4 October 2023

Breathworks Founder, Vidyamala Burch OBE, presents new holistic health-management programme, HEALS, at the 2023 BSLM Conference.

    Last week I attended an amazing conference and presented our new programme on Mindfulness-based Lifestyle Medicine. Helen Sullivan (CEO) and Colin Duff (Head of Development) attended with me and we made lots of fantastic connections with people interested in our work.

    The conference was held by the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine (BSLM) with 1000+ enthusiastic, passionate and commited delegates.

    Lifestyle medicine is a new field within mainstream medicine; “an evidence-based discipline which aims to support patients to prevent, manage and reverse certain chronic conditions, using supported behaviour change skills and techniques to create, and sustain lifestyle changes."

    Pictured above from left-to-right; Breathworks Chief Executive, Helen Sullivan; Breathworks Founder, Vidyamala Burch; and GP & Gut-Health Specialist,
    Dr Siobhan McCormack at the British Society of Lifestyle Medicine 2023 Conference.

    On the first day I ran a practical workshop with some mindful movement and a breath-based Body Scan and it was very moving to see lots of hard working health professionals stretched out on the floor taking some time to rest and breathe.

    The next day I participated on a panel about ‘Lifestyle Medicine in Action’. I shared the impact of our newly created Mindfulness-Based Lifestyle Medicine (MBLM) programme, HEALS (which will be publicly available early 2024). 

    “Vidyamala’s presentation on the HEALS programme was very inspiring. It is an excellent case study in incorporating mindful awareness as the underpinning of sustainable and effective behaviour change”

    - Dr Siobhan McCormack, GP specialising in gut-health

    What is HEALS?

    The HEALS programme is born out of our community's experience of what helps to improve wellbeing and quality of life when living with chronic pain, fatigue and illness.  Guided by a Clinical Advisory Board of active GPs, we formed groups from people who live with pain and illness and tested different ideas and approaches.  This learning has enabled us to create a brilliant new 10 week programme, which helps establish a mindfulness and compassion approach for creating behaviour change across the wider facets of wellbeing that forms the acronym HEALS:  

    Healthy nutrition

    Engaging with movement

    Awareness (the central pillar)

    Love for self, others and connection with nature


    Live sessions are facilitated by teachers, supported by rich course resources all held within a supportive community platform.  Early evaluation data has shown statistically significant improvements across quality of life, anxiety, depression, total emotional distress and pain catastrophising scales. 

    We are very grateful to the generous donors who supported us in this pilot phase.

    To learn more, you can watch my conference presentation on the HEALS programme here.

    I also enjoyed having a groupie moment with Dr Rangan Chaterjee who hosts a popular podcast ‘Feel Better. Live More’. He also included a Breathworks course years ago in the BBC series of Doctor in House featuring Breathworks teacher Karen Hall.

    Pictured above: Vidyamala Burch (right) delighting in meeting popular physician, author, and presenter, Dr Rangan Chaterjee.

    What is next for HEALS?

    As we move forward we are looking to build on these exciting and very promising findings and seek to form partnerships to roll out the programme as widely as possible. We know the need is huge with people living with chronic pain and long term health conditions, running into the millions in the UK alone. 

    We envisage partnerships with organisations such as primary care networks and GP practices; with health charities who are supporting people who could benefit; and others in the health sector that can enable access for people living with long term health conditions. 

    If you have any ideas or contacts to help this new course make its way into the world, please do get in touch with our Head of Development, Colin Duff, at [email protected]