Holotropic Breathing Ignites Boundless Joy
Yoga Journal|January - February 2021
I’ve tried all sorts of breathwork practices, from the Wim Hof Method to three-part breath, but Holotropic breathing—a pattern of inhalations and exhalations designed to help practitioners access higher states of consciousness—was new to me.
By Sky Cowans

To try it, I met up with Michael Stone, a certified Holotropic Breathwork facilitator. Stone trained with psychiatrist Stan Grof, a cofounder of transpersonal psychology who developed Holotropic Breathwork in the 1970s as an alternative to psychedelics for reaching altered states of mind. Champions of the technique claim it results in self-exploration, transformation, and a feeling of wholeness.

The technique is generally taught in a 12-hour workshop, with two breathing sessions lasting 2 hours each, but Stone took me through an introductory, 1-hour variation of the practice.

In Holotropic sessions, one person is the breather (me, in this case), and the other is the sitter (Stone). The sitter ’s job is to stay beside the breather and hold space for them—to help them feel safe, watched over, not alone. This method of breathing is designed to cause the brain’s default mode network, the part that houses the analytical mind, to quiet down, suppressing the ego and tapping into the subconscious.

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