News + Reviews


Breathing is the New Yoga! 9 Shortcuts to Calming Anxiety

Posted in Press

Controlled breathing techniques are a promising antidote to everything from anxiety to PTSD; here’s how to incorporate them into your life.

At a moment when the pressure to live the perfect, productive, and Instagram-beautiful lifestyle is causing more anxiety than ever, there seems to exist at least the promise of an antidote: mindfulness. Lena Dunham practices it; Karlie Kloss swears by it; Oprah leads 21-day challenges teaching meditation techniques including breathing. Sleepless professionals facing burnout are embracing this ancient weapon against stress and depression as fervently as The Beatles and Mia Farrow spread the word of the healing magic of Transcendental Meditation in the late 1960s—maybe the last time that the world felt as topsy-turvy.

And yet, until recently, the essential element that can help us achieve Zen has played a supporting role in the way meditation is taught and practiced. “Breathing is the bridge between yoga and meditation—yoga that strengthens our body and meditation, which strengthens our mind,” meditation teacher and life coach Rajshree Patel said recently at the light-filled New York outpost of the spiritual organization The Art of Living. Patel has for 30 years been teaching Sudarshan Kriya, a series of breathing techniques that’s among the many ancient and new methods being embraced at yoga studios and meditation centers as exercise in their own right. “Twenty years ago, doing yoga sounded like sleeping on a bed of nails, and five or so years ago, meditation was still obscure,” Patel continued. “Now, focusing on breathing is finally starting to seem less foreign. It’s an essential tool and in fact the quickest, simplest way to enhance our health.” And a new generation of classes, apps, and even wearable tech devices are putting the practice front and center, making it easier to incorporate than ever.

In scientific terms, a controlled breathing practice cuts into stress hormones, dances with our nervous system, and regulates the oxygen, CO2, and pH levels in our blood. It has therapy potential against depression, anxiety, and PTSD. In sidewalk terms, breathing lets us get a grip. “A very interesting fact about the breath is how closely it is linked with our emotions. This is actually revolutionary,” psychologist and research scientist Emma Seppälä told a TEDx audience earlier this year, quoting research from the psychologist Pierre Philippot, who determined that specific breaths correspond with specific emotions—summoning anger induces a short and shallow breath, while slowing down the breath can directly reduce anxiety.

Seppälä, author of the book The Happiness Track and the science director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, has looked into the effects of Sudarshan Kriya and other yogic breathing techniques on Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. According to the research, Sudarshan Kriya’s engagement of the parasympathetic nervous system can rebalance brain chemistry. “If you deepen your breath, if you slow your breath, and in particular if you lengthen your exhales, your heart rate decreases, your blood pressure decreases, and you’re tapping into your parasympathetic nervous system,” Seppälä explained. This is “the opposite of ‘fight or flight’—the ‘rest and digest’ nervous system.”

And while simply following the old slogan “just breathe” may not quite cut it, taking the time to learn and adopt targeted techniques can yield lifelong benefits. “The fact that we can use the breath to impact the state of our minds means that we have a tool at all times, no matter what we’re facing, to calm down,” Seppälä assured her TED audience. “We just need to tap into it.” Here, a few ways to do just that.

Breathguru, Lanzarote, Canary Islands, retreat
A scenic island setting is home to retreats and workshops on detoxing and fitness-enhancing techniques, led by “breath guru” Alan Dolan himself.

  1. See the full article at vogue.com

Breathe deeply at a Somerset retreat

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If Britain has a hippy heartland, it is Somerset, whose rolling hills, Georgian market towns and, erm, ley lines have been attracting free spirits since the Sixties. There’s Glastonbury, with white magic shops and raw food cafes stretching the festival vibe into a year-long phenomenon. And arty Burton, home to the astonishingly gorgeous new Hauser & Wirth gallery. Although Cornwall and Devon draw the tourist hoards, Somerset has become something of an insider’s secret for a different, quieter breed of traveller, seeking artistic inspiration, a health reboot or an emotional recharge. As a hub for yoga teachers, mindfulness gurus, raw food chefs, therapists and artists, Somerset has become the capital of the British wellness travel industry, and now a brand new boutique retreat centre in Somerset is about to up the game of the retreat business in Britain.

A beautifully converted former dairy farm near the arty enclave of Burton, 42 Acres is the brainchild of 33-year-old entrepreneur Lara Tabatznik, who spotted a gap in the market for a stylish retreat centre offering a dedicated programme of strictly curated retreats. Arriving at 42 Acres feels more like stepping into an impeccably styled boutique hotel like The Pig or Limewood, with a striking living room populated by vintage leather sofas, luxurious rugs and Kartell lighting. Bedrooms are similarly rustic-chic, with decadent cashmere throws over geometric-print bedclothes and hessian rugs.

It’s Alan Dolan’s breathwork workshop that has enticed me to 42 Acres, though; I’ve read rave testimonials by actors such as Naomie Harris, sportspeople like Paul Sampson, and mindfulness gurus like Jody Shield. Within wellness circles, ‘conscious breathing’ is garnering serious buzz, presented as a virtually idiot-proof mindfulness technique with the potential to banish anxiety, restore clarity and process deep-seated issues. I love yoga but have always been too restless for most meditation techniques. Yet under Dolan’s expert tutelage, I master this yawningly open-mouthed belly-breathing technique and finally “get” mindfulness; I emerge from each session feeling stress-free, with flashes of insight. Dolan normally runs sell-out courses at his own retreat centre in Lanzarote, so this is a rare (more affordable) opportunity in the UK.

While there’s no arguing with the quality of the decor and the menu – raw vegan deliciousness prepared by chef Mark Mabon – these extras aren’t the main draw of 42 Acres. It’s the quality and consistency of the retreats; all experts are personally vetted to ensure a hokum-free programme spanning yoga, cookery courses, bushcraft, mindfulness and personal development that will please the most wary of wellness-industry philistines. Relaxing just got a lot less stressful…

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  2. Read it at stylist.co.uk

Indaba 1-1 slots, 25 Jun-9 Jul and workshops at Indaba & CamYoga

Posted in Newsletters

Hi everyone,

Happy summer! Just a heads up to let you know I’m heading back to the UK shortly for workshops and 1-1 sessions. There has been high demand for 1-1 slots again so we’ve added a few more…

1-1s @ Indaba:
Sat 25 June @ 1.30pm or 3pm
Tue 5 July @ 1.30pm or 3pm
Wed 6 July @ 4.30pm
Fri 8 July @ 3pm or 6pm
Sat 9 July @ 3pm
Workshops:
Sun 26 June, 2.30-5.30pm @ CamYoga
Sun 3 July, 1.30-4.30pm @ Indaba

Just email info@breathguru.com to grab a 1-1 slot, or visit camyoga.co.uk or indabayoga.com to book a place at either of the workshops – taking place at CamYoga South, 1 Mill Court, Great Shelford, Cambridge CB22 5LD and Indaba Yoga, 18 Hayes Places, London NW1 6UA.

Looking forward to seeing you all.

With love, Alan

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42 Acres Finding Self Retreat, Somerset 30 June – 3 July 2016

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Hi everyone,

I’m thrilled to be returning to the breathtaking 42 Acres space in Somerset at the end of June to co-host a retreat with my colleagues Tony Riddle, Nicola Dunn and Carly Grace. Those of you who came to the Breathing Space retreat at 42 Acres in May will know it’s beautiful and peaceful but easily accessible from London with a direct train followed by a 15min cab ride. Read on or visit 42acres.com for more info…

With love, Alan

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Knowles Lifestyle Retreats – the Ibiza North Shore Retreat, 15-22 October 2016

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Hi everyone,

I’m very excited to be co-hosting an Ibiza retreat from Knowles Lifestyle Retreats this October with the wonderful yoga teacher Jax May and Ibiza guide Toby Clarke. Located in the north of Ibiza, Can Zama is a beautifully designed luxury property set in the hills behind Beniras beach, surrounded by lush green forest and peaceful Ibiza countryside. With only 8 places available, this is sure to be a life-changing detox for every level of your being. Read on or contact erin@knowleslifestyle.co.uk for more info…

With love, Alan

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It’s time for a reboot

Posted in Press

Each of these 2016 fitness retreats has a USP that’ll get you glowing inside and out this summer.

Breathing Space

Where? Lanzarote (there are also sessions and workshops in London, Cambridge and Dublin).
Best for? Spiritual types – you’ll meet ‘breath guru’ Alan Dolan, who has a villa in the hillside village of Oasis de Nazaret, and learn how to breathe properly to boost health and wellbeing.
What’s involved? Two breath classes a day, plus a one-on-one session in which you learn new breathing patterns to reduce stress and increase energy.
What’s to eat? Health-conscious Dolan favours organic and local produce.
Fact Breath guru fans include Naomie Harris.

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Breathing Space Retreats April 2016 Newsletter

Posted in Newsletters

Hi everyone,

Hi everyone and greetings from the Magic Island.

Having just returned from Tokyo I’m now getting ready to head to the UK for a workshop at Indaba Yoga on April 16th. These events are great fun and massively powerful, but if you feel like something deeper and more intensive you have a choice: come to my first ever retreat in the UK at 42 Acres in Somerset in early May, or head over to the Lanzarote retreat which runs year-round. Details of both below…

With love, Alan

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42 Acres Breathing Space Retreat, Somerset 6 – 10 May 2016

Posted in Newsletters

Hi everyone,

I’m very excited to be co-hosting a retreat at the breathtaking 42 Acres space in Somerset this May with my colleague and friend Anwar Ravjani. It’s the first time I’ve ever brought a Breathing Space Retreat to the UK, making it even easier for you to access the amazing power of your breath. In 42 Acres I couldn’t have found a better venue. It’s beautiful and peaceful but easily accessible from London with a direct train followed by a 15min cab ride. Read on or visit breathguru.com or 42acres.com for more info…

With love, Alan

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