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Understanding Breathwork

Updated: Oct 23, 2022

In this blog post, we are going to be taking an in-dept look into the origins of Breathwork. Lam will be answer some of the questions put forth by our community, who want a better understanding of not only this therapy but its benefits.


 

These are some of the questions we hope to tackle in this post.

  • How do you define trauma?

  • What constitutes a traumatic event?

  • Do you think we have more traumatic events now than in the past?

  • What is Breathwork? Would you say it is a scientific terms

  • What does Holotropic Mean? - Broken down, the word holotropic comes from the Greek holos, which means whole and trepein, which means to move toward. So, holotropic can be translated to mean moving towards wholeness.

  • What are the benefits?

  • Are there any risk to the practice

  • Is this suitable for children? If yes, at what age is it safe for children to practice it?

  • How often can or should one do it?

  • Can it be done alone, at home?


 

The Missouri’s Early Care & Education (ECE) system defines Individual trauma as trauma that results from an event, series of events, or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or threatening and that can have lasting adverse effects on the individual’s functioning and physical, social, emotional well-being.


Integrated Living defines trauma as the response to a deeply distressing or disturbing event that overwhelms an individual’s ability to cope, causes feelings of helplessness, diminishes their sense of self and their ability to feel a full range of emotions and experiences.


A World Mental Health survey conducted by the World Health Organization found that at least a third of the more than 125,000 people surveyed in 26 different countries had experienced trauma. That number rose to 70% when the group was limited to people experiencing core disorders as defined by the DSM-IV (the classification found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition). But those numbers are just for instances that have been reported; the actual number is probably much, much higher.

While there are no objective criteria to evaluate which events will cause post-trauma symptoms, circumstances typically involve the loss of control, betrayal, abuse of power, helplessness, pain, confusion and/or loss. The event need not rise to the level of war, natural disaster, nor personal assault to affect a person profoundly and alter their experiences. Traumatic situations that cause post-trauma symptoms vary quite dramatically from person to person. Indeed, it is very subjective and it is important to bear in mind that it is defined more by its response than its trigger. Excerpt from Integrated Living


 

Interview with Lam


So Lam, always a pleasure to sit and chat with you, our conversations always seems so organic and I am grateful for this. A few weeks ago, I had a breathwork session with you at the lovely cineteca lawn. I remember saying it was the most surreal experience I have had, a feeling of being completely at peace with clarity. For so many the word "Breathwork" is either new or most will assume it is about breathing and they will be correct to some extent, but it is more than that. Let us see if we can shed some light on this ancient but relevant practice.



What constitutes a traumatic event?

Past life events or current life childhood/adulthood experiences that are suppressed consciously or repressed unconsciously, physically, verbally, mentally, sexually, or racially.


Do you think we have more traumatic events now than in the past?

With the arising technology, political manipulation, media propaganda, and complex social structure, we are prone to sensory overload, most often negative which normalises our lower frequency emotions - Shame, Guilt, Fear, Anger etc, resulting in expressing and sharing our low frequency emotions to our loved one without awareness, sometimes resulting in trauma experienced or trauma we create.


What is Breathwork? Would you say it is a scientific terms

Breathwork is an ancient practice that our ancestors have been practicing for thousands of years, which helps in aligning the body and in the treatment of diseases. There are many recent scientific studies showing that breathwork is an evidence-based treatment that strengthens emotion regulation via management of physiological states.


What does Holotropic Mean?

The word holotropic comes from the Greek words. “holos”, which means whole and “tropic” means trepein, which means to move toward. So, holotropic can be translated to “moving towards wholeness”.


What are the benefits?

It helps improve sleep, reduce PTSD, anxiety and stress, improve blood pressure and circulation, boost immunity, anti-inflammation, increase muscle tone, relieve chronic lower back pain.


Are there any risk to the practice?

The practice and process could induce intense changes in physical, mental and spiritual level. There are certain conditions you are advised to consider before taking part in the therapy, if you have the following conditions: Cardiovascular disease Aneurysms, Angina, High blood pressure, Glaucoma or retinal detachment, Currently on medication, Panic attack or psychosis, Seizures, Pregnancy or Lactation


Is this suitable for children? If yes, at what age is it safe for children to practice it?

The breathwork would have the best result with dedication and full concentration. The age of a child is not relevant, yet a level of understanding is required. Some aspects of this therapy can help calm a child who is agitated or afraid.

How often can or should one do it?

It depends on your intention and your process. Usually once or twice a week is recommended for deep emotional work. Followed by once or twice a month for anchoring and self-empowerment.


Can it be done alone, at home?

Because holotropic breathwork can evoke intense physical and emotional changes, it is advised to practice with guidance and follow-up exercises.


You offer two different breathwork therapy, one for trauma release and the dynamic & rejuvenating breathwork. What are the core differences between the two and who is each meant for?


 

NOTE: Holotropic breathing may be a viable option for therapy but as with all things that push your boundaries, make sure to follow up with your doctor.

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