A Breathing Exercise To Take You Higher

By Nick Polizzi

A few years ago, one of my teachers taught me a powerful breathing exercise that I’d like to share with you today.

Variations of this technique have been used for millennia to induce altered states of consciousness and connect more deeply with the divine.

On the surface, it’s hard to fathom how breathing alone can take us to such great heights. I had doubts myself – until I gave it a try.

As it turns out, I hadn’t given my lungs enough credit – the experience was cathartic in ways that defy description.

This exercise comes with a special note of caution – please make sure to read it below!

The Art of Conscious Breathing

When was the last time you thought about how and when you breathe?

Biologically speaking, breathing is a rhythmic, involuntary process regulated by the body. Most of us do it about 12 to 20 times per minute. It’s kind of a requirement on the standard “staying alive” checklist.

But spiritually speaking, your breath is far more than that.

When we were filming The Sacred Science in Peru, one of the shamans, Roman Hanis, showed me the power of using the breath to access higher realms of awareness. He led me through some deeply transformative breathing exercises that combined both Amazonian and Tibetan mystic traditions.

Before beginning each session, he reminded us that we all begin our lives in a primordial state of peaceful love and kindness and through breathwork, it’s possible to return to that place.

In Roman’s words:

“Within many archaic languages, including Andean Quechua, Amazonian Quechua, Tibetan, Aramaic, Latin, Greek, Hawaiian and others, the word for “breath” is the same word that is used to describe life, spirit, and soul.”

This begs the question I’m always asking myself – what did the ancients know that we’ve forgotten?

For thousands of years, up to this very day, people have used conscious breathwork for many reasons. Here are just a few:

  • To access healing and insight
  • To expand consciousness
  • To release stress or anxiety
  • To re-energize the body
  • To gain clarity and vision
  • To connect with higher forces / spirit guides
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A Simple Yet Powerful Breathing Exercise

The breathwork exercise I’ve shared below is intended as a simple intro, to give you a taste of what your breath can do. I was on the fence about whether or not to share this, because it can be intense and needs to be used with care.

A Friendly Warning Before Proceeding:

This type of breathwork should be avoided by anyone with a history of the following: cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, retinal detachment, aneurisms, significant recent physical injuries or surgery. Pregnant women should avoid this type of breathwork as well.

Keep in mind that during the process, it’s common for you to experience a wide spectrum of feelings. Such sensations can include deep relaxation, joy, serenity, sleep or meditative states, and possibly the release of past trauma. Reliving the birth process or even past life experiences have been reported too.

With this in mind, it’s strongly recommended that you have someone with you who is aware of what you are doing and is willing to assist if you need anything along the way.

Remember, if you experience any overwhelming sensations it is OK to stop at any time.

The Practice:

Preparing your space:

Find a firm, flat surface to lie down on – a yoga mat on the floor is ideal. Many people also put a pillow under their head and a rolled blanket under their knees. An additional blanket can also be used for warmth if you become cold during the exercise.

Important: If this is your first time trying an exercise like this, I strongly recommend keeping it to 20 minutes max, before gently bringing your breath back to normal and letting your body relax for 10 minutes in a laying position.

Again, this practice should be done with a partner who can supervise you. Take turns at 20 minute intervals, one experiencing while the other holds space.

*Using a timer with a gentle sound is also recommended when trying this outside of a workshop or class setting.

Read through all of the steps below before starting and familiarize yourself with them.

1) Lie down on your back, with pillow under the knees and any blankets positioned in a way that makes you comfortable. Close your eyes and relax your body and breathing for a few minutes.

2) Take in a slow, deep breath. Gently breathe all the way to the bottom of your lungs so that your stomach moves outward a bit. At the end of your inhale, immediately begin to exhale at the same speed. At the end of your exhale, immediately begin breathing in again, slow and steady.

3) Be mindful of continuous, “circular” breathing – where there are no gaps between inhale and exhale. And be sure not to hold your breath. When your lungs are almost full, begin to exhale, then before your lungs are empty, inhale again. You want to create a pattern of constant breathing either in or out. Think about the breath as making a circular motion in, through, and out of your system, and repeat.

4) You will need to breathe a little bit faster than you would under normal circumstances. However, and this is very important, you don’t want to breathe so fast that you create tension anywhere in your body. The lungs and entire body should be as relaxed as possible. In this way, the breath cycle can be maintained for a longer period of time.

5) Breathing in and out through the mouth will support emotional release more completely. But if you find that it’s more comfortable to nose breath, that’s ok too. In about 10 minutes or so, your body will find its own rhythm and way of breathing.

(At about the 10 to 15 minute mark, you may begin to feel a tingling sensation in your extremities, a feeling of euphoria, or an “altered” state of awareness.)

6) After 20 minutes, your preset timer will sound (remember to set a peaceful alarm sound) and your partner will gently put a hand on your shoulder to let you know that it’s time to slowly and intentionally bring your breath back to normal. Take some time in this in-between state to notice how what you’ve learned integrates and interacts with the reality that comes back into focus around you. *Some find this to be the most revelatory piece to this exercise.

7) You are complete 🙂

I hope this practice gives you a glimpse of the innate wisdom that is available when you tap into the power of your breath. Conscious breathwork is yet another way to stay connected to the sacred in your life.

Thank you to the ancient masters who gave us this deeply transformative wisdom.

Stay Curious,

Nick Polizzi
The Sacred Science Team

PS: This practice is similar in many ways to The Rebirthing Method from Leonard Ore, and Holotropic Breathwork, which was brought forward by Stanislov Grof. Both of these modern methods have origins in ancestral wisdom traditions and are great resources if you are looking to further explore this area of inner work.

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69 Responses

  1. Thank you for sharing this beautiful wisdom and for everything you do to help the planet and all of us living here. You are a blessing.

    1. It is is standard protocol to address any treatment with your healthcare provider. This is standard practice that a person will encounter for massages, acupuncture, yoga, as well as the obvious, such as joining a gym, starting a new job that requires body manipulations, etc. It is also required in our litigious society, unfortunately we must protect ourselves. If anything is outside our scope of experience, knowledge or license, one must refer to a specialist to rule out possible harm.

  2. This is made more powerful if done in bath with Epsom salts, frankincense and Myrrh. Candle light and beautiful music create mind transcending connection with all that is..
    Thank you for sharing x

    1. Yes! simple yet powerful. Thank you Nick for this article, in doing so you share ancestral wisdom: it still applies in today’s world; perhaps even more so.

    2. Hyperventilating in water doesn’t sound like a good idea to me. I’ve heard of 2 deaths already where people were doing something similar – The Wim Hof Breathing Method.

      1. Exactly where do you see doing this in water in this article. You must be reading the responses and think they are from the originator of this article. Get clear on this as this article does not say anything about water other than the responses.

  3. I have done breath work a long time ago and it was phenomenal. Thank you for reminding me about how powerful it can be. I will try this exercise and be sure to have a friend with me.

  4. I had detached retinas that surgery repaired…can you please explain why I can not do this exercise? I am intrigued but clearly don’t want to put myself in danger???

    1. Its probably just a precaution – but with any breathing exercise, the danger is that it could change the pressure behind the retina. Chances are it won’t – but for example: weightlifters need to be really careful when doing the Valsalva maneuver to increase the weight they can lift… its a sort of holding the breath which puts a big strain on the retina, and its not uncommon for them to have detached retinas. My detached retina re-attached itself – but I’m always careful with weights / pressups / inversions. Personally, I don’t see such a danger in this breathing exercise, but I could be wrong!

  5. Really interesting article,I understand the reasons why one should not do the exercise except if one has osteoporosis. Please could you explain why. Thanks

    1. This should only help your osteoporosis and help you your relax and get to your sacred place. Maybe you should take calcium supplements or eat more dairy products.

  6. I am not clear why one cannot use this breathwork with cardiovascular issues. Breath is healthy. I practice a Toltec breathing exercise and I have a stent in my right artery so that labels me with cardiovascular disease. Anyway, I feel there is no harm but someone should be present when the exercise is being done. Thanks for sharing this wisdom.

    1. Really, what does cardiovascular disease have to do do with breathing? You breathe to stay alive, so go about it at a smaller pace that is comfortable with you.

  7. SacredScience is a blessing to us all. Thanks sincerely for sharing with us.
    I was wondering, however, why osteoporosis was included in the precaution list for this breathing practice.

  8. Hi: I’ve done this several times; they used to call it re-birthing. So glad it’s being discussed again. Thank you so much for telling people about it – I had experiences that changed my life and thinking. Now I want to do it again!
    Sat Nam
    Abhai Preet

  9. Many thanks to you for sharing. We are worth taking the time to show up for ourselves in breathing!

  10. Thank you. I find this article very interesting. I’ve had experiences with breathing that were transformative, but they involved deep breathing. I always laid down and just deep breathed. It would eventually slow down to about 3 or 4 breaths/min. When it got really slow, I became aware it felt like I wasn’t the one doing the breathing (not the physical me). A part of me was observing me breathing, and I felt so amazingly peaceful and yet so alive. It was simply effortless, and I felt as if I moved out of my way and allowed the soul/spirit that we really are breathe into my body. When I thought of someone. they instantly appeared before me in clear vision (like a TV screen). Even the very air I was breathing was different……more fresh/clean, even though I was inside my house. Has anyone else experienced something like this?

  11. I offer individual sessions as well as co-facilitate workshops as a Grof-certified Holotropic Breathwork facilitator. I also feel plants are allies when approached with the utmost respect. I’m happy to see the conversation continuing about the importance of breath as a tool for journeying. With the resurgence of people clamouring to join medicine circles, it would be wise to approach the inward journey with breath first…thoughtful preparation, safety is key, and making certain you have a certified “sitter” in whichever method you choose. We are all trained to assist the breather, only as they request it, to move beyond a difficult situation and encourage the release of energetic blocks through movement or sound. May we all continue to support one another through our awakening.

  12. thanks Nick for that article.
    I have participated in breath works before, and it’s awesome!
    I went right back to in-Utero, and being born again.
    It was an amazing experience!
    Thanks for reminding me about the breath, and how powerful it is, I haven’t done breath works for years.
    It’s time to do it again!
    Om Tat Sat

  13. Dear Sir, thanks for your amazing teaching, l have done breathing for some time, my experience is that I lose consciousness sometimes and began to dream one thing and the other. Please can you teach me more on breathing. or any tools that can increase my my spiritual energies and to increase my consciousness and and awareness.thanks

  14. This is wonderful. Please send the above reading on Breathing to my e-mail address so I man
    keep it for future reference. Thank you for your kind attention in this request.

  15. I tried it alone yesterday before sleep after smoking a joint. The high transformed into a light-intense psychedelic high, and noticed I have done it other times by trying to do an astral trip, but because I hadn’t read it, I didn’t understand what happens, I thought before that marijuana was causant of this high, because of the way I spent it (lying with closed eyes) but by doing the excercise consciously I noticed what happens clearly. I just can’t figure out you how to thank you for this, I believe this technique makes your pineal gland release a bit of dmt, and marijuana (like with other psychedelics) maximizes the high. I do not recommend to do this before sleeping, because you may get euphoric and feel full of energy. I started to meditate about how life works, and it was all extremly clear to me and the feeling i got was just amazing. THAT MEANS DMT IS A NATURAL OCCURING NEUROTRANSMISSOR, AND WITH TRAINING YOU CAN THINK WITH IT WICH IS JUST THE MOST AMAZING THING I HAVE EVER DONE (or if it isn’t DMT, it puts your brain in psychedelic-like modus when high (i haven’t done it sober)).

  16. I’m interested in doing breath work, however I read your warning about retina detachment. What is the reason not to practice if I have a detached retina, what would happen if I chose to do it anyway?

  17. This method of breathing highly oxygenates the blood. It’s slow motion hyperventilating. I would be surprised if one didn’t feel tingly and light headed after doing it for 20 minutes. The brain is bathed in oxygen. I personally like a 4-4-4 alternate nostril breathing that leaves carbon dioxide in the bloodstream during the four second “rest” between breaths. Very relaxing.

  18. Dear Sacred Science,
    Thanks for the wonderful quality of work you put out.
    I would however like to point our a correction that could be made in the article titled
    “A Breathing Exercise To Take You Higher” By Nick Polizzi March 2, 2016
    Leonard Orr, a Breathwork/Rebirthing mentor for 35 years. The spelling of his name is not Ore – its ORR.
    I also appreciated the movie of the Wisconsin healing gathering. As an ” urban Shaman” (not publicised – yet practiced) I love to participate in ‘healing ceremony’ . That ceremony was lovely and deeply felt.
    In Truth, Simplicity and Love in service to the Higher Path,

  19. Ive done dmt meditation and got past the tingling and i thought energy when breathing out. I got to a statge of heavy vibrations and eye flickering. What is the next stage

  20. Hi Nick! I took the Movie Makers Academy Class! This is the second reading I have read on breathing this morning. Holitropic breathwork was a powerful tool I used in my late twenties. It propelled me into my personal journey! I am 56 now and think it might be time to find a practitioner. Thanks for sharing this!

  21. Breathing exercise may help due to lungs blood clot etc stroke can not afford to pay husband very sick so sAd long time. I try hard

  22. Bonsoir à vous , j’aurais aimé que ce soit traduit en français cela m’intéresse au plus haut point je fait tout mon possible pour comprendre avec mon dictionnaire
    Merci beaucoup

  23. This is a very powerful healing exercise. My good friends Arne and Dr. Monica offer this modality once a month here in Costa Rica. Everyone is invited to a free introductory session on the last Tuesday of the month near the beach close to Dominical. For further information go to Unlimited Breath.com..
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful healing practice.

  24. Hi, I like a lot of what you say here, as an Unlimited Breath Practitioner and Teacher for over 30 years. Yes, breathing more is very powerful and healing.

    In Unlimited Breath we use the breath to uproot any subconscious material and thus be able to connect with your True Self, so the breathing we use has a couple of different pointers to those described above. You can find their description on the UnlimitedBreath website.

  25. I’ve done breathwork under the guidance of an experienced teacher, and can only say it is hugely transforming. I released a lot of baggage I didn’t realize I was carrying around…

  26. l think these practices are dangerous. Breathing is an autonomic function of the body. Forcing and/or depriving oxygen and carbon dioxide can lead to artificial states of mind, which taken to extremes can be fatal. This practice negates the need for psychotropic drugs, but emulates the experience, leading needy and gullible people into places they should avoid.

  27. Anything from Tibetan was developed from laya yoga in Hinduism, look up pranayama, it’s one of the eight important parts of yoga in general. Yoga is a 8 limb system, part 4/5 being posture control and breathing. I’m Vedic culture it has been long understood that to reach the realms of higher or lower consciousness the only thing similar among all realms is the type of breathing. Pranayam literally means practice that increases life force or prana refereed to as chi in tibetan culture. Buddhism is a pure yogic and sanyas extraction of Vedic culture. Secondly this isn’t mysticism it’s science. If these people who developed these techniques well over 8,000-10,000 bc also mapped out this stars and the universe as well as laws of matter and energy how can you be so disrespectful as to call it mystic. Just because your ego doesn’t let you understand it you shouldn’t use terms negligently. When you expose your brain to high and sustained oxygen levels it activates deeper parts in your brain that can sustain conceptualization of th we relams. Without the rush of 02 your Brain isn’t able to sustain that higher thinking because it is costly hence you are hyperventilating almost, but in a controlled fashion. That’s how it works. Vedic culture says it simply, young people can breathe heavy and deep and the old people can’t that’s why the old die and the young can achieve many things and are vigorous. Prana is based on diet and breatheing strength.

  28. I’ve been practicing sacred breatheork for five years now. As you say rebirthing and holotropic breathing are very similar. It’s kind of a shame that the egos insist on claiming their “special” place.

    It has assisted me dealing with my rather unsheltered life. I highly recommend it as it is much safer and easier to access than sacred plant medicine.

  29. It is confusing since it is stated to breath deep slowly. Then all of a sudden it says to breathe faster than normal.
    Please clarify.

  30. I think the outstanding example of this breathing practice is Judith Kravitz’s Transformational Breath, taught throughout the globe.

  31. It’s hard for me to put into words how much Breathwork has changed me and thinking of the potential effect it could have on humanity… , well, it freaks me, knowing how simple it is. And that it’s all within, and that we all need to wake up to this. It’s mindblowing. The most amazing I’ve done is Angelic Breath Healing, with Madeline Giles. I’ve gone places and experienced sensations that are outside anything I’ve ever done with kundalini yoga, Wim Hof, etc.. I just hope one day this catches on. Maybe in the next life..great article thanks for sharing.

  32. I am sending this email to request a copy of te information you mention I am in my early 30s and have been classed as a seeker since I was born I know Im seeking answers the truth and this may help thanks

  33. I did this meditation today for a yoga training and it was the most amazing feeling… I relived past trauma was afraid and cried… but also came into a state of complete oneness with the universe… I felt like part of me died but then came back better… the meditation was an hour but only felt like maybe 20 minutes had passed. Thanks for your article… I was actually told by my trainers that this type of meditation should only be done about once a year. What do you think? I would love to do it again really soon.

  34. Everything made sense until the words “breathe thru the mouth”. I don’t know about shamans, but in yoga they teach to breathe thru the nose (although some yogic exercises allow exhaling thru the mouth). Lamas in Tibet also breathe thru the nose, same is in Himalayan ashrams, etc.
    Something is off…

  35. I have a few questions I am a teen who has done Tetrahydrocannabinol, pisilosybin mushrooms and Lysergic acid diethylamide and i am curious on what those can do to an altered state with out the substances i have found that as young as i am i feel more mature than many dull minded adults and yet have never had the proper space and mindset to do this properly can somebody please help me figure out how to be in this state of mind in a toxic environment pls.

  36. Wow I have been trying to reach this state ,coupled with meditation I got me all relaxed and chilled on my off day. Thanks a lot

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