Breathwork as a distinct healing modality arose in the late 1960s, and consists of a variety of conscious breathing practices — typically working with Vital Life Force Energy — which are thought to influence one’s mental, emotional, and/or physical state.
In fact, Breathwork comprises of techniques of conscious breath control, while moving (or circulating) energies across the body with the goal of achieving physical, mental, and spiritual well-being. Depending on the type of Breathwork, different breathing techniques may be used to achieve the desired results.
Although forms of Breathwork existed already in various ancient bodywork, martial arts, and spiritual traditions (for instance, the well-known Pranayama exercises in Indian Yoga), it was first studied and practiced in the West by Wilhelm Reich, the founder of the Orgone Vital Force concept and Vegetotherapy, the latter today considered a type of Body Psychotherapy for Emotional Dearmoring.
Apart from promoting simple relaxation, Breathwork can be used therapeutically to stimulate physical, emotional, and spiritual changes, to access special — notably spiritual, hypnotic, and trance-like — states of consciousness, and to release traumatic emotional or sexual experiences.
Today, you’ll find many types of Breathwork, such as Rebirthing Breathwork, Holotropic Breathwork, Integrative Breathwork, Zen Yoga Breathwork, Transformational Breathwork, Shamanic Breathwork, Radiance Breathwork, Taoist Breathwork, and Tantric Breathwork, to name a non-exhaustive list of modalities.