeper dive, let’s break down the comparison between Psychedelic Breathwork and Psychedelic drugs and substances:

Psychedelic Breathing Techniques (Without Drugs)

Pros 

  • Offers an easier and healthier alternative.
  • Can complement professional therapy.
  • Easy to find through in-person and online services and events.
  • Can be practiced anytime for free (with sufficient experience).
  • Beneficial for mental health improvement.
  • Simple to engage in without complex procedures.
  • Can be used to resolve trauma and PTSD.

Cons

  • First few experiences should be done under the guidance of a qualified  breathwork facilitator.
  • Sessions, workshops, and retreats can cost money.
  • Can lead to hyperventilation and other side effects.

Psychedelic Substances & Drugs

Pros

  • Can be used to improve mental health.
  • Can be used to access and resolve deep trauma.
  • One potent ayahuasca ceremony can be the equivalent experience to 10 years of therapy.
  • Can microdose to limit effects.
  • Can give direct access to higher intelligence working through the Master Plant Teachers.

Cons 

  • Usually illegal and ‘under the radar’.
  • Can involve intense purging. 
  • Unknown outcome.
  • Can be confronting and frightening to experience in the moment.
  • Can require a long preparation period with dietary and behavioural restrictions (including restricting sex, alcohol, drugs, prescription medications like antidepressants, pork, salt, dairy ie with ayahuasca). 
  • Requires a high level of trust and surrender.
  • Requires a safe environment and safety can be a major issue depending on the setting. 
  • Can require high-level facilitation and follow up which can be at great expense. 
  • Costs a lot of money.
  • Hard to find trained professionals who assist in treatment or ways to otherwise acquire psychedelics. 
  • Can lead to several negative side effects.

The 5 Most Powerful Psychedelic Breathwork Techniques

Here are five psychedelic breathing techniques that can elevate your consciousness and open doors to deep levels of healing and integration.

Breakthrough Breathwork
Breakthrough Breathwork

Called by many the ‘go-to’ style to achieve ‘20 Years of Zen in 20 Minutes’, Breakthrough Breathwork offers a doorway and a mirror to our inner world, helping us identify, process, and let go of what no longer serves our growth and can be an incredible tool and catalyst in this process.

Breakthrough Breathwork can also provide an access point to higher states of heart-centeredness, evoking peace, a sense of heightened connection to self, others, and the cosmos; and a deep sense of release and freedom.

As of the most profound techniques, this form of focused breathwork is entered into as a guided breathwork event in which what needs and is ready to be released can be processed and let go, within a safe container, created and held by highly experienced breathwork facilitators. 

Much like in Ayahuasca ceremonies, there’s an opportunity to go deep and detox emotionally to set yourself free, without spending a whole night in the jungle!

Breakthrough Breathwork is a curated breathwork ceremony experience that incorporates a number of breathing techniques that will guide you to breathe slower than normal and also faster than normal, in order to open your heart. It’s about letting your breath set you free. 

The experience is guided to help the integration of this deep work, as well as the integration of spiritual insights that are often received. Johannes Egberts, renowned breathwork coach and expert, and founder of Breathless Expeditions, recommends Breakthrough Breathwork as a catalyst for profound inner change. 

So if you’re looking to make lasting change in your life, give Breakthrough Breathwork a try. You may be surprised at just how transformative the power of breath can be.

How to do breakthrough breathwork:

Find your breakthrough experience by finding an in-person breathwork event near you, joining an online breathwork class, or trying our 7 Days of Free  Breathwork in your own home.

Holotropic Breathwork
Holotropic Breathwork

Holotropic breathwork is one of the primary modern breathwork methods and was developed and brought forth from the visionary mind of psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, a notable researcher in LSD-assisted therapy in the 1960s. 

When LSD, a powerful psychedelic related to DMT, was outlawed, it prompted Grof to innovate his conscious, connected breathwork method as an alternative to achieving states similar to those induced by psychedelic substances, without the need for the drugs themselves.

Drawing from ancient shamanic traditions and modern psychology, it offers seekers a pathway to altered states of consciousness without the need for psychedelic drugs. 

Through rhythmic breathing, practitioners embark on a journey of self-exploration, diving deep into the recesses of their psyche to access higher realms of awareness. Some believe this method may even awaken the release of endogenous DMT within the body, facilitating mystical experiences and connections to the divine.

With its potential for profound spiritual insights and emotional release, holotropic breathwork provides a safe and supportive environment for transformation and growth on the spiritual journey. 

While basic Holotropic Breathwork sessions can be accessed through breathwork apps or online videos, larger, in-person events are more common. Alternatively, those unable to attend in-person sessions can opt for online Neurodynamic Breathwork sessions as an alternative. 

How to do holotropic breathwork:

  • Attend an in-person workshop or retreat.
  • Register for an online Neurodynamic Breathwork session.
  • Follow a guided session using a breathwork app or video.
Rebirthing Breathwork
Rebirthing Breathwork

Rebirthing Breathwork, also known as Integrative Breathwork or Clarity Breathwork, is a form of consciousness-connected breathing developed by Leonard D. Orr. 

It aims to create a safe space for practitioners to explore memories and emotions while inducing deep relaxation and altered states of consciousness. 

This technique provides an opportunity to confront and heal past trauma and grief. Experts recommend completing at least 10 sessions with a trained practitioner before practicing independently.

How to do rebirthing breathwork:

  • Book a private session with a practitioner (online or in-person).
  • Attend a group breathwork workshop or retreat with a practitioner.
  • Explore online options for continued practice.
Shamanic Breathwork

Shamanic Breathwork is a healing breathwork practice that facilitates access to altered states of consciousness through controlled breathing. 

It can help you to connect with your body and mind whilst experiencing a state of bliss. Sessions can aid in releasing past trauma, gaining a deeper sense of self, and exploring potentialities.

Shamanic breathwork is a transformative breathing practice that involves guided circular breathing, breath retention, and toning. It is often accompanied by rhythmic music, all typically facilitated by a trained guide.

This technique, when executed well, can enhance circulation, boost red blood cell production, detoxify the body, and invigorate a person’s energy levels. It also supports nervous system regulation, strengthens respiratory function, and provides relief from anxiety and depression.

Keen to know more? Check out our ultimate guide to Shamanic Breathwork which explains more about the details, benefits and how to practice. 

How to do shamanic breathwork:

  • Book a private session with an experienced facilitator.
  • Attend an in-person workshop or retreat.
  • Follow a guided video online.
Vivation

Vivation is a breathwork technique developed by Jim Leonard in 1979 that focuses on releasing negativity, stress, and trauma while promoting feelings of pleasure. 

Based on the principle of “feeling is healing,” Vivation creates a therapeutic experience that induces deep relaxation and bliss. Participants often report experiencing profound feelings of joy as negative emotions are released. Vivation is based on the premise that any feeling, whether physical sensations or emotions, can be fully healed and resolved entirely at the physically felt feeling level. 

The word “Vivation” takes its name from the Latin root vivé (to fully embrace life) and “-tion”, process of. Vivation – the process of fully embracing the total human experience of life.

Drawing on pranayama–an ancient science focused on harnessing the power of breath, Vivation consists of Five Elements: Circular Breathing, Complete Relaxation, Awareness in Detail, Integration Into Ecstasy, and Do Whatever You Do, Willingness is Enough. 

Whether you’re dealing with anxiety and stress, low self-esteem or limiting beliefs about yourself, Vivation is a powerful tool that can help you unleash your full potential. 

How to do vivation:

  • Book a private Vivation session with a trained facilitator (online or in-person).
  • Attend an in-person or online event led by a reputable facilitator.
  • Utilise online guided resources for self-practice.
The Potential Risks of Psychedelic Breathing

The Potential Risks of Psychedelic Breathing

Here are seven potential risks associated with psychedelic breathing techniques that you should be aware of:

Hyperventilation: Rapid and improper breathing, which can lead to various side effects.

Lightheadedness: Feeling dizzy or woozy.

Fainting: Temporary loss of consciousness.

Weakness: Experiencing a temporary loss of strength.

Tingles or muscle spasms: Numbness or cramping in the hands, feet, arms, or legs.

Emotional distress: Negative reactions triggered by past memories or trauma.

Seizures: Abnormal movements, behaviors, sensations, or states of awareness resulting from electrical imbalances in the brain. Individuals prone to seizures may be at risk due to changes in oxygen levels.

While these breathing techniques can generally be practiced safely with proper knowledge or under the guidance of a trained facilitator, it’s crucial if you have any physical or mental health conditions to consult your doctor before engaging in them. Pregnant women should also avoid practicing these particular techniques.

Psychedelic Breathwork Vs Traditional Psychedelic Substances

Psychedelic Breathwork techniques offer a profound, drug-free, journey inward, allowing us to tap into altered states of consciousness and unlock higher realms of wisdom. 

Through different breathwork practices, we can embark on a transformative path toward deep healing on physical, emotional, and spiritual levels. By harnessing the power of the breath, we not only explore the depths of our inner selves but also pave the way for profound growth and self-discovery. So, take a deep breath and embark on this enlightening journey to uncover the boundless potential within.

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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