By: Nic Fleming | Are breathing techniques good for your health? | Neuroscience | The Guardian
- Coronavirus – latest updates
- See all our coronavirus coverage
The market is flooded with books and classes claiming ‘breathwork’ can help with mental health, sleep and even Covid-19. But are experts convinced?
Alan Dolan couldn’t afford market research when he started out as a breathing instructor in 2005. Instead, he took soundings from London taxi drivers. “I’d tell them I taught people to breathe for a living – they’d be in hysterics and say: ‘What a great scam!’” says Dolan. Recently their reaction has changed: “Now they tell me about their sleep apnoea or their wife’s panic attacks, ask me how that relates to breathing and often download my app.”
Dolan, whose company is called Breathguru, teaches people to breathe deeply from their diaphragm, inhaling for longer than exhaling, without pausing between the two. He says this can, among other things, release stress, alleviate depression, tackle sleep issues, ease respiratory conditions, boost energy and the immune system and eject emotional baggage. Until Covid-19, his retreats in Lanzarote were, he says, fully booked. Such is the level of demand that Dolan has taught 24 trainees to lead sessions like his.
It has been suggested that simple breathing exercises can help people with Covid-19
It’s likely there will be uses for breathing techniques in a variety of medical settings, but it’s not a magic bullet