A Brief History Of Breathwork

The practice of circular breathing to experience higher states of consciousness was practiced in the ancient cultures of India, China, and Tibet.

In the self-awareness era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, two main styles of Breathwork re-emerged in Western Culture: Rebirthing and Holotropic Breathwork.

Rebirthing was discovered and developed by Leonard Orr. He was sitting in a hot tub experimenting with ‘conscious connected breathing’ when he experienced his own birth. Leonard credited Shri Mahavatar Babaji for inspiring him at his Ashram in the Himalayas.

One of Leonard’s first clients was Sandra Ray,  who went on to teach Rebirthing worldwide. Sandra is often referred to as the ‘Mother of Rebirthing.’ 

Leonard wrote on his website about Rebirthing sessions:

“People experienced the peace that surpasses all understanding,” 

Stanislav Grof founded Holotropic Breathwork. Dr. Grof had worked with many people therapeutically using LSD before it became classified as an illegal drug. In these psychedelic sessions, Grof noted the breathing pattern, especially at the end of the session,  prolonged the influence of the drug. Stan and his wife Christina began to research breath and breathing patterns and found that achieving non-ordinary states of mind with the breath was deeply and profoundly healing.

“In 1974, at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, my late wife Christina and I developed a new breathing method of self-exploration and psychotherapy. Because it was based on the healing effect of the holotropic state of consciousness, we called it holotropic Breathwork. The most frequent question that our workshop participants ask me how we discovered holotropic Breathwork. It is difficult to respond with one sentence; I would respond similarly as Albert Hofmann answered the same question about his discovery of LSD-25: “A serendipity and lucky chance.”

 – From the Grof® Legacy Training Website

There are many styles and schools of Breathwork now, so it is easy to find a practitioner and practice that resonates with you.

Clarity Breathwork was the first Breathwork training I received. Even after experiencing many other schools and breathwork practitioners,  I still feel it is the most powerful format to facilitate for my clients. That said, the woman I breathe with regularly is a Transformational Breathworker and studied with Dr. Judith Kravitz. 

Breathwork is my number one life-centering practice.  There is nothing more exciting and satisfying than sharing this healing with others.

Jeri Lawson has a full-time healing practice in Oakland, California. She is available for Healing Touch, Reiki, and Clarity Breathwork  Monday through Friday.    510-601-9632   jerilawson@mac.com

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