Inhale, exhale. La Pochette gets back to basics and talks the power of breathwork with Stuart Sandeman, breathing expert, peak performance coach and bestselling author of ‘Breathe In Breathe Out’.
None of us are strangers to the phrase ‘Just Breathe’. But there’s much more to this natural process than just keeping us alive (and calming us down, especially on a typical Monday morning with a to-do list longer than M25 traffic).
An expert on the inner workings of breathing, we pick the brains of Stuart Sandeman to find out more about the powerful secrets hidden within the simple movements of inhaling and exhaling. From enhanced athletic performance and faster recovery to sustained energy levels and improved emotional health, Sandeman shares more about his personal journey and top tips for practicing better breathwork.
Could you tell us more about how you started your breathwork journey and Breathpod mission?
By chance I went with my mum to a breathwork class, shortly after losing my girlfriend to cancer. I found it extremely helpful in supporting my grieving process, although it didn’t stop there.
My energy rocketed, my sleep improved, my inner dialog became kinder. I thought if it had helped me it could help others so I set off on my mission and set up Breathpod to share breathing with the world.
What are the three top things people can learn from Breathe In, Breathe Out?
- How to fix your breathing to improve their physical mental and emotional health
- How to use breathing to move through trauma and other difficult experiences.
- How to use breathing as a tool for optimal performance in work and sport.
Do you have a favourite breathing exercise?
“If in doubt breathe it out!''This is an exercise to calm in stressful moments. I often use it if I’m feeling anxious before an event. It’s really simple. Breathe in through your nose for four, hold for four, breathe out your mouth for eight. Repeat as much as you need!
What are the main key benefits of practicing breathwork?
I like to think there is a breathwork prescription for most ailments. There are so many physical, mental and emotional benefits. Less stress, more energy, improved sleep, more focus, more awareness, better relationship with yourself and others, ability to heal trauma, performance enhancement in sport.
How can breathing affect fitness and athletic performance?
Through breathing better you can reduce breathlessness during exercise, and give you the energy to go an extra round or mile. You can also tune up your breathing to give you sustained energy. Breathing can be used to deepen rest and recovery after sport so that you can avoid injury.
In your book, you mention “Your Nose Is A Smartwatch”. Could you tell us more about this?
Often people switch to mouth breathing when training, and the body switches from aerobic respiration (using oxygen), to anaerobic (without oxygen). When the body releases energy anaerobically it uses up more energy and you build lactic acid which makes your muscles ache.
Many smartwatches map your aerobic and anaerobic threshold zones for activities like running. Instead, when running I teach people to nose breathe only, as this tends to keep you in the aerobic zone, when you reach the gasping for air feeling which is usually when you would switch to the anaerobic mouth panting, I encourage you to just walk and keep nose breathing to catch your breath and start running again (nose only) - this way you keep in the aerobic zone and can build on your aerobic fitness.
Theoretically, could someone improve their athletic ability through practicing breathing techniques?
Of course, you can practice static breathing techniques to improve your breathing mechanics and chemistry.
What excites you the most about your work?
Helping empower people to improve their lives through simplicity is really fulfilling. Seeing such incredible shifts in my clients excites me to the potential we all have within us to make positive change.
Do you have any advice for staying motivated during these stressful times?
Daily practice and positive habits are a must. Some sort of self-care that you prioritise daily. I like to do that in the morning as a morning routine, it sets me up and motivates me no matter what happens in the day. It consists of: a pint of hot water and lemon first thing, 20 minutes movement and stretching, 20 minutes breathwork, 20 minutes meditation, followed by a cold shower.
What’s next on the cards?
I have some short courses coming out soon to help people deepen their breathwork practise. I also will be back on my Instragram @breathpod this October - delivering 20 minute live morning sessions at 7.30am to help people start their day the right way.
Finally, what’s in your sweat/gym bag?
I tend to run to the gym and run back so I don’t actually have a gym bag! I have also been on the go a lot this year so I’ve been doing home workouts.
Breathe In, Breathe Out: Restore your health, reset your mind, and find happiness through breathwork by Stuart Sandeman (published by HQ, HarperCollins). RRP £16.99. Buy'Breathe In, Breathe Out' on Amazon