Breathing is an automatic action we have been doing ever since we were born. It’s something we instinctually know how to do, and no one has to teach us how to do it — or so we thought. As we spoke with Amanda Laine, co-founder of Inward Breathwork — a company and community that offers guided breathwork courses and classes — we find out the importance of this practice and how we can control our breathing to elevate our physical and mental states.
Amanda has dedicated her life to helping others achieve personal growth and elevated states of wellbeing. She began her journey as a facilitator in Europe, where she trained to become a Sauna master, Scrub Ritual guide, and Cold Exposure therapist. It was through these elements that she recognized the power of placing attention on the breath to ground our awareness in the present moment.
She continued her training in sound healing, elemental rhythms breathwork, and inferno hot pilates to learn more about facilitating deep, transformative experiences. She has led numerous wellness retreats in Guatemala, New York, and Toronto, and facilitated for hundreds of people.
Amanda believes that breathwork is the missing pillar of health and has made it her mission to bring awareness back to this fundamental unit of life.
Business Name: Inward Breathwork
Name and Title: Amanda Laine, Co-Founder
Education: University Grad
Edit Seven: How or why did you get the idea for your business, and what inspired you to start?
Amanda Laine: My first exposure to breathwork was two years ago at Burning Man. A friend of ours, Jay Hamilton, was putting on a breathwork class for our camp, so I decided to attend, not knowing what it was. We all lied down, the music started, and we were guided through an hour session of intense breathing, vocal releases, and a meditation. I went very deep with the breathing — before I knew it, I was out of body and exploring visions and breaking free from these red chains around my wrist. I know it sounds insane, and it was. It was one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. The feeling of breaking free of something or someone holding me down was so freeing.
“Coming out of the session, I could barely collect myself; I was crying very intensely because the feelings were so true. After that, I knew that I had to learn about breathwork and understand the healing potential behind it.”
After my Burning Man experience, I returned back to Toronto and was telling the team about what I went through. A few other members of the team had also experienced breathwork, so we decided to explore it, learn, take courses, read countless books, speak with the experts, and offer this to our community.
At that time we had built a sauna and ice bath studio in Toronto and were about to build a 15,000 sq. ft. bathhouse — our dream — but, alas, COVID shut that down. So, we decided to take our breathwork learnings online and offer virtual classes. For 15 weeks straight we led breathwork classes for 20, then 30, then 50, then 100 people. Near the end of the summer, our community was asking us for the recordings, and different styles and lengths. So, we took a pause and created an on-demand platform focused on making breathwork effective, beautiful, and fun.
Our mission is to gather a community of the best facilitators in the world, across all the popular breathwork styles, to give you on-demand access to programs for stress, performance, managing emotions, altered states, and productivity.
E7: We usually hear of two co-founders for a business, but with Inward Breathwork, there are five. Can you tell us more about this and how the five of you started Inward Breathwork?
AL: Harry and I were originally opening a hot and cold ‘bathhouse’ together. We were on this path for two years before we met our other three partners. The way we met them was so wild. We were hiring one of their aunts to be our interior designer. She told us how her nephew was opening a similar business and how we should connect with them. We were then told from three different friend groups about these other people! So, finally, we met, and it was fireworks upon the first meeting. We knew almost immediately that we had to combine forces and go about this business together!
E7: What is your company goal and mission?
AL: We are a healthy experience company for people interested in self-growth who need relief from modern stress. Our purpose is to provide healthy experiences and products that help people manage modern mental and physical health challenges.
E7: Why breathwork, and how is it different from other practices, like meditation or yoga?
AL: Breathwork is the practice of consciously and actively working with our breath, to bring ourselves more into a state of harmony and ease in our lives.
The breath is absolutely everything — it gives rise to our physical and mental states. It is the only autonomic response; it happens automatically, but we can choose to consciously take control of it. And, in taking control of it, we can take control of our nervous systems.
Through breathwork, you intentionally change and manipulate your breath for an extended period of time, breathing with an intention and with your full attention.
I love to describe breathwork as an active form of meditation. Whereas with traditional meditation you are simply observing the breath, leaving it alone in its natural rhythm without changing it, with breathwork and certain breathing techniques you are taking control of your autonomic nervous system — a system that we thought we couldn’t control.
With certain breathing techniques, you can flip your body into the parasympathetic state, or your rest and digest. And through other types of breathing techniques, you can slip your body into the sympathetic state, or fight and flight. There are also fundamental breathing techniques that will help to improve your overall state of wellbeing throughout the day. All of these techniques have such profound healing benefits on the body.
Breathwork to me feels like a loophole into entering the meditative space. I used to practice meditation before coming across breathwork, but I was never able to reach such deep states as I [did] through breathwork.
E7: What do you love most about the products you have created?
AL: I love that we are helping people. Helping them feel good in the moment, make connections, and feel a part of something bigger than themselves. I love that we are at the start of a journey for people!
E7: What have been some of the biggest lessons and challenges you’ve encountered and learned from while running your business so far?
AL: To go with the flow! Change happens, life happens, COVID happens. And when it does, you have to surrender. Fighting back will not allow you to progress forward. When you flow, it allows you to have an open mind, and opportunity presents itself in the most beautiful of ways!
E7: What is your one piece of advice to someone in your industry who’s just starting out?
AL: To follow your heart. Lead with intuition. Find your tribe that supports you.
E7: Why do you love what you do?
AL: I love what I do because I feel like I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I am living my dream. I followed my heart, took a chance, and went against the grain.
E7: Do you practice a daily or regular ritual that you love? How do you incorporate breathwork to your everyday routine?
AL: [A] daily ritual that I love is my morning walks with Harry. It is how we start our morning — a walk out in nature around our beautiful neighbourhood, communing with the trees and plants and flowers on our way to get a coffee. If I miss this, my whole day feels off.
I incorporate breathwork as part of my morning routine to revitalize and give [myself] energy. [I also do it] throughout the day when I am feeling stressed or [I] catch myself holding my breath at my computer.
E7: How do you stay balanced, organized, and motivated?
AL: This relates to my answer above, and the key is nature! I have to be around trees and [be] able to escape technology for a few days every month. This immediately brings me motivation and grounding in whatever I am doing. Nature is medicine.
(Story by Editor-in-Chief, Gracie Carroll)