THE FLOW OF A BREATHWORK SESSION
Choosing a Breathwork Technique:
When starting your journey into the breath, your experience is for you alone. There are many ways of choosing where to begin and the key is to follow your intuition. There is no right or wrong place to start. Every breather decides which technique they wish to practice and which practitioner they wish to work with based on intuition and experience.
IBF recommend that those new to conscious connected breathing attend a one-to-one or group session with a qualified breathwork professional. The IBF Science and Research Group offer a classification of breathwork modalities: The ART of Breathwork, which may help to guide you.
- Trust your intuition to guide you to the technique and practitioner that will best support you.
- All breathwork practitioners are encouraged to outline:
- What technique they are offering, the intention or aim of this specific session.
- What other modalities the session will include (specifically mentioning if bodywork or touch are involved) and how they will interact with the breather.
The Role of a Facilitator or Sitter:
- Breathwork is commonly practiced with a facilitator, sitter or partner. Their role is one of sustained presence, unconditional acceptance and to provide support.
- In some practices they will also observe and provide feedback to support the breather in their process. This may involve touch, instructions, affirmations, eye contact or other modalities.
- Their role is NOT in orchestrating the session. They trust that the session will unfold as it is meant to and they act only with a clear intention to support the breather.
- If a facilitator or sitter does something that you don’t feel comfortable with – keep breathing. Raise your hand to communicate what you need and trust that they will accept your preference without judgement.
The Flow of a Conscious Connected Breathwork Session:
- Before the session the leader will create a safe and supportive environment.
- They will provide information about the practice, what to expect during the session and what is expected of you. They will invite you to ask questions.
- They will seek your consent to work with you in their specific technique.
- They may invite you to create a positive intention before the session. Creating an intention may help to provide focus and an anchor for you during your breathing practice.
- You are free to leave a session during preparation if you do not feel it is right for you.
- The session begins once the breather connects their breath and continues for as long as this connected breathing pattern is sustained.
- Consciously connecting the breath creates an altered state of consciousness and this may happen very quickly.
- Whatever happens for you during the session is what is required, your only responsibility is to keep breathing and honour yourself.
- Once you connect your breath, your safety and the safety of the rest of the group is the responsibility of the session leader until the whole group has completed their process.
- It is your choice to stop the breathing practice at any time, however it is recommended that you remain in the space and do not leave a session once the breathing practice begins.
- Throughout the session, physical sensations, emotions, thoughts and spiritual experiences may arise. The practice of conscious connected breathing is to breathe through these experiences and to be present with them with compassion. Whatever happens, keep breathing!
- Sometimes a profound shift will happen and it may feel necessary for you to release through tears, laughter or movement. Release can create a feeling of catharsis.
- Depending on the technique, the release is processed in different ways.
- At the IBF we honour ourselves and those around us with trust that whatever is expressed is necessary and relevant and we continue to breathe in our own process.
- Sometimes, a breather will get into a cycle of using sound or movement in order to avoid experiencing a feeling that is arising for them during the breathing practice.
- Only the breather can know what is happening inside their experience. However, in some situations, a facilitator may guide you to breathe or tone. This is not to interrupt your expression, rather an invitation to return to the breath as the healing tool to move through what you are experiencing.
- Towards the end of the session you may notice the music changing as the leader transitions the group into a period of relaxation. This time is sacred, allowing deep awareness and insights to unfold for the breather.
- Integration is a process through which we understand the total meaning and value of everything that has happened and it is an important part of the conscious connected breathwork practice. It often continues for hours or days after a session.
After the Session:
- It is important to drink plenty of water to re-hydrate and allow any toxins cleared through the breath to be released. You may feel tired or energised, emotional or joyful. Whatever happens, be gentle with yourself and listen to your body.
- At many conferences and training events there are several opportunities for breathing practice every day. It is important to notice and honour the time that you may need between sessions to process and integrate.
- If something is triggered and you would like support, you can approach the group leader or your facilitator at any time. Often it is helpful to breathe again and sometimes it is not. We invite you to journal, walk, talk and ask for support if you need it.
Compiled by Dr Pippa Wheble & Dr Ela Manga, IBF Science & Research Group
With gratitude to Judee Gee, IBF Professional Member