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What is Holotropic Breathwork?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023


Vala House Breathwork

Holotropic Breathwork is a type of therapy that combines deep breathing techniques with various other methods to help people achieve an altered state of consciousness. Developed by Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof in the 1970s, Holotropic Breathwork has gained popularity in recent years due to its effectiveness in treating various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and addiction.


The word “holotropic” is derived from the Greek words “holos,” meaning whole or entire, and “trepein,” meaning to turn or direct. Holotropic Breathwork, therefore, is a method that aims to facilitate healing by encouraging individuals to connect with their inner selves and explore their unconscious mind.


The process of Holotropic Breathwork involves deep, rhythmic breathing, combined with evocative music and various other techniques designed to help individuals enter into a non-ordinary state of consciousness. The goal is to access the deeper levels of the psyche, where unresolved emotional and psychological issues may be stored. By accessing these deeper levels, individuals can gain insight into their unconscious processes and, ultimately, promote healing.

The practice of Holotropic Breathwork is typically conducted in a group setting, led by a trained facilitator. Participants lie down on a mat or blanket and are instructed to breathe deeply and rapidly for an extended period, usually around an hour. The breathing technique used in Holotropic Breathwork involves taking deep, full breaths into the chest, followed by a relaxed exhale, with no pause in between.


As the breathing becomes deeper and more rapid, participants may begin to experience various physical and emotional sensations, such as tingling, numbness, or vibrations in the body, along with intense emotions or memories. The music used in Holotropic Breathwork is carefully selected to evoke certain emotional states and help individuals access deeper levels of their psyche.

The role of the facilitator in Holotropic Breathwork is essential. The facilitator provides a safe, supportive environment for participants to explore their inner selves, guiding them through the process and helping them navigate any intense emotions or physical sensations that may arise. Facilitators are trained to recognize signs of distress and provide assistance as needed.

One of the primary benefits of Holotropic Breathwork is its ability to help individuals access deeper levels of their psyche and gain insight into their unconscious processes. By accessing these deeper levels, individuals can gain a better understanding of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which can promote healing and personal growth.


Holotropic Breathwork has been shown to be effective in treating various mental health conditions, including anxiety, depression, and addiction. It is also beneficial for individuals who are dealing with grief or trauma, as it can help them process and release painful emotions in a safe, supportive environment.


Another benefit of Holotropic Breathwork is its ability to promote spiritual growth and connection. The altered state of consciousness achieved through Holotropic Breathwork can provide individuals with a profound sense of interconnectedness with the universe and a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives.


Despite its many benefits, Holotropic Breathwork is not without its risks. Some individuals may experience intense emotional or physical sensations that can be overwhelming. In rare cases, individuals may even experience psychotic episodes or other serious adverse effects.

Therefore, it is essential to participate in Holotropic Breathwork under the guidance of a trained facilitator and to disclose any medical or psychological conditions that may affect the process. It is also important to ensure that the facilitator has appropriate training and credentials and to thoroughly research the organization or individual offering the Holotropic Breathwork session.


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