For the last 3 years, I have had the privilege of being part of the IBF’s Science and Research group and we started to have a conversation about the IBF being more representative of many breathing styles, and through the conversations with my colleagues, teachers and students,
Dr Pippa Wheble and I birthed the ‘ART’ of breathwork classification.
While we can acknowledge that the essence of the breath is beyond classification and that it holds a natural intelligence and mystery that is often beyond our understanding, as breathworkers, it is our responsibility to make breathwork accessible to everyone in a way that is safe and easily applicable. This framework is a suggestion for a way in which we can do this.
The of the intention of the A-R-T classification is categorise the full spectrum of available breathing techniques into a framework that creates clarity of their effect, making the techniques simple and easy to practice and apply in everyday life situations.
The acronym ‘A-R-T’ relates to Awareness, Regulation and Transformation.
A – Awareness
Breath awareness includes any form of breath watching. It is the basis of self-awareness and is the foundation of breathwork. Through breath awareness we can gain more from all other forms of conscious breathing.
R – Regulation
Breath Regulation involves breathing consciously for Relaxation, Energy and Balance.
These include the techniques that can be practiced as standalone practices. They can be taught but do not require facilitation and can be used skillfully to consciously change an energy state and associated mental and emotional states. Different ways to breathe have different effects on our physiological rhythm.
These work on the parasympathetic activity through increasing vagal tone.
- Long exhalation
- 4-7-8 for sleep
- Sitali breath
- Humming bee breath
We can practically control the breath to access more energy, courage and aliveness. These exercises use the breath as life force energy and getting comfortable with intensity and they consciously activate the sympathetic activity while being practiced that may lead to a state of calm energy.
- Breath of fire
- Wim Hoff techniques
Balancing techniques work to establish the balance between the sympathetic and para-sympathetic system, between energy and relaxation. It creates a state of harmony and alignment in the body-mind system.
- Coherent breathing
- Box breathing
- Alternate nostril breathing
T – Transformation
While any breathing technique can be transformative, the practice of connected or circular breathing creates a powerful energy charge and physiological responses that support a process of deep healing and transformation.
Transformative techniques include those that are based in conscious connected circular breathing rhythm and that have their roots in rebirthing.
While we understand that techniques are not cast in stone and that breath is fluid, the ART framework is a useful means to make the vast scope of breathwork more accessible and easier to understand, apply and teach.
Breathwork is at a tipping point as a movement to fulfill its mission as a tool for healing, transformation and shift in consciousness. It is our duty to share breathwork as a way of living that is accessible to all. After all, this is our birthright.