For years, The Healing Arts Center has taught its massage therapy students basic transformational breathwork. Two years ago, the school started teaching this breath practice to the public by offering its Introduction to Transformational Breathwork workshop three times a year. HAC has been steadily building up a body of people who are trained to practice this intensive healing practice. Some students have found that transformational breathwork has allowed them to completely recover from depression, panic attack disorder and other debilitating conditions often associated with past trauma. It is not unusual for a breathwork client to say that a single session of transformational breathwork can do what years of talk therapy cannot.
In the past century, several modern western traditions of breathwork have emerged:
A Brief History of Breathwork at HAC
In 2017, HAC taught the Transformational Breathwork Master Track for the first time in ten years. That master track lead to over two dozen graduates stepping into the community as certified breathworkers. The idea behind this master track was to educate a new generation of breathworkers so that the breathwork community could start to grow in the St. Louis region. You might say that this first class of certified breathworkers has become breathwork missionaries, spreading knowledge and providing access to this very powerful health and wellness modality.
Simultaneous to the master track training, HAC initiated basic introduction workshops to give members of the public sufficient training to participate in monthly breathwork gatherings. These gatherings assume that the participants have had the four-hour introductory training. The monthly sessions are designed to give breathers an ever-deepening experience of breathwork in a coached environment and inside the communal support of a cohesive breathwork community.
These efforts have culminated in the emergence of a breathwork community that gathers on the second Sunday of every month at HAC and in other locations around the region. For breath practitioners, this community is becoming a place of friendship, health, and well-being like no other.
The Prevalence and Importance of Breathwork
Breathing techniques have been used for centuries as an essential access to healing and wellness. Not only is breath the foundation of nearly every meditation method ever devised, this practice of enriching the bloodstream with oxygen has also provided profound healing experiences since ancient times. Breathwork is a foundational element of nearly all Asian martial arts. It has been developed over the centuries as both a method to focus physical power and to cause the body and mind to heal.
In the West, we are notoriously bad breathers. Because modern people tend to live sedentary lifestyles, they tend to breathe only with the top lobes of their lungs in a very shallow breath pattern. Over time this leads to substantially diminished oxygen entering the bloodstream, thereby depriving tissues and cells of a vital element of health. Diminished oxygen harms the body slowly over time, exacerbating the effects of aging and empowering a variety of diseases including diabetes, heart disease and others. Transformational breathwork creates awareness of breath and increased oxygen levels in the body thereby prompting a practitioner to breathe deeply during the day and even while sleeping. Regular practice of breathwork ultimately changes one's natural pattern of breathing and the general state of health.
Grof distinguishes between two modes of consciousness: the hylotropic and the holotropic. The hylotropic mode relates to "the normal, everyday experience of consensus reality". The holotropic has to do with states which aim towards wholeness and the totality of existence. The holotropic is characteristic of non-ordinary states of consciousness such as meditative, mystical, or psychedelic experiences.
According to Grof, contemporary psychiatry often categorizes these non-ordinary states as psychotic. Grof connects the hylotropic to the Hindu conception of namarupa ("name and form"), the separate, individual, illusory self. He connects the holotropic to the Hindu conception of Atman-Brahman, the divine, true nature of the self.
One could argue that most modern breathwork techniques seek to access this Atman-like state of consciousness often with startling effects.
Common Health Benefits of a Breathwork Practice
A common phenomenon in transformational breath practice is the release of deeply suppressed trauma that has caused considerable mental side effects and even mental illness. Breathwork can often release this trauma that is buried deeply in the subconscious and cause it to work its way into the conscious experience where it can be integrated into one's cognitive experience. This can cause the dissipation of harmful effects of this subconscious thought-form, given that it is no longer latent in the psyche.
Similarly, considerable release and even access to a rich sense of wholeness can be rejuvenating and empowering, giving practitioners access to happiness and emotional freedom. These results can be observed as they manifest for participants in every breath workshop and monthly class that HAC offers. While individual results vary, in any given group someone is overcoming latent trauma or claiming some form of conscious liberation.
How to Take Part in The Breathwork Community at HAC
The Introduction to Transformational Breathwork training workshop is offered three to four times a year. It is a 4-hour workshop that teaches the basic framework of breath practice and establishes some essential fundamental understanding necessary for breath practice. The first two hours cover the elements of Transformational Breath technique and participants enter their first breath session as a group for the last two hours. Once a participant has been taught the fundamentals they can practice transformational breathwork not only in the HAC Breath Community, but at home on their own.
The Monthly Transformational Breathwork Class is a guided group breath session for trained breathers and is a no-frills training event. Veteran breathers gather, get comfortable and breathe. At the end of each monthly session, breathers share their experience and support each other in the integration process. Sharing a voyage into the heart of consciousness itself tends to bring the group into a state of true community as they share their experiences and support each other in the adventure.
Private breath sessions are a great option for both beginners and experienced breathers to further their breathing practice, personally guided by Tom Tessereau with his years of expertise. While the monthly classes are a regular opportunity to practice, clients can make strides in their healing by taking advantage of one-on-one breathwork sessions. Breathwork appointments are available in the Healing Arts Center clinic on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Contact reception services at (314)647-8080 to book an appointment with Tom.
The general public is invited to join the HAC Breathwork Community. No prior training is required, though the introductory workshop is essential. It is a simple and profound way to impact one's mental and physical health and a great way to make new friends. Practicing breath is invigorating and rewarding, and of course it is more fun when you can share that with others. The community breath group is a great place to share your breath journey and celebrate the amazing results.
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