Meet Jack Patton: A middle-aged RAF-Solider-turned-Hot-Yoga-Instructor, speeding up the healing process of his hip-surgery, through breathing. That’s right, breathing.
“I’m sitting at home losing weight just by doing breathwork and the rate at which my hip is healing is just incredible. I used to think of breathing as something you had to do – now I am first hand experiencing the true power of it,” says an ebullient Jack.
Just weeks out of getting his hip replaced, the gym-owner is finding his footing with more ease each day. That is not to say, however, it is a facile experience.
Jack is built like a powerhouse and comes from a background of ultra-endurance-sports, but when explaining the horrors of recovery, the agony in his voice is tangible.
“It’s pain like I’ve never felt it before. I can’t even begin to think about my hipbone, because the muscles around it are giving me so much torment,” he says.
Without knowing, he’d gone through life with a disfigured femoral bone, which consequently didn’t fit into his hip-socket. Being a Jack-of-many-sports: rugby; football; boxing – you name it, as he aged, the injuries caused by this deformity started piling up.
By the time Jack reached his forties, he was desperate for a remedy for the bodily pains he had brought on by building muscle from an imbalanced base. Then he found Hot Yoga.
Think 90 minutes of intense yoga, performed in a room heated to 40 degrees, with the same percentage of humidity. Think pools of sweat. Think pain.
“That first session in the hotbox: I thought ‘these people are insane!’ It was the hardest, most torturous thing I’d ever done,” says Jack.
Waking up the next day, however, he couldn’t believe how great he felt. Within one year he had completed the nine-week Hot Yoga Teacher Training.
“I dropped a stone and a half of my frame and felt better than I had in my early twenties,” says Jack. Eight years on, he cannot wait to get back to teaching again.
Two of the main benefits that come with the practice, according to Jack, is the improved lung-capacity and the mental resilience you gain from persisting in the heat. Another perk is all the compliments, Jack explains with a chuckle.
“I used to have good male friends coming up to me – big, muscular blokes – asking for my secret. They could see the radiance in my skin. ‘I do yoga’, wasn’t the answer they expected.”
Other practices that Jack swears by, is breathwork and cold-exposure. He is throughout the year a regular visitor to cold-water-pools across the Stirling Area.
“When you can exert that power over your mind, to endure a cold shower or a dip in a semi-frozen lake: that is powerful stuff”, says Jack, adding that it is proven to help fend off both anxiety and depression.
All these passions have a common denominator: Breathing. Yoga is movement marrying breath, breathwork is, well, breathwork, and focusing on your breathing during cold-exposure provides you with an anchor to latch onto through the pain.
Jack swears by the breath: “It’s free, marks the start of our life and once it’s gone, so are we.”
Just like his 87-year old dad, an avid yogi, Jack’s biggest fear in life is succumbing to dementia.
“Yogis put themselves to sleep, that’s the way I want to go out. Self-euthanasia; deprivation of the breath,” he says with a smile.
But for now, he is content to keep breathing and spend the second half of his life passing on the knowledge he’s gathered so far, to anyone willing to listen.