James, what is breathwork?
Breathwork is the quickest, most powerful and effective way to enhance and transform one’s state of mind and body. Breathing is the only system in our body that is both automatic and under our control. This is not a coincidence – it’s an invitation to tap into and improve our state of mind and body. Once understood, breathing practices can be used to radically improve physical and mental health, performance and emotional wellbeing.
Is it an aspect of meditation or a discipline in its own right?
A lot of people see Breathwork as meditation for people who can't meditate, but it is a little more nuanced that that. In meditation you are using the breath as an object to still and concentrate the mind. In Breathwork you are using the breath as a vehicle to create a shift in both your physiology and state of mind - whether you want to calm down, feel energised, optimise your performance or increase your focus - there are different breathing techniques for all of these.
Of the various benefits, which comes first and easiest to most people?
The symptoms that I most commonly come across and work with people in relation to are anxiety, stress and a lack of connection or understanding of oneself. Breathwork is an amazing tool to down-regulate the nervous system, clear emotional charge from the body and connect people to a deeper understanding of themselves.
Session at Pollen + Grace, Vauxhall
* Small breath in * Small breath out * Hold for 5 seconds * Breath normally for 10 seconds * Repeat this sequence 10 times.
A Wicked Breathwork workshop with Viva Fever
In the case of emotional issues, why and how does breathing help?
Depends on the emotional issue, but if you were to take anxiety for example a lot of this can be because of a build up of emotional charge in the body or impedance in the nervous system. Breathwork can work to clear that build up of emotional charge and impedance whilst simultaneously relaxing the body and stilling the mind.
Do you teach one-to-one or in classes?
Both. The deep work is done one-one, but I have 200-300 people tuning into my Instagram Live sessions each Wednesday and Sunday at 20.00 BST.
Once someone has mastered the technique, is it an exercise they should do for 30 minutes every day, or is it an all-day, every-day thing?
There are lots of different techniques and it is a constant practice. We breathe roughly 20,000 times a day so to start off with you want to make sure you’re breathing functionally – breathing in and out through your nose and breathing low, slow and deep into your belly.
After that it depends how quickly you want to move and to what extent you’re committed to improving your state of health and wellbeing. I have clients who have 2/3 sessions with me per week and have a daily practice and then I have some who aren’t quite as diligent.
The more you practise, the greater the reward.
Your instagram account quotes Aristotle ‘Health is a matter of choice, not a matter of chance.” Do you believe that?
It’s probably a little more nuanced when you start unpicking that statement, but generally speaking yes. I most definitely believe that 9/10 illnesses are a result of lifestyle choices that we have made in the past and if you were to look at collective rather than individual choice and the effect of that being passed across and through generations you could probably increase that percentage again.
The important thing to realise is that are constantly all day, every day making decisions and choices around the state of health that we want to be in – whether that is the food you eat, the quality of your sleep, your exposure to natural light and so on we always have an opportunity to improve our state of health.
What have you learned about people from your work?
That people are fundamentally good, but we live in a very disconnected and at times traumatised society in which the environment we live fosters rather than helps.
Thank you James!