Could you ever imagine peeling back the layers of tension, emotion, and pain, to make way for self-discovery and pleasure, simply through breathing?
Well, it exists…Welcome to ecstatic breathwork! In this guide, you’ll find out everything you need to know about this powerful technique, and how to put it into practice. But first:
What is ecstatic breathwork?
Ecstatic breathwork is a type of breathwork that involves breathing rapidly and for a set amount of time. The aim is to enter into a state of euphoria using your breathing as the catalyst.
Those who practice ecstatic breathwork often describe the feeling of “soaring” or “flying” as the technique is designed to help release tension from the body and give you an overall feeling of nourishment and happiness.
For thousands of years, breathwork has been an integral part of healing and improving well-being – now the benefits of it are being rediscovered as more people turn to traditional healing methods.
So, how does it work?
Ecstatic breathwork works by changing the rhythm and depth of which we breathe. As opposed to shallow breathing, which keeps our bodies in a state of fight or flight, ecstatic breathwork helps you move past that, and into the parasympathetic nervous system.
This response is triggered when the body is relaxed, eating, or resting.
When practiced properly, the benefits of ecstatic breathwork are incredible. Many of the emotions, stresses, and thoughts which run rampant in our bodies and minds can be unlocked and released through breathwork, giving you a new outlook and lease on life.
Why do people practice ecstatic breathwork?
If you’re not familiar with breathwork in general, it might seem unusual to “practice it”. Don’t we breathe all day, every day without thinking about it?
The truth is, yes, but most of us overlook the importance of breathing – when you think about it, it’s the core of our being – it’s what pumps life into us, literally.
Through breathwork, we can access and connect with our body’s innate intelligence. We reconnect with our DNA, our emotions, thoughts, and this can improve overall well-being.
Furthermore, as more research is conducted into breathwork, it’s becoming clear that the way we breathe impacts the lives we live.
Most of us breathe very shallowly (the next time you’re tense or stressed, notice how restricted and tight your breathing is) which means we restrict how much air we take in. We don’t reach our full potential in life, because the very foundation of our being is being limited, our breathing.
So back to the question, why do people practice ecstatic breathwork?
Most obviously – to reach some level of ecstasy/pleasure. And to achieve this, breathwork is used to cleanse the body, remove blocks caused by stress and tension, and allow oxygen to flow deeply throughout the entire body.
It may be used personally, as a way to explore your body and improve your relationship with yourself, or used with a partner especially if you want to take your sex life to the next level.
But more than that, there are other powerful uses for breathwork that can significantly improve your health, which I’ll explain in the next section.
What are the benefits of ecstatic breathwork?
So now we know why people practice ecstatic breathwork, but what are the benefits of it? You may be surprised by how much this type of breathwork can transform your life, on an emotional, physical and spiritual level.
Here are some of the most notable advantages of this type of breathwork practice:
- Process and release trauma, grief, and loss
- Release energy blocks and negative emotions
- Gain a deeper awareness of yourself
- Improve confidence and self-esteem
- Manage issues such as stress and anxiety better
- Improved self-awareness
- Better focus and clarity
With ecstatic breathwork, of course, there’s the ultimate goal of reaching the heights of pleasure – the word “ecstatic” gives this straight away.
But as you can see, several other benefits contribute to your long-term wellbeing and happiness, not just feelings of pleasure that occur in the moment.
This has long been documented in studies of breathwork, and how it can be a life-changing factor when practiced regularly.
How to practice ecstatic breathwork
Most breathwork practitioners will have developed unique breathwork exercises based on their experience and style, so you may find that techniques differ from one another.
But with that in mind, if you want to try a simple ecstatic breathwork exercise, the below sequence is taken from Amy Jo Goddard, a sexual empowerment coach.
If you’re wondering why a sexual empowerment coach has links to breathwork, don’t forget that an important part of karma sutra and tantric sex is unlocking sexual pleasure through breathing!
Here’s the exhilarating exercise:
- Choose a comfortable position. You can stand with your feet just a little wider than shoulder-width, back straight, and knees slightly bent. Or, you can sit with your legs crossed.
- Goddard suggests timing yourself for 3 minutes and increasing to 5 once you’re comfortable with the exercise.
- Start by counting the inhales and exhales at a 5-count pace (inhale for five seconds, then exhale for five seconds).
- Make sure that with every inhale you fill your lungs, and expel all air when you exhale.
- Once you feel comfortable with this rhythm, start to increase the speed. Slowly transitions from five seconds to four, three, two, and then one-second intervals.
- Focus on your breath. Create a loop with your breathing, your inhales and exhales should flow from one to the other.
- Don’t stop until your timer finishes, even if you feel tired. Push through the blocks and allow yourself to experience the air cleansing your body.
- Once the timer has stopped, slow down your breathing until you return to a normal state. Don’t be in a rush to get up or move, your body will need time to calm down.
Goddard advises that you may even feel orgasmic during the height of this breathwork exercise, which makes sense when you consider that an orgasm is the height of ecstasy.
So, whether you wish to use this alone for your own personal benefit, or with a partner to increase intimacy, it’s a great starting point in your ecstatic breathwork journey.
Are there any risks when practicing ecstatic breathwork?
As with any type of breathwork, the effects can be powerful and sometimes overwhelming. Don’t forget that some types of breathwork lead to hyperventilation, which can be dangerous.
With ecstatic breathwork, you may experience tingling, dizziness, or a sense of light-headedness.
If you’re pregnant or have recently had surgery, it’s best to check with a GP or medical consultant before practicing breathwork. The same goes for people with the following conditions:
- Respiratory issues
- A history of aneurysms
- Psychiatric symptoms
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular issues
Bear in mind that breathwork can bring up a range of emotions – you may experience negative emotions being released before you reach ecstasy.
For this reason, it’s a good idea to practice with the help of a professional who can guide you through the process and help you process your emotions as they arise.
For some, this can be a lot to deal with, especially if you’re holding onto trauma or a lot of pent-up emotions.
Different types of breathwork
Ecstatic breathwork is just one type of breathwork out there. All types boast numerous health benefits, and what works for you will come down to your personal preference.
It’s a good idea to try out a few different types first to find out what you feel comfortable with. Other types of breathwork include:
- Holotropic breathwork. Reach different levels of consciousness with this technique. In this altered state, healing can begin on an emotional and psychological level.
- Rebirthing. Used to expel negative energy and cleanse the body. Rebirthing helps you let go of emotions, addictions, and negative thought patterns.
- Psychedelic breathwork. *Psychedelics aren’t needed*. This type of breathwork acts as using psychedelics would – opening the mind, reducing anxiety and depression, giving clarity on life and personal development.
- Transformational breathwork. Effective for those working through addictions, or who suffer from chronic pain or conditions such as anxiety.
- Clarity breathwork. Used to increase focus, creativity, energy levels, and for overall healing of negative emotions and thought patterns.
Whether you aim to feel relaxed or energized, move past addiction, or work through trauma, breathwork has the key to unlocking this powerful potential within you.
But as with any type of healing, it’s important to take your time, find the right type for you, and if possible a professional who can teach you the ropes.
With that in mind though, there are types of breathwork that can easily be practiced at home – one of which we’re going to explore below:
Shamanic breathwork vs Ecstatic breathwork
Shamanic breathwork incorporates ancient shamanic healing practices with the power of breathwork – an incredible combination.
Similar to ecstatic breathwork, shamanic breathwork will help you reach levels of relaxation and exhilaration that can only be achieved naturally through breath.
It will help you work through traumas and push out unwanted energy, negative thoughts, and emotions.
Most importantly, it’ll help you rediscover your sense of self, rebuild that important relationship with yourself, and balance your mind, body, and soul.
But alongside that, you can also:
- Journey beyond the ego where true healing can take place
- Reconnect with your soul purpose in life
- Reawaken your inner creativity
- Release tension and blocked energy
- Unleash your inner power and potential
Now, shamanic breathwork will vary for each person, and depending on the techniques used (and the shaman they derive from) this can be a very powerful way to reconnect with yourself and heal issues that you struggle to move on from.
So how can you practice shamanic breathwork?
I’d recommend this free video, in which Brazilian shaman Rudá Iandê will guide you through an invigorating sequence of breathwork practices.
Ideal for dissolving anxiety, releasing negative energy, and finding the inner peace we all crave, this breathwork is truly life-transforming – I know from first-hand experience working with Iandê.
And the best part is that these exercises can be practiced by anyone, no matter if you’re a beginner or well-seasoned in the art of breathwork.