Context: Breath is a central element both in Eastern spiritual practice and in breath therapy, a treatment developed in Germany over the last 90 years. Among physicians, little is known about the working methods, goals, basic concepts, providers, and benefits for specific medical diagnoses of breath therapy. Objective: To investigate the actual circumstances of breath therapy in Germany, its relation to medicine, and its application in patients with specific diagnoses. Design: Descriptive study. Setting: Germany. Study Subjects: Members of the national association of breath therapists. Instrument: Questionnaire developed at Berlin Free University Medical Center in collaboration with the national association of breath therapists. Outcome Measures: Degree of approval/disapproval to given answers to semi-closed questions. Results: Breath therapy, as practiced in Germany, is a therapeutic method distinct from somatic therapy and psychotherapy. It is primarily applied by nonmedical therapists in a private practice setting. Through the experience of physical sensations from the nonmanipulated breath rhythm, this method provides a physically grounded, deep personal experience of an integrated sense of self. Breath therapy appears to be particularly helpful in patients with chronic back pain. Conclusions: Results suggest that breath therapy brings about its therapeutic effect through enhanced proprioception which, as other studies have shown, is deficient in patients with chronic back pain. This first descriptive study on breath therapy is limited by the use of self-reports from therapists which cannot control for provider bias. This therapeutic intervention deserves further investigation and controlled clinical research.

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