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The Breath of Life with Campbell Will

The Breath of Life with Campbell Will

Campbell Will, Senior Physiotherapist and founder of Breath and Body Therapy, uses a systems-based approach to health, focusing on root causes of pain and dysfunction for lasting change. Integrating breathwork into his practice, he helps manage pain, anxiety, and stress. As a breathwork coach and educator, Campbell has trained over 100 health professionals and hundreds of clients. Certified in HeartMath and extensively trained in various breathwork methods, he connects mind and body for optimal well-being. He is an affiliate member of the Global Professional Breathwork Alliance and an Accredited Professional Training Provider with the International Practitioners of Holistic Medicine. MysticMag finds out more..

Campbell, How did you first get into this line of work?

I got into breathwork while working as a respiratory therapist in the ICU. I came across Wim Hof, who was doing incredible things like climbing mountains in the snow, and I was intrigued. I started practicing his methods and quickly experienced significant benefits. There was something inside me that said, “You need to explore this further.” So, I traveled to the Netherlands to train under Wim Hof himself and then went to the mountains in Poland for more training.

This journey led me to explore other aspects of breathwork, such as freediving and yoga. The more I learned, the more I realized the profound impact that breathwork can have on our mental and physical health. It’s often overlooked because breathing is so automatic and innate to us. However, even though breathing is instinctive, our modern lifestyle has led us away from breathing optimally.

When you consider the average person spends hours sitting, hunched over their phone, it’s no wonder our breathing patterns have shifted. Our bodies adapt to these environments, and our breathing adapts with them. This can lead to shallow breathing, which over time can cause a host of health issues.

We were designed to breathe perfectly, as you can see in the effortless breathing of a three-year-old. But as we grow older and our lifestyles change, our breathing often becomes compromised. Undoing these learned patterns can be challenging because we’ve stacked up years of breathing in a less-than-ideal way.

Breathwork is about reconnecting with our natural, optimal breathing patterns. It’s about undoing the habits and compensations we’ve developed over time and returning to a more balanced way of breathing.

How has your background in physiotherapy influenced your approach to breathwork and the development of the Functional & Therapeutic Breathwork Training program?

What I found missing in the breathwork space was a focus on assessment and treatment. Many methods emphasize experiential breathwork, but few actually examine how someone is breathing. My background in physiotherapy highlights the biomechanics of the body, demonstrating that one can breathe well or poorly. Engaging in breathwork does not eliminate the need to breathe effectively. By assessing breathing patterns through the lens of posture and movement, I can identify when someone needs to work on their breathing rather than simply doing breathwork. This approach enhances the potential benefits of breathwork, unlocking the body’s potential and optimizing its state.

What specific principles differentiate the Functional & Therapeutic Breathwork Training program from other certifications, and how do these principles guide your teaching methods?

We focus on teaching principles rather than specific methods. While there are numerous breathwork methods emerging each year, they all rest on a core set of principles that remain constant: biomechanics, physiology, the nervous system, and emotions. Understanding these principles allows us to tweak and modify practices to suit the individual. Learning the principles helps you grasp various methods, but more importantly, it enables you to personalize the approach for each person. Everyone’s breath is unique, like a fingerprint, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work. By understanding the principles, you can tailor breathwork to meet individual needs effectively.

How do you believe that breathwork can enhance the practice of health practitioners and improve client outcomes, particularly in terms of addressing root issues?

In terms of addressing root issues, it’s such a profound question. The simple answer is that everyone breathes, yet no one is taught how to breathe properly. Even in my education as a physiotherapist, the foundational aspects of breathing and its impact on health were not emphasized. We were trained to understand what happens when breathing goes awry, rather than how to breathe optimally.

For instance, during my time as a respiratory physiotherapist, I never received formal education on assessing and treating breathing issues in the general population. Recent studies, like one from Brazil, suggest that a significant percentage of children and adults suffer from dysfunctional breathing patterns, especially those with anxiety or asthma, and even in athletic populations.

This lack of awareness and training among healthcare professionals is concerning, as improper breathing can have profound effects on physiology, the nervous system, energy levels, and sleep quality. Over the past five years, I’ve shifted my focus from symptom management to supporting overall health. Instead of just treating a set of symptoms or diagnosing a specific disease, I now aim to support the individual as a whole, recognizing that the body has a remarkable ability to heal itself when provided with the right conditions.

Breathing is a critical part of creating that internal environment for healing. By optimizing breathing patterns, we can positively influence many aspects of health. I believe every healthcare professional, whether a physiotherapist, doctor, dentist, yoga teacher, or health coach, can benefit from understanding and addressing poor breathing patterns in their clients or patients.

It has become almost instinctual for me to observe and assess people’s breathing patterns. It’s the first thing I consider in any health-related situation because breathing impacts every aspect of our being, from birth to death. Before delving into exercise regimens or recommending supplements, ensuring that a person’s breathing supports their well-being is paramount. It’s a foundational aspect of health that deserves more attention and recognition in the healthcare field.

Can you explain how specific breathing techniques can facilitate access to altered states of consciousness, and how these states can deepen one’s connection with themselves, others, and a greater sense of existence?

I always approach breathwork from a spectrum perspective. On one end, there’s the functional, restorative aspect of breathing, which we’ve been discussing. On the other end, there’s a more dynamic, experiential style. When we consider altered states of consciousness, often described as non-ordinary states, we’re looking at how breathing can change our usual state of mind, body, and nervous system.

Typically, we move through life in a fairly predictable manner, with familiar states of mind and body. However, when we engage in more experiential or dynamic styles of breathwork, we can alter brain activity and blood flow. This leads to a reduction in activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for judgment, rumination, and analysis—the “voice in our head.”

Simultaneously, we see increased activity in the limbic system, which governs emotions, fears, and behaviors. By quieting the prefrontal cortex and allowing the limbic system to come to the forefront, we create space for unconscious thoughts and emotions to surface. This can pave the way for insights, intuitions, and emotional releases.

This shift in brain activity often allows people to view their problems or life situations from a different perspective. Without the judgment and analysis of the prefrontal cortex, the experience becomes more authentic and emotional, often leading to profound personal insights.

This type of breathwork can be seen as a form of self-therapy, as individuals can address their issues without the usual judgment or storytelling associated with them. It’s about experiencing things from a pure emotional standpoint, rather than a rational or analytical one.

However, it’s essential to approach this type of breathwork with caution, especially with individuals who are highly anxious or have experienced trauma. Intense breathwork sessions can sometimes exacerbate these issues if not done in a supportive environment with proper guidance and integration.

In my practice, I use this type of breathwork selectively and only with clients whom I’ve worked with for some time and feel are ready for such an experience. It’s like strapping someone to a fast car—they need to know how to drive before they can fully benefit from the experience. Without the right preparation and support, the experience can be overwhelming and potentially harmful.

In your experience, how does conscious breathing impact the mind-body connection and enhance spiritual experiences, fostering a deeper understanding of self and connection with a higher purpose?

Breath is truly the connection between the mind and body. Anatomically, breathing occurs at the intersection between the head and body, at the base of the brain where the body exits the neck. It’s a fascinating process because it’s both conscious and unconscious. We can control our breath, but it also happens automatically. This intersection point highlights how breath can bring awareness to our body, mental narratives, and emotional states.

One intriguing aspect of breath is its role as an anchor to the present moment. While our minds can wander to the past or future, our breath always happens in the now. This quality makes it a powerful tool for managing anxiety and depressive thoughts, which often stem from memories or predictions rather than present realities. When we become more aware of our breath, we become more attuned to the present moment and gain greater influence over our mental and physical states.

Breath also serves as a profound point of connection, both within ourselves and with others and the world around us. Have you ever noticed how breathing together with a group can create a sense of unity? Similarly, breathing in nature can make us feel connected to something greater. This intentional practice can be a way to connect with oneself, with others, and with a higher power or the universe.

In terms of deepening one’s spiritual connection, breathwork can be a transformative practice. It can lead to profound spiritual experiences that go beyond scientific explanation. While we’ve explored the scientific aspects of breathwork, it’s also important to leave room for the mystical and magical aspects. Breathwork can create a space for something beautiful and profound to happen, allowing us to be receptive, open, and to have experiences that transcend the ordinary.

If you would like to find out more about Breath and Body Therapy, please visit https://www.breathbodytherapy.com/

We rank vendors based on rigorous testing and research, but also take into account your feedback and our commercial agreements with providers. This page contains affiliate links. Advertising Disclosure
MysticMag contains reviews that were written by our experts and follow the strict reviewing standards, including ethical standards, that we have adopted. Such standards require that each review will take into consideration independent, honest and professional examination of the reviewer. That being said, we may earn a commission when a user completes an action using our links, at no additional cost to them. On listicle pages, we rank vendors based on a system that prioritizes the reviewer’s examination of each service but also considers feedback received from our readers and our commercial agreements with providers.This site may not review all available service providers, and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
About the author
Sarah Kirton
Contributor
Contributor
Sarah is a keen and passionate advocate of the spiritual and healing components within the mystical realm of the world we live in. She resides in Cape Town, South Africa, where she enjoys spending time in the outdoors, kite surfing, and playing guitar.