Breathworks is a leading mindfulness organisation with a transformative approach for managing pain, illness and stress. Established in 2001, we have reached over 100,000 people through our courses for health and stress, mindfulness teacher training, retreats and programmes for the workplace. As a registered charity, our mission is to make mindfulness accessible to everyone.


Breathworks grew out of the life’s work of Vidyamala Burch. Vidyamala sustained spinal injuries as a young woman. This required multiple surgeries and left her with partial paraplegia and severe chronic pain.

She began to explore mindfulness and meditation in her twenties to manage her pain and found them profoundly life-changing and transformative.

In 2000, with a grant awarded by the Millennium Commission, she started running mindfulness-based pain management courses. In 2004 she changed the name to Breathworks and co-founded a Social Enterprise (Breathworks CIC) with Sona Fricker and Gary Hennessey - both highly experienced mindfulness practitioners and teachers. In 2005 they developed a Teacher Training pathway so more people would be able to access Breathworks courses.

Out of these seeds Breathworks has grown to become a flourishing and dynamic international organisation with over 600 accredited teachers in over 35 countries.


Keenly aware that it is often the people who are most in need of mindfulness training are those that are least able to pay for and access it, Vidyamala always wanted Breathworks to help remove financial barriers to mindfulness training. Breathworks raises funds for bursaries to help people afford a place on our courses, teacher training, and retreats, as well as investing in research and partnerships. A third of all places on our courses and teacher trainings are supported by bursaries.

Mindfulness Charity Advisor Jenny Edwards - Breathworks Foundation

Jenny Edwards CBE (former CEO, Mental Health Foundation)

"Breathworks has a long track record of helping people use mindfulness to manage their pain that has changed countless lives for the better. Their commitment to evidence and feedback is very impressive."


  • Vidyamala’s book Mindfulness for Health was awarded First Prize in Popular Medicine in the British Medical Association Books Awards in 2014. It has been endorsed by the Reading Well: Books on Prescription Scheme, selected by expert health professionals as the best self-help book in its category.

  • In 2018 Vidyamala was awarded an honorary membership to the British Pain Society. This was for her extraordinary contribution to the field of pain management with the development of Mindfulness-based Pain Management (MBPM).
  • In 2022 Vidyamala was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE). She has received the title in the Queen’s Birthday 2022 Honours List for her Services to Wellbeing and Pain Management as the Co-founder of Breathworks.

  • Breathworks is a founding member of the British Association of Mindfulness-Based Approaches (BAMBA - formerly called the UK Network of Mindfulness-Based Teacher Training Organisations), dedicated to maintaining high standards of training for mindfulness teachers. Our teacher training is widely regarded as one of the most thorough and in-depth available.


We do thorough internal evaluations of our courses through feedback forms and follow-up questionnaires. Our courses have been the subject of a number of published academic papers. The results have consistently shown the benefits of all our programmes. 

To find out more about our evidence base, check out our Research Page.