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Rebirthing Breathwork - The research

Wednesday, November 07, 2012 by: Joe Jennings
Tags: rebirthing, breathwork, research

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(NaturalNews) Rebirthing Breathwork (RB) is a fairly new healing modality and as such has not received a huge amount of scientific investigation. However, studies which have been conducted have been both interesting and positive. This article will discuss these papers and their conclusions.

One such study, by Zimberoff and Hartman (1999) claims RB, "provide[s] a means to work on several levels: the physical, the emotional/psychological, and the spiritual." Others have identified a range of possible uses. Chow et al (2008) showed that it can help with personal growth and relationships. Lalande et al. (2012) conclude that breathwork relieves anxiety and depression as did Sundres et al (1994). It was also shown to improve brain functioning by Sviderskay (2006). Hendricks and Hendricks (1987), through case studies, conclude that breathwork is effective for resolving prenatal and perinatal issues.

As can be seen from the areas studied, the uses of breathwork appear to be quite wide. Smith (1988) goes further, stating, "The use of breathwork for clients offers a safe and reliable approach to exploring transpersonal states as well as a quick method for accessing unconscious material... Individuals have reported rapid improvement in a wide range of disorders as a result of breathwork treatment."

Research on alternate breathwork techniques

To get a further idea of the uses of breathwork, it can be useful to look at other breathwork techniques, many of which originated from RB, yet differ in one way or another. Thus, although they are different enough that the comparison will not be exact, they are similar enough that the comparison will be possible and useful.

Holotropic Breathing is the most researched of all breathwork modalities. In fact it was the only other one on which papers could be found. From these, it was shown that breathwork can alter the central nervous system and improve psychological issues (Rhinewine, Williams, 2007). It can help addicts recover from their addiction, be it alcohol or drug related, and then also abstain (Metcalf, 1995). This was also shown in a study completed by Brewerton et al (2012).

Breathwork was also shown to help women recover from post traumatic stress disorder in cases where they had been submitted to incest (Byford, 1991). It was also concluded that breathwork helps to reduce death anxiety and increase self esteem (Holmes et al 1996).

Research on rebirthers

A recent, albeit it unpublished pilot study, by the author (2012) also showed positive effects of RB. In this study, experienced rebirthers were taken and compared to societal norms via physiological and psychological parameters. It was found that rebirthers had higher levels of psychological well-being generally and in areas such as self-acceptance, purpose in life, personal growth, autonomy, environmental mastery and positive relations. The more experienced the rebirther; the higher these levels were. It was also found that they all had healthy blood pressure and lower heart and breathing rates, showing they were physically more relaxed and at ease. Although the numbers were small, this research shows how rebirthing can be increasingly beneficial in the long term.

In summary

From the above studies, it is clear the Rebirthing Breathwork is a useful tool for accessing multiple levels of our being, leading to rapid healing in a variety of situations, including problems as intense as post-traumatic stress disorder. In none of these studies were any problems or side effects indicated. It is therefore clear that RB should be studied further and integrated into more establishments. For instance, prisons, to deal with unresolved issues, rehabilitation centers to deal with the emotional underlying issues and addiction, schools and colleges to deal with stress and competition patterns and governments and related structures to deal with greed and power struggles.


Brewerton, T. D., Eyerman, J. E., Cappetta, P., Mithoefer, M. C. (2012). 'Long-term Abstinence Following Holotropic Breathwork as Adjunctive Treatment of Substance Use Disorders and Related Psychiatric Comorbidity.' International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction. 10, (3). p453-459.

Byford, C. L. (1991). 'Holotropic Breathwork: A potential therapeutic intervention for post-traumatic stress disorder in female incest victims.' Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.

Chow, W. M., Wooten, H. R., Leonard, H. T. (2008). 'Breathwork and Couple Relationships: A qualitative investigation.' Journal of Heart-Centered Therapies. 11, (1). p91-112.

Hendricks, G., Hendricks, K. (1987). 'Techniques for dealing with prenatal and perinatal issues in therapy: A bodymind perspective.' Journal of Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. 1, (3).

Holmes, S. W., Morris, R., Clance, P. R., Putney, R. T. (1996). 'Holotropic Breathwork: An experiential approach to psychotherapy.' Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practise, Training. 33, (1). p114-120.

Jennings, M. J. (2012). 'Physiological and Psychological Effects of Rebirthing Breathwork on Experienced Rebirthers: a pilot study' [unpublished] Available on: www.rebirthinginternational.co.uk. [Accessed on: 18.10.2012].

Lalande, L., Bambling, M., King, R., Lowe, R. (2012). 'Breathwork: An additional treatment option for depression and anxiety?' Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy. 42, (2). p113-119.

Metcalf, B. A. (1995). 'Examining the Effects of Holotropic Breathwork in the Recovery from Alcoholism and Drug Dependence.' Centre for Transpersonal Studies and developments.

Rhinewine, J. P., Williams, O. J. (2007). 'Holotropic Breathwork: The potential role of a prolonged, voluntary hyperventilation procedure as an adjunct to psychotherapy.' The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 13, (7). p771-776.

Sundres, J. L., Ato, P., Fouraste, R., Rajaona, E. (1994). 'Breathwork: A corporal meditation therapy? Evaluation trial and initial reflections.' Pyschologie Medicale. 26. p1362-1368.

Sviderskaya, N. E. (2006). 'Spatial Organisation of EEG Activity During Active Hyperventilation (cyclic breath): General patterns of changes in brain functional state and the effect of paroxysmal activity.' Human Physiology. 32, (2). p140-149.

Zimberoff, D., Hartman, D. (1999). 'Breathwork: Exploring the frontier of "being" and "doing".' Journal of Heart-Centered Therapies. 2, (2). p1-50. p230-238.

About the author:
Joe Jennings is an experienced Rebirthing Breathwork practitioner who was trained by the founder Leonard Orr and Fanny Van Laere.
He has written a small book about his first experiences with the breath as well as a number of articles which have been published in various magazines.
He is currently the co-ordinator of Rebirthing Breathwork International in the UK and a committee member of the British Rebirthing Society.
He has begun a large scale study into the physiological and psychological effects of Rebirthing Breathwork.
He gives private sessions and teaches in the UK.
For more information please visit www.RebirthingInternational.co.uk

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