What is breathwork as Strictly star Angela Rippon says she’s using the technique to help her asthma?

Angela Rippon is taking part in Strictly Come Dancing 2023. (BBC/PA)
Angela Rippon is using breathwork to help with her asthma ahead of her stint on Strictly Come Dancing 2023. (BBC/PA)

Angela Rippon has revealed she is turning to breathwork to help ensure her asthma doesn't impact her performances on Strictly.

The presenter is set to become the oldest Strictly Come Dancing contestant in history when she takes to the ballroom on September 23, and has been working hard to stay fit ahead of her stint.

Having been diagnosed with asthma more than 50 years ago, the Rip Off Britain host has sought further advice to help her cope with the condition ahead of putting on her dancing shoes.

"I’m doing some breathwork," she told BBC. "I have asthma and one of my worries is that the asthma would get in the way of my breathing, so I’m doing a bit of work on that."

She continued: "I’ve spoken to my friend who’s a dancer who said ‘you need to stop breathing through your nose and you need to breathe through your mouth!'"

Read more: Angela Rippon hopes to champion staying active in your 70s during Strictly stint (PA News, 4-min read)

What is breathwork? (Getty Images)
What is breathwork? (Getty Images)

What is breathwork?

While it can take many forms, in short breathwork refers to breathing techniques that intentionally channel and focus on the breath to help boost your physical, mental and emotional health.

Lindsey Frances, psychologist, author and certified breathwork practitioner says breathwork is essential as a tool to put the brakes on our nervous system, reduce stress and allow our bodies to rest and recover.

"Developing a breathwork practice has so many health benefits including stress reduction, improved sleep, better digestion and weight loss, lower blood pressure, better emotional wellbeing and improved sexual function," she explains.

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Why is it so popular now?

One theory is that celebrities have helped bring the wellbeing technique to the forefront. Oprah Winfrey has said that she practices breathwork every morning before she starts her day. She also uses breathwork to calm herself down when she feels overwhelmed or stressed.

Gisele Bündchen has also shared that she practices breathwork every day as a way to cope with anxiety and panic attacks that she suffered from in the past. She says the practice also helps her feel more grounded and peaceful.

Martin Preston, founder and chief executive at Delamere has another theory about breathwork's popularity right now.

"In our busy lives, breathwork is an easy exercise we can fit into our day that doesn’t require any special equipment or financial outlay," he explains.

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What are the health benefits of breathwork?

Danish research previously found that breathwork noticeably improved the mood of participants, while a further study, published in the Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy suggested that it may be helpful in treating anxiety and depression.

According to Preston diaphragmatic breathing is not only a popular relaxation technique, studies show it is also especially beneficial for people with compromised breathing due to a health condition, such as asthma, cancer or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

He recommends speaking to a respiratory therapist before commencing treatment.

Nicola Price, founder and breath coach at Inspirational Breathing says breathwork can offer a host of benefits both physical and emotional.

"Physically breathwork can lead to you having more energy, due to having a better breath pattern," she explains.

"But it also helps to provide a connection to emotions and the ability to express, sometimes for the first time, what is really underlying anxiety and physical pain," she adds.

Read more: How to reduce stress, according to a counsellor (Yahoo Life UK, 4-min read)

There are many benefits to health and wellbeing from practicing breathwork. (Getty Images)
There are many benefits to health and wellbeing from practicing breathwork. (Getty Images)

How to get started

There are many different types of breathwork including inspirational breathing, holotropic, pranayama, transformational breath and others, which can feel confusing so Lisa Sibley, breath coach at Breathing Bliss suggests starting with the basics.

"You breathe all the time but how often do you notice how you breathe? Do you notice when your breath changes during the day or when something happens in your life? Do you hold your breath sometimes and does it often feel restricted, shallow, all in your chest or shoulders?" she asks.

Sibley also suggests finding a breathworker who can help you breathe from your diaphragm and get you back to an optimal breathing pattern.

"This will help you release tension and stress physically and mentally. You’ll feel lighter, calmer and more in control of your life as a result,” she adds.

Additional reporting PA.