A key component in Holotropic Breathwork is that it is non-directive. This means that the breather is the expert in their own process and that given the right conditions the breather is able to connect to the part of ourselves that Stan Grof describes as the inner healing mechanism. Those conditions include the presence of a sitter as well as a facilitator, specifically selected music to help support the process, the breather is lying down with their eyes closed as a means to internalise the process and that the process itself is lead from the breather from within and is not directed from the outside.
Unlike many other forms of breathwork, Holotropic Breathwork is performed with a sitter in addition to the facilitator. In a workshop setting the sitter is generally another participant in the group and most holotropic breathwork workshops have two breathwork sessions per workshop - one where the participant will breathe and the other where the participant will sit.
The role of the sitter is a crucial element of the Holotropic breathwork process and is often reported in our workshops as being more powerful than the actual breathwork session. The role of the sitter is both practical and relational.
Practical support is provided by the sitter by supplying tissues, water bottle or taking the breather to the bathroom. They are also there to help the facilitators with supporting the process by moving cushions and possibly helping with any bodywork that may be needed.
The relational support comes int he form of the role of a witness. This role helps to provide support for the breather to go deeply into a process while feeling supported and safe with their sitter bearing witness in a non-therapeutic and non-directive way.
A Holotropic Breathwork session's typical duration is 2.5 to 3 hours.