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What is Trauma Release Breathwork?

Trauma is not an idea. It is something real that we can feel. It's something palpable that takes residence in our bodies and, therefore, can be released.


The Pillars of BBTRS®

The Biodynamic Breathwork Trauma Release System® utilizes six powerful modalities to discharge trauma in the body:


Conscious circular breath helps us locate and access trapped trauma-tension.


We use conscious bodywork to assist in tension release from the outside.


We allow movement to flow from the core of the body and out to the extremeties.


We express conscious presence of emotion while connecting to felt sensations.


We allow and invite the expression of sound to consciously release energy.


Following trauma release we engage in mindful awareness of the body and felt sense.

Release your traumatic tension with Jessa!

What makes this different than other styles of breathwork?

The Biodynamic Breathwork Trauma Release System (BBTRS®) accesses the place of excess survival energy using conscious connected breathing. This mindful form of breathing sends bodily messages to the nervous system to move into those places where we store this energy. When we do this in a place of safety, we eliminate the potential for the nervous system flight or fight response to run-a-muck. We’re in the driver’s seat.


We stay in the driver’s seat by using three principles: resource, titration, and pendulation. Resource is the practice of identifying a sensation that feels grounding and expansive – this is the opposite of fight or flight which triggers mobilization and contraction. 


Titration is the practice of only accessing small amounts of the survival energy at a time to be released. We aren’t here to “clean house” all at once. If you could imagine all that stored up energy as a room full of soldiers ready for battle, what would happen if they all stampeded the door at once? They would jam the doorway and no one could exit. 



Pendulation is the practice of swinging (like a pendulum) between accessing the survival energy we are discharging and reconnecting with our resources. This prevents us from staying in activation for too long and is a safe and gentle method of retraining a dysregulated nervous system to be able to move smoothly between activated protective states and resourceful states – a necessary skill for living in a stress-filled world.


Some popular styles of activating breathwork keep practitioners in a prolonged state of hyperarousal. And while this has its own benefits of producing non-ordinary states of consciousness, it is not used in the Biodynamic Breathwork Trauma Release System®.


We need to access the survival energy and subsequent tension, release as much of it as we can without “blocking the door”, then return back to resource – all while taking an observational perspective connecting with the experience through felt sensations, also known as the Felt Sense.

Felt Sense

In BBTRS® we stay connected to the Felt Sense because that is how our nervous system speaks to us. Think of the feeling of “butterflies in your stomach”, a “gut wrenching” or “heartache”. When we stay connected to the Felt Sense we keep the door open to the storage rooms of the residual energy that we are working to discharge.

How does BBTRS® release traumatic tension?

In BBTRS® we discharge traumatic tension using five powerful modalities once the nervous system is activated by the breath. We engage with each one while staying fully present to the body's felt sensations.


Once the energetic tension has been accessed through breath, BBTRS® uses 5 additional pillars to discharge it healthfully. The first pillar is movement. The conscious circular breath of BBTRS® fuels a natural movement that is unwinding. Following the Felt Sense, practitioners are encouraged to move in whatever ways the body is communicating for them to release the energy. This can look like gentle swaying, shaking, dancing, or making gestures. To stay connected to the present sensations and feelings one is experiencing The goal isn’t to force any particular movement, but allow anything that arises to be expressed.



Sound naturally comes next. With the support of movement, the breath begins to vocalize into sighs, moans, or other types of vocal vibrations. This is why sound is the next pillar in BBTRS®. Our cultural environments can create some resistance to vocal expression for clients new to BBTRS®. While the conditioning to be quiet is strong, it is relatively new – pushing past our rich human traditions of chanting, yelling, and singing. It is because of this that we may also invite and encourage clients to make certain sounds that bring vibration to the body.



At this point in the session energy is flowing and enough tension has been opened for our emotions to arise through bodily sensations. Conscious emotional expression, the fourth pillar of BBTRS®, is not cathartic or out of control. It isn’t a tantrum or a possession of feeling. It is staying in touch with how our bodies want to physically express the feelings that are arising. That can look like screaming, crying, or even laughing, but it is done while staying connected to the Felt Sense of the emotional experience, never dissolving into the story behind the emotion.



As we interact with these bodily experiences we will become more conscious of the physical locations of tension that need additional external support to release. BBTRS® utilizes self-bodywork and facilitator-assisted bodywork depending on the type of session you are doing. These forms of both energetic and physical touch give our bodies the assistance they need to revitalize frozen tissues that have been seized in chronic contraction over the years.



After several rounds of activation pendulated between rounds of connected resource, we end a session with mindful meditation, maintaining a focused awareness of the Felt Sense. Traumatized individuals can have so much unprocessed traumatic energy that meditation can become difficult or even dangerous. By going through the process of releasing energy beforehand, meditation during a BBTRS® session becomes safe and helpful to survivors - giving them a nonjudgmental perspective of their experience.


Stress is part of the experience of all living creatures. However, the human awareness-of-self makes us more prone to traumatized responses to stress. We have divorced ourselves from our bodies’ natural intuition for releasing traumatic tension and have created environments and relationship dynamics that bombard us with more stress than we are suited to release naturally. This is why an intentional practice of removing residual survival energy is critical to our well-being. BBTRS® is one powerful way of doing so. It is only when we allow the process of survival-energy discharge to complete that we can come back into states of relaxed social engagement and nervous system flexibility that supports a happy and healthy life.

How does trauma get stuck in the first place?

The Impulse to Fight or Flee

Imagine an impala grazing while a cheetah stalks forward. The moment the impala picks up the cheetah’s presence the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) floods the impala’s body with adrenaline, shuts down its digestion, increases its pupil dilation, sends blood out to its extremities, and increases its heart rate – all in preparation to run. This sequence of survival events, nick-named the Fight or Flight response, happens within a fraction of a second so the threat can be responded to in time – much faster than the conscious mind can process.


While we may not be chased by cheetahs, our autonomic nervous systems are just as effective at responding to forms of stress and danger. This can look like sweating when your boss is berating you, your heart pounding during an argument with a friend or partner, or gasping when someone cuts you off on the freeway. Even me just mentioning these instances might be triggering your own fight or flight response.


The impala sprints away or the elephant fights back with a powerful sway of its tusks, and we become equally as mobilized. Charged with great amounts of energy and adrenaline we have the ability to stand up for ourselves in the staff meeting, resolve the conflict, or swerve the car quickly to avoid being hit. Fight or flight energy is the energy that says “I can do something about this threat.”  Though even if someone was able to fight or flight sometimes all the energy was not all released


We Freeze When it Becomes Too Much

Sometimes the threat becomes too much and the ANS shifts into a freeze state. Let’s go back to the impala. The cheetah has it trapped in its jaws and there is no escape – not by running anyway. The impala goes limp, looking dead. This is protective. First, depending on the situation the predator may lose interest as the prey drive is what motivates the hunt – in this case the impala may still have a chance to escape. Secondly, the freeze state triggers a series of hormones that flood the body with pain relief and a dissociation from the inescapable experience.


We too experience freeze (or fawn) when our stressors become inescapable. Instead of going limp, however, more common forms of human-freeze response may look like endlessly scrolling through our phones, having little energy, brain fog, and other forms of dissociation that make us feel out-of-body. This is equally as protective for us as it is for the impala. Freeze response dulls the overwhelming experience of what’s happening to us until we can get resourced to escape it. This is the energy that says “there is nothing I can do until help arrives.”

Energy Discharge

If the cheetah gets distracted or becomes uninterested in the frozen impala, you will see the impala slowly regain its animation then shake violently. It convulses in what appears to be erratic behavior. Then it stops, trots off to join the herd, and continues on with its day like nothing ever happened. Whether by running it off or shaking it off – the impala discharges the survival energy the ANS created to handle the threat.

When Energy Gets Stuck

But what about us? What if our stress is inescapable? Or what if we come out of it intact but unlike the impala we don’t know how to shake off the energy? You survived the car crash, ended an abusive relationship, or quit the stressful job – but all that mobilizing energy remains trapped. Uninformed friends or family may try to help by reminding us that we are no longer in danger. So it’s time to move on with our lives. And yet we still feel that survival energy brewing beneath the surface with nowhere to go.


Maybe you can recall a bodily sensation of this feeling of stuckness. Expressions like “I just feel like screaming!” “I want to punch something!” “I can’t sit still.” “I feel like running away.” “I really need a change of scenery.”


Furthermore, what happens when the traumatic event is continually inescapable?  What if your life is a constant swing between safety and danger? What if survival energy from one's childhood has been stored for years? This can look like a child living in an abusive home, chronic illness, the death of a loved one, or being systematically oppressed. This repeated exposure to stress without discharge generates a build-up of unused survival energy. 


Our Unnatural Exposure to Stress

As humans we have an outsized exposure to stress in comparison to our animal cousins. Rather than worrying about a single predator on any given day, our man-made culture has us living on a 24-hour cycle of stress-stimulus. Imagine how long an impala would survive if it was triggered to run for its life all day every day. The fact that so many of us live such happy lives despite this is truly a testament to human resilience. 


Ultimately though, we are not evolved to handle a chronic state of high levels of survival energy in our bodies. The ANS needs to be given the signal that the threat has passed, and just like it sends out its messages through these bodily responses, it receives the all-is-well signal through our bodies too. This is why telling someone to “not worry about it” just doesn’t help.


What It Does to Our Bodies

Chronic build up of survival energy keeps our bodies posed for threat on an ongoing basis leading to tension in our bodies. This tension may manifest superficially, like grinding our teeth or fidgeting our fingers. But it also lives in the deep tissues of our bodies - making our breath shallow, tightening the deep muscular tissues that surrounds all our organs, and preventing the movement of connective tissue. This bodily tension leads to many common ailments such as digestive disorders, heart problems, pain disorders, chronic fatigue, migraines, and so much more. 


The signals of bodily tension also communicate back to the ANS, verifying that danger has not passed. This reignites subsequent states of fight or flight. It is a vicious cycle of stress and tension all occurring beneath the conscious-mind. This makes us more vulnerable to nervous system dysregulation - which is 

1) the inability to distinguish between what is happening now and the traumatic event and 

2) the inability to move between mobilization and engaged rest.

Let's begin! Register for a healing plan:

  • 1:1 Sessions - 3 Pack ($125/session)

    Valid for three 1:1 sessions for breathwork & holistic trauma healing.
    Valid for 12 months
    • Trauma Release Breathwork (BBTRS®)
    • Holistic Trauma Integration
  • 1:1 Sessions 5 Pack ($110/session)

    Valid for five 1:1 sessions for breathwork & holistic trauma healing.
    Valid for 12 months
    • Holistic Trauma Integration
    • Trauma Release Breathwork (BBTRS®)
  • 1:1 Sessions - 10 Pack ($100/session)

    Valid for ten 1:1 sessions for breathwork & holistic trauma healing.
    Valid for 12 months
    • Trauma Release Breathwork (BBTRS®)
    • Holistic Trauma Integration
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