After a string of injuries, former rugby player Richie Norton turned his focus to wellness coaching. In this episode Richie talks us through:
Ex-rugby player Richie Norton retrained as a breathwork and yoga coach after his life went off-track. He explains the philosophies behind his book, Lift Your Vibe – and why our breathing matters
‘I started out playing rugby young and worked my way up the ranks, but when I was 22, I was injured – I had nerve damage in my spine and my knee collapsed. My dream ended quickly, and I didn’t have a backup plan. My way of managing it was going off the rails. I imploded, with various outlets: alcohol, eating, drugs. I had intense anxiety where I thought I was dying.’
‘I moved to Australia and it saved my life. I went to the beach to learn to surf. The surf community introduced me to the yoga community, and they introduced me to the Brazilian Capoeira community. I found I was giving myself room to what mattered to me, like my health, which I’d neglected, and walking in nature. Movement and breathwork and community lifted my vibrations. My experiences made me want to spark others to go on a similar journey. That’s the reason I became a coach.’
‘To live we have to breathe, so you’re already doing it. But are you doing it well or poorly? Most of the time, people are breathing inefficiently, not utilising its power. Dysfunctional breathing is short, shallow, upper chest breathing and usually feeds into panic and anxiety, which is rife in our population. Functional breathing is nice, big, full, satisfying breaths in.
‘If you’re breathing more effectively, you pull more oxygen around your body, you have more clarity and focus. The more attention you bring to every breath, the more mindful, connected and present you feel.’
‘Inhale, ideally through your nose. When you feel your lungs and chest space expanded all the way down to your belly, pause for a moment, then slowly let the air release at a nice, steady pace. You’ll notice a little pause at the bottom. Bringing your attention to this pause allows you to be less stuck in your head, and less conscious of all the emotions running around it.
The Vibe Tribe is my virtual community that developed over lockdown. I get to do live morning meditations, yoga classes, breathwork. That sense of community is so important when we’re stuck on our own. We need that positive voice, to help you get out of your head and change your perspective. I want to be that person for others because I knew how powerful it was for me.’
‘I use my breathing practice in the morning when I’m setting myself up for meditation. It’s the same practice I use to become more focused before a meeting, or if there’s a big surf wave and I need to compose myself and not panic. I calm myself down so my heart rate doesn’t go crazy. If I notice my mindset is negative or overwhelmed, I’ll go for a walk or revert to yoga. That’s what my book, Find Your Vibe, is about – having little tools to help you create space.’
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A doctor for over 17 years, Gemma Newman has worked in many specialities as a doctor including elderly care, endocrinology, paediatrics, obstetrics and gynaecology, psychiatry, general surgery, urology, vascular surgery, rehabilitation medicine and General Practice.
Dr Newman's specialist interests are in holistic health and plant-based nutrition as well as lifestyle medicine. In her practice she has come to understand that body, mind and soul are not separate, and that it is only in addressing the root causes of stress and disconnection that we can truly heal, from the inside out.