I finally did holotropic breathwork yesterday evening with Patrice. It’s also known as rebirthing, since if you do it enough times, apparently you get back to, and release the trauma from, your birth experience.
I had no sense of time, memory, or when I acquired the energies I released. But release I most certainly did.
Patrice was a great coach. I didn’t know what to expect as she had me start exhaling through my mouth, then after a bit, adding inhalations through my mouth. (Both of these are such a no-no in yoga!)
She told me what I might expect (shouting, shaking, crying, coughing, all forms of physical/emotional release) and made it all sound perfectly okay to experience whatever came up for me. She helped me feel that it was safe to surrender.
She warned me not to fall asleep — that some people do that as a way to escape their emotions.
She did not have to worry about that!
Patrice had put a few needles in key points, including LI4 (associated with the ego and being grounded), and at various times, she moved her hands on my body to support the energy flow. She may have also done some medical qi gong (like reiki) on me. I wasn’t paying that much attention to her after a while…
Then we sped up the breathing. And nothing happened. The exhales were supposed to have a “ha!” sound to them, and after about 5 minutes of this, I started laughing. My ha! ha! ha!s became hahahahahaha’s. She laughed with me.
‘Cause, you know, it was totally ridiculous to be doing this! Ridiculously funny and silly and wonderful!
Then I coughed a little and that felt good so I coughed some more. Patrice helped me sit up on the table. Then I started roaring… It was like some energy was coming up from my stomach out my mouth, and it was fierce and loud, and I got red in the face several times as it just kept coming up and out of me.
And then my eyes started tearing and water gathered in my mouth, and I thought I was going to throw up. Patrice got a wastebasket.
And you know what? I never did, and she told me later she knew that I wouldn’t. But I didn’t know that. I was vomiting something. It felt real. It just wasn’t food. It was some nasty energy that had been inside of me, now coming out. Then that urge was over.
I laid back down. More of the ha ha ha. Faster! Sharper!
My legs soon wanted to move. Soon they were shaking involuntarily, much like in David Berceli’s trauma releasing exercises, except that my legs were straight with just a little support under my knees, instead of with my knees bent. My left hand also shook, but not my right — just like when I do the trauma releasing exercises.
I went through cycle after cycle of leg shaking. I even repeatedly kicked something out of my body (which I never do with TRE), then went back to leg shaking. The kicking seemed to be removing something energetic from my sacrum, which (if you know me or have been reading this blog regularly) is where some ancient issues have been residing in my body.
After awhile, I slowed down on the ha’s, drawing them out, making them long, and at the beginning of each exhalation, my legs would start quivering, and by the end of the exhalation, they were nearly still.
Winding down… At the end, Patrice was just rubbing my belly gently. I laid there, getting more and more still, feeling the surge of electrical energy in my body, just like after TRE.
Patrice said later that I was putting out so much heat, she had to open the door and let some cool air in. I was totally unaware of that.
I feel so grateful that I had the core strength and the stamina to stay with the process all the way through. Thank you, yoga!
So… to compare holotropic breathwork to David Berceli’s trauma releasing exercises from his book The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process…
The holotropic breathwork overuses the diaphragm, the breathing muscle. The trauma releasing exercises overuse the leg and hip muscles. With both, you deliberately create a state of overload or stress in the body, and the release brings up deeper stuff.
The trauma releasing exercises don’t include noise. I liked being noisy. But you can do the TREs in a hotel room and/or alone, so there you have it. Make noise if it works for you! There’s a place for them both.
The holotropic breathwork should definitely be done with a guide present, because you could get so wild, you might hurt yourself. (Apparently people do this in groups. That must be quite an experience!)
You can do the trauma releasing exercises alone, without a guide. At least, I’m guessing most of us can. For someone who’s recently been traumatized, it is probably best to have a guide present.
So, having heard of holotropic breathwork but not knowing what it is before doing it, this was my experience. And afterwards, Patrice gave me a compliment — that I went through a nice range of emotions.
I liked it. I want to do it again.