*The Academy of breath*

Behind the Scenes of a breathwork & meditation teacher training

When I was a few years into my personal development journey, I realized that working with the mind alone has it’s limits. I had gone through therapy and coaching courses, worked with my human design and astrology, repeated affirmations, set myself achievable goals (so I thought) and ambitious deadlines, had accountability buddies, collected self-development books and color-coded my calendar. To name a few. Some of these things helped me a lot. Others just made me feel like I was failing.

The deeper I dove into the rabbit hole of personal development, the more best-fit-solutions for new-found problems seemed to arise from the depths of the internet and the wisdom that seems to be social media. And it was only when I started studying breathwork that it finally fully  clicked: The answer for my growth lives within myself. In my breath, in my body, in my true  mind. Not the monkey mind that is looking for the next best solution.

With the mind-body connection being a fact, and the body making up for a huge  part in the communication between the brain and the body (read more here), the only sensible conclusion on for personal and professional development is to work with the whole of what you got: The body and  the mind. 

The Real Miracle you need?

Even though I would claim that evidence based breathwork truly is  the one-size-fits-all, and that will  change everything for the better, I won’t do that. The simple reason being, that incorporating a regular breathwork practice into your life, takes time and dedication until it is part of your every day, just as any other habit. The lasting effects of breathwork come with time, as the changes in your physiology and brain occur. So no, it’s not a quick-fix. But it is a scientifically backed, long term approach, to dealing with stress, boosting the immune system, improving emotional and mental well-being, enhancing self-awareness and self-esteem, increasing physical performance, and more.

Engaging in breathwork brings you to highs and lows you didn’t expect before – and it helps you to balance them out. It is for you if you (just like I did) feel like the mind-based practices are somehow insufficient, you’re out of touch with yourself, want to see what else is there to support you during your challenges and in your growth.

Here you can read more about how to outgrow your comfort zone with breathwork and why the nervous system is so important in order to make even „delusional“ dreams come true. And in this article you can read more about the influence of your autonomic nervous system.

Ancient Breathwork Practices meet Science

There are a lot of breathwork practices. In fact, there are so many, that for me it was confusing to know: Which are the best? Which actually work? And which suit me? From Wim Hoff Breathing to Holotropic Breathwork and dozens of other techniques, it can be difficult to have an overview, especially as a newbie. 
In the end choosing the „right“ breathwork style, comes down to what is important to you . For me it was science. 

For me it was clear that if I was to spend time and energy on yet another thing in my personal journey, I wanted to know that it would work longterm, instead of giving me q quick high and then leaving me lost and wondering about what to do next. I wanted to know that the body  in the mind-body connection would be rooting for me, too. And I wanted to give my mind the chance to be more truly itself.

That’s why I chose to do my Breathwork & Meditation Teacher Training with The Academy of Breath. The breathwork styles that are being taught, are science-backed Pranayama techniques (yogic breathing). These ancient breathwork techniques have been shown to positively impact the nervous system and increase vagal tone, some in as little as 6 weeks (i.e. nadishodana: alternate nostril breathing). Within three months of studying at the practitioner level you not only learn skills as a breathwork and meditation teacher – you already engage your neuroplasticity and rewire your brain on a physiological level. There ripples can be seen and felt long beyond that time.

My journey with The Academy of Breath started in 2022 with the Practitioner Level, and it continues with the Advanced Practitioner Training in 2024. With the range of different techniques in both breathwork and meditation styles, I left the first training equipped on theoretical knowledge and with a toolbox that has me prepared for any challenge I or clients face. In self-practice and group settings I learned to combine and integrate the different techniques into wholesome breathwork journeys. 

Over the past years, more than 600 people around the world have been certified in the science-backed Pranayama and meditation techniques, forming a community of kind and empowering breathwork and meditation facilitators. 

Interview with the Founder of The Academy of Breath: Ava Johanna

My own experience with breathwork, my clients‘ faces and feedback, as well as the changes that other students and friends from The Academy of Breath experienced (read about the real-life effect of breathwork here) have me excited about my interview with the founder of The Academy of Breath: Ava Johanna. As a student of both Ava and co-instructor Lexi Rodriguez, I can wholeheartedly say that the Breathwork & Meditation Practitioner Training has empowered me to reach for more daunting goals and reach some of them faster than anticipated. 

We talked about her personal experience with breathwork, her motivation for creating what has become a well-known and highly in-demand breathwork training in the coaching and wellness space, and about the elements that make The Academy of Breath not only popular, but also highly effective for the students. Read until the very end for some personal advice to integrate breathwork into your personal life, and business.

„Ava, what inspired you to create The Academy of Breath?“

„I have been in the yoga, wellness and personal development space for almost a decade now and breathwork was always the tool that stood out most to me from the entire repertoire of practices that I was exposed to throughout my early days in this world. I remember my first breathwork practice during my yoga teacher training vividly because I called my best friend immediately after and told her: „I don’t know what just happened but I am elated – I feel HIGH off my own breath!“ It was at that point that I went down the rabbit hole of breathwork and meditation, enrolling in countless trainings and certification programs to understand everything there was to know about these ancient modalities. While I loved and took so much away from the trainings I did, I felt that there was always something missing, whether it be clear and well-researched science to support the claims about specific practices or acknowledgement of the traditional roots of the techniques so I always had this feeling like there was a void I desired to fill to satiate my passion for both my right and left brain. It wasn’t until I had spent years teaching others that I decided to create The Academy of Breath in 2020. I knew that the school would be a space that addressed all the desires and needs of a teacher all the way to the launch point of their career as a space holder, facilitator, or teacher. The Academy of Breath is unique in that it isn’t just about transferring the knowledge of how to teach, but we work with our students on being the living breathing example of the effects of breathwork and meditation on an individual’s life. Embodiment of the work is the primary focus because the most embodied leaders are the ones that are most confident and capable in their ability to facilitate powerful experiences for others. We’ve certified over 600 teachers and have expanded into a personal practice on-demand program, a membership for teachers, and an advanced training for our leaders and we plan to continue to expand to bring breathwork into every industry, every demographic, and every household across the globe!“

How did you design the curriculum to cater to individuals with different backgrounds?

„As I mentioned above, in my own journey through various certifications, I felt like there were always elements that were missing to create a truly cohesive understanding of these practices. I am both an incredibly spiritual person AND a huge nerd for neuroscience and physiology, so I created a curriculum that filled all of the cracks as it relates to the history, mysticism, and science of these breathwork practices. There is truly something for everyone, no matter where you are in your journey or whether you consider yourself more left or right brained.“

AOB is a self-paced program with live group elements. Can you elaborate on this teaching methodology?
„I do believe that there are certain modalities that you can absolutely share having been self-taught but breathwork isn’t one of them. There are far too many nuances with the human body, the nervous system, our individual experiences, and the effects of breathwork on a system that it can be incredibly dangerous to just copy a technique you learned in a workshop or by attending a yoga class. Breathwork is medicine and it is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It takes experience, knowledge of the nervous system, embodiment of the practices, and an understanding of the various student/client responses to be able to safely and effectively hold space for someone else. My team and I have a combined 20 years of teaching so the value of getting certified by experienced practitioners will allow you to feel confident teaching, guiding and holding space for your people.“
How does AOB ensure that students gain practical experience not only in doing breathwork, but also in teaching it?
„In order to receive your certification, practicum experience is required. You will be asked to facilitate group breathwork sessions and one-on-one breathwork sessions, where your students/peers will be submitting Facilitator Feedback Forms. This ensures that our students are getting facilitation feedback in real time, and requires students to get their teaching reps in! Prior to facilitating these sessions, we spend 6 weeks diving deep into curriculum, weekly homework, and bi-weekly office hours with Lexi Rodriguez to further master and integrate the techniques personally.
What does the community aspect among students look like?
„If you are feeling the pull – do it! Our community is epic and we get told over and over again that this space is so much bigger than a certification. We are proud to have such an incredible community of individuals from all across the world that become lifelong friends, clients and peers. Once you’re in the network, you’re family and we are here for you beyond the 12 weeks we’re together. If you’re craving community, in-depth education in a fun and energizing way, and a new tool that you can use to create a life and business beyond your wildest dreams, AOB is the place for you.
Is there ongoing support or resources provided to graduates after completing the training?
„Absolutely! Graduates have lifetime access to the certification online portal, which houses all curriculum trainings, masterclasses, PDFs, meditations, and business-focused trainings. We also have an ongoing Facebook community for our alumni to connect and network with one another, as well as our paid monthly membership Mindful Masters. This membership is the only membership curated for service-driven business owners to supercharge your journey as a world-class leader, coach, or space holder. We meet once a month for a live group call, in which Ava leads a custom breath journey and facilitates a themed conversation around business, leadership, energetics, and more!“

As someone who has integrated breathwork into your personal life and business:

➡️ What advice do you have for someone who is curious to integrate breathwork into their own life?
„Breathwork is one of those practices that serves so many purposes. Like I mentioned earlier, it supports you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. The research that is emerging is incredible, showcasing that breathwork is one of the most effective tools, above MBSR, above hypnosis, above therapy even, that can help us in so many different domains. It’s something that is available to every person – if you are living you are breathing – so it’s accessibility makes it something that we can use to connect with people all across the world. Personally, I like to be effective with my time and don’t need an hour long morning ritual, so having a toolbox like the breathwork practices we teach inside of AOB let’s me be efficient with my time while still pouring into myself to be the best version of me throughout my day as a business owner, partner, daughter, and human being.“

➡️ What advice do you have for someone who is wondering whether breathwork can be a valuable addition to their coaching or yoga business?
„Breathwork has always been the modality that has supported me in accessing my own inner knowing as well as the guidance to show me what steps I need to take to evolve both personally, relationally and professionally. Breathwork is an incredible tool because it alters our mental, emotional, and physical state – three crucial aspects of any personal development journey. In order to become different or live a different life, we need to think differently, feel differently, and act differently and when you use breathwork daily you have a direct line to elevate how you feel and directly influence your thoughts and actions. During all the big life transitions and professional transitions over the last three years, my breathwork and meditation practice has been my anchor and compass for my bigger vision. It also is what has created safety in the body so that I feel comfortable and confident in the leaps that I am taking. The reality is, if we don’t feel safe, we’re likely not going to be willing to take risks or even aware of what opportunities are available to us because our primary focus is to survive. When you use breathwork daily, you are creating a baseline of safety in your system so that you move beyond being an individual seeking survival and can truly thrive.“

Ava, thank you for much for sharing your expertise and the insights of The Academy of Breath!

* * * 

Do you want to integrate Breathwork & Meditation into your own life?

I can’t wait for you to experience the magic (and science) that is breathwork. As a Clinical Breathwork Coach myself I am obviously biased – and you’ve read all the valid reasons above. So if you are curious about science-backed, easy to integrate breathwork techniques – here are two amazing options:

Explore Breathwork: 
Be curious and explore the breathwork & meditation practices I am forever grateful for. Bring a specific topic to this session, or come with an open mind, and experience the immediate effect that breathwork has. Personal topics or general stress reduction – everything is welcome. Schedule your Breathwork Session here. It’s the perfect session for beginners who want to just try it, and people who want to start integrating breathwork more consistently into their life.

Deep dive into Breathwork :
Become an expert in Breathwork & Meditation with The Academy of Breath. The 12-week course is for you if you want to integrate the full depth of breathwork and meditation into your personal life, or bring it into your business and help your clients expand their comfort zone better.

Do you have questions or want support? Send me a message on instagram @mindxmatter_ . As an AOB alumni and student of the Advanced Breathwork & Meditation Practitioner Training in 2024, I’m happy to support you and offer a free breathwork exploration session in order to gain clarity (or just for fun!).

Inhale – Exhale – Release