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What happens during breathwork?

Breathwork is a powerful healing tool that we use at Coral Gables Hypnosis to not only calm and invite the mind into a trance-like state, but to break through deeply rooted trauma and blockages in our bodies. It is a way to actively and consciously bypass the mind and enter a different state of awareness, which is what most people seek when meditating.

Breathwork can take you to that place very quickly, and depending on the type of breathwork you are doing, it can drop you into a deep state of consciousness where your natural healing abilities are activated. Who would have thought that just through the power of the breath, you could connect closer with your Higher Self and Source, God, Spirit…whatever it is that you like to call it. Breathwork reminds us of our innate power; that we do not need anything outside of ourselves to heal. That we are actually all we need to heal.

After my first experience with holotropic breathwork, I was blown away by the emotional release I had experienced. It felt like years of pain and sorrow being lifted off of me. Maybe it was the permission I felt just to be able to let go and feel (that’s the wonderful part about finding a safe space and community), but breathwork was the first time I ever fully surrendered to my body. And although the experience was intense, I would do it again in a heartbeat.

If you’ve never experienced breathwork before, your first experience may be intense but it’s nothing you can’t handle. Your body intuitively knows and will surrender to what you need as long as you can get your head out of the way.

So what is breathwork and where did it originate?

Breathwork is rooted in Eastern practices such as Buddhist meditation and Tai Chi. It has been found in multiple contexts and societies dating back thousands of years. For example, “breath prayer” practices in Christianity can be dated back to 600 AD. Globally, many indigenous cultures have used breathwork along with chanting, music, and dancing as a right of spiritual practice.

Aside from the spiritual aspect of the breath, different manipulation techniques of breathwork have been shown to help individuals achieve trance states of consciousness to facilitate physical and psychological healing. Research has even shown that guided breathing practices are capable of producing similar effects to psychedelic substances. We’re not just talking about the actual experience itself but studies have also shown that the after-effects of breathwork, much like guided psychedelic experiences, have helped free people of deep trauma.

The Science Behind the Breath

Today breathwork is becoming more and more incorporated into Western psychotherapy by blending various breathing techniques with components of talk therapy. In fact, it has become a catalyst for mindfulness and mental health treatment, and there are many studies to back up its effectiveness. For example, studies have shown that simply making your exhale longer than your inhale lowers blood pressure and cortisol levels, and brings the body into a parasympathetic state.

A 2017 study published in Frontiers in Psychology found that participants who completed 20 breathwork training sessions over eight weeks had significantly lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol compared to those that didn’t. A 2018 study published in the journal Consciousness and Condition found that breath-focused yoga boosted the attention span in participants. Multiple studies have found that slow, deep breathing could reduce the perception of chronic pain or help patients better cope with physical discomfort.

What is holotropic breathwork and how is it different?

Holotropic is a more intense meditative breathing practice that uses short intense breaths followed by long, deep breaths to bring you into a higher state of consciousness. The method was developed as a way to help people deal with trauma, especially helping those with avoidance behaviors.

Many practitioners have shown a decrease in anxiety, heightened feeling of creativity and calm, and greater self-discovery with this method. This practice is led by a facilitator in a group or one-on-one session. Evocative music is played to support the session by intensifying and calming breathing.

There’s no doubt that breathwork practices have surged in popularity due to the array of health benefits. So whether you are looking to learn how to incorporate effective breathing techniques like the 4-7-8 technique in your everyday life, or are wanting to dive deeper into guided breathwork at one of our retreats, breathwork can help you tune into your body and activate its natural healing abilities.

If you’re ready to heal unresolved trauma, Coral Gables Hypnosis can help. Call us at (786) 913-6205 or email us at to find out about our next retreat.


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