By Robert Ross

Transformational Breathing



“We often travel to a unique state of awareness where the veil between the conscious and unconscious worlds become thinner. In this state we are more able to access aspects of ourselves, our beliefs and our dreams that have been hidden from our conscious awareness but have been affecting the quality of our inner and outer lives.”
— Taken from a Transformational Breathing brochure


Travel to a unique state . . . Where the veil is thin . . . Access our dreams . . . The process known as Transformational Breathing promises this and much more.

About two decades ago I had an experience that to this day I’ve been reluctant to talk about. Profound — mystical — weird — spiritual — take your pick, these words could all be used to describe the event that has stayed with me for the past twenty years. The experience was a result of breathing, breathing while in a relaxed state. Since that incident, I have been attracted to books and workshops which focus on breathing — breathing techniques, breathing for relaxation, breathing to reduce stress and breathing as a form of meditation.

So it wasn’t just happenstance that drew me to the workshop on Transformational Breathing. The website  explained the concepts of Transformational Breathing and the profound effect it can have, resulting in self healing and joy. Of course, I was curious as to what this was all about. A couple of phone calls later . . . and I was looking forward to the experience.

The workshop I attended was held at Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California. The facilitators were Jessica Leaf and her assistant Moni Osborne. In our group were fourteen people, professional types, older rather than younger.

According to the Transformational Breathing literature, I was about to embark upon an experience that would be a “self healing adventure” that “creates an important physical, mental and emotional integration.” The workshop was three hours long. We were told to bring a pad to lie on and pillows.

Judith Kravitz (the co-creator of the Transformational Breathing process and the mother of eight) established Transformational Breathwork in the 1970’s, and has been constantly expanding it over the last 25 years. Apparently, Judith’s inspiration came from a personal experience of self-healing. Using principles and skills acquired through her work with the breath, Judith healed a malignant tumor on her throat. Judith now travels the world sharing this process with others.

Our group met in a small meeting room which was located out of sight and sound of the many tourists who were visiting the main area of the Mission that day. After introductions, the facilitators discussed breathing, Transformational Breathing and the background of breathwork in general.

The facilitators showed us a “prop” that some of us might be using, which was a plastic water bottle. The bottle was cut off about two inches from the top. Some of us would be using the top portion of the bottle (myself included). If during the breathing session, the facilitator felt that your mouth/throat area wasn’t as open as it could be, allowing for the free flow of oxygen, then you would be asked to hold the top of the bottle (the part that the cap screws onto) between your teeth, breathing through it. As bizarre as it must have looked, utilizing this device did in fact allow for a greater flow of oxygen.

The concept of toning was also discussed. Toning is a sound that you make during the breathing session, a loud “aaaaahhhh” sound, continuously while you breathe.

Before we began the breathing process, we were asked to write on a three by five card our intentions for this breathing session. We put the cards next to us, facing up (with words visible), or down, depending on whether or not we wanted the facilitators to affirm our intentions as they went around the room during the breathing session. Mine was facing down.

To prep us for our breathing session, the facilitators played some music on a CD — dance-able music. We were about to do  the “Kundalini dance.” As a group, we pushed our hands up into to the air while inhaling and pulled them back down while exhaling. This was done in rapid succession. We were breathing out of our mouths, forcing the oxygen in and out in a continuous breathing pattern. The music had a catchy beat, so it wasn’t long before we were moving our hands and breathing to the beat of the music. Those less inhibited were soon incorporating their entire bodies into this dance of sorts. Some were even moving about the room, having a great time doing a free form dance.

The actual breathing session lasted approximately one hour. While we were lying on our mats, the facilitators came around, adjusted our positions, and in some cases suggested the water bottle device. We started a continuous breathing pattern, and soon I felt a gentle hand on me, suggesting that I breathe into an area of my upper body — chest, lower belly, or perhaps the shoulder area.

It wasn’t long before, while feeling an assuring touch, that I heard a toning sound coming from my facilitator. Knowing to follow suit, I began the aaahhhh sound.  Others in the room began toning too. Soon,  the entire room was making the sounds of toning, and of loud breathing.

As a group, we were “activated” (a term used in Transformational Breathing). Tears were rolling down my face as the sadness I was holding inside began to surface. A pronounced tingling enveloped my body and my hands began to gently cramp up a bit. The term tetany is used in Transformational Breathing for the hand cramping phenomena.

The hour or so passed. Near the end of the session, it became important for me to share my intentions. So, with eyes shut, still breathing in a continuous pattern, I reached for my three by five card, turned it up and laid in on my chest. Soon I heard the comforting words of a facilitator as she affirmed my intentions.

As though on cue, the room began to quiet down. I had a sense of joy and peace as I laid there. Minutes passed as the group slowly gathered itself and formed a circle. We debriefed and shared. It was time to go home. It was time to reflect.

Obviously, Transformational Breathing isn’t for everyone. In many ways, it’s for risk takers and adventurers. It’s for those that are willing to explore non-traditional avenues of personal growth and healing. For me, the experience was positive. I look forward to the next workshop . . . and the next . . . and the next.

For further information, Jessica Leaf can be reached at (760) 724-6006, or you may e-mail her  

Robert Ross can be reached by e-mail at  

(c) Copyright 2002  by Robert Ross, all rights reserved

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