Julie Brument is a breathwork facilitator, hatha and yin yoga instructor, mediation leader and Reiki level II instructor. She specializes in all things holistic wellbeing, and is known for her authentic teaching style and compassion-centered philosophy.
Julie is leading The Power of the Breath breathwork workshop on Saturday, March 18 at Limestyle where attendees can learn about the science behind breathwork, the healing power of the breath, and top breathing techniques to reduce stress, anxiety and insomnia – while regaining clarity, calmness and energy.
We sat down with Julie to learn more about her background, the power of the breath and how it effects all aspects of health and wellbeing in our daily lives, and what we can expect from her upcoming workshop.
What is breathwork?
Breathwork is a mindfulness activity that encompasses a variety of breath control techniques.
The origins of breathwork can be traced back to ancient India (pranayama), with many of the techniques developed back then still being practiced today.
In addition, there are modern breathwork techniques that recently became popular like Wim Hof or holotropic breathwork.
You can practice gentle breathwork, calming breathwork, breathwork for energy, strength, focus, etc.
In addition to being a popular relaxation and healing method, breathwork has also proven to offer a wide variety of health benefits.
This makes it one of the most natural methods of treating a variety of issues, such as managing acute/chronic pain; helping with insomnia, weight loss, attention deficit, anxiety, depression, trauma, and grief; improving intuition, creativity, mindfulness, self-esteem, and leadership; and much more.
People often think that practicing gentle breathwork is like meditation. In fact, it is not. Breathwork is a tool while meditation is a state.
We give our minds a task: to focus on our breath. Given a task, our minds are often much easier to calm.
Tell us about your personal connection to breathwork. How did you got involved in it, and what are the benefits you’ve experienced from breathwork?
I started to practice breathwork the first time I stepped on a yoga mat, about 14 years ago.
I had no idea what breathwork was, firstly because the word ‘breathwork’ was not as popular as today; secondly because I did not really understand how breath control could help me connect with my body, my emotions and to relax.
It felt uncomfortable, and honestly I was too young and too disconnected from my bodily sensations and emotions. For me, sitting on a mat and having to stay still was a pure nightmare.
Through the years, I had many teachers who only taught the techniques but without explaining the theory behind it; why it was beneficial to control the breath, the impact on the mind and body, as well as how it works from a scientific point of view.
I needed that understanding in order to understand how the practice would benefit me, my health, and my life in general.
I first understood the power of the breath in India with pranayama (yogic breathing techniques) in 2019. I then experienced holotropic breathwork (or conscious connected breathwork) a few years ago in Shanghai.
The class was led by an incredible man, and it literally changed my life. I kept on going back to do sessions with him until he left Shanghai. The strength of this breathing technique helps you bypass your conscious mind and access your subconscious; it helps to heal traumas, emotional blockages and release “stuck energy.”
What is amazing with breathwork is that you are the one in charge. You can go as far as you want. If you feel uncomfortable, you can back off and come back to it later.
I personally use gentle breathwork everyday if I feel stressed, anxious or just overwhelmed – taking a few deep long breath helps to put things in perspective and to take a step back from our intrusive or negative thoughts. It helps to tame the “monkey mind.”
It has also helped me sleep better; I have way more energy, and I feel much more grounded and relaxed. It also helped me perform better when I do everyday exercise like running.
The mind and body are fantastic and amazing partners in the healing process when linked through conscious breathing. It isn’t magic, and you don’t need to be an expert to do it. It is a simple chemical reaction between the lungs and the brain – a concept I explain in detail in my upcoming workshop.
It is worth noting, however, that strong forms of breathwork, such as holotropic and rebirthing breathwork, are best practiced with a qualified practitioner; it is important to practice with someone who has the experience to keep you safe during your practice.
How can breathwork – in addition to meditation, exercise, or other common forms of mindfulness activities – help improve people’s day-to-day lives?
Breathwork can help many aspects, from becoming more conscious and aware of your emotions, to managing pain and emotional healing.
By learning breathwork, you learn how to shift your energy and uplevel into new levels of consciousness, awareness and health. As master breathwork teacher Dan Brule writes:
“When your state changes, your breathing pattern changes. And it’s a two-way street: when you change your breathing pattern, you change your state!”
Also, you need your breath to function every day, but also to meditate, exercise, sleep well and be more present. We do it automatically more than 22,000 times per day, and most of us are breathing wrong.
Especially nowadays, every professional, regardless of their industry, knows the stress and ever increasing demands of the modern workplace.
With the speed of information constantly accelerating, the deadline driven tasks, the overwhelming technology where we always need to be connected, the much sought after ‘work life balance’ is becoming ever more elusive.
Breathwork puts the power back in our hands. Many executives and leaders are now citing it as their secret weapon, providing a genuine competitive advantage to help perform at their best.
It helps them to refocus, re-energize, lower stress levels and increase creativity.
Imagine the potential of a relaxed, clear-minded and focused team all working towards the same goal – productivity is bound to increase, allowing people to work smarter not harder.
Are there any misconceptions about breathwork you would like to address?
Yes, many people mention that they do ‘breathwork’ with an app or at home. It is a good first step, but the in-person classes are much more powerful and yield better results.
This is because all the in-person classes I run start with some movements to open the chest and abdominal cavity.
As a facilitator, I can also directly help a person correct his or her breathing patterns by showing him or her how to breath properly.
Finally, the energy of a group of people leads to beautiful, incomparable experiences. We were made to be connected to each other as humans, not disconnected behind screens all the time.
Also, people do not always understand that breathwork is not one single technique; it is a variety of techniques.
It is similar to be saying “I do yoga.” Ok, but which type of yoga? There’s hatha, vinyasa, ashtanga, etc. – each having its own purpose.
Tell us more about your upcoming breathwork workshop. What can guests expect to experience during this two-hour session, and how can they apply what they learn to their lives?
The upcoming workshop is going to be held at a new holistic space called Limestyle. I believe that wellness does not come from one single practice but by the combination of many – a holistic approach – and that’s exactly what Limestyle is about.
The workshop participants can expect to learn about the science behind breathwork, and how to use the healing power of the breath to release physical, emotional, and energetic blockages, as well as how to calm the nervous system and feel more present at any point in time in their daily lives.
It will also help them to become more conscious and aware of their breath.
For example, when they are focusing so much on a task that they are retaining their breath, or if they are starting to feel stressed and start to breath from their chest or only from the mouth – all of this is what we want to avoid, so I will teach participants what to do in these situations.
Once we become more attuned to our breath and the effects it has on our body, we take back control of our respiratory functions, but more importantly, our mind and emotions.
The workshop is split in two parts; one part is theory and the other one is practice (60 min practice including movements). A nibble buffet will be served afterwards with soft drinks. Participants will receive a goodie bag as well.
Who can benefit most from attending the breathwork workshop?
Anyone! Come exactly as you are, with an open mind and the willingness to try something new or to dive deeper into something you have practiced before.
I just suggest to wear something loose-fitting and comfortable.
However, if you have a medical history related to asthma and breathing issues, it is not advised to do breathwork without speaking to your doctor.
While gentle breathwork can help some conditions, strong breathwork – like Conscious Connected Breathwork (CCB) – cannot be performed if you have cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, etc. or if you are pregnant.
How can That’s Shanghai readers sign up to attend the breathwork workshop?
Just scan the studio QR code on the flyer below to book your spot today. The session is limited to 15 participants. We are opening another session in April as well for those who miss out on this one.
While I do not personally take sign-ups for this session, participants can also contact me for any questions or if they want to deepen their practice with private sessions, as I do offer both private and corporate breathwork sessions.
Bridging yoga, Breathwork, meditation and mental health, Julie’s goal is to help people live their best, healthiest lives and truly thrive. She offers both private and corporate sessions.
Corporate Wellness: Classes and Workshops
Julie approaches corporate wellness with a holistic mindset and helps teams to discover accessible ways to boost resilience, manage their stress and make mindset shifts for more wins.
Teams and leaders will be better equipped to achieve goals and reach success without sacrificing their wellbeing.
Limestyle Wellness Center
Founded by Polina Wang and Justin Wang in 2019, Limestyle Wellness Center is a holistic wellness and happiness academy situated in Shanghai's Minhang district.
It functions as a happiness academy and a holistic health center, with the aim of merging Eastern philosophy and wisdom with Western science to guide people's modern lifestyles and business models in this new era.
The center focuses on improving people's overall sense of happiness by exploring various aspects of human beings, such as physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and relational well-being.
[All images courtesy of Julie Brument and Limestyle Wellness Center]