Rebirthing-Breathwork grew out of the work of Leonard Orr who believed that through connected breathing, he was in fact healing the trauma of his own birth. Between 1962 and 1974 he discovered for himself that modifications in breathing practice appeared to bring about improvements in health, mental clarity and emotional well-being.
Development of Rebirthing as a therapeutic modality started in 1974, and since that time has been further developed. Accompanied by fellow researchers, Orr refined it into a system that can be practiced in the context of a therapy session and taught to clients over a series of sessions.
The main breathing technique is a connected breath, where the breather does not pause between inhale and exhale. According to facilitators, this causes a build up of oxygen in the blood as well as a build up of prana or life energy. Breathing sessions are done lying down and usually last one to two hours.
Rebirthing-breathwork practitioners believe that in addition to cerebral memory (based in the brain), humans also possess cellular memory, which is distributed amongst the body's cells, tissues, organs etc.
They believe that early trauma has a deep effect on one's psyche and shapes one's perception and experience of life, self and the world in ways of which one is mostly unaware. Furthermore, it is possible to gain recall of aspects of birth, gestation and early childhood and to release the accompanying emotions in order to generate a positive paradigm shift for the individual.
It is further theorized that repressed emotional, physical and mental "tensions" require relatively high levels of CO2 in the blood and that rebirthing-breathwork techniques can detoxify the system and release such tensions and change the physiology to the point where prevention or permanent remission from illness becomes possible.