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The power of breathwork: An interview with Rudá Iandê

This article was first published in Tribe, our digital magazine. It’s a better reading experience and doesn’t have ads. You can download it for free on iPhone and Android.

“Power exists in the breath, in the air we breathe. Breathing is our first act, the most basic, vital function we have. We can’t exist without it. And with every breath, we are producing the energy that nourishes each of our biological functions.

“What a powerful source of life we have at our disposal. We can ignore it or we can claim ownership and start consciously breathing and interacting with this energy to create the life we want.”

Can our potential be unlocked, our lives redesigned with a simple act — one we often take for granted — such as breathing?

After taking part in a few breathwork exercises in the Ybytu workshop, I had the opportunity to speak to the creator himself — Rudá Iandê.

I had plenty of questions. Who wouldn’t?

Breathwork, shamanism, and learning about spirituality are fascinating within themselves, let alone when you combine it with the potential of designing the life we want.

The following conversation takes us on a journey through Rudá’s struggles, his personal experiences with breath, and how it led him to create this dynamic workshop.

Plus, I’ll also be sharing the powerful breathwork session I was fortunate to have with Rudá, where we focused on addressing my sexual energy – not an area many realize can be empowered through breathwork.

But first:

Where did it all begin?

I was curious to find out more about Rudá and how his relationship with breathwork first started. It’s an essential part of his practice, and it’s an area I’ve recently been exploring myself.

The exercises I’ve practiced in the Ybytu workshop were all quite dynamic, and each had a clear purpose, so I began to wonder how Rudá’s relationship with breathwork began.

Kiran: When was your first breathwork experience?Or rather, when did you first realize the potential that breathwork could have on your life?

Rudá: At a very young age, I had my first experience with breathwork, unexpectedly. I started practicing kung-fu when I was 12 or 13 years old.

My kung-fu practice was not only about learning how to kick and punch, agility, movement, and building muscles, like we normally see in kung-fu. I also learned how to breathe with focus and intention, to strengthen my body and mind.

Kung-fu has a mystical side and a profound philosophy. One of its key elements is breath.

That was more appealing to me than the rest of the practice.

I found that I could get much more strength — inner strength — from learning how to breathe, channel, and focus my attention together with my breath.

This was my first transcendent or spiritual experience in that sense.

It’s something that gave me self-confidence, brought me to my center and gave me energy for much more than physical combat. It helped me overcome psychological limitations and face many challenges in my life.

Kiran: So what started as training for fights, eventually transferred over into other areas of your life. And was this when you realized breathwork could help you in other ways?

Rudá: Exactly. I started practicing meditation and yoga, because of the expansion, the centering, and the grounding. I started noticing that the body is not only made of muscles, bones, and tissues — it’s also made of energy.

I started studying focused breath. Since then, I’ve been using and developing my way with it. Focused breath is about channeling the energy produced while you are breathing.

The whole energy you need for your body, for every single function, happens because we are breathing.

The breath creates the basic energy that nourishes the cells and produces all the energy we need to exist — not only on a physical level, as a body, but also our thinking, our mind, and our emotions.

Everything starts with our breath.

So, you align your mind with the act of breathing, to access this place where your energy is being created so that you can grab it and move it to the different parts of your body and different dimensions of your psyche.

To energize not only your biology but also other aspects of your being, like emotional balance, inner-strength, intelligence, and creativity.

Rudá went on to explain how combined with meditative breathwork and yoga practices it allowed him to delve much deeper, transcending the ordinary level of consciousness, and access a deeper dimension.

Eventually, this would lead him towards shamanism.

In shamanism, breathwork is considered to be the ultimate way to awaken the inner self.

You’re able to tap into areas that you wouldn’t be able to normally reach, and from there you can begin to access trapped emotions or old traumas left unhealed.

But it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Rudá…

Rudá: There was a moment when I got stuck.

I was studying, trying many things in the spiritual world, but I had so many issues that were unresolved in my emotions.

I suffered too much trying to be what the world says a “spiritual person” should be.

So, in my 20s, I started feeling very ungrounded in life.

There was so much spirituality, but I wasn’t developing anymore. Instead, I was feeling weak and disconnected from the rest of the world. I started researching more, and then I started tapping into “active breathwork”, and that really changed my life.

What makes it interesting is that it’s based on how babies breathe. They naturally hyperventilate. When we breathe that way, we’re entering a flow.

Babies instinctively hyperventilate to equalize their emotions. But as we grow up, we disconnect from the natural intelligence of our body and close the door to our instinctive wisdom.

I studied many different hyperventilation techniques: Pulsation, Bioenergetic, Rebirthing and Holotropic.

With this, many things started opening up. This impacted me so much!

I realized that there were emotions stuck inside of me that I was completely unaware of. Emotions that I blocked, closed the door to, and completely forgot about.

Through active breathwork, I started releasing these emotions, tapping into my anger, fears, deepest anxieties.

We are a whole set of emotions and feelings, each of which must be honored.

So, this journey back to the place we usually try to run away from is healthy and necessary to connect us with life itself. With our energy, our power, our sexuality.

This journey brought me back to earth and opened the channel of vitality, personal power, energy, freedom, and joy.

Breath and emotions

Rudá continued to explain that pleasure can even come from tapping into pain and all those “ugly” emotions we tend to try and sweep under the rug.

He described how engaging with these spaces within us could be enjoyable, like meeting a part of yourself that you’ve repressed for so long.

I confided in Rudá that the night before our interview, I was overcome with nerves.

Although my rational self kept saying, “It’s normal, get over it, just distract yourself,” my body was going through a whole mix of emotions and feelings.

Luckily, what I’d learned from Out of the Box and the Ybytu workshop, about allowing myself to simply be with my emotions and acknowledge that they’re a part of my entire being, came flooding back to me.

I decided to welcome the nerves and anxiety, whilst breathing slowly, concentrating on just letting my body be in a state of mild panic.

Ten minutes of racing thoughts, sweaty palms, and butterflies in my stomach ensued, after which I calmed down, recognized that my fear is natural but it’s not going to hold me back, and I felt much calmer.

The conversation then turned to how breathwork plays a major role in our emotions.

I’d read Rudá’s article on “The air you breathe” (published in this magazine issue), and I wanted to explore further how our emotions can be impacted simply through breathing.

Rudá: When we open space in our mind and emotions, we can integrate it all naturally, and it’s the breath that helps to organize and integrate it all.

It allows the deepest intelligence that resides within our instinct, in the core of our DNA, to balance and align your emotions.

Kiran: So, when you were first practicing this form of breathwork, when you were becoming more in touch with your emotions, did you find that sometimes they can be extremely powerful and strong?

For example, sometimes I’ve found certain breathwork techniques to be quite overwhelming, and I’m not always sure how to deal or process with all the feelings that arise.

How do you deal with those emotions once they’re brought to the surface?

Rudá: It’s easy to deal with our emotions when they come to the surface. The problem is what we do to keep them in the depths of the subconscious.

We automatically keep our energy low, so we don’t have to deal with them. Drugs, overeating, tobacco, compulsive talking, overworking, etc. We try by many compulsive means to empty ourselves.

When your energy is low it gets easier to stand the conflictive emotions you carry within.

With breathwork, the opposite happens. You start filling yourself with energy and life. The life within you will then start touching the depths where your emotions are stored. The old stuff, the emotions you’ve repressed will come to the surface. You’re activating your body and consciousness. And the life within you will push out everything that is dead inside of you.

You may have a moment of catharsis, but at the end what happens is the opposite than you just suggested. You won’t have to deal with such emotions anymore.

You have been dealing with such emotions in the most possible self-destructive way. You have repressed them, and to keep them sleeping you have had to put a big portion of yourself to sleep too.

Once you touch them and put them out, you’re free. You won’t be haunted by them anymore. There will be much more space within you.

You can fill the space with life. You can open yourself. New emotions will come and go, but if you are not repressing and are afraid of them, it will be a flow of energy, positive and creative.

Rudá and I continued to discuss how this conflict affects many of us who don’t realize how out of touch we are with certain emotions.

From the little breathwork experience I’ve had, I’ve certainly noticed a growing relationship between myself and the emotions I’m afraid to delve into — the usual suspects, fear, shame, guilt, and all the other niggling insecurities that have formed over the years.

So what Rudá explained made perfect sense — the moment I stopped trying to fight those emotions, it became much easier to live with them, letting them come and go, just like the waves of the sea.

The Ybytu workshop

Now that we’d discussed how Rudá had learned and developed his breathwork techniques, and the power they can have on allowing our emotions to run freely, I wanted to learn more about what inspired Rudá to create the Ybytu workshop.

Kiran: From learning about breathwork to then realizing its power and potential, how did you translate all that over into Ybytu?

Rudá: Together with breathwork, I was also starting shamanism.

I was completely involved in shamanism, developing tools, working with medicines, and I learned that it was a beautiful path. I’m completely passionate about it.

But I didn’t realize that I had disconnected from my roots and lost my balance, because my career started taking off too fast.

I was traveling internationally all year, and it was too much. I was working with thousands of people, and I didn’t realize it but I started getting sick after a few years in this process.

I became stagnant in my energy. My cholesterol soared to 570 (the normal rate is below 190). I had pain all over my body. My vitality was super low. I felt that I could collapse at any moment. So I decided to stop and take care of myself.

I tried with every single tool I had but started adapting, creating, and developing new techniques. I made myself the guinea-pig and started testing.

Many tools I used turned out to be helpful, but putting together shamanism and breathwork brought really incredible results.

In a period of three months, I not only balanced my cholesterol and got rid of the pain, but I also lost 35 pounds and got all my vitality back. I felt much younger, and my libido got higher than ever.

Since then, I’ve been practicing and perfecting the technique.

I named it Ybytu, which means air, breath, and life force, in the language of the Guaranis, some of the first civilizations who lived in this part of South America, with whom I’m tied by DNA.

Ybytu brings together every type of breathwork: focus, meditative and active breathwork. And it goes one step farther, connecting deep shamanic knowledge with breath.

It has something which I have developed — the shamanic knowledge together with the breath, to speak to the intelligence of life that resides in the body.

The shamanic breathwork in Ybytu is about connecting the elements of our body to the elements of nature — of Gaia, our living planet.

It’s designed to dissolve the illusion that makes us feel disconnected from nature, from life, and from ourselves. It brings us back to the physical and emotional awareness that we are nature. It connects our consciousness to Gaia, the bigger system we belong to.

Consciously connected to this source, we can rebalance and energize our body, mind and emotions, and drink from the primal source of life that resides within us.

Kiran: I’ve noticed that Ybytu addresses our chakras. What’s the connection between our breathing and these points of energy?

Rudá: Let’s say you are the intelligence of life encapsulated in a person, like a drop in the ocean. This intelligence of life unfolds itself in many different dimensions.

So, one of these dimensions is your mind. We use it to understand and play with the information around us and turn it into knowledge.

But this is not the only kind of intelligence we have. We are also made of body, sexuality, emotions, desire, intuition, spirituality, and more.

The intelligence of your body is different from your intellect. It coordinates trillions of cells and its interactions with countless bacteria and other microorganisms that coexist in your organism.

Your body’s intelligence coordinates around 37 thousand billion chemical reactions per second. Meanwhile, your intellect is not even aware of it.

Our emotions also have their own intelligence, which is very different from the mind. The intellect operates with one set of rules, whilst the emotional has a completely different set of rules.

You can try to resolve your feelings by thinking, but you won’t be successful, because the emotions don’t respond to the logic of the intellect.

The same goes for your sexuality. Trying to think about it won’t make your sexuality better. It has its own instinctive intelligence.

What we call chakra is actually a door for a whole dimension of your being, which has its intelligence.

We can’t command our emotions or our sexuality, for example. So we need tools for balancing, developing, exploring, and empowering these different inner dimensions.

And that’s where breathwork comes into it.

This is what Ybytu is about.

It’s not only about balancing or empowering our chakras. It’s also about bringing our consciousness there, creating tools to consciously exist in each of our dimensions and to operate from there.

That’s what these breathwork exercises bring. They are tools to explore beyond the bubble of the mind and to empower your whole being in each of our dimensions.

Kiran: So, when we have a better understanding of each dimension, does that allow the chakras to communicate with each other, creating a sort of harmonious flow?

Rudá: First, let’s understand why our inner dimensions aren’t naturally communicating with each other and flowing in balance.

It happens because we have been domesticated to live in society.

From an early age, we learn to suffocate our instinct, desires, and emotions to play a game which is not ours. When children, we must play the role that is expected from us for our survival. And we end up being programmed.

This social program takes roots in the depths of our subconscious, breaking our psychic integrity and fragmenting us. That’s why we tend to have our minds, emotions, and desires each pushing us towards a different direction.

Such struggle divides us within, slowing us down and creating pain.

What we do in Ybytu is connect and align these different dimensions of our being with the systemic intelligence that resides in the depths of our body. This intelligence is what I call “intelligence of life.”

So, we go one step deeper from our emotions, mind, desires, and instincts, towards our source.

From this profound place, we can dissolve the judgments, concepts, and traumas that can block and poison our inner environment.

You start connecting with a larger intelligence that resides in your being.

You’re dissolving the program and everything that was dividing you, and this creates balance and harmony.

Once you’re breathing properly in each of your chakras, then you can find a sense of “wholeness.” Your whole being is aligned in one direction.

Kiran: One thing I found when I started breathwork was that my mind would constantly wander, my shoulders and back hurt. It wasn’t very comfortable.

How should people new to the practice of breathwork approach it?

Rudá: Practice is the most important thing, and you can do it in 15 minutes a day.

Once you turn it into a habit, you’ll feel an improvement. Just within a couple of months, you can find yourself in a completely different place.

It was then that Rudá drew attention back to what I had mentioned about experiencing pain and discomfort when practicing breathwork.

His advice?

Don’t take it as something which is holding you back, see it as an energy block, whether physical or mental, which has presented itself already. Take it as a starting place at the beginning of the breathwork journey.

This was great advice, especially for those new to the world of breathwork. It’s also an indication of how limitless breathwork truly is – there isn’t an area of your being that won’t be affected by it.

Putting breathwork into practice

Throughout our discussion, a picture was beginning to form of how interconnected our energy is and how the breath is essentially what keeps everything flowing.

Without tapping into this insanely beneficial resource that we barely pay attention to, we’re closing ourselves off from reaching our full potential.

So, as we reached the end of our interview, I asked Rudá if we could go through a breathwork exercise together — why not put everything we’ve just discussed into practice?

He asked if there was a particular area I wanted to work on.

At that moment, I decided to ditch the safe option I’d prepared in my head, and bring up a topic that I’m (like many people would be) nervous to deal with — my sexual limitations.

I say limitations, but what I really mean was my inability to enjoy sex freely.

For many years, I’ve found reaching the height of pleasure to be a roller coaster experience.
Sometimes great, sometimes deeply upsetting, and sometimes never to be seen.

I couldn’t understand it — on paper, everything should work out.

I am in a loving relationship, I trust my partner, I’m sexually attracted to him and it’s through no fault of his that I often fail to orgasm.

So, as you can imagine, sex became frustrating, the complete opposite of what it should be.

Now, why did I decide on this particular area to work on?

I feel that it’s an area many of us struggle with. The problem is, our sexuality is still seen as a taboo subject in many societies, and rather than recognize it as a natural, beautiful, powerful part of our entire being, we shun it to one side.

Many of us would rather live in frustration than openly talk about our sexual problems.

But my journey, taking part in workshops like Out of the Box and Ybytu, is all about being open to new experiences and creating the life I choose to have.

And a huge part of that, for me, is turning my fear into power. Even if it does mean bringing up something that I’d normally hide rather than reveal.

Also, (naturally) I had turned to Google for answers. I didn’t find a solution, but I did realize there were tons of women (and men) with similar frustrations.

So for today’s interview, I decided to put my nerves to one side and give it a go, after all, how many times will I have the opportunity to ask for direct guidance from someone so knowledgeable on the subject of breathwork?

My breathwork experience

Here’s how it went:

First, Rudá guided me into a relaxed state and brought my focus and attention onto my breathing.

We started with slow breathing in and out through my nose.

As I relaxed, he bought my attention to the parts of my body. It felt like with each breath I was checking in with a different organ or limb.

After focusing on my body, he asked me to breathe deep, very calmly, and then when I exhale, tense every muscle I can, including the face, to squeeze the air out of my body.

We continued like this for what seemed like an eternity (in reality it was probably only a minute), but I found myself so detached from everything external.

Time had stopped, and all I was focused on was his voice and my breathing.

Slowly, my attention was brought to my womb.

Rudá encouraged me to feel the power of my womb pulse through my body and connect with everything else I’m feeling, letting it flood into all parts of my body.

We ended the session with a series of breaths facing towards the sky, deep inhales, and even deeper exhales. He encouraged me to release any noise that feels natural when I breathe out, before slowly coming back round to reality.

The verdict?

One word — intense.

At times. I felt my heart was about to explode out of my chest which was a weird contradiction since mentally and physically I felt quite relaxed.

Rudá explained that the purpose of this particular breathwork technique was to activate the womb, connect it with the skin and the body, then with the heart, and finally with the voice.

He made an important point here:

“Try not to push yourself to feel like you’re achieving something. Instead, push yourself to be loving with yourself, with your sexuality. The more respectful you are with your sexuality, the more your sexuality opens.”

I’ve agreed to practice it every day for a week, to see how it impacts the relationship I have with my sexual energy — I guess time will tell.

To conclude, breathwork, like Rudá said, needs practice.

Today’s session might have left me feeling invigorated and weirdly energetic, but time (and focus on my part) is what will show results.

And that’s clear to see in the exercises in the Ybytu workshop — the techniques reflect the years and focus Rudá has put into developing a combination of shamanism and breathwork that addresses all our energy points.

Now it’s up to us whether we want to ignore this power within or harness it to empower ourselves.

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Written by Kiran Athar

Kiran is a foodie, writer and traveler. She considers herself a citizen of the world, who gets her inspiration from the people she meets along her journeys. She's currently living in Spain, where she spends her time writing, watching the shepherds and eating tapas in the mountains of Andalucía.

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