In this episode, we are sharing highlights from our webinar, ‘Breathwork for people living with MS’ with Dr Véronique Gauthier-Simmons. Véronique is a qualified yoga therapist and follows the Overcoming MS Program and has supported Overcoming MS as a facilitator. She discusses what breathwork is, how it can help people living with MS and ends the talk with a breathwork practice for you to try.

Watch the original webinar here. Keep reading for the key episode takeaways and Véronique’s bio.

Read the episode transcript here

Topics and Timestamps

00:58 Véronique’s background

06:25 Véronique’s breathwork training

08:58 Breathing basics

11:24 Dysfunctional breathing patterns

13:31 The power of the breath

16:00 Using the breath to influence other body systems.

18:37 Benefits of breathwork for MS

24:01 The diaphragm

27:00 Breathwork practice

Selected Key Takeaways

You can take control of your breath.
15:22 “We don't have to think, ‘I need to breathe in, I need to breathe out.’ It happens automatically. But we can also tell the brain, ‘I'm taking over the control, I'm in charge now’. That is the only system in the body that can do that, and that gives us the power to change how we feel because they are connected. We can use the breath as a language to communicate with the different systems in the body.”

You can reduce inflammation with breathwork by stimulating the Vagus Nerve
20:26 “There is a really interesting link between breathing and inflammation. I'm sure you've all heard about the Vagus Nerve, and we can stimulate the Vagus Nerve with breathing, [which] reduces stress and inflammation, [as] we know that stress leads to inflammation. So, there is an indirect way to reduce inflammation via the Vagus Nerve with breathwork.”

A tense diaphragm can negatively impact our breathing.
26:12 “The problem with the diaphragm is that we are not very aware of it, and it can get tense because it’s linked with the Vagus Nerve and the psoas muscle, which connects the upper body and the lower body. So, when we spend many hours sitting [and] when we are stressed, everything tightens, everything gets tense. This affects the movement of the diaphragm and our breathing.”

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Véronique’s bio:

Véronique started yoga when she was diagnosed with relapsing remitting MS in 2000 at the age of 34. At the time, she was lecturing at University College Dublin while completing her PhD thesis. She was a heavy smoker then (though no longer), but also addicted to the gym – especially spinning and step aerobics!

Véronique’s yoga qualifications
Yoga was so beneficial for her that Véronique decided to become a teacher. She qualified in Hatha yoga (2009) and then in Yoga Therapy (2013). Together with her husband, she created Taming the Walrus, which is dedicated to encouraging people with chronic conditions to practice yoga. They now live in the South of Portugal.

Véronique and Overcoming MS
Véronique has followed the Overcoming MS Program since 2012 and has found that her health and fitness keep improving. Her exercise regime now also includes weight training, swimming and running. But she’s always open to trying new types of exercise. She was also an Overcoming MS facilitator between 2017 and 2023.