From Chef on Yachts to Breathwork Coach, this English man moved to Colombia and invented his own breathing technique.
Meet Joseph Oliver healing people from Medellin
Tell me your story.
My name is Joseph Oliver and I started doing breathwork about three years ago. Before that I wasn’t familiar with the term, I didn’t know what it was, I was just doing yoga, Kundalini and things like that. I tried many, many different things; plant medicines, cold showers, and regular meditation. It wasn’t until I started doing breathwork techniques that I started to actually feel good. For me, it was the one thing that really started to make a change in my health and well-being.
Follow Joseph at https://www.instagram.com/breathworkcoach/
What were you doing before that? A quick background.
I worked as a chef for 12 years, I worked on big private yachts and all kinds of crazy restaurants around the world. And then eventually I made the transition into coaching.
How did you first encounter breathwork?
My buddy and I were on a self-development journey together. He came back from this retreat and told me I had to go. I asked what it was and he told me it was like yoga. I declined and told him I didn’t really fancy stuff like that, it wasn’t really my thing, at the time I was already into meditation. But then he insisted. Eventually, I agreed out of the trust and respect I had for him.
The retreat was in Birmingham in the UK, a not-so-interesting place, it was in the middle of winter and it was freezing cold. We were in this school gym and there were all these hippies and yogis. I felt very out of place.
We started learning all these breathing techniques and the four days led up to a whole routine. On Sunday night, everyone noticed there were people making orgasmic noises and collapsing while doing this breathwork routine. I felt horrible, I felt like all the poses were a complete waste of my time.
Anyway, I drove home the next day. I settled back into my daily routine, woke up super early, like about 5am, I went downstairs to make a coffee, which is what I did every morning at that stage. But I felt different, something didn’t feel right. All of a sudden I burst into tears. It was like the first time I genuinely felt good in my adult life, probably since I was a child. It was an unusual feeling for me, it felt unfamiliar and I was freaked out by it.
At first, I didn’t quite understand what was happening. The way I describe it to people is like if you go swimming, and your ears get blocked with water, and then at some point, you forget about it and it becomes your new normal. And then at some point, they popped, and you’re like, “Oh my God, I can hear again. I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t hearing clearly.” It felt pretty much like that, it was like my ears had popped and I could hear clearly. It was like I didn’t know it was possible to feel that good in my day to day life. And that was what really sold me. I’ve been practicing breathwork every single day since then.
What was your intention at first when you went to that experience?
Yeah, my friend was just so adamant to go into it. I felt a lot of resistance, but generally in life if you have a lot of resistance in something it probably means it’s quite a good thing to do. I just went for it, and the rest, as they say, is history.
How has this practice changed your life over time?
The first thing I noticed is that my base level started to increase. And for me, in my opinion, that kind of trickles out and filters into everything in your life because if you’re feeling good, if you don’t have to force things, you know, power versus force, you’ll have more energy, you’ll be more focused, calmer, and more productive. You’ll be less likely to procrastinate, you’ll have more clarity. It feels like seeing the world with a fresh pair of eyes.
That was basically the main difference, everything I was really forcing to improve started becoming easier and easier, I was doing everything with less effort.
Can we go through what a full breathwork coaching session is?
Absolutely. So the way I struggle with my clients right now is I teach them stuff similar to the things I just talked about through a daily breathwork practice that we do. I have my own method now, which involves different breathing techniques in a very specific order, it’s called the CFC method, which stands for Calm, Focus, Charge.
There’s a Calm element where we do very gentle and soft breathing designed to trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, because most of us are too stressed and going, thinking too much, so it’s designed to calm the mind and body and get everything synchronized. And then we go into Focus, which is breath holds. And that goes into a whole other category of breathwork, which has a whole other array of benefits. After that, we go into Charge, which is designed to amp up the system and get the energy flowing and clear out the chakras and get you ready for a productive day.
After that, we do a guided breathwork session every week. We delve into a different form of breathwork, which is psychoactive, it is my own version of holotropic breathwork, a very powerful form of breathwork. It’s almost like a key that allows you to access altered states of consciousness.
The body always has this radar that automatically finds any material it doesn’t need, which is then allowed for processing. It’s essentially opening the door to the subconscious mind. And then any kind of trauma, anything that you need to heal that you’re holding on to that isn’t really serving you is allowed up for processing and releasing. After that, you’ll see how it has been affecting you in your day to day life.
This helps to build a great mind if you will because we all think we know what’s best for us. But we really don’t, we rarely set our intention, we see whatever comes up at the moment as the right thing for us in that time and place.
Can you tell us a healing story of one of your clients?
I had a client that we worked with for a while, and recently during our guided breathwork session, she asked me to relive her birth. There’s a lot of trauma that comes with giving birth through a cesarean section, for the mother and the baby.
So, she relived her birth. It was really interesting because she could see her mum when she came out. She recalled she was wearing a pink gown, this fact was confirmed by her mother who was amazed. So, it’s all in there somewhere. So obviously, you can imagine the trauma of being pulled out in cesarean and also taken away from your mother. And that first stage is really important that they have that bonding experience, that she was able to heal that trauma and to transmute and transform that.
And like I said, you really don’t know how all this trauma is affecting your day to day life. So she felt amazing afterward. And she’s much better now. That was really cool.
Do you want to share anything in the form of advice with our readers about your practice?
If I could say one thing that will make a big difference to your health and well-being, it’ll be to breathe through the nose. It’s simple and overlooked, but it’s very effective. The mouth is for eating and the nose for breathing.
The mouth is associated with emotional breathing. So, if you’re stressed or angry, you’re likely to breathe through your mouth. And this has detrimental effects on your health.
One of the things I do with my clients is reverting them to breathing through their nose, which gives them more energy. We actually take in more oxygen through the nose, and there is a chemical called nitric oxide in the nose cavities which is very beneficial to our health.
When you breathe in through the nose 24 hours a day, you’ll feel calmer and feel more at peace. Breathing through the nose gives more energy and clarity, you’re less likely to procrastinate and increase productivity. It’s the single best thing you can do for your health.
That’s so true. I keep seeing people stress breathing through the mouth when working on their computers.
It’s like a vicious cycle because you start to breathe differently, and ultimately feel differently. You can change how you feel by first changing how you breathe. Breathing is one of our automatic processes, but it’s one of the only automatic processes in our body which we can actually gain conscious control of.
So, gain control over your breathing and everything will start to work differently in your favor.
Follow Joseph at https://www.instagram.com/breathworkcoach/