Treatment of the month: Breathpod
Lying on my back in a stranger’s at in east London, breathing deeply, working up a sweat and experiencing feelings of shame might have you thinking TotM has revisited Tantric Sex Therapy. No. Rather, this is Breathpod with Stuart Sandeman, and whether the experience was spiritual, physical or even mystical, it’s one which has burrowed deep into my soul, where it remains.
In essence, it’s simple: you lie down, close your eyes, and Stuart asks for your intention ahead of the practice (with an eye on post- Christmas, I say, “Abundance”)
and we’re on our way. Breath has to be both through the mouth and connected, which means no pauses, with Stuart offering verbal and physical guidance, addressing both me and the universe when he speaks. I must breathe silently and, because of years spent doing yoga, my reedy pranayama breath proves a niggle.
At the end of a breath cycle, I have to hammer my feet and hands on the floor while shouting,
“Aaah!” for around 30 seconds. As father of two young children, I’ve witnessed tantrums and they prove my inspiration. We repeat this six or seven times for well over an hour: breathing, thrashing, breathing, thrashing, and so on.
Eventually, Stuart tells me we’re reaching the end, and this provides Breathpod’s equivalent of yoga’s savasana, lying in “corpse pose” as both mind and body recover. I feel acute embarrassment for saying “abundance”, as I’m overcome with waves of warmth and compassion.
And, with eyes closed, I see moving shapes; it’s not unlike the ending of Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar, as Matthew McConaughey hurtles through space and time. Stuart tells me some clients have visions, scream or laugh hysterically and, while I lament not having a similarly extreme reaction, I’m left with an all-over glow.
Upon completion, I can’t move. I try lifting my head, but it’s no good. I’m out for the count, like I’ve been walloped by Anthony Joshua.
Some music fans may know Stuart as part of dance act Wildkats, and he uses this expertise to create tracks for Breathpod. What’s more, the likeable Scot got into breath work after losing his girlfriend to cancer. Stuart says this practice of connected breathing has helped him deal with stress, anxiety and feelings of trauma.
The fact he’s taking personal loss and using it to help others tells you all you need to know about one of the purest souls Balance has met.