Understand the breath from a physiological perspective (biomechanics, biochemistry and psychophysiology), and explore yogic concepts of using breath to circulate and enhance vital energy or life force.
Understand the link between breath and body chemistry and how inhalation and exhalations can alter physical, mental and emotional states. Learn a range of techniques to energise, balance and relax the nervous system.
Learn short breath sequences that can be used for different daily situations, plus specific techniques to manage common health conditions including sleep issues, pain and recovery from respiratory conditions.
The distinction between breathwork and pranayama.
The three pillars of optimal breathing.
The impact of various breathing and pranayama techniques.
Breath is key: We can survive 3 weeks without food, 3 days without water, but only 3 minutes without breathing. Yet most of us are not taught how to breathe or how we can use the breath to improve our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Things are now changing. Breathwork has become popular in the West, and scientific research has improved our understanding of the physiology of the breath. There's also a renewed interest in Pranayama and the techniques that yogis discovered thousands of years ago to expand and enhance our prana or Life force energy.
In this course, we’ll be looking at the key difference between Breathwork and Pranayama and I’ll be inviting you to explore the breath from both standpoints. You’ll learn about the biochemistry and biomechanics of the breath. We’ll look at the link between our breath, thoughts and emotions, and the relationship between the breath and the autonomic nervous system. We’ll also explore what ancient yogis discovered about life force energy and how their maps of the subtle body correlate with what we now know about the nervous system and breathing.
We’ll take a deep dive into different breathing and pranayama techniques, and you’ll learn how different practices can be used to support specific situations, as well as balance and enhance your physical, emotional and mental state.
This course is for you if you:
Welcome to this online course about the breath! Here, I share a little about my background and why I think breathwork is so important. I'll give you an overview of the course content and the learning objectives, plus I invite you to consider the breath from various angles, and to explore it for yourself for at least 20 minutes a day.
Before we get started, we’ll clarify a few preliminary concepts. I’ll talk about some of the different schools of breathwork, you’ll learn the answer to the key question, 'What is the difference between Breathwork and Pranayama?', and I’ll explain why it’s important to explore both Eastern and Western practices in this course.
PART 1: The Physiology of Breathing
This module focuses on why we breathe and what happens when we breathe. Research about the breath has exploded over the past years and we now understand a lot more about what happens when we breathe. This module focuses on the biochemistry of breathing and reviews the fascinating processes that take place when our body is being breathed. We'll look at the difference between outer breathing and cellular respiration, and the various gases that are involved during both. We'll also identify a common breathing dysfunction, as well as one of the three pillars of optimal breathing: nasal breathing.
Key concepts we'll cover:
Co2 vs O2
Dysfunction & Optimal breathing
In this module, we'll focus on the mechanics of breathing. We'll start with the primary muscle of breathing – the diaphragm – to understand why Dr. Jack Feldman argues that without a diaphragm, you're an amphibian! Then we'll turn to other muscles involved in breathing. This will lead us to the second pillar of optimal breathing: diaphragmatic breathing.
Key concepts we’ll cover:
Pelvic floor muscles (PFM)
Dysfunction & Optimal breathing
In this module we consider: What is the link between the breath, our thoughts, and our emotions? Firstly, we'll review the 'old' model of our nervous system before turning to Dr Porges' Polyvagal Theory. One key topic in Breathwork is how our breath relates to the Autonomic Nervous System. We'll then look at Heart Rate Variability as a useful indicator of the health of our nervous system and how to improve it. Then we’ll explore the third pillar of optimal breathing: slow breathing. Additionally, we'll look at Breath Intelligence (BQ), which is a simple method to assess our body-mind system created by Dr Ela Manga and Viola Edward. It allows us to track what our breath has to say about our physical, mental and emotional health.
The brain and the nervous system
How breathing affects the ANS
Heart rate variability (HRV)
Dysfunctional & Optimal breathing
Breath Intelligence (BQ)
PART 2: Life Force Energy
In this module we'll explore what ancient yogis discovered about life force energy and how their maps of the subtle body correlate with what we now know about our nervous system and breathing. These key concepts shed light on how the vital energy circulates through our body, but they can also be used in conscious breathing practices to bring out particular qualities we want to develop.
Key concepts we’ll cover:
Nadis & Chakras
In this module, we practise a series of breathing techniques, from traditional pranayama as well as more recent Breathwork origins. They are divided into four categories: warm-up, energising, relaxing, and balancing.
But first, we'll revisit each breathing component before looking at a technique often used as a warm-up.
Key concepts covered:
In this class, we'll practise a series of energising breathing techniques. I encourage you to try each one, then take some notes about any shift in your bodily sensations, thoughts or emotions. You can navigate these techniques as you wish, based on how you feel.
- Surya Bhedana
- Double inhale
- Warrior breath
- Kapalabhati / Skull shining breath / Breath of Fire
- 20 Connected Breaths
- Wim Hof breathing
- Simha / Lion's breath
- Breath of Life
In this class, we'll practise a series of relaxing breathing techniques. I encourage you to try each one, then take some notes about any shift in your bodily sensations, thoughts or emotions. You can navigate these techniques as you wish, based on how you feel.
- Chandra Bhedana
- Bhramari / Bumblebee breath
- Sitali & Sitkari
- Ratio breathing
In this class, we'll practise a series of balancing breathing techniques. I encourage you to try each one, then take some notes about any shift in your bodily sensations, thoughts or emotions. You can navigate these techniques as you wish, based on how you feel.
- Nadi Shodhana
- Box Breathing
- Coherent Breath
- Dirga Pranayama
PART 3: Applications
So far we’ve looked at what recent researchers and Breathwork facilitators have discovered about the breath, as well as what ancient yogis discovered thousands of years ago. We also practised individual breathing techniques.
In this module, we'll put everything together and learn breathing sequences that can prove useful in daily life. The aim is to explore how we can combine techniques to manage certain situations better.
Breathwork for different situations:
- Scenario 1: Seven minutes to reset at lunchtime
- Scenario 2: Moving from work to leisure mode
- Scenario 3: Getting up and ready for your day
- Scenario 4: For when you suddenly feel anxious
In the previous module, we practised short sequences that can be used in daily life. In this class we'll focus on overcoming sleep issues.
In this class we'll focus on recovering from a respiratory condition, like the flu or Covid. We'll start with a gentle warm-up for the body, followed by some breath awareness before exploring some breathing techniques that will help us recover faster.
The focus of this class is not to overcome any specific health condition but to improve and maximise our fitness level. We'll start with a gentle warm-up for the body, followed by breath awareness before exploring some breathing techniques - especially breath retention - to increase our overall fitness level.
In this final class, we review the course learning objectives, recap what the three pillars of optimal breathing are and reiterate the importance of observing the breath. The breath is one of the most precious and powerful tools we have and I hope that you now feel better equipped to use it and improve your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Breathwork for Life, with Véronique Gauthier is eligible for 9 Continuing Education Credits with Yoga Alliance Professionals.
Véronique is a yoga therapist and certified advanced breathwork practitioner. She first graduated as a Vinyasa yoga teacher in 2009, and then completed a 500 hour advanced training in yoga therapy five years later.
Over the past few years, she has been increasingly drawn towards breathwork, and completed a two-year advanced training in breathwork, recognised by the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance (GPBA). Véronique now wishes to give others the opportunity to experience the benefits of yoga therapy and breathwork for themselves.
Understand the elements that shape your communication and learn to align it with your intentions. Explore how your teaching language can support, limit or prevent your students’ personal evolution.
This 20-hour comprehensive course is for anyone who wishes to access deeper relaxation, a higher understanding of the human experience and ultimately begin teaching Yoga Nidra to others.