How is your breath? Is it shallow, frazzled? Do you take long, deep breaths?
Most of us truly do not know how to breathe — but then, were you ever taught how to?
Correct breathing means you breathe in a way that is physiologically optimal for your body. It’s the way you were designed to breathe; only you were never taught how to.
The number of people doing breathwork has exploded because of its simplicity and effectiveness. You don’t have to have had experience meditating or practicing mindfulness.
In order to truly understand the power of effective breathing, I sought the help of an expert.
Richie Bostock, or “The Breath Guy”, is a leading figure and evangelist for breathwork, the next revolution in health and wellness. He is a breathwork coach, author, and speaker.
Breathwork was a catalyst for a life-changing journey that completely shifted his own perspective and beliefs on the potential for human beings.
“Some time ago my dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, an autoimmune disease with no real widely accepted cure and a myriad of different and sometimes difficult drug treatments” he explains “Because there was no set treatment plan for MS, I was always on the lookout for different lifestyle changes and alternative treatments that could be useful for him.”
Richie spent years traveling across five continents learning from many of the modern-day masters of breathwork.
“Wim Hof Method was the first style of breathwork that I ever learned and began my breathwork journey by becoming a WHM instructor” he recalls “Training with Wim, I learned about how breathwork and cold exposure, whether it is a cold shower or an ice bath, can make a massive difference to your physical, mental, and emotional health.”
He traveled to Poland to attend a week-long training to learn Wim’s technique and found the effects to be so profound, especially the breathing aspects.
On my return, he taught his dad the technique: “Fast forward a few years and my dad breathes and takes cold showers every morning and his MS has not progressed at all!”
He continuously witnessed the transformative effects of when people became aware of their breathing and started to use it as a tool to create physical mental and emotional benefits.
“I was obsessed with finding out what else people were doing using the breath, which has led me to travel across five continents learning from many modern breathwork masters and witnessing the transformative effects of breathwork.”
This free medicine is available to everyone and it’s Richie’s mission to remind the world how to breathe with purpose — we are so excited to catch up with Richie and get to know the man behind the breathwork phenomenon.
“ Your breath is like your body’s very own in-built Swiss Army knife. Here, you have a tool that can help you in so many situations” — Richie Bostock
Are you breathing the wrong way?
Most people take on average 22–29,000 breaths a day however most people are not aware that they are breathing poorly, and fewer are aware of how poor breathing habits may be affecting their health and happiness.
“I would say that 80% of the general population breathe in a way that is anatomically sub-optimal leading to unnecessary physical, mental and emotional distress.” shares Bostock. “The most common dysfunctional breathing pattern I see is a chest or clavicular breathing pattern which is very common in people who are chronically stressed.”
This pattern is obvious when a person inhales and their shoulders travel vertically significantly and their chest puffs out. Here you are using your neck, shoulders and upper chest muscles to expand your chest to breathe in air.
“These muscles are what are called ‘Secondary Breathing Muscles’ and are designed to be used in short bursts when we need to breathe quickly (e.g. catching our breath after sprinting).” explains Bostock “They are not designed to be used 24/7 and will fatigue and can cause neck, shoulder and back pain.”
On top of that, this style of breathing is neurologically linked to sending the body into a stress response by activating your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS).
“Even if you had no reason to be stressed if you breathed in this way you would cause your body to go into a stress response” adds Bostock “doesn’t sound so smart, does it?”
Understanding the power of your breath
By simply learning how to use your breath as a tool the way nature intended you to, you can quickly affect the systems and functions in your body, improving your physical and mental health and performance and emotional wellbeing.
You might be a sleep-deprived parent, a stressed business executive, an elite athlete, or anyone in between.
“The way you breathe affects just about every system and function in your body” explains Bostock ‘This means that the way we breathe has a direct effect on our cardiovascular system, endocrine system, digestive system, nervous system, immune system, and lymphatic system.”
If your breathing changes, whether consciously or unconsciously, then all these systems will change accordingly. It is the state of these systems that largely dictate our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being.
Bostock explains how there is a breath technique for everyone and depending on what issues/illnesses you face, a program of breathwork can be styled for that person: “The same for kids — depending on their age, there will be certain styles that work best. I have even breathed a 5-day old baby!”
“We live in such a fast-paced and ever-changing world which can often feel very challenging and overwhelming.“
As a result, reported levels of chronic stress and anxiety are higher than they have ever been in recorded history, taking a toll on our physical health, emotional wellbeing, and mental performance, as“everyone is looking for tools and solutions to combat their busy and often overstimulated lives.” Bostock continues.
It doesn’t require you to have to think or feel in a certain way, you just breathe and you will experience something new: “I see breathwork playing a very big part in bringing more peace and balance to a fast-paced and sometimes chaotic world.”