The secret's out — breathwork is the real deal. More and more people are exploring breathwork to unlock the benefits of profound healing and personal transformation.
If you’re reading this, it’s likely because breathwork has made an impact on your life. If that’s the case for you, are you feeling called to share it with the important people in your life?
We believe this is how we create meaningful change - through immersive, shared experiences. With each person touched, that impact ripples outwards. That is why we created this guide – so this practice can be shared with as many people as possible.
This comprehensive guide will take you step by step through leading a breathwork experience for your community.
Community breathwork happens when we come together as a group to practice breathwork for the purpose of personal growth, insights, emotional release, and tapping into new creative ways of thinking. A gathering of curious and open-minded beings who wish to expand and grow together through the practice of conscious breathing.
Let’s face it — there’s truly no substitute for the magic of in-person connection. We’ve all experienced that these past few years — anyone you talk to is virtually fatigued, and we’re clearly in the midst of a loneliness epidemic. Everyone is craving a deeper sense of real belonging.
The benefits of breathwork alone are profound, but when you incorporate this practice into a group setting you tap into a deep sense of awe and cultivate immense gratitude. This is the kind of work that ripples outwards - to impact your loved ones, inspire your community, and work towards making the world a better place.
While we exist in a society that normalizes socializing with alcohol, or numbing our emotions and mental state, it’s clear, more than ever, that people are seeking ways to relate and connect with one another on a deeper level.
Hosting a group breathwork session is the alternative our society needs — a new healthy way of connecting with one another.
The first step of hosting your breathwork experience is to create a beautiful container. The way you set your space will lay the foundation for the entire experience, so it’s essential to have key elements in place to provide the greatest ambiance as soon as your breathers walk through the door.
Good sound quality is crucial. You are creating an immersive experience – the sound quality will take your event to the next level. You’ll need a loud enough stereo system with speakers strategically placed around the room to create a surround sound effect.
Our personal favorite? Three Sonos Play 5 speakers and a subwoofer in the room.
The music you play will also set the tone and curate the mood for the evening. Whether you play ambient, jazzy, organic tunes, it’s ultimately a question of personal taste.
What kind of vibe do you want to create for your experience? What emotions do you want breathers to explore? You are the vibe creator - you get to choose the mood that will best suit the community you are serving.
If you need some inspiration, check out our Breathwork Plus Playlist on Spotify. It’s a nice one.
Optional: You can also use tuning forks, acoustic bowls, koshi chimes, shakers, or a handpan. The more instruments, the better.
These tools amplify the peak of the experience and can guide breathers back to reality as you near the end of the session.
Did you know your sense of smell has the strongest direct line to the memory and emotional centers of your brain – the hippocampus and amygdala? Studies show that certain scents have a direct effect on our brain, which can promote relaxation and overall well being.
In short — smell is a key ingredient within the magic you’re creating.
Intentional scents will foster even more healing and connection for your breathwork event. Your scent curation will further guide people into a relaxed, secure, and receptive state - the state you can experience the greatest insights and release.
We like to greet our breathers with soothing scents as soon as they enter the space. Our tips:
Burn or spray these throughout the breathwork session, as needed. As everyone has different sensitivities, be careful not to make the scents too overpowering. You want to hit the sweet spot for ultimate enhancement.
Optional: Make an essential oil mix with peppermint and ask each breather to rub it on their chest, which helps to open their airways when inhaling. You can also use charcoal with Kopal and Pine Resin for a smoke ritual.
The next element for setting up the optimal space is your lighting. The lighting creates a gentle, inviting, and ambient space for your event. We recommend low and warm lighting, and to avoid harsh or overly bright lights.
When the breathwork session officially starts we recommend the journeyers wear an eye mask. We like to provide a quality blindfold, like Mindfold.
Every breather needs their own personal space for the journey. Lay out enough yoga mats for everyone, with enough comfortable space in between each person. Each breather is unique and their body temperature may fluctuate throughout the course of the evening. So it’s best, if available, to provide a blanket for everyone.
As we touched upon, blindfolds also allow breathers to go deeper into their experience. You can also hand out journals for a group journaling exercise.
Optional: Offer airway relief for your breathers with some coconut oil before the session starts. They can swirl coconut oil in their mouth and even put coconut oil in their nostrils to enhance breathing and clear their airways.
For an impactful community breathwork experience, our journey builds with the following format:
As a breathwork facilitator, your role is to ensure every participant who enters your space feels comfortable and welcomed. The feelings of appreciation and belonging are the foundational building blocks to create a safe group dynamic. This will also facilitate deeper connections.
This is how you can kickoff a powerful community breathwork session:
To help kickoff the session and break the ice, divide participants into groups and lead a group share. This portion centers on listening to one another, getting into flow, and bringing awareness to body sensations.
The most important component of the first group share is for people to answer from a place of authenticity. Authenticity breeds more authenticity. As we reciprocate and let our guard down, this paves the way for more meaningful human connection.
Logistics: You can kick off the group share by sharing first. Then you dictate the direction for the next share. Make direct eye contact with people as they share. Allow for around 3 minutes per person. If you need to, you can use a chime or Koshi to indicate when 2 minutes has passed and a tuning fork when time is up.
Exercise: The goal of this exercise is to quell the overthinking mind so things naturally flow. When you communicate from a state of presence, everything is more authentic. Let your attendees answer the questions below and ask them to pay attention to how they feel in their body. This will allow them to stay present when they answer.
The themes of these questions are authenticity, gratitude, and vulnerability. Gratitude and authenticity will automatically enhance the mood in the room, making people feel more comfortable. By answering a question that showcases vulnerability, we are reminded that everyone struggles - we all share in the same collective experience of being a human — where both positive and negative emotions are inevitable. This creates a feeling of belonging and oneness.
The group share will prime your breathers to start contemplating their intention for the evening. This is the time to really pay attention to the stories that draw you and your breathers in.
To help set the tone for this exercise, as the facilitator, you should take the lead and go first. Start by answering the questions from a place of vulnerability and authenticity. Once everyone in your group has shared, you can come back together as a larger group and move into the next portion of the journey.
In order to have an optimal and purposeful experience, having an intention for your breathwork session is vital. Explain to your breathers briefly how the subconscious mind works, exactly what an intention is and how to set one, and the power in letting go. Feel free to directly read these next paragraphs out loud.
Your subconscious mind
Your subconscious is the part of your mind that makes decisions without needing to actively think. It stores beliefs and values that have been imprinted on you through your lived experience.
You have around 65,000 thoughts per day, which all flow from your subconscious mind. These thoughts turn into emotions, which influence the actions we take, which ultimately determines your behavior. Powerful.
Most of us have limiting beliefs trapped in our subconscious. Thoughts like “I’m not worthy, I’ll never be happy, I’ll never be able to..” plague the minds of many of us. These types of thoughts can be so deeply embedded, we may not even be aware of them and the power they hold over us.
To change your thoughts, and subsequently, your behaviors, you need to access a flow state to communicate with your subconscious mind. In a flow state you are more receptive, suggestible and able to rewire your mind and state of being.
What is an intention?
An intention is a state of being we wish to live our lives guiding by. It differs from goals — which are ultimately an end destination. An intention is designed to guide you — like a rudder on a ship that steers you in a particular direction.
When we focus on an intention, rather than a goal, we let go of expectations tied to a specific outcome. Questions like “When will this play out? How will I make it happen?” are goal-oriented.
Intentions bring us back to the present moment.
This is why, when we set intentions, it’s essential we first invoke the feeling we are moving towards. It’s important to conceptualize it mentally, but a true, guiding intention must be felt in the heart and in the gut — as if it has already happened.
Setting intentions is the foundation of this work. It’s planting the seeds of change into your subconscious. During a breathwork session, mental and emotional patterns become soft and suggestible – we can more easily take hold and direct ourselves towards the guiding light of our intention.
Intentions create new neural pathways that break the molds of our habituated thoughts.
Setting Your Intention
Ask your breathers to contemplate their intention for your journey together.
You can give them a few personal examples to start. Then, ask them to ponder the following questions:
By reflecting on these questions, your breathers are setting the course for change.
Once the actual breathwork begins, gently remind your breathers to avoid over-analyzing or controlling their experience as best they can – they can leave it to the deeper powers of the subconscious mind.
If someone becomes overwhelmed during the breathwork experience, they can return to their intention – like a force to redirect their ship in the direction they want to go. Their intention is a safe and grounding mantra.
There is tremendous power in letting go. We may not be able to “fix” unpleasant events or situations in our lives, but we can let go of attachment to the story we’re telling ourselves about the experience and the entangled emotions. Anger, grudges, resentment and envy are forms of suffering that are within our control. Letting go means allowing life to carry you to a new place, a deeper and more true rendition of self.
You can let go of:
You are there to remind your breathers they do not need to overthink it – let go, and follow the rhythm.
Our minds hold so much clutter. If we declutter, our subconscious minds are better able to express themselves and create a deeper level of change. By journaling we can clear the mind and connect to the wisdom of our inner healing intelligence. The answers we’re looking for are already inside of us — we just need to get out of our own way.
The universe is full of conscious creative energy like intuition, innate wisdom, and the authentic self. But this wisdom is often blocked by a distracted society, electronic screens and overwhelming limiting beliefs. Because of these factors, we seldom take the time to tune into that inner wisdom anymore.
Exercise: Once your breathers have chosen an intention and have begun feeling it in their body, have them write it down in their journal. Set a timer for 10-12 minutes and ask them to begin writing about their intention. Instruct them to describe it using descriptive words like colors and smells.
About halfway through the timed session, ask people to answer the question “What do I want to let go of”? Instruct them to boil their answer down to one sentence, and then to one word.
When the timer is up, ask your breathers to write on one single page the following:
Then, ask them to rip their page in half with each question on a separate side of the paper. Their intention (the first half) should be placed on their bedside table. The second half, containing what they want to let go of, can be burned in a fire ceremony after the breathwork session (at home alone or with a group).
When animals in the wild have traumatic experiences they move to shake it off. Humans, on the other hand, hold onto emotions in their body like stress, anxiety, and shame. When faced with a traumatic event, it’s common for humans to disassociate for self-preservation. This creates a disconnect between body and mind. Over time, this stress can eventually manifest into illness.
To help relieve and move the stress or trauma that is stored within the body (but cannot be accessed cognitively) — we’ll take a body based approach using Dr. James Gordon’s expressive meditation concept.
Exercise: Play a loud drum song, Dimitro is an Othership favorite. Instruct your breathers to stand up and move vigorously to get out of their head. It’s important to mention – any and all movement is welcome here! Moving hips, ankles, swaying, running on the spot – let the body guide you.
The goal is to have your breathers move intuitively and without inhibition. If they are carrying a lot of emotional weight, the vigorous movement will help release any negative or uncomfortable feelings. Since the gut and psoas muscles hold most of our tension, encourage them to loosen these areas up. Prompt the group to express themselves vocally to deepen release.
Remind your breathers that the more they shake it out in the beginning, the deeper they’ll go into breathwork. The purpose of this exercise is to get out of our head and into the body. When we hear the little voice in our head saying, “This is silly! I look funny. I feel weird” — pay attention. This is the judgmental inner critic that is holding us back from really being ourselves. When you hear this voice, tell it to back off.
Before diving into the breathwork session, let your breathers know what to expect.
Emotional releases. When doing conscious breathwork, many emotions can surface. Setting intentions and moving is the beginning of the work. Now it continues with breathwork. When difficult emotions come up — allow them to. This is the time to move the unprocessed emotions and try to release them. Feeling intense emotions or bouts of frustration, or wanting to quit midway are totally normal. It usually signals the start of a breakthrough. Try to stay dropped into the experience. If it’s too much, slow down the breathing.
On a physical level, this type of breathwork reduces the CO2 in the body so that the blood vessels constrict, reducing blood flow to the brain and shutting off the executive function (neocortex) of our brain. This allows for our emotions to flow and to create space.
Surrender to the process. Don’t worry about your intention you’ve set earlier. You’ve already signaled your intent to your subconscious. Let yourself free flow into the experience and surrender to whatever comes. While breathwork can feel slightly different for each breather, some common experiences include reduction of negative thoughts and patterns, a new perspective and time out from ordinary mind, feeling of interconnectedness, decrease in ego and improved mood. Some breathers have even felt the transcendence of space and time or left their physical body.
Physical Effects. Just like emotions, bodies react differently to breathwork. Some people feel pins and needles, see colors, or get hot and cold. All of this is normal. Sometimes with long breath holds, the body becomes so hyper oxygenated that hands “claw” up. If this happens, don’t panic. It’s not dangerous and will pass.
Deep Breathing. We are so used to chest breathing in our day to day, that taking a deep breath may be hard at first. Chest breathing actually increases cortisol, adrenaline and stimulates our fight or flight system. But deep breathing helps us stay relaxed and calm (even babies naturally do it!).
Demonstrate to your breathers what a deep breath looks like. Guide them through one round:
Once your breathers have taken a few deep breaths, explain the different speeds they will experience during the breathwork session. There will be songs playing to match the beat of the breath, making it easy to follow along. It will look something like this:
After explaining how the breathwork will work, it’s time to play the session on Othership Breathing App. Let your breathers know if they have any issues or need anything during the session — they can raise their hand and you will assist them.
Some of our favorite sessions you can choose for your breathers include:
After the breathwork journey, it's important for breathers to have space to simmer in the effects from the breathing. We recommend incorporating around 30 minutes of curated songs that will gently take participants on a deeper, reflective journey.
This portion of the journey allows breathers to tap into and reflect upon any insights, emotions, or memories that arose during the breathwork.
We recommend adding songs to a Spotify playlist that you can play after the breathwork session has finished.
When the breathwork session has come to a close, invite your breathers to gently stretch in any way that feels good to them. You can guide them to:
Ask your breathers to come to a sitting position when they feel ready. Then, ask them to take out their journal for a final writing exercise.
Exercise: Set the timer for 10-12 minutes. Have your breathers answer the following questions in their journal. Remind them to send compassion and love to anything uncomfortable that comes up.
While people are journaling, you can help them ground into their space by offering fruit, tea, or water.
Optional: If you are continuing with a fire ceremony, burn the piece of paper from the first journaling exercise that contains what people want to let go of. As breathers burn this piece of paper, have them imagine that what they are letting go of is dissolving with it.
Group sharing is one of the most important parts of the integration process. It builds intimacy and connection. Similar to the first group share, you can start the sharing, and then assess whether you want to go in a circle sharing, or if it's best to allow people to organically share when they feel ready.
If your breathers need more guidance, you can ask them:
After the final group share, take a moment to offer gratitude to everyone for showing up, doing the work and committing to taking the steps toward positive transformation. While the effects of the breathwork are high at this point, the real ceremony starts after the community breathwork session. It’s time to put their intention into action and live by it. As life inevitably tests us — approach these challenging scenarios as an opportunity for change.
Remind your breathers that the following week is a sensitive and crucial time for them to maintain their vibration. Instruct your breathers to:
We highly recommend following up with your breathers - no later than one week after the session. You can email or call them and encourage the continued integration of their experience.
In the follow up:
There you have it! Your complete guide to facilitating your own Community Breathwork Journey. Congratulations on creating a meaningful + powerful experience for your community. By paying it forward, the impacts of this work ripple outwards - one conscious breath at a time.
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