Having suffered with asthma and saved over 5000 lives as a Bondi Rescue lifeguard, Dean Gladstone has seen first-hand the power of breathing – now, he’s showing others.
In his Power of the Breath course, Dean aims to improve his clients’ optimal breathing habits and show them how breathing techniques can enhance their lives in more ways than one.
“The course guides you through a range of modalities that feature breathing techniques from many different teachers,” explains Dean. “It is not specifically a Wim Hof Method course but does support any existing or future breathing practice my clients may undertake, and helps them understand the fundamentals of functional and energetic breathing.”
Dean found reprieve from his lifelong struggle with asthma – which included being hospitalised at the age of nine – when he began yoga. The breathing techniques he learnt through the practice were so beneficial, he became a yoga instructor himself.
“But breathwork hasn’t just helped me – as a lifeguard, I’ve seen the physical effects that panic can have when I’ve been saving people,” says Dean. “By implementing and learning breathing techniques in my own life, I’ve been able to teach others.”
Harnessing our breath is a key part of relaxation – it’s why the ‘Ohm’ part of meditation feels so good – but there are plenty of benefits beyond finding calm. According to Dean, breathing well can help to alleviate the effects of allergies and help us avoid sleep disruption and common respiratory dysfunctions.
“Breathing is key to good health, wellbeing and high performance – I have used breathwork to heal my own asthma,” says Dean. “Additionally, as cold water therapies are growing in popularity, breathwork also helps you improve your tolerance to cold water, in turn helping with immunity and circulation.”
A few of the key benefits of breathwork include:
- Improved physical and mental performance
- Improved immunity
- Helping to calm symptoms of hayfever, asthma, etc.
- Improved tolerance for external factors, like pain or cold temperatures
“You can use breathing exercises to pump up the body in the morning if you’re flat, or calm your nervous system if you’re wired at night,” says Dean. “A great place to start is to try nasal breathing next time you exercise, to increase oxygen uptake in the blood.”
Amazingly, breathing correctly from a young age can even change how our faces and teeth develop later in life, as it is more functional than breathing solely from the mouth.
“I have loved working with people with anxiety disorders and helping them help themselves,” says Dean. “As a lifeguard who has rescued over 5000 people, it’s quite clear to me that better breathing is inextricably linked to the way we respond to stressful situations, and can even save lives.”
So, how do you breathe properly?
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and a pillow under your head.
- Place a pillow under your knees to support your legs.
- Put one hand on your upper chest and the other below your rib cage so you can feel the movement of your diaphragm.
- Inhale slowly through your nose, feeling your stomach expand to press into your hand.
- Keep the hand on your chest as still as possible.
- Engage your stomach muscles and draw them toward your spine as you exhale using pursed lips.
- Again, keep the hand on your upper chest as still as possible.
- Continue breathing like this for a few more breaths, until you get the hang of it.