Breathwork is becoming increasingly popular among the growing community of seekers who travel the globe in search of powerful new insights and experiences. Whether it’s a series of Kundalini breathwork kriyas in the jungle of Tulum, a psychedelic breathwork gathering in the deep playa at Burning Man, or a transformational breathwork ritual at our own agora in Mykonos, it turns out that the simple act of consciously inhaling and exhaling has the potential to enact extraordinary healing and shifts in perception.
“You enter this different dimension where you’re able to unlock hidden doors,” says Sascha Zeilinger, a Berlin-based breathwork facilitator who runs Spirit of Breath. “The beauty is that your body knows best. It’s just that we’ve stopped listening to our body the older we get, but through breathwork we have this connection again.
”The history of modern breathwork goes back to the the mid 1970s when psychotherapist Stanislav Grof developed holotropic breathwork as an antidote to LSD when it was banned, in order to access psychedelic experiences —or a “non-ordinary state of consciousness” as he called it. This is achieved through an accelerated breathing technique that verges on hyperventilation, done over the course of one to two hours and timed to music. During the 1970s, Leonard Orr also developed rebirthing, a technique that came to him while reliving his own birth in the bath, as a way to clear childhood trauma.
“There are many names for breathwork now; Clarity Breathwork, BlissPoint, Alchemy of Breath - all of these are just different expressions of holotropic breathing,” says Scorpios Mind & Body resident, Miriam Adler. Based between Tulum and Ibiza, Miriam guides people back to their bodies through her rituals that incorporate breathwork, tea ceremonies, meditation, and kundalini yoga. “Breathwork is an enhanced way of breathing. So there is more of a focus on the inhale, which really goes into the heart, instead of just breathing shallowly — and then the exhale is very slight and relaxed,” she explains. “You’re bringing more oxygen in then you’re bringing out, and with that flood of oxygen, memories and trauma that are stored in body can come up. When you’re in that state, your mind is not able to hide things from you as much as it normally does.”
“Once you’re able to let go, the beauty of breathwork can unfold,” Sascha says. He teaches Alchemy of Breath, a form of conscious breathing that is similar to rebirthing, during which guests use deep diaphragmatic breathing while lying down. The one-hour sessions are timed to music, and there is an emphasis on healing emotional childhood wounds. Tingling, cramping and numbness can ensue, but that’s when the magic happens, according to Sascha. “During our daily lives, we hold onto so many things, but when you learn to go with the flow, you feel this massive release.” Through activating the sympathetic nervous system — our fight-or-flight response — people are able release old traumas that are stored in the body as stagnant energy.
Eva Kaczor brought her bespoke breathwork ritual, Psychedelic Breath to Scorpios this summer as a Mind & Body resident. It’s a dynamic practice in which a series of deep inhales alters the ratio of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body. “You might tap into a slower theta brainwave frequency where you can have mystical experiences. You’re connecting strongly with your limbic system and emotional body,” she says.
With a background in psychology and as a brand strategist, Eva embarked on a process of trying out different healing practices after suffering a burnout. She worked with yoga, art and music, before she came to Psychedelic Breath. “It was one of very few moments in my life where I really asked for insight in meditation,” she remembers. “I wanted to know, ‘What is my gift?’ Then I got this image — 'you’re going to travel the world collaborating with the artists you love, and you’re going to touch peoples hearts.'” A few months later, she started to teach, and while Psychedelic Breath has links with holotropic methods, Eva hadn’t studied it — instead she came to the practice by experimenting with her own techniques. When Acid Pauli came to her class last year, he created a soundtrack for her session at Burning Man, and today has taken the practice to Google, Tech Open Air Berlin and Nomade in Tulum, among others. “I like to work with groups because it helps people become soft and connected, it’s beautiful way to shed layers and stimulate creative thinking,” she says. “My mission is to connect you with your 'heart knowing' — an intelligence that is linked to intuition.”
It was after attending Burning Man several years ago, that Sascha decided to leave his job as a fashion and sales executive and then found himself in Bali soon after. It was a friend who took him to his first breathwork session as a way to improve his surfing. “I almost cancelled,” he remembers laughing, “I thought it was going to be pranayama and I didn’t want to sit in the lotus position for an hour. But then it was such an amazing experience,” he says. “I couldn’t feel my body from below my neck below. Then I saw my mother and my wife, they said ‘you can let go, everything is fine.' I had this massive release of energy and felt I was melting into the floor. It was such a profound experience.” Today Sascha has led breathwork sessions at festivals including Garbicz and Sacred Ground, and he works with brands like Nike, WeWork and Soho House. “The more you practice breathwork, the more you’re able to consciously walk yourself into your unconscious mindset,” he explains. As part of his training, Sascha had to retrace his own early childhood and face his own shadows. “I feel like I’ve opened so many doors, that there’s no turning back now,” he admits “even if sometimes it doesn’t make life easier, you have to remain open — this is lifelong journey.”