My Journey

My Journey

What led me to set up the Breathe Free Clinic?

Diagnosed asthmatic from babyhood, I woke most nights in the early hours, wheezing and struggling to breathe. Night after night I would pad into my parents room for help when too young to understand what was happening. 

Now with grown up children of my own, I don’t know how they coped! 

Going on holiday or on school camp was full of mixed feelings of both excitement and fear: 

  • Fear of asthma attacks from dusty beds, rooms and bunks, cat dander or humidity
  • The fear of running out of medication which had to go everywhere with me 

I hated having to sit out games or come off at half time when all I wanted do was to play and excel. Not wanting to be ‘the sickly child’ sitting on the sideline, I would push myself and end up continually having to stop anyway.

I also hated being dependent on the daily medication I was increasingly needing, and made many attempts to reduce or resolve asthma with diet, lifestyle, tests and medical trials through the years.  

Raised in a medical family, I was given antibiotics and/or corticosteroids for the slightest hint of a cold or allergic reaction; however at the same time encouraged to swim and be fit, to trial yoga breathing as an 8-year old and not let having asthma be a handicap.

By 40 years of age:

  • I was as fit as a fiddle (outwardly at least), teaching step classes for Les Mills and working as a landscape architect, organically gardening and eating well 
  • Had trialled many medical and integrative health suggestions and remedies through the years to little avail
  • Was in need of more and more asthma medication to get through the day, yet to less effect 
  • Was starting to despair about how to cope with a busy life as a working mum with young children; wondering if this was ‘as good as it gets’ and fearful that things would steadily worsen
  • Was often ill with 3 or 4 colds or flu each year which I would take 2 to 4 weeks to recover from
  • My GP didn’t know what to suggest other than more medication

At this time, two Australian Buteyko practitioners, Jennifer and Russell Stark, were travelling around New Zealand teaching this little known method, so my GP suggested I go and participate.

Having no other option that I could see, and despite being somewhat sceptical (after all nothing else had worked to date), I took the plunge.

If only I had known then that I was about to save over 18 years of doctor’s visits and medication costs which I would no longer need. 

Even better, I was about to experience the physiological and psychological benefits of experiencing the first full night’s sleep I could remember, along with relief from the symptoms I had experienced from babyhood. 

My asthma symptoms improved rapidly and I was able to reduce my medication usage within the first week. After 7 months, I no longer needed any medication – it actually seemed like a miracle.

In other words, the course proved invaluable. Nowadays and more than 18 years on, I rarely wheeze or suffer from hay fever. I no longer use nor even carry any medication around for asthma.

Could this be for you too?

Most people can benefit from learning to breathe better. However, it is difficult to assess what the ‘right’ breathing method is to choose when there is a lot of ‘noise’ out there in this field and much of it can be misleading and even incorrect.

The first step is to become aware of your own breathing habits and then to learn what are the basics of healthy breathing and what does functional (healthy) vs. dysfunctional (unhealthy) breathing even mean? 

Having your breathing assessed will help you to do this by identifying whether aspects of your breathing are healthy of not. 

For example we look at your:

  • breathing rate (how fast or slow you breathe)
  • breathing rhythm and patterning
  • minute volume (how much air you breathe in a minute)
  • carbon dioxide tolerance using Capnography
  • breathing mechanics – upper chest or diaphragmatic, nasal or mouth


If your breathing is assessed as dysfunctional, then it can be hugely beneficial to your health to correct this by undertaking our breathing retraining programme.

As my colleague in Nelson, Nicky McLeod of The Breathing Clinic said:

“Too often we get people on our courses after they have tried many other things … who say that if only they had worked on their breathing first they would have saved a lot of money and time. Other common refrains include ‘why haven’t I been told this before?’ and ‘this should be taught in schools’.”

Imagine functional healthy breathing habits being taught as fundamental in the education and health systems. This is my hope.