How Intentional Breathwork Can Help You Live In The Present

By Kerry Smith

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

As spirituality and many restorative exercises that rely on introspection climb in the mainstream, individuals are more open-minded than ever on ways to improve their mind, body and soul. With quick-paced lifestyles and more stress than ever, happiness is now weighed in ways that many simply can’t even grasp without work, patience and potentially a look in a different direction. Our anxiety and overall mindset can be quickly improved with meditative practices which many are quick to associate with Yoga, and the breathing that goes along with it is sometimes an afterthought. The truth is that breathing is essential, and something to further master through the art of intentional breathwork.

Breathwork is not a one size-fits-all type of practice, and what works for one may not be suited for another. My own personal breathwork practice has a length, method and preferred location to work through this transformation. Breathwork can be done alone, or in a class type setting (imagine a yoga studio) with a teacher guiding you through each step of the way. Breathwork can be intense, both physically and emotionally, but the endgame result will be at the least relaxing with raised awareness and focus. Everyone will have their own reason to begin breathwork as a practice, and the beauty of it is that it can work for all that try.

Over the years I have seen the benefits of breathwork on myself, through clients and those in my network who have dealt with anxiety, chronic pain, depression, PTSD, grief and even anger. So how does breathwork…work? What are some of the methods that are widely promoted?


Rebirthing is a type of breathwork that helps an individual connect with their subconscious. Also known as Rebirth-Breathwork or Clarity Breathwork™, this specific type of breathing is a direct path to removing negative energy to achieve a state of pure bliss. As one inhales and exhales through guided circular patterns, many common issues can melt away including anxiety, depression and PTSD. The energy flows in a powerful way, as negative thoughts and emotions leave our cellular memory and often giving the person a sense of closure they never had.

Speaking of the title of this breathwork, the practice is called Rebirthing as many have experienced the actual process of rebirth during the actual experience. They are brought back to the instance they are born and opens a gateway for their life to be completely rejuvenated and given a second chance. During the practice, one focuses on improving and defining their own personal reality and taking responsibility for the situations currently in their lives. Not only does Rebirthing help reach a higher spiritual level, but it also helps create authentic change inside and out.

Shamanic Breathwork

The power of Shamanic Breathwork is something that is not only healing, but is an ongoing journey that is designed to awaken the shaman within us all. Each experience is intensely unique and one’s consciousness state can range from pure joy to even the transformative observation of rebirth, which is similar during rebirthing. During Shamanic Breathwork, one will face their anxiety, fear, grief and even anger while releasing these emotions throughout the practice.

Those looking to heal from past traumas and to let go of bad habits turn to Shamanic Breathwork to develop a spiritually enriching practice, and to use this as an alternative or complement to therapy and coaching to get past issues. During this breathwork, the teacher will use a variety of tools which also can include Reiki, Extractions, Soul Return and Bodywork. A safe and sacred location is typically sought out to practice this type of breathwork, and the room may be filled with healing aromas from smudging and prefaced with various types of prayers.

Shamanic Breathwork is always done while lying down, and calls attention to spiritual guides which vary depending on the spiritual practice of the individual. One may also experience drumming during the practice, as the breathing connects with the rhythms and music is known for connecting us with the chakra. The practice and breathing takes one below their basic mental wavelength, and accesses parts of oneself that you may not experience during everyday journey for the participant.

Holotropic Breathwork

Holotropic Breathwork is one of the most intense practices of this type and requires the most amount of dedicated time per session. Usually done with a breather and a sitter, the sitter is present to guide the individual through the experience and also be there to support them through moments that can be both relaxing and profoundly beneficial as past traumas are faced and removed. Developed by Sanislav Grof in the 70’s, the practice allows one to access different states of consciousness.

This breathwork is guided by the sitter as she/he helps the breather control their breathing patterns, which influences their current (and future) mindset. This breathwork is described as a complete spiritual practice, potentially combining the benefits of controlled breathing, meditation and therapy. Although past trauma can be present during the practice, the purpose of the breathwork is to be aware of it while calming working on clearing any issues that hold one back.

During Holotropic Breathwork, breathing is done rapidly to create an alternative mental state and although it is done with a sitter/breather, it can also be done in groups. Over many hours, the breather will lay down while music (drumming, heart music and meditative style songs) are played in order. After each multi-hour session, the participant draws mandalas reflecting their mindset during the experience, which can be kept as a reminder and reference for the continued practice.

About the author:

Kerry Smith is a spiritual teacher and co-operates The Awakening Trainings based out of San Diego, California. She has professionally trained with spiritual and thought leaders including Robbins-Madanes Training, Brendon Burchard, Roger Love, Judith Kravitz and many more. To learn more about Kerry and The Awakening Trainings, upcoming classes and coaching opportunities, please visit or call (619) 631-8569.

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