Is Breathwork the New Yoga?
Breathwork seems to be what all the buzz is about these days, with an array of new teachers offering workshops and trainings in Bali and around the world. At BaliSpirit Festival, the breathwork workshops are an integral part of the festival and growing fast in popularity. Some even say that breathwork is becoming “the new yoga” and since there is obviously no need to replace yoga, let’s look at how these practices inter-link and can complement each other.
In a recent interview for Hanuman Academy, Giten Tonkov, founder of the BioDynamic Breathwork & Trauma Release System® (BBTRS) and author of ‘Feel to Heal – Releasing Trauma through Body Awareness and Breathwork Practice’, explains how many people, after practicing yoga for some time, hit an agonizing point where they are being faced with a mirror of themselves in their practice. When faced with their reflection, they start to see things in themselves that are painful, uncomfortable or simply not welcome. Imagine a time when during savasana you had tears running down your face? Or in warrior pose, when you could have actually attacked someone?
Have you ever during class found yourself judging the teacher, fellow students, yourself or your own body…and then judged yourself more for being judgmental because that’s not very “yogi”, right? Well, apparently that’s what most of us experience at some point and why many people actually quit the practice. Or – we decide to go deeper and that’s where the practice of breathwork can help.
As Giten goes to explain, many of our core beliefs, conditionings and traumas are held as tensions in the body so as we move through the deeper layers of our physical body, stuff comes to the surface which can carry an emotional charge or a traumatic memory. This can be scary and uncomfortable and collide with our idea of yoga as in the spiritual world we are often made to believe that these so-called “negative” aspects of ourselves are somehow flawed or “un-spiritual”. According to Giten, we may even start to feel worse than ever before in our lives while things that were so far suppressed are rising to our conscious awareness. This process of purification is in fact healing as, over time, we become more aware of our wounds and triggers and learn to integrate them, moving from a space of emotional reaction to conscious response. We have to, at some point on our spiritual journey, face our darkness and inner demons in order to bring them to the light and grow as humans.
The traumas, conditioning or limiting beliefs we hold about ourselves cause us to close off our vulnerable hearts and, over a lifetime, we subconsciously build up physical and energetic armouring in order to protect these wounded hearts. During yoga and breathwork, we break through these layers, removing the armouring so that the heart can shine again.
The BBTRS practice, as taught by Giten in training workshops in Bali and around the world, specifically focuses on releasing these deep core layers and the trauma that is stored in the body. By connecting with our physicality as we encounter painful memories or emotions, we learn to stay present in our bodies with strong emotional charge running through them. Over time, this helps us to not get overwhelmed by our emotions and to stay calm when triggered. We learn to trust our bodies and the strong sensations that arise during trauma and, ultimately, we grow in trust in ourselves.
As with the many different styles of yoga, different breathwork systems can have different effects on us – some practices are more psychedelic in nature, others may take us on a particular journey or back to the moment of our birth. BBTRS is an embodied practice where the focus is on re-calibration of the energy in the body through the nervous system. The combination of breath, movement, sound and touch helps to release these deep core tensions and open the heart, leaving body and mind more flexible, free and alive. And even with a difficult experience during the breathwork session, most people leave feeling deeply relieved, more vibrant and full of joy. A regular meditation practice is important and an essential part of Giten’s practitioner trainings to help integrate and seal in the effects of the BBTRS practice as stillness is necessary to process such deep work.
As written in the Bhagavad Gita, yoga is the journey of the self, through the self, to the self. And for those who are ready and willing to go deeper, breathwork can take you exactly to where you need to go.
Join Giten’s workshop at BaliSpirit Festival to get a taste of the BBTRS practice. His new book ‘Feel to Heal’ on breathwork and trauma release is available from Mar 5, 2019 through Amazon. More information on the BBTRS practitioner certification training, retreats and events are available on his website www.biodynamicbreath.com