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Resident Advisor: breathwork expert March Russell

Breathe in. Breathe out.

4 May 2023

March Russell

Google ‘how to reduce stress’ and you’ll get a whole host of suggestions. So many, in fact, that it can make you feel even more overwhelmed. But how about just taking a deep breath? That’s where March Russell, a breathwork practitioner based in Chelsea, suggests is the first place to start. Here, he explains exactly what breathwork is, how to use it in your daily life and why it’s beneficial. 


 What is breathwork and what are its benefits?

By definition, breathwork is the practice of breathing consciously and using this as a tool to improve your mental, emotional and physical health.

Our breath may be something we take for granted, but it is an incredibly effective and accessible way to take charge of your own health. Personally, I have found it to be such an empowering tool in this area.

And maybe you’re thinking, “really?! Breathing is something we just do”. Well, consider that with each and every one of the 23,000+ breaths a day that we take, our body is receiving communication and feedback.

To go a little deeper, breathing is one of the involuntary physiological processes controlled and regulated by our autonomic nervous system (ANS). Different parts of the ANS control the body during ordinary or stressful situations, and breathing patterns help to tell the ANS what to do. If you’re breathing rapidly due to anxiety, for example, your heart rate will rise and the brain will trigger the sympathetic nervous system to go into fight-or-flight mode. 

So you can see how breath impacts every part of our body and is intrinsically linked to our state of mind, physical health and quality of life. An unhealthy breathing habit could aggravate ill health, whereas mindful breathing can dramatically improve your wellbeing. Breathing is information for your body.

Ongoing research by a number of top universities, including Stanford, has revealed that functional breathing (i.e., healthy breathing using the diaphragm that does not involve breathing through the mouth or too quickly) is effective in reducing anxiety and stress. It boosts the immune system, improving sleep quality, cognitive function, and lung volume. I could go on. But simply put, breathwork is the key to an improved quality of life. And anyone can do it.


What are its origins?

Breathwork has been practised in various forms and traditions for thousands of years, from ancient yogic and meditation practices to modern therapeutic techniques. Elements of breathwork date back to ancient texts, Taoist practices, Chinese medicine, Buddhism, and in more recent times have been developed from individuals such as Wim Hof and Stanislav Grof.


How is it different from mindfulness, meditation and yoga?

While breathwork shares some similarities to mindfulness, meditation and yoga, it is a distinct practice with its own benefits and techniques. Unlike meditation, which can involve focusing on a particular object or mantra, breathwork involves actively controlling the breath to achieve a desired state. And while yoga uses breathing as a part of a wider physical practice, breathwork is focused solely on the breath and its effects on the body and mind.


What drew you to train as a coach?

Throughout my life, I have struggled with anxiety, stress and low self-esteem, so I was drawn to breathwork as a powerful tool for healing and transformation. In my early twenties, I was fascinated by meditation and went on a journey of discovery around the world, from Buddhist monasteries to learning from some of the best teachers in India, Europe and the UK. I personally found it totally life changing and have been exploring it ever since. 

My passion and curiosity led me to breathwork and I found that it had a similar effect on me to meditation. It has profoundly impacted my life and added depth to my existing practice. To this day, I’m still in total awe of its efficacy, and that’s what has inspired me to share it with others. While I will always be a student, it is my mission to share this practice with others, too.


What transformations have you seen in your own life since doing breathwork?

I’ve experienced very empowering shifts in my mental and emotional state. I feel calmer, more grounded, and I am better able to manage stress and anxiety. I’ve also gained a deeper sense of self-awareness, which has helped me to make better choices in my personal and professional life.


How should beginners approach breathwork?

With an open mind and willingness to explore.

Find the right teacher to guide you, and start with shorter, consistent exercises that feel achievable before moving on to anything more extensive. You’ll be amazed what even 10 minutes of practice each day can do. 


What can people expect in a session with you?

When I’m working one-to-one with a client, everything will be tailored to their desired outcome, so we will use a variety of appropriate techniques in person or on a video call. I teach group classes too, which are sometimes accompanied by live music, and last between 60–90 minutes. I’ll be offering these on my new app as well, and I also run shorter classes for businesses, taking about 30–45 minutes.


A lot of your coaching involves breathwork and music. How does this work?

I use music as a way to enhance the experience and create a deeper sense of connection. Music can stimulate the senses and evoke powerful emotional responses that can facilitate healing and emotional release.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

I am constantly inspired by the transformation and growth that I see in my clients. It is heartwarming and incredibly rewarding to support others on their journey towards greater self-awareness, healing and empowerment. I also enjoy continually deepening my own practice, and my understanding of breathwork and its effects on our physiology.


How can people work with you?

My friend and I have recently created an app for this, which is called The Breath and will be launching soon. The app will offer breathwork classes from specialist teachers, because we wanted to give people access to expert breathwork resources anywhere, at any time. We’ll be updating the classes and resources regularly. If people want to hear about the launch, they can follow me on Instagram.  


To book an appointment with March, visit

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