About the perks of breathwork yoga - Joachim Meire

Since September 2021 we organise sports sessions at BLACKBOXX. Many people have already experienced that an hour of HIITT can be beneficial, but the benefits of breathwork yoga are still too often underexposed. The only things you need? Your own body, lungs and nose, possibly a soft mat and the professional guidance of Joachim Meire from Yogaloft. No idea what to expect? Discover it in the interview below.

Wellbeing is on the rise! Why, do you think? How do you see this evolve?

Joachim: "First of all I want to say that I think it's fantastic that you offer breathwork yoga at BLACKBOXX. Wellbeing is indeed, and fortunately, on the rise. The pandemic and working from home created a lot of stress, if only because your home environment is not made for working, both ergonomically and because of staying at home with the children, etc. That stress in combination with the fear of the virus and the polarization in society (anti vaxxers vs vaxxers) has made many people reflect on their health and the influence you have on it. It’s my opinion that the well-being that you have control over yourself, has received and receives too little attention in the media.

The sliding work hours at the home office and the forced digitization, just think of the numerous zoom meetings, as well as the long term closing of sports clubs, have prompted people to follow online courses such as yoga. The usual barrier to the wellness world, especially for men when it comes to yoga, was crushed as a result. At home through online classes you are anonymous, so a lot of people have found their way to yoga and have tasted its positive influence. The online story will continue to exist, I will continue to focus on it myself and soon add training courses to the online offer."

Do you think this shift in mindset will last as we head back to the office?

Joachim: "Humans function in patterns and unfortunately quickly fall back into old patterns. The first lockdown created a lot of peace for many people. A moment of rest. But now we are slowly getting back to life as we knew it before and we are falling back into old patterns very quickly. Being human is difficult, because we often only learn by making mistakes. Your body gives you a lot of signals, but we humans are often blind to them. Yoga creates awareness. You will learn to recognize those signals and think about the reason behind. By being aware of it, you will be able to tackle those habits. By entering a certain state of relaxation, you will hold up a mirror to yourself. Relaxation is always present, but we often do not find the way to it. No external stimulus can make us relax, that's a click we have to make internally. And once we have found that button through yoga, we can do that more easily. Breathwork is ideal for that. I hope that the people who found their way to yoga have discovered its benefits and will not give up again."

What is the proven impact of yoga and breathwork on your productivity?

Joachim: "Scientific research shows that yoga, breathwork and meditation have a positive influence on your physiology. It will make your body healthier and that will only benefit your mind. By learning certain breathing techniques that make you more focused, you can ensure that you are more alert or aware before a deadline or meeting. At other times it is opportune to, for example, reach a deep state of relaxation, which we call the 'feed, read and rest mode', which in turn is ideal for more creativity. The setting at BLACKBOXX, for example, also has that effect thanks to the architecture and the view of the water, which already puts you in a certain rest mode. If you manage to align your internal mindset with this, you can become more productive, focus longer and ultimately gain more control over your own mind, so you become less distracted. Your own mind is both your friend and ally, but also your worst enemy. A better relationship with your own mind makes you less of a slave to it and makes you a more pleasant person and colleague. You will develop a more balanced mind and you will be less subject to ego, fear and fickleness."

Do you have some concrete tips for our members?

Joachim: "Absolutely!

1. You can also work on your physical posture. Your posture says a lot about how you feel inside. We sit on a chair for hours every day and our bodies are not made for that. Many people sit bent or slumped, this sends a signal to your brain that you don't really feel well. And that's not even talking about the back problems that this causes. It is therefore advisable to stand up every 15 minutes and not to overcompensate with heavy sports, because that is extremely strenuous for your joints. Sit upright and with both feet on the ground. Your physical posture and your physical response can also boost how you feel. You can determine this yourself.

2. There is such a thing as screen or e-mail apnea. The moment you open your laptop or your inbox, you hold your breath and that causes stress in the body. It's the same primal reaction as would you encounter a saber-toothed tiger: fight or flight! This is very bad for your health. So be aware of your breathing at all times: in and out through the nose, because through the mouth is more unhealthy, and keep breathing consciously when you open your inbox, for example.

3. Or turn it to your advantage! When you have to have an important call or conversation, you can do some breathing exercises just before that moment. Breathe from the lower airways, so open your lower ribs, and double the length of your exhalation and do this for 30 seconds or a maximum of one minute. You will spontaneously be more relaxed for that phone call or meeting, you will also feel more creative and sharper."

How did you become a yoga teacher? What's your story?

Joachim: "It is also described in my first book (The no-nonsense yoga book), but here's my story in short:

I got to know yoga in the former century. I am a nurse by training, so I have a scientific background. I decided to take a sabbatical after my studies and then continue my studies to become a doctor. Due to circumstances I ended up at the Red Sea and stayed there for 3 years. I worked there as a deep sea diving instructor. There I met a lady, a French woman who belonged to the Olympic team 'formation skydiving'. She told me that just before jumping out of the plane, they practice yoga breathing techniques. I found it very interesting and started to apply those techniques. I was a restless person then, but doing the exercises I became very calm, still and quiet inside. The same calm silence that attracted me to deep-sea diving and also to the desert in Egypt, I now also found inside through breathing yoga.

When I came back to Belgium after 3 years, my wife found a flyer at the bakery to follow yoga classes. I thought it would be the breathing yoga I'm familiar with, but I suddenly had to bend over backwards. I didn't know until then that there was a physical aspect to yoga. I then worked for a while in a graphic design agency as an account manager, but I started to delve further into yoga and I started teacher training. I then gradually reduced my job until I could live full-time from my yoga-related activities. I have been doing this since 2009 to 2010. I do not only teach, I also have a training center and a studio in Ghent, I organize the Yogaland festival, I also organize yoga trips or retreats in combination with surfing and I write books. In January or February 2022 I will launch my next book on breathwork."