Children Health March 2021 Personal Stories

Just Breathe…

Aimee suffered from asthma as a young child, as well as having a severe episode of croup. It wasn’t until later in life that she discovered how learning to breathe properly could significantly improve anxiety along with so many other scientifically-proven benefits such as increasing focus, improving sleep and even reducing the symptoms of depression. She now feels passionate about teaching breathwork to children and teachers in schools, resulting in her becoming the Founder of The Breathing Room, the School Breathe programme, and the author of Breathe Well.

What did you do before training in breathwork?

Before coming across breathwork, I had trained as a yoga teacher so naturally thought I was breathing well. However it wasn’t until a breath coach pointed out to me that I was not using my diaphragm fully; they were analysing my ‘breath pattern’ questioning whether I found it hard to be in the present moment, whether I struggled to feel fully relaxed or whether I was an over-thinker and always on the go (of which I answered yes to every question). I suddenly had the realisation that I was living in a constant low-level anxious state for as long as I could remember – simply because I wasn’t breathing deeply enough.

I had asthma as a child and would sometimes wake up in the middle of the night gasping for breath and feeling really panicky without really knowing why. After further investigation (and a lot of breathwork practice), it was discovered that this feeling of breathlessness and panic was down to having a severe episode of croup – I was two years old and had to be hospitalised which was obviously traumatic for my mum and me. I always had this feeling of not being able to breathe deeply enough, until I found natural ways to deepen my breath.

Yoga helped me immensely in the early days and helped me to reach a sense of peace and calm. This further made me realise that the anxiety was like white noise, and I only ever noticed that it was constantly there when it was finally gone. My love of feeling anxious-free led me to become a professional yoga teacher.

However, I never intended to teach – I put myself on the course as a way to heal, and further delve into natural ways of feeling great. One thing led to another and after completing a two-year course in the UK, I enrolled on a full-time professional yoga course in Sydney and enjoyed ten months of learning and practising yoga. Within the course, we were introduced to a plethora of ancient yoga pranayamas and encouraged to explore the breath which I found fascinating. However, it wasn’t until I came across conscious breathwork that my eyes turned to look at ‘unique breath patterns’ (we all breathe in completely unique ways) and how we should be breathing in a healthy way.

Fast forward a few years and I was then teaching yoga, with the certified eye of a breath coach, noticing that although everyone was in a yoga pose, absolutely no one was breathing well. So, feeling that I was merely teaching people to stretch, I turned my attention to teaching people to breathe well on a full-time basis.

When did you decide to help children in schools?

When my son first started school, some parents were invited into the classroom to help the children settle in for the first couple of weeks. I suddenly realised how stressful the start of school can be for young children and teachers alike. We were in a small classroom, full of 30 children, and there were not enough hands to comfort the upset few.

With my knowledge of breathwork and understanding how a short practice can help calm the nervous system, I couldn’t help feeling that learning breathwork in schools would be very helpful for both pupil and teacher. This insight ran parallel with many clients I was seeing in the City at the time asking me, “Why don’t we learn this at school?” As I would commute from dropping my son off at school, to seeing clients in The Breathing Room, I started to ask myself, “Why don’t we learn breathwork in schools?”

From that day, I slowly spent the next three years formulating a programme for primary school teachers to help teach simple yet highly effective breathwork techniques in schools. I, along with a team of breath coaches, taught live classes and programmes in primary schools for the first few months with some incredible results. We then realised it wasn’t going to be sustainable long term and also how much learning could be conducted online, so I formulated the School Breathe online programme for more schools and children to access. This now reaches over 3,000 school children across the UK. We have also launched a School Breathe breath coach training for primary schools to delve deeper into breathwork and to allow teachers to teach a combination of scientifically proven breath-focused techniques for children to feel calmer, more focused and more present – all essential components for being able to learn well.

My time teaching in schools also opened my eyes and I noted that some of us lose this vital connection with a ‘healthy breath’ from a very young age. Children as young as 6 and 7 years old were breathing only with their upper chest, which can cause feelings of stress and anxiety. This further propelled my mission to teach children and teachers the importance of how to breathe well – and this is now the foundation of the School Breathe programme.

“I would love to see the next generation being introduced to breathwork as soon as they start school. It’s paramount we don’t lose our connection with the innate healing qualities that our very own breathing system can bring to our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.

Conscious breathwork has changed my life so profoundly; I feel passionate about sharing my knowledge and experience to create simple and accessible ways for everyone to feel the benefits of a full, healthy breath.”

In addition to the school programs, breathwork sessions extend to benefit individuals, corporates, as well as holding workshops, events and retreats.

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