A Beginner’s Guide to Breathwork

From Holotropic Breathwork to the Wim Hof Method, discover the intriguing and powerful effects of the breath.

Evan Lewis-Healey
4 min readAug 23, 2022
Photo by Spencer Selover from Pexels

“I had to somatically experience breathwork to believe it. And so it was that an introverted English woman lay on the floor with a bunch of strangers and sobbed. I was more grounded and more free in that moment than I have ever been.”
- Vanessa Potter, Finding My Right Mind

What is Breathwork?

Breathwork is an umbrella term for a huge range of practices. Broadly, it’s defined as intentionally controlling the depth or speed of breathing for physical or psychological purposes. However, there are many forms and traditions that breathwork encompasses.

The origins of modern breathwork practised in the West may be traced back to Pranayama. Prana, meaning ‘life source’, and yama meaning ‘control’ or ‘restraint’. These practices involve the voluntary control of the breath, in a formal sequence, and are common within different yogic traditions. While Pranayama has a long and complex history, there are several contemporary traditions of breathwork that may have stemmed from these practices.

Wim Hof Method
Known colloquially as ‘The Iceman’, Wim Hof is a Dutch extreme athlete who holds 21 world records…



Evan Lewis-Healey

PhD candidate at Cambridge University. Studying the cognitive neuroscience of altered states of consciousness.