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Breathwork is a relatively new discipline that has become increasingly popular since covid.
The breath, however, has been used as a medicine since the beginning of times. Chinese Tao (400 BCE) focused entirely on breathing, Hindus considered breath and spirit to be the same thing, Buddhists used breathing to reach higher planes of consciousness.
Taking a breath is the first thing we do as we are born on this planet and the last thing we do before we die. It's a resource that is always with us and can be used at any moment to regulate our nervous system. Our ancestors knew that and paid more attention to it. Then the art of breathing was lost.
In the 1960s and 70s, the field of psychotherapy began looking for alternative methodologies to traditional talk therapy to support the healing of the patients. The power of the breath in the process of healing through release and expression became increasingly evident and different techniques were perfectioned. Nowadays, many have heard of Holotropic Breathwork by Stanislav Grof, Rebirthing by Leonard Orr, and the Wim Hof method by Wim Hof. These different methodologies all aim at the release of tension and at teaching us how to gain control over our mind and body.
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