The mechanics of emotional release and catharsis and Breathwork Mastery. Author – Alakh Analda.

One of the benefits of breathwork as a movement (that was also called “Rebirthing”) in the 60s,70s, 80s and 90s, was that participants would get in touch with overloaded and suppressed emotions and release them in the session. In those decades, people were not always in touch with their emotions. In fact, the opposite. In the western world, it was not ok to be emotional for females, (seen as “silly” or “ not attractive”), and males especially were “weak” if they got upset or expressed themselves emotionally.

Parents were “bad” if they did not “control” their child from being emotional – expressing feelings. This was especially bad if children got emotional when they visited others, were at school, church, shopping – basically out anywhere – except the movies.

Men’s jobs and employment was more dependent on them “looking good” which also meant being compliant to what bosses implied and set out – and much of that was logic and ration based. “Feeling” was for sad movies and theatre, opera and shows.

For the female race it was ok for them to sniffle a bit in a sad movie or play. If they wept to release tension – or because they were really upset ? They were told to “pull yourself together” … meaning??? – and may be given a glass of water.

For the male race ? Even with entertainment boys and men were “strong” – meaning at those times “unmoved” by the misfortunes of others or harm to animals, sad situations, and people etc.

I was born in 1950 and I don’t think I saw a male actor cry or weep or express empathy – it was more like he needed to say something like “everything will be ok..” which was supposed to suddenly cheer up the sad actress ….. and so on.

Children must be controlled or you are not a “good parent”? 60s, 70s, 80s – from the 90s on???

We have come to a very different situation in the years following 90s, – 2000 and on.

However there is healthy emotion and emotion that is “not healthy” for want of a better term. Inappropriate is another term for unhealthy emotion. Why? Because unhealthy emotion is when the rage or anger expressed – or the grief and sadness that is pouring out belongs to an event in the past where it was not able to be expressed.

So if I am outraged and hurt as a five year old, with my teacher who accused me of cheating when I did not – that reaction and outrage is unhealthy to carry around, and it is inappropriate for me to dump it on a person in my life today. However this is what we humans do – especially when it builds up over time or has become highly activated by the similar situation that is happening to the adult now.

We carry it until or unless it is resolved – or released safely. And this is one of the main benefits of breathwork – mostly of a series of breathwork sessions as in a retreat or workshop situation. And strangely, the discharge during the session may only take up a few minutes of the session – or it may pass out energetically during the session through the breathing cycle process


Our central nervous system is like an electro magnetic motor – and it keeps our body running. Its called the pranic body in yoga and its fed by breathing. It’s the prana in the air, not so much the oxygen, that keeps the body going. So disturbances in the flow of prana become disturbances to the body – disease states if continued, and the mind, as it lives connected to the central nervous system and in a body.

As far as I can see, the best, most in depth way to discharge our long held, no longer wanted emotional responses, is to breathe consciously. This is especially valuable in the professional space of a well trained breathworker. It also occurs in meditation type practise of any kind, and pranayama, when they are part of someone’s regular daily life. The discharge seems to come from the unwinding of the central nervous system where the block has lived and it can be a slow but steady release or quicker. When it is super sudden it is called a catharsis.

Breathwork Mastery is a style of modern breathwork where the emphasis is not on emotional release only, but on the use of full, conscious, connected breathing in an out the nose, until or unless the nose blocks. When this happens, there may be an overloaded emotion coming to the surface for release.

Emotional release is a natural part of a full breathwork mastery session when the client comes to this point in their own way. At times it may discharge just from the client continuing to breathing consciously and at times, the client may express the emotion – including kicking, pounding with fists, screaming with rage or pain or frustration that is almost unbearable.

Sometimes, suddenly, the client starts to curl up and the movements turn into those of a foetus coming through the birth canal – or one stage of the birth. It is remarkable. The feeling of the breathworker is one of awe, no matter how many times the practitioner has seen this regression to birth as a full or partial body memory. The feeling of relief for the client that follows the release of such a stage of the clients early past that had been hard for them is palpable for the practitioner as clients starts to realise that something new is coming to them. This is the reason the techniques now described as modern breathwork were called “Rebirthing” in the years up to the 90s.