The interrelationship between the breath and the state of our health, and even states of mind, has long been recognized in the medical and meditative practices of the East. For centuries, these cultures have worked with the breath to facilitate healing and self-development, evolving over time into a sophisticated science often referred to as the "Science of Breath.” Among the best-known forms are Vipassana meditation, pranayama, qigong and tai chi, with pranayama being perhaps the most familiar to Westerners.
Today, the practices of the Science of Breath, once were reserved for only a select few, are being shared more openly with the West. This cultural metamorphosis has given birth to a variety of breathwork practices and methods. These innovative breathwork systems are best known for their ability to foster healing and transformation. Most approaches to breathwork share the common elements of conscious breathing, evocative music, bodywork, guided imagery, and affirmations. Some methods encourage strong emotional catharsis, while others advocate a more subtler approach that emphasizes natural breathing and mindfulness.
A Balanced Approach
Originally the Science of Breath was an oral tradition taught by skilled teachers who carefully monitored their students as they experienced various stages of healing and self-development. Therefore, breathwork should not be used by itself but should be part of system that serves a container for integration. It is highly recommended that one seek out the guidance of a competent teacher before engaging in any breathwork practices. Breathwork has powerful potential as healing modality and, when used wisely, can have transforming effects on consciousness, physical health, and well-being.