The Breathworks Foundation

Mindfulness and compassion for pain, stress and illness - helping people reclaim their lives

The Breathworks Foundation was established in 2009 to ensure that mindfulness and compassion training is available to everyone, regardless of circumstances. It brings to life the vision of Vidyamala Burch, Breathworks Co-Founder, who passionately believes that no person or community should be excluded from Breathworks training programmes and courses simply through financial or personal hardship. This is based on her experience of living with severe pain and disability all her adult life.  


The Breathworks Foundation is enormously grateful to the late Aryamati Olga Kenyon for a very generous legacy gift which established the bursary fund. Aryamati had lived with chronic pain for many years and experienced great benefit from the Breathworks approach.

Due to her generosity, The Breathworks Foundation was able to start awarding bursaries each year and fulfil its mission of making sure no-one would be excluded from experiencing the life-changing benefits of mindfulness due to financial hardship. You can read about some of the bursary recipients for courses here and teacher training recipients here.

Aryamati was a remarkable woman. A mother-of-three and grandmother-of-seven, she was a life-long passionate campaigner and generous donor to a number of causes. She focused on women’s rights as well as any kind of injustice. She was an active member of Manchester’s Amnesty International, tirelessly campaigning for freedom.

As a Cambridge graduate, Aryamati had a rich career involving teaching, lecturing and writing until her retirement in the early 90's due to ill-health. She was fluent in five languages as well as being a well-respected author of women’s writing with eight books published. Author PD James wrote the foreword to her most acclaimed book ‘800 Years of Women’s Letters’.

It read: "Olga Kenyon has performed a service to all who are interested not only in the written word, but in the changing lives of women".

Aryamati was also an accomplished poet and in 2013 she won the North West Libraries poetry award with her poem To the Edge, about Alderley Edge, being displayed on trams in Manchester. A poetry prize has been established in her name. 

She was ordained as a Buddhist in 2005, fulfilling her aspiration to make the world a better place based on the non-violent principles at the heart of Buddhism. This is when she was given the name Aryamati which means 'she whose mind is noble'. Surely a fitting tribute to such a noble and ethically dignified woman. She was very involved in Buddhism until the time of her death in 2014 and ran meditation and poetry groups at the Manchester Buddhist Centre in the Northern Quarter of her beloved city.

Towards the end of her life she suffered from osteoporosis which caused crippling back pain and led to multiple surgeries. But this didn’t dim her commitment to campaigning for a better world.

In an article in the Manchester Evening News after her death her family said: "Rather than enjoying a quiet retirement as a lover of life Olga threw herself into everything the city has to offer.

In recent years she had operations to replace both hips. Rather than be restricted to a wheelchair she slowly built up her strength and continued walking with the aid of a stick. Only the weekend before her death Olga helped organise the Climate Change protest through Manchester and despite her health issues insisted on marching at the front.

In 2020, the bursary fund has been extended by recycling surplus from the programmes and events we deliver and a generous donation from MindMore Foundation, an organisation committed to the scientifically responsible and enthusiastic dissemination of practicing mindfulness, both within the Netherlands and abroad. We now make a third of all our course and training places available to bursary recipients.