Having breathed since the day he was born, Anthony Abbagnano first began to discover the power of the breath as an 18 year old, when he learnt the Lamaze method of childbirth, supporting his wife in developing controlled breathing techniques to cope with labour. As a child, he’d always been curious about breath and as he moved through his twenties in the 1970s and on into the rest of his life, he explored yoga and breathwork: pranayama, the Sufi breathing of prayer and chanting and holotropic breathwork. He founded the Alchemy of Breath in 2012 to encourage others to change their world from the inside out, using the power of the breath.
Driven by his passion to awaken the whole world to the miraculous gift of the Breath, Anthony is the pioneer of #BreatheTheWorld, an initiative to uplift world consciousness that has introduced Online Breathwork to thousands around the globe in over 40 countries to date. Alchemy of Breath
In our interview with Anthony, he shared with some amusement that when he tells people that he works with the breath, some people are decidedly unimpressed. They don’t know what to say. After all, we all know how to breathe. We all do it all the time. Without it, we would die. It’s a natural process. So what is there to learn? What’s wrong with the way we breathe and why does it matter?
From that very first breath we take through to that final breath, when we are invited to let go of everything, many of us treat breath as an automated process, making do with as little as we can. Shifting to conscious, connected breathing causes major shifts on all sorts of levels. Anthony Abbagnano
Having explored the breath all his life, Anthony only understood the deep significance of the breath on an intensely personal level when about 8 years ago, the breath was all he had left. At the age of 56, he developed a serious parasitic illness in Asia that left his body inflamed and in constant pain. He couldn’t cough or laugh without experiencing excruciating pain. He could barely move. None of the doctors knew what to do. All he could do was remain very still and breathe very slowly. For months, he had very little sleep and his only choice was to be with the breath. He was close to death, close to that last breath, and yet he still had the choice to keep breathing. He recognised in that moment that this was his greatest claim to empowerment, his greatest gift, the gift of life.
He now believes that he holds a miracle in his hands and all he desires is to share that miracle with others. And that miracle is a system of breathing practices that restore self-awareness, love and compassion.
What if there was something right under your nose that could change the way you see the world and offer you health, harmony and peace of mind? Wouldn’t you want to know what that was? Alchemy of Breath
Anthony Abbagnano believes that he has been called to this work and he loves what he does. He feels so lucky to have the opportunity to share this life-changing miracle with people across the whole world through face to face workshops and weekly online webinars. He’s overflowing with love. You get a sense of that just by talking with him. He loves a lot with a passion to lead others to a place where they can love themselves and forgive themselves. He describes how everyone has the capacity to be good and loving and kind and yet so many live compromised lives. He’s able to identify the person behind the trauma, the childlike innocence that longs to be brought out into the light.
We’re invited to make an alliance with those parts of us that we like the least, to face any shame. All the things that challenge us most are actually a doorway to greater understanding of life. I’m just a servant here. The greater this work gets, the smaller I feel. All I know is that breath works and that is what I am called to share. Anthony Abbagnano
Anthony identifies unresolved trauma as a key issue in the world in which we live. We still know relatively little about trauma and yet it affects so many of us, not just those affected by conflict, war, natural disaster, poverty etc across the planet, but trauma also lies at the core of how we live in the modern world. We live in a perpetually alerted state, a stimulated state that is causing countless dis-eases. Trauma eliminates any sense of choice. We learn to self-lobotomise and numb our sensations in the moment of trauma.
Breathing heals deeply. We can learn to breathe and stay breathing even in those moments of trauma in a way that becomes a choice. In Anthony’s workshops, the power of the live session in releasing trauma is impactful. The body can respond with involuntary movements and trembling, as healing work takes place throughout the physical body, but on an emotional and spiritual level too.
Anthony Abbagnano also pioneered breathing over the internet. Both online and live sessions have their advantages and one is not there to replace the other. 80% of breathers do both. Some who are more shy and intimidated in groups find it easier to let go and participate fully in the safety of their own home. Others value the support offered in a group with Anthony and can allow themselves to delve deeper in this setting. Anthony offers two free online sessions on a Sunday which can be accessed by anyone all over the world. Last year, the Alchemy of Breath team of 50 teachers ‘breathed’ 35-40,000 individuals. The number of teachers is growing. The number of breathers is growing. There’s a real hunger for this work out there.
Anthony does not see this breathwork as a replacement for yoga and meditation. He works with many people who already practise yoga and meditation and want to explore breath further. Yoga has helped them develop an understanding and mastery of the breath that prepares them for this allowing, this letting go of the breath and of the self. Breathwork can work as a partner with yoga and meditation as a primary tool. The more this tool is employed in every aspect of life, the more we can exist in a meditative state. Whatever you do in life, there’s a breath that can serve you best in that moment.
Anthony’s coming to triyoga in London soon and knows that many of those who will attend his workshops are already conscious, committed individuals. However, there’s a place for everyone in Anthony’s workshops, including those who feel far from conscious or committed right now. You’re invited to simply turn up just as you are. Commitment and Consciousness may well follow where it was not before due to this work. Anthony applauds anything that helps you get closer to your body and describes the work of triyoga and other yoga studios as ‘a healthy thing in a troubled world’.
Originating from the UK himself, Anthony sees it as an honour to return. Having left structured England in 1974 after spending his teenage years in a straitlaced boarding school, Anthony has never really lived in Britain since then. He smiles when we ask him what it’s like to bring his work to the UK.
It’s different to anywhere else, definitely different. The English are always….what’s the word?….preoccupied somehow. I often ask for three words to describe how people feel at the start of the workshop and in the UK, we rarely make it to three words. 80% of people in Britain mention anxiety or stress. Anthony Abbagnano
At the end of April, Anthony is launching ‘The hero’s journey: a series of five breathwork workshops for both beginners + advanced’ at triyoga in London. We asked him about the hero’s journey. Anthony’s inspiration for this title came from the complex work of the American mythologist Joseph Campbell, who Anthony greatly admires. This is not the hero as the modern world would have us believe, but an ample understanding of the hero’s journey through life, when an individual discovers what it is to show up for life and live with integrity. It’s about becoming the hero you were born to be. It’s an understanding of how to manage overwhelm in all its ways. It’s a preparation to die well following a life well lived. It’s a confronting, challenging journey, which can be presented and introduced in one workshop, although the real journey takes place over time and Anthony’s great love is to see individuals come back hungry for more and ready to go as deep as it goes. Join him on the hero’s journey this summer at triyoga.
Inhale as if this breath is that first breath.
Exhale as if this breath is that last breath.
Inhale as a deliberate act of will and desire.
Exhale as an act of surrender.
Inhale and exhale to connect with the physiological, psychological and spiritual.
Inhale and exhale to align the subconscious, the conscious and the superconscious.
There is so much more to breathing than we can begin to imagine.
If you would like to explore the power of the breath more with Anthony Abbagnano, then visit The Alchemy of Breath or sign up for two free online sessions every Sunday, which can be accessed by anyone all over the world, via the webinar registration line.
Read more: yogamatters.com