Holotropic Breathing, Ayurveda, and the Quest for Inner Peace

Friday, January 6, 2017

I have generalized anxiety, and was prescribed a benzodiazepine for my panic induced breathing difficulties a few years ago. I took the pills for about a month, and realized it just wasn't for me. Whilst on them, I couldn't keep up with people when they were speaking to me, I would forget things very easily, and I could barely think enough to talk. I felt a bit like a zombie. It definitely helped my symptoms, but created a slough of other ones I personally could not handle. (*Despite my own troubles with prescription drugs, I do not recommend getting off of your own without consulting your doctor first -- this is just my own experience.)

Since then, I have been on a journey to naturally and holistically quell my anxiety, and all around positively fulfill my spiritual and mental being. Through meditation and a few Ayurvedic herbs, I have started to feel a deep calm for the first time in a very long while. 'Ayurveda' is an ancient, 3000 year old system of Indian medicine, emphasizing the connection between mind and body. It oftentimes prescribes meditation as a serious healing tool, whereas (I feel) Western medicine doesn't take meditation and our physical health's relation to the mind seriously enough.

~Even if you do not have anxiety, these things are generally calming and I highly recommend them nonetheless.~

The Ayurvedic supplement I've been taking 2X per day is called Ashwagandha, otherwise known as Indian Ginseng. It's an "adaptogen," which means it helps the body adapt easily to stressful situations and is most commonly prescribed for anxiety. It also helps you think more clearly, prevents alzheimer's, and helps reduce symptoms of depression. (https://draxe.com/ashwagandha-proven-to-heal-thyroid-and-adrenals/). You can buy it on Amazon for $13. It is one of, if not THE most commonly prescribed herbs in Ayurveda. Since taking it, I have little to no trouble breathing, my irrational anxieties are out of my mind, and I feel generally happier.

Taking a supplement is simple though. I think what's even more important is to be more mindful. Meditating, I feel, is twice as effective and gives you mental strength from within, without fully relying on a substance. It helps control the "monkey brain" within us that just thinks and thinks all day long, and quiets the useless chatter. Big problems don't seem so big any more, and little problems fade away.

Kind of a side note ~ Tonight I went to the WOOM Center in Manhattan for a meditative "Sound Experience." I read about the Center on another website, and thought I'd do something interesting and therapeutic. It was certainly an experience. About 20 of us gathered in a large room, dimly lit by candles and himalayan salt lamps. Around the edges were mats and blackout blindfolds, and in the center, a large gong and a series of copper bowls and unfamiliar sound instruments. The two leaders instructed us on what we were in for, explained the breathing technique, and warned us that if we became scared, we could raise our hand so that someone could run over and quickly hold it. On that note, we laid down and slipped on our blindfolds.

At first, we did some deep breathing, with long exhales. Then, upon exhaling, we were told to hum louder and louder, on our own or to match the vibrations of different instruments. Then, we got into the heavy stuff: holotropic breathwork. This requires cyclical breaths done very, very fast. We were warned that we would be physically uncomfortable throughout, but I couldn't quite fathom why or to what extent. Now, we did this technique for 15 minutes straight. In that time, I cried twice, felt freezing cold, and my hands curled up and painfully cramped. (But I was in mental bliss). We followed the rest of the two hours with deep breathing and sound bells going off in the background to help keep us present and mindful. It required a lot of focus, but felt very cleansing and enlivening. I find the difficulty of meditating is always worth the calm it brings.

If you have trouble with stress or anxiety, I think meditation and ayurveda can work wonders. These are both really really general topics to explore, but are accessible to anyone with a computer. Guided meditations are helpful and available all over youtube, and ayurvedic herbs are usually available on amazon if you come across others that suit your needs.

Erin Telford has some amazing breathwork meditations :) enjoy xox


  1. Thank you so much for this, I have an anxiety disorder as well and I'm on Prozac and to be honest I never think I'll be off it, I've tried for several years (I'm 19, been on it since 14) and it just doesn't work to go off it and I hate having to be a slave to a pharmaceutical, but I will most definitely try what you have written. You are such a special, kind soul and I wish you all the best this 2017 and the best of luck on your recovery. xx

    1. Thank you so much ! I hope these little discoveries can be of some help to you. Let me know how it goes, and I'll be sure to post more on this subject xox

  2. Love this post. Thank you for your recommendations. I too have been diagnosed with GAD and a panic disorder. I have avoided taking medication at all cost. I was put onto this program called Mindfulness, a part of the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I would recommend you take a look at that! It helps with your breathing, helping with your sensations and teaching your brain to respond more calmly to a situation.

    1. Thank you :) Awesome to hear you're taking the mindfulness route! I'm glad it's worked for you. I'll be sure to check out your recommendation too xoxo



By Dayna Frazer