Radiance Breathwork

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The development of the Radiance Breathwork technique began in 1974. Stanford Ph.D. Psychologist Gay Hendricks was resting during a hike and comtemplating the questions, "What is the one thing I need to know or experience to bring about change in myself or other people? What is the one thing human beings are doing wrong that if we corrected would bring us happiness instead of conflict?" The answer he received and felt deeply was, "Open up to what is already inside--what actually is--feel it deeply, and learn to love it."

The next day he successfully used these principals (what is now known as body-centered therapy) with a client. During the session, the client began to breath rapidly and in deep gulps. After a period of time which included some movement on the part of the client, the breathing slowed down and the client exhibited a "radiant serenity" on her face. Later, the client related more significant changes in her emotional wellbeing.

During the 1970s, Dr. Hendricks studied and experimented with a number of body-oriented healing modalities including yoga, rolfing, and dance therapy. Working with therapists such as John Pierrakos, who was trained by William Reich, Dr. Hendricks learned important techniques related to body-oriented therapy. In 1975, Dr. Henricks had several breathwork experiences with another breathwork pioneer, Leonard Orr, the creator of Rebirthing.

Throughout the late 1970s and 1980s, Gay Hendricks and his wife Kathlyn developed the breath-directed healing and transformational technique known as Radiance Breathwork. During that time, he conducted numberous workshops and used the breathwork technique and other body-centered therapy techniques with clients. In 1991, Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks published a book entitled, "Radiance: Breathwork, Movement & Body-Centered Psychotherapy" which details the techniques used in Radiance Breathwork. The book is available from
The Hendricks Institute. Other recent books by Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks include "At the Speed of Light" which details the Hendricks' transformational program and "Conscious Breathing" which presents a very simple, short and healing daily breathing exercise program.

Description of Process

Radiance Breathwork is commonly performed in one-on-one sessions with an experienced facilitator and in group workshops. After a description of the process and what to expect, the breather lies down on a firm yet comfortable surface. At this time, the goals and intentions of the session are reviewed. Any fears or questions can also be addressed.

The breather relaxes the jaw and the mouth. Breathing is done through the mouth initially until the throat is able to relax so that breath and energy can flow freely through that area. The breathwork facilitator will then help the breather find a comfortable style and rate of breathing which helps facilitate the process of relaxing and feeling.

The facilitator leads the breather by helping them let go of conscious control and take things as they come up. After a short time, emotional or personality patterns from the unconscious will begin to come to the surface and appear as behavioral patterns. Bodywork is also used on ocassion to help trigger emotional release. The facilitator encourages the breather to experience the feelings fully and move through them. This allows the material to be integrated. Throughout the session, more and more material will come of the surface and will be integrated so that energy blockages are released.

During the process there may be release of emotions (which are encouraged), a feeling of sleepiness, a tightening of the hands and feet (tetany), tingling, bliss, and other phenomena. At some point in time, the breather may experience feelings surrounding birth or conception issues.

The session ends when the breather feels peace or bliss or research what feels to be the right stopping place for the body and mind. The breather is encouraged to continue if they are stopping because they feel fear or other unpleasant feelings. After the session, the facilitator suggests an activity which will help get the breather feeling stable in his/her own body as opposed to feeling "spacey."

In group breathwork sessions, music is used to help the breathers access material from the unconscious mind.

It is important to note that sometimes the Hendricks-trained practitioners do not begin in the first session with Radiance Breathwork. Instead, it can be more beneficial in some cases to teach a variety of daily breathing and presencing exercises which can be very helpful healing tools and excellent preparation for the breathwork sessions.


Radiance Breathwork is contraindicated for the following conditions:

It is important to note that since the healing and transformational work offered by Hendricks Institute-trained practitioners involves more than simply the Radiance Breathwork, a number of the other tools may be useful, including the "Conscious Breathwork Program," and the Body-Oriented Psychology techniques.