About Breathworks

The Breathworks approach is based on the experience of Vidyamala Burch who sustained a severe spinal injury in 1976 when she was 16 years old which led to multiple surgeries and partial paraplegia. She began exploring mindfulness and meditation to manage her persistent pain. In 2001 she sought to share these life-changing skills with others who were suffering from pain, stress or illness. She was joined by Gary Hennessey and Sona Fricker, both mindfulness practitioners for over three decades, and together they developed Breathworks as it is today.

Vidyamala has written a number of books including Living Well with Pain and Illness, Mindfulness for Health (co-written with Danny Penman) and Mindfulness for Women (co-written with Claire Irvin). These books form the ‘backbone’ of the Breathworks approach to mindfulness-based pain and illness management (MBPM) and the Mindfulness for Health course.

The British Medical Association awarded Vidymala, for the Mindfulness for Health book, in 2014, with the BMA Award for Popular Medicine (for medical books aimed at the general public). The Wellcome Trust announced that it is now available on prescription for those managing chronic health conditions from mid 2017.


Co-founder, Gary Hennessey, has used his expertise to create the popular Mindfulness for Stress course, which has helped thousands of people to find balance in their lives.

In 2015, Breathworks was awarded the Social Value Quality Mark (Level 3) following an assessment by the independent The Social Value Business. The Social Value Summary report found that in addition to the immediate benefits of mindfulness to our course participants, for every £1 invested in a Breathworks course there were savings to the public purse of at least £5.76, in reduced costs to health and other public service needs, employer costs and increased community contributions.

Other findings included:

• Mindfulness for Health Impacts: reduced distress from pain; reduction in depression; reduced ambulance calls, reduced A & E visits and reduction to GP and Community Nursing Team.

• Mindfulness for Stress Impacts: reduced absenteeism from work; reduced need to GP appointments and medication to treat stress; reduced need for mental health intervention and reduction in drug and alcohol misuse.

Breathworks is considered an expert in the field of mindfulness and as such, in 2015, they were one of the select few experts chosen to participate in the Government’s white paper Mindful Nation UK by The Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group which reviewed the scientific evidence and current best practice in mindfulness training and developed policy recommendations for government based on these findings.

Breathworks also dedicates themselves to training as many people as they can to teach mindfulness to others.

(More info can be found at breathworks-mindfulness.org.uk/aboutbreathworks)

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