Breathwork and De-Armoring | Techniques, Goals, and Benefits

Published: Mar 9, 2024
Edited by: Team TB

Breathwork practice on the floor

Breathwork is an important tool in Body De-Armoring practices — aka Emotional De-Armoring — and widely used by bodywork practitioners and somatic therapists. Nevertheless, breathwork may be applied in rather different ways and with different goals in De-Armoring treatments, which we will discuss in this post.

Table of contents:

Breathwork for Relaxation Purposes

First of all, breathwork can be used as a means to calm down and relax a person. That is, it can be a tool to manage or control the autonomic nervous system, and as such the anxiety and stress responses of the body.

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We all know the popular “count to ten, take a deep breath, and stay calm” advice when one gets “overheated and out of control.” An old folk wisdom perhaps, but one that still hasn’t lost its validity.

Hence, breathwork as a calming or relaxation technique is taught to clients or patients who are (often) under stress, or who are preparing for Emotional De-Armoring, that is, for an emotional or trauma release session. The goal is to give people a tool that can be used to return to inner calm in case of distressing emotional responses and turmoil.

The most popular way of using breathwork to calm down is slow and deep breathing and conscious abdominal breathing.

Breathwork to Access the Subconscious

Another way of applying breathwork in De-Armoring is as a means to induce a kind of controlled hyperventilation which can cause an altered or non-ordinary state of consciousness, used to access and release repressed or bottled-up emotions and trauma.

The types of breathwork used in this case are typically Conscious Connected Breathing techniques, and are aimed at achieving Catharsis (powerful release of emotions) by breaking through one’s Body Armor. The moment of Catharsis during a Breathwork session is typically accompanied by deep cognitive insight in one’s subconscious situation and drives, often also experienced as a moment of “closure.”

Breathwork to Simulate Traumatic Experiences

Breathwork can also be used as a means to simulate or re-call traumatic experiences. Simulation of traumatic events was one of the De-Armoring techniques used by Wilhelm Reich, the well-known pioneer of De-Armoring and Somatic Psychotherapy.

As it is, people often start to breathe rapidly and shallow in or during a stressful situation or event.

By simulating the breathing pattern that’s associated with a traumatic event, a person may be able to re-call or re-awaken the situation, look into it, and digest and purge the emotions out of one’s system.

Breathwork for Mindfulness and Body Awareness

Another way of using breath is to pay consistent and non-judgmental attention to one’s breathing as it arises as inhale and exhale, without trying to control or manipulate it.

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This is rather a type of passive breathwork in which one simply observes one’s own natural occurring inhaling and exhaling breathing pattern, may it be shallow, deep, rapid, irregular, or in whatever way it’s taking place.

The idea behind this technique is that it enables us to stay in the here-and-now, being fully aware of the present as it unfolds and achieve the ability of concentration, and as such preventing the thinking and conceptualization process to take its course and become a distraction.

Becoming steady in breath awareness can give the means to become mindful (non-judgmentally aware) of other phenomena that take place in/with our body, and with our mind, thinking, and our emotions without being carried away by them.

Using breath as a technique for mindfulness can help people to stay calm, while it’s at the same time a means to becoming aware of how physical, physiological, and emotional sensations in their body and mind are connected, which can create more insight in their situation and give the tools to self-regulation.

Breathwork and Life Force Energy

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Breathwork may also be used to properly and freely distribute Vital Life Force Energy through the body for physical, emotional/mental, and spiritual benefits, which is one of the important goals in Body De-Armoring.

In this particular sense, breathwork is rather the application of Yogic Pranayamas, which are typically used with an aim of preparation, cleansing and detoxification of the body, mind control and concentration, and opening the Prana Energy Channels aka Yoga Nadis for an uninhibited Prana Vital Energy flow.

In addition, Pranayamas are often performed in combination with specific Yogic poses — called Asanas — which are thought to support or enhance the breathing exercises.

Although Pranayama can be used for physical health benefits, even for De-Armoring practices, the final aim of carrying out Yogic breathing exercises is to come to a proper meditation practice, spiritual growth, and spiritual awakening.

Final Words

Breathwork consists of a large set of powerful but manifold breathing and breath control techniques. In therapeutic Body De-Armoring and trauma release treatments, breathwork can be used in different ways to help clients (patients) to deal with repressed and/or suppressed emotions.

Yet, it’s important to note here that notably Conscious Connected Breathing (often used to access non-ordinary states of consciousness) and breathwork used as a simulation of traumatic events need to be accompanied by a professional breathwork or De-Armoring practitioner or Somatic Psychotherapist in order to prevent re-traumatizing of the client, and to help them digest and integrate the phenomena that arise.

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