Neil Patel – known as N1 – is a rapper and yoga teacher from London. Having noticed a worrying increase in violent crime in his local area over the last year, he wanted to do something to help.
So N1, who is also a hip hop producer, combined his love of music with his yoga-training to create Hip Hop Breathing, a grounding breathing exercise set to hip hop beats that aims to promote calm and peace.
His is offering the classes, for free, in the worst-hit areas of the capital, and is also set to release a hip hop-yoga album called The Breathe Experience.
This will be the world’s first musical album to contain a traditional breathing exercise as a separate track.
N1 hopes that his innovative concept will provide kids from crime-affected areas a way into the benefits of yoga.
‘From my flat in Kilburn I noted a stark increase in police and local violent crime in the last 12 months,’ N1 tells Metro.co.uk. ‘Sirens were wailing all day and night suddenly.
‘I’ve always been a yoga teacher and a rapper, so I used to count yoga breath counts very rhythmically to beats in my head.
‘I decided to make those counts to real beats in order to reach kids involved in knife crime the many benefits of controlled breathing. I knew they were unlikely to go to yoga, but very likely to listen to hip hop.’
In the 12 months to the end of June 2019, knife crime offences rose by 8%, reaching a record high.
‘I hated to see what was happening on the streets,’ says N1. ‘I felt that a lot of kids were simply lost and did not have peace and love within themselves.
‘I knew the power of meditation and yoga and breathing exercises, so I felt I needed to use my tools in a way to attempt to reach them.’
Hip hop breathing is where the mind is calmed down by slowing down the respiration cycle in line with a slow, hip hop beat.
‘When the breath is slowed down, the mind, cells, blood pressure and nervous activity slow down with it,’ explains N1. ‘This creates a sense of peace biologically, and it is immediately effective on anyone who does it – even if they don’t believe in it at first.