Psychedelic Breathing Techniques for Higher Consciousness

January 14, 2022
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As more and more people are discovering the benefits of breathwork, there is increasing interest in using breathwork for healing. This has led to people discovering psychedelic breathing and its ability to help overcome negativity and trauma.

If you’re someone who thinks psychedelic breathing could benefit them, this guide will help you learn about it by covering the topics below:

  • What is psychedelic breathing?
  • Can breathwork induce altered states of consciousness?
  • Psychedelic breathing vs. psychedelic drugs
  • 4 psychedelic breathing techniques to take you to higher states of consciousness
  • 7 potential risks of psychedelic breathing techniques that you should be aware of

Before we explore some psychedelic breathing techniques, we’ll first give a more thorough explanation of what psychedelic breathwork is.

Also, if you want to learn specifically about using Holotropic Breathwork for healing, check out our ultimate guide to Holotropic Breathwork.

What is psychedelic breathing?

A woman lying down on a yoga mat

Psychedelic breathing refers to a variety of breathwork techniques used to experience an altered state of consciousness. These techniques are practiced as part of personal growth, as well as therapeutic exercises for those looking to heal from negativity and trauma. They often involve quick breathing for extended periods of time.

Can breathwork induce altered states of consciousness?

A woman lying down underneath a chime

You can definitely use psychedelic breathwork techniques for higher consciousness. Psychedelic breathwork is essentially an intense form of mindfulness or meditation. It uses the breath to create a relaxed internal state, which allows you to pull your focus inward, quiet the mind, and ignore the outside world.

Psychedelic breathing vs. psychedelic drugs

Psychedelic breathwork is often compared to psychedelic drugs when it comes to accessing an altered state of consciousness and healing oneself. Here are the pros and cons of both options:


Psychedelic Breathing

Psychedelic Drugs


  • Healthier option
  • Can be combined with professional therapy
  • Easy to find in-person and online services and events
  • Can be done at any time for free (with enough experience practicing)
  • Can be used to improve mental health
  • No complicated steps to follow
  • Can microdose to limit effects


  • First few experiences should be done under the guidance of a facilitator
  • Sessions, workshops, and retreats can cost money
  • Can lead to hyperventilation and other side effects
  • Usually illegal
  • Costs money
  • Hard to find trained professionals who assist in treatment or ways to otherwise acquire them
  • Can lead to several negative side effects

4 psychedelic breathing techniques to take you to higher states of consciousness

Breathwork consists of a variety of techniques that can be used for healing, but only a few breathing techniques are psychedelic. Here are a few breathing techniques for accessing altered states of consciousness.

1. Holotropic Breathwork

A group of people lying in a circle

Holotropic Breathwork (HB) is a form of psychedelic breathing created by Christina and Stanislav Grof in the 1970s. It’s designed to be a healing experience, allowing participants to explore and empower themselves, as well as work to release trauma. While basic HB sessions can be accessed using breathwork apps or online videos, most sessions are usually performed as larger in-person events. Those unable to attend these events can sign up for online Neurodynamic Breathwork sessions as an alternative.

How to do it:

  • Attend an in-person workshop or retreat.
  • Register for an online Neurodynamic Breathwork session.
  • Follow a guided breathwork session using an app or video.

2. Rebirthing Breathwork

Rebirthing Breathwork, also known as Integrative Breathwork or Clarity Breathwork, is a form of consciousness-connected breathing. It was developed by Leonard D. Orr for the purpose of feeling safe as one explores memories and emotions. Participating in this type of breathwork induces a deep state of relaxation and an altered state of consciousness. This allows for the opportunity to confront and heal from past trauma and grief. Experts recommend completing at least 10 sessions with a trained practitioner before attempting to practice independently.

How to do it:

  • Book a private session with a practitioner (online or in-person).
  • Attend a group workshop or retreat with a practitioner.
  • Explore online options to continue your practice.

3. Vivation

Two people smiling while lying on the ground

Vivation is a type of breathwork developed by Jim Leonard in 1979. It allows participants to relieve negativity, stress, and trauma while experiencing pleasure. This technique is based on the belief that “feeling is healing”, and creates a therapeutic experience that is deeply relaxing. Those who complete Vivation often experience feelings of bliss as negative feelings are released.

How to do it:

  • Book a private Vivation session with a trained facilitator (online or in-person).
  • Attend an in-person or online event with a reputable facilitator.
  • Research online guided resources.

4. Shamanic Breathwork

Shamanic Breathwork is a type of healing breathwork that allows participants to access an altered state of consciousness through controlled breathing. It’s used to connect with the body and mind while in a blissful state. Sessions can help to release past trauma, gain a sense of self, and explore possible future identities.

How to do it:

  • Book a private session with an experienced facilitator.
  • Attend an in-person workshop or retreat with others.
  • Follow along with guided resources online.

7 potential risks of psychedelic breathing techniques that you should be aware of

These breathing techniques can all be safely practiced with proper knowledge and/or under the guidance of a trained facilitator. However, those with any physical or mental health conditions should consult their doctor before practicing, and those who are pregnant should avoid practicing at all. Since psychedelic breathing affects body systems governing oxygen and blood, it can cause certain side effects. Here are some potential risks you should know about:

  1. Hyperventilation: Improper, quick breathing that can cause other side effects.
  2. Lightheadedness: Dizziness or woozy feelings.
  3. Fainting: Temporary loss of consciousness.
  4. Weakness: Temporary loss of strength.
  5. Tingles or muscle spasms: Numbness or cramping felt in the hands, feet, arms, or legs.
  6. Emotional distress: Negative reactions to the experience due to past memories or trauma.
  7. Seizures: Abnormal movements, behaviors, sensations, or states of awareness caused by electrical imbalances in the brain; can occur in those who are prone due to changes in oxygen levels.

If you’re ready to experience the healing benefits of breathwork, see what we have to offer on the Othership app.