Zen meets performance

A quick summary:

Once only practiced by enlightened yogis and spiritual gurus, breathing techniques are now being embraced by Navy SEALs, elite athletes and Silicon Valley executives for their infinite benefits. We caught up with ‘The Breathe Guy’, Richie Bostock, to see what it’s all about.

1. What is your background and how did you come to be the no 1 master of breathwork in London?

Believe it or not I wasn’t always teaching people how to breathe for a living. I used to work in management consulting and then in the tech start up world. 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. Because there was no set treatment plan for MS, I was always on the lookout for different lifestyle changes and alternative treatments could be useful for him. Eventually I came across a podcast by a man called Wim Hof, a Dutch man often referred to as “The Iceman”. In this podcast, he talked about a method he developed through his own experiences which is fantastic for everyone’s physical and mental health. What caught my attention is that he mentioned the method seemed to be really effective in helping people with autoimmune diseases, including MS. After researching his method more I learned that it had two main elements: cold exposure activities such as cold showers and ice baths and breathing techniques.

To cut a long story short, I travelled 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 return I taught my 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! After this 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 breathing masters and witnessing the transformative effects of Breathwork. Now it is my mission to teach the world how to breathe with purpose!

2. Breathwork is a new concept to most. How would you recommend starting out and how can one expect to feel after a breathwork session?

Breathwork is the science and art of becoming aware of your breathing and using it for a physical, mental or emotional benefit. This definition encapsulates all the different techniques and modalities where your breath is the primary focus, from simple two-three minute techniques to help you feel relaxed, techniques to relieve chronic back pain or learning to breath to quickly induce meditative flow states. Even scientific studies are supporting what ancient traditions have known for centuries: linking correct breathing with the mitigation of some of most insidious modern health problems.

To start, come along to one of the Breathwork classes I teach in studios around London -it involves the students sitting or lying down as I guide them through a series of breathing flows for as specific purpose, whether its to create states of bliss, energy, relaxation or meditative flow.

3. Is breathwork safe and how does it work in making changes within the body?

If you understand how to use your breath as the tool that nature has intended for you to use, you become the master of yourself. Reduced stress and anxiety, increased energy levels, improved sleep, improved creativity, induced flow states, increased athletic performance and cardiovascular health –  There is so much that you can do with your breath and I believe we still have only just scratched the surface!

4. What does breathwork do to enhance performance in business?

Once only practiced by enlightened yogis and spiritual gurus, breathing techniques are now being embraced by and business executives all over the world for their infinite benefits. Reduce stress and anxiety, increase energy levels, improve sleep, improve creativity, induce flow states - Breathwork has so many benefits for everyones everyday performance.

5. What are some techniques employees can try to master thinking more clearly and get in the zone whilst at work?

Breathing to calm your nerves and get in the zone:

Here is a technique that has gained popularity in the west when it was discovered that Navy SEALS were using it before they went into battle to try and calm their nerves. It’s called box breathing. The breath is broken down into four equal parts, like the sides of a square. The length of each part should be whatever feels comfortable to you. A good place to start is five seconds but you could make the lengths even longer if you like.

* Start with empty lungs and breathe into your belly through your nose for a count of 5 seconds,

* Hold your breathe for a count of five,

* Exhale for a count of five

* Hold your breath for a count of five

* Repeat this pattern for at least five minutes or until you have felt yourself fully calm down.