This week Vivid Minds Vivid Futures interviews Eva Knörles from Smart Breathing and Bowen Massage. Eva provides Buteyko breathing technique training and Bowen massage therapy to enhance individual and community health and well-being.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I spent my younger years in East Africa and Germany before coming to Australia. Nature has fascinated me ever since I was a child – I could sit and watch the elements, plants, and animals for hours. Back then, I didn’t realise I was observing the 80:20 principle of sustainability and economy of scale – 20% of your assets provides 80% of your results. My parents provided me with plenty of opportunities for observing nature during my upbringing in East Africa. In my senior high school years in Germany, I spent my weekends earning pocket money as a nurse’s aide at the local hospital. There, I learned a great deal about human resilience and the ability to regain health and wellbeing.
What does Smart Breathing and Bowen Massage do?
I’m a massage therapist with a background in physiology and biochemistry. I have a science degree and did my master’s degree in musculoskeletal management at RMIT. The most common presentations I see are back pain, sciatica, neck and shoulder problems, and a lot of recurrent or chronic health issues. Of course, all those discomforts distract the mind and interfere with a person’s emotions.
There are many different medical treatments, physical therapies and education programs that can offer a return to health and quality of life. I love assisting clients with Bowen massage as it is non-invasive, gentle, and uses all five senses and the body’s innate ability to regeneration, repair and restore. Bowen massage can assist your nervous system to go from fight and flight to rest and digest.
Over 30 years in practice, I have come to appreciate the importance of looking at a person’s sleep, work, and casual postural and movement habits that might perpetuate pain patterns or episodes of aches and dysfunction. I enjoy helping people figure out how they can continue to do the things they love or need to do without ending up in a trouble zone.
One of the movements we don’t think about is breathing – because we don’t think of it as a movement or functional behaviour, we just do it automatically. But inefficient breathing can lead to neck and shoulder tension, morning headaches, poor fitness, brain fog and even anxiety. Smart Breathing provides programs for symptom management and respiratory training to calm and focus your mind, support your immune system, improve fitness and health – effortless breathing keeps you moving no matter what you are up to. Reader’s Companion in Armidale holds copies of James Nestor’s book ‘Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art’ which has a whole chapter on the Buteyko Method that Smart Breathing offers.
When did you start your business?
I started my own business after working in the public health sector for 10 years providing remedial massage and Bowen therapy as part of Hunter New England Health’s mental health team. This gave me insight into the body-mind-emotion interplay and made me appreciate the multidisciplinary approach to integrated health care. I decided to open my own clinic to offer my skills and experience to the wider community and particularly focused on muscular/joint pain, assisting to regain functional movement at work, play and leisure.
What do you like most about running your own business?
Running my own business is a responsibility – and a risk, but I like the advantage of being able to make decisions fast, adapt to changes and see opportunities that blend with my priorities and interests.
What advice would you give a business just starting out?
Starting your own business is easier when you are clear about your vision and values. It helps to enjoy the work and find the right network to guide you financially, legally, in marketing, professional development and all the background operations that go into keeping your doors open. It’s sometimes hard to remember the importance of the 80:20 principle – or the 20:80 principle – whichever is keeping your business sustainable. It’s a bit like the ying and yang of economics.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by people’s creativity – in art, music, dance, architecture – as well as their lifestyle. To me, it’s an expression of nature’s lifecycles.
What is your secret for success?
There are no cookie cutter solutions. Every individual is an exciting reflection of life. It’s important to listen to their stories and help them to develop ways to continue to do whatever it is that they love. That means also looking outside my own skillset when needed.
For the past five years I’ve been organising an allied health professional study group where practitioners educate and inform each other across disciplines like dentistry, podiatry, speech therapy, psychology, social work, physiotherapy, chiropractic, dieticians and so much more. Together, we gain a more holistic view of a person’s health status and can develop personal care plans with them.
You also have to keep your own professional skill sets up to date by attending regular educational development programs within your discipline.
I’ve found that the business support that comes though networks like Business New England (formerly the Armidale Business Chamber), locals4locals, BNI, and Business New England’s women’s networking group – WiNG – morning breakfasts are also important.
Over the next 12 months I plan to make the ‘Voice Care’ program that I have developed accessible to the community. I ran this for UNE lecturers with great success. Since COVID, a lot of us are now presenting online for several hours every day as part of our work. This can be draining and lead to neck and shoulder tension and, if not managed early, possible voice and throat issues. The best workstation setup is only as good as the way you’re using it.
For the farming community, I will continue to run ‘Smart Care’ workshops, like the one hosted by LandCare before Christmas.
Later this year I will be helping writers and illustrators to avoid shoulder, back, wrist and neck pain and to build a sustainable approach to health, wealth and vitality. Watch out for the program at the New England Writers Centre.
Breathe well, function better, feel good. You need to look after yourself so you can take care of those you love and support the community you live in.