Interview with The Breath Guy, Richie Bostock.
April is Stress Awareness Month – and it’s a great reminder for us all to take a look at what we can do differently in our lives to minimise the stress and worries we all inevitably face. We spoke to Richie Bostock, aka The Breath Guy, who is one of the world’s leading teachers in the evolution in health and performance through Breathwork. He allows people to experience the transformative powers using their breath to reduce stress and improve energy levels, sleep and athletic performance.
What actually is breathwork?
There are many definitions of breathwork so I will provide my simple definition. 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. You can even teach breathing protocols to athletes to increase their athletic output and promote faster recovery. There is so much that you can do with your breath and I believe we still have only just scratched the surface!
What are the benefits?
Breathing is the only function in our body that both happens completely automatically and is 100% under our control. Now this is not an accident of nature, it is absolutely by design. The correlation between breathing and the state of our body and mind has been acknowledged for centuries in many ancient traditions such as Taoism, Yoga and in Ayurvedic medicine.
Now, 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. So 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 – these are just a few of the benefits that can result from Breathwork.
How is it different to meditation?
If the goal of meditation is to go beyond the mind and experience our essential nature, which is often described as peace, bliss and total presence, then yes Breathwork is very similar. In fact, I call some of the routines I teach “Meditation on Rocket Fuel” because of the profound effect it has on calming the mind quickly and getting you to that place of no-thought. I have had countless people come up to me after a class saying that they have been trying meditation for years but have never gotten so deep into a state of presence than when doing the class.
The major difference is how you use the breath for each practice. In many styles of mediation, they practice “watching the breath” as a way of going into meditative states. In Breathwork we will consciously change our breathing to do the same thing. I love meditation and I think that it is a very important practice. The process of sitting down and becoming the observer of your thoughts is such an important skill to cultivate. I actually combine the two in my personal practice. I do Breathwork and then go into a meditation. In this way, the Breathwork acts as a speed ramp into the meditation practice, helping to calm the mind quicker so that you get more bang for your buck while meditating.
Who is breathwork for?
I always say if you have a nose, a mouth and a pair of lungs then you are very qualified to do Breathwork! In the Breathwork classes I teach involve 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.
What would you say to someone who has never tried it before?
Give it a go and you will be surprised at what you can do just by changing your breathing!
How did you get into what you do?
Purely by accident (or fate, whichever you prefer). 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 with Wim to learn the 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.
What are you doing when you are IN YOUR ELEMENT?
I am in service of others.