Shamanic breathwork - 7th November 2023Nov 08, 2023
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While ‘breathwork’ is something our bodies do on autopilot, we do have the ability to change the breathing flow and the term ‘breathwork’ became popular in the 1970s, referring to the practice of consciously directing the breath.
The goal of breathwork is to positively alter the body, mind, heart, or spirit and produce therapeutic inner transformation.
There is a vast array of benefits associated with regularly practicing breathwork. Many have been prove by science while others are await validation, though are quite self-evident.
Here’s what you might expect to experience from making breathwork an everyday habit:
- Relaxation of your nervous system
- More calmness and less feelings of anxiety/stress
- More self-acceptance and less depression
- Enhanced overall mental health
- Aids Intuition & creativity
- Improved immune function
- Enhances mental clarity and focus
- More energy and vitality
- Can result in deep spiritual insights
- Boosts feelings of joy and happiness
- Alkalises your blood and decreases inflammation in the body
- Enhances feelings of connection with others, especially when shared with a partner or group
- Increases mindfulness and appreciation of life
- Improved sleep patterns
A list of some shamanic breathwork modalities and associated rituals:
- Holotropic Breathwork:
- Ritual: Participants engage in rapid, deep breathing while lying down, often accompanied by evocative music. This aims to induce altered states of consciousness, akin to a shamanic journey.
- Cultural Influence: Developed by Stanislav Grof, it's influenced by various shamanic and mystical traditions but doesn't adhere to one specific cultural practice.
- Rebirthing Breathwork:
- Ritual: Participants practice conscious connected breathing, lying down and breathing rhythmically, without pauses between inhalation and exhalation. This process is believed to release past traumas and emotional blockages.
- Cultural Influence: Although it incorporates aspects of breathwork found in various cultures, Rebirthing is a contemporary practice.
- Transformational Breathwork:
- Ritual: Transformational Breathwork combines specific breath patterns, bodywork, and affirmations to stimulate deep relaxation, emotional release, and personal transformation.
- Cultural Influence: It integrates principles from yoga, psychology, and spiritual practices but doesn't align with a single shamanic tradition.
- Tummo Breathwork:
- Ritual: Tummo, also known as "inner fire" or "kundalini" breathwork, originates from Tibetan Buddhism. It involves controlled breath to generate inner heat and spiritual awakening. The goal is to awaken the dormant Kundalini energy.
- Cultural Influence: Rooted in Tibetan Buddhist and Hindu traditions, it's considered a form of Tantric Yoga.
- Shamanic Journeying Breathwork:
- Ritual: This is a general term for breathwork practices used by shamans in various cultures. It often involves rhythmic breathing and drumming to induce a trance state for shamanic journeying, during which the shaman communicates with spirits or receives guidance.
- Cultural Influence: Diverse, as it's practiced by shamans worldwide, each with their unique methods.
- San Pedro Cactus (Huachuma) Breathwork:
- Ritual: Often used by shamans in South America, participants consume the San Pedro cactus, which contains the psychoactive compound mescaline. The ritual involves deep breathing and introspection during the journey.
- Cultural Influence: Primarily from indigenous Andean traditions.
- Ayahuasca Breathwork:
- Ritual: Ayahuasca is a sacred plant brew used in the Amazon rainforest. It induces visionary and healing experiences. Participants engage in deep, intentional breathing to enhance the effects of the ayahuasca.
- Cultural Influence: Rooted in indigenous Amazonian shamanism.
- Sweat Lodge (Inipi) Breathwork:
- Ritual: Inipi is a Native American sweat lodge ceremony. Participants engage in intense heat and sweat to purify their bodies and connect with the spirit world. Controlled breathing is part of the experience.
- Cultural Influence: Lakota Sioux and other Native American tribes practice the Inipi ceremony.
- Hawaiian Ho'oponopono Breathwork:
- Ritual: Ho'oponopono is a Hawaiian healing practice. Breathwork is used in conjunction with chants and meditation to release negative energy, promote forgiveness, and restore harmony.
- Cultural Influence: Rooted in Hawaiian spirituality and healing traditions.
These are just a few examples of shamanic breathwork modalities and rituals. Each one has its unique cultural and spiritual context and is used for various purposes, such as healing, personal transformation, and connecting with the spiritual realm.
Wim Hof, often referred to as "The Iceman," is known for his unique breathwork method, the Wim Hof Method. This method combines specific breathing techniques with cold exposure and a focused mindset. Here's an explanation of Wim Hof breathwork:
Wim Hof Method:
- Breathing Phase: The method begins with a specific breathing pattern. It typically consists of a series of deep, controlled breaths. A common pattern is a cycle of 30 deep breaths, where you inhale deeply through your nose and exhale forcefully through your mouth. After these breaths, you hold your breath for as long as you comfortably can.
- Breath Retention Phase: After the deep breaths, you exhale and then hold your breath. This phase can last for a minute or more, during which you may experience sensations of breathlessness and tingling. It's important to note that this breath retention is typically done with empty lungs after exhalation.
- Wim Hof is famous for his ability to withstand extremely cold temperatures. As part of his method, practitioners often engage in cold exposure, which can include taking cold showers, ice baths, or even spending time outdoors in cold weather. The controlled breathing from the method helps individuals endure the cold more effectively.
- The Wim Hof Method emphasises the power of the mind. It encourages a positive and focused mental state, which Wim Hof believes plays a crucial role in enduring cold and achieving various physical and mental benefits.
The Wim Hof Method is claimed to offer numerous benefits, including:
- Improved immune system function.
- Increased energy and reduced stress.
- Better sleep and enhanced mental clarity.
- Improved physical endurance and recovery.
- Enhanced mood and well-being.
Box Breath Technique:
- Find a Comfortable Position: Start by sitting or lying down in a comfortable and relaxed position.
- Inhale (4 seconds): Breathe in deeply through your nose for a count of 4 seconds. During this phase, focus on filling your lungs with air and expanding your diaphragm.
- Hold (4 seconds): After the inhalation, hold your breath for another count of 4 seconds. This pause should be without any tension or strain.
- Exhale (4 seconds): Slowly exhale through your mouth for 4 seconds. As you breathe out, release any tension or stress. Ensure that the exhalation is complete, but don't force it.
- Hold (4 seconds): After the exhalation, pause and hold your breath again for another 4 seconds. This phase allows you to relax and prepare for the next cycle.
- Repeat: Continue this pattern of inhaling, holding, exhaling, and holding for as many rounds as you like. A typical session can last for a few minutes.
Benefits of Box Breath:
- Stress Reduction: The rhythmic and controlled nature of the box breath helps calm the nervous system, reducing stress and anxiety.
- Enhanced Focus: This technique can improve concentration and mental clarity, making it useful for tasks that require attention and focus.
- Relaxation: Box breathing can promote a sense of relaxation and can be used before bedtime to improve sleep quality.
- Emotional Regulation: It can help in managing strong emotions and is often used in mindfulness and meditation practices.
- Improved Breathing: Practicing box breath can also enhance your overall breathing patterns, making your breaths more efficient and controlled.
The Box Breath is a versatile and accessible technique that can be used anytime, anywhere. It's particularly useful in moments of tension or when you need to regain composure. You can adjust the duration of each phase to suit your comfort and gradually increase the counts as you become more proficient. It's a handy tool for achieving a sense of calm and balance in your daily life.
"Dragon Breathing" is a fun and imaginative breathing exercise. This practice involves a specific pattern of breaths and vocalisation designed to evoke the imagery and energy of a dragon. Here's how you can perform this exercise:
Dragon Breathing Exercise:
- Preparation: Find a quiet and comfortable place to practice. Sit or stand in an upright position, with your back straight.
- Inhale Sequence: Perform the following sequence of breaths:
- Inhale quickly and sharply through your nose for a "sniff" or short breath.
- Immediately follow the first inhale with a second quick sniff-like inhalation through your nose.
- Repeat this sequence for a total of five quick inhales.
- Exhale Sequence: After completing the five quick inhales, exhale forcefully and loudly, as if you were roaring like a dragon. This exhalation should be powerful and dramatic.
- Repeat: You can continue this sequence for as many rounds as you like. It's a playful exercise, so feel free to add your own creative flair and imagine the qualities of a dragon as you perform it.
Benefits and Uses:
- Energising: This exercise can help you feel more alert and invigorated due to the quick, focused breaths and the forceful exhalation.
- Stress Release: The dramatic exhale can also serve as a way to release tension and stress, similar to shouting or screaming in a controlled manner.
- Imagination and Creativity: It's a great exercise for tapping into your creative side and embracing the imagery of a dragon. It's especially useful for children as it can make deep breathing more engaging.
- Vocal Expression: The roaring aspect of this exercise encourages vocal expression and can be a fun way to practice breath control for public speaking or singing.
While Dragon Breathing may not be a traditional or widely recognised breathing technique, it can be a playful and enjoyable way to engage in deep breathing and have a bit of fun with your breathwork practice.
Example of Shamanic Breath and Chant here >> https://on.soundcloud.com/dwzrRmmNuhuyrpn16