Holotropic breathwork, developed by Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof beginning in the 1970s, is a therapeutic practice that involves the combination of breathing technique and other elements that enable clients to access nontraditional states of consciousness. The therapy is typically done in group settings with dyads of “breathers” and “sitters” working side by side with other dyads, with the experience lasting 3 to 4 hours. Some practitioners have adopted techniques to be used with individual, shorter sessions.

Historical Context

Stanislav Grof, the originator of holotropic breath-work, is a trained psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who has held appointments at The Johns Hopkins University, the University of Maryland, and the Esalen Institute. The term holotropic is a composite word that is derived from the Greek holos, meaning “whole” and trepein, ...

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