History of Breathwork and Breathwork Therapy

Conscious connection with breath helps us become present with ourselves by increasing awareness of the felt sensations of our bodies. While choppy, shallow breathing can disrupt this natural rhythm and lead to physical, emotional and mental discomfort, rhythmic, slow breathing encourages calm and peaceful states of mind.


For centuries, people have found breathwork techniques to be key components in their pursuit of spiritual awakening, self-healing, and meditative relaxation. Although breathwork emerged in Eastern traditions such as yoga, Tai Chi, and Buddhism, many cultures have understood the physical breath to be inextricably connected with the spirit and soul. For instance, in Latin the word spiritus not only describes the respiration process, but also translates as spirit/soul, and Greeks used the same word, prema, to describe air/breath and spirit or life energy. Many other languages, such as Hebrew, Arabic, and Sanskrit, show the same pattern.

This long history of equating breath and spirit culminated during the consciousness-raising era of the 1960s and 1970s with the emergence of modern breathwork therapy techniques. A variety of breathwork techniques were created during this period, including Holotropic Breathwork and Rebirthing Breathwork. Some models emphasized self-awareness and inner peace, while others assisted practitioners in achieving altered states of consciousness and psychedelic experiences. Rebirthing Breathwork, for example, was developed by Leonard Orr, and focused on healing the often traumatic experience of birth. Holotropic Breathwork, established by Dr. Stan Grof and his wife, Christina Grof, grew out of their research on consciousness and the effects of psychedelic drugs like LSD.

Since the 1970s, the field of breathwork therapy has only expanded. In 1991, Jacquelyn Small founded Integrative Breathwork, an approach based on her work in Holotropic Breathwork alongside Dr. Grof. In addition, Clarity Breathwork, which was established in 1999, expanded upon the principles of Rebirthing to include a more generalized approach to trauma and therapy.

Lastly, BioDynamic Breathwork Trauma Release System (BBTRS) was created by Giten Tonkov and is a revolutionary and therapeutic approach to releasing trauma at a somatic level.  It skillfully combines breath techniques, therapeutic touch, gentle emotional expression, conscious movement, and meditation. This approach supports trauma release and is carefully designed to break through layers of protective body armoring, releasing mental, emotional and physical resistance and stress from the cellular memories of your nervous system.  BioDynamic Breathwork heals trauma and allows practitioners to complete arrested trauma-related Fight/Flight or Dissociated responses that would otherwise remain trapped in the body.