How many courses give you the chance to combine fantastic food and wine with playing the cello and hanging out all week in your yoga pants? Ruth, Jane and Tara communicate with love and in the wisdom that what they teach can bring positive change. The Breathing Bow course demonstrates how we can use the natural movement of the body to achieve an authentic, honest and free musical line without the need to micromanage every note. Do less, achieve more. What’s not to love!” – Jane, cellist, Switzerland

Breathing Bow courses are open to all string players and are led by Ruth Phillips and the cellist and yoga teacher, Jane Fenton of Release and Breathe.

Amateurs, students, teachers and professionals are all welcome. No previous knowledge of yoga or meditation is required. Each course has a maximum of 12 participants.

There are three sessions each day.

Away from your instrument:

We’ll work with simple, Scaravelli-inspired yoga and mindfulness practices that apply directly to our playing. These include exploring gravity, grounding, tensegrity, presence, listening, non-judgement and balance. We address the physical problems of breath holding, shallow breathing, sweaty hands, panic and body stiffness, among others.

With your instrument:

What changes are detected in our body, in our breathing when we bring up the cello, violin, viola or bow, or when we “add” music? Through a set of simple exercises, we learn how we can draw on the natural expansion and contraction of the ribcage to understand the nature of physical and musical tension and release, how we can use gravity and rebound to our advantage to access our full power, and how to move from our core to avoid strain.

Performance Masterclass:

The last session of the day is given to short masterclasses in which participants who wish to perform in front of the group may do so, receiving a coaching with Ruth.

Group work
To close each day, there is time to share with fellow musicians any observations, fears, mental, emotional or physical blockages or insights we may have. As a trained therapist, Ruth provides a safe space in which to explore these issues.

Delicious nutritious breakfasts, lunches and dinners are prepared by the whole food Mediterranean chef Tara-Lee Byrne, herself a cellist and yoga practitioner. Meals are accompanied by local biodynamic wines and are important moments of relaxation, laughter, debate and exchange.

Our commitment to the environment
In line with our holistic approach, The Breathing Bow is committed to the environment and, as much as we can, to zero waste. Food is locally sourced, seasonal and organic whenever possible.

Next workshop :  24-28th May 2020, Provence. Postponed

‘Tensegrity is a structural principal of geometry where shapes benefit from strength and flexibility due to the push and pull of their parts. Tensegrity is at the heart of fractal geometry and the works of Buckminster Fuller. As human beings we are holistic compositions of components, in a dynamic dance of tension and compression, or push and pull.’
– Will Nagel


‘“Imagine a meditation given by a world class cellist. Ruth helped me get out of my head and reconnect with my body like no one has before.” – Robert, San Fransisco.

Individual coaching is held in Ruth’s home in Provence and is open to all string players, whether amateur, student, teacher or professional. On an individual retreat you will discover a new approach to practice so that not a moment is wasted, and each moment feeds the whole of you and the whole of the music. Immersed in the beautiful countryside of the South of France countryside you will have the unique opportunity to reflect, rest and refresh your relationship to your playing and to music.

How to practice performing so that you’re comfortable with what arises in the moment on stage — whether that’s self-doubt, tremors or dread, or unexpected moments of inspiration.

How to practice letting go so that a sense of freedom replaces the fear of failure.

How to physically and mentally prepare yourself for a performance.

How to approach your instrument as an extension of your own body.

How to unify the physical and the musical gesture, and the left and right sides of the body.

How to practice in a way that is efficient and serves you as a whole musician.

As a trained therapist, Ruth is an expert listener, creating a safe space in which you can explore all aspects – mental, musical, physical, emotional – of your life as a musician.

The timetable on an individual retreat is up to you. You can come alone and work intensely for four hours a day, or you can come with your partner, friends or family and have a short session each day whilst exploring the delights of Provence. Whether you are a beginner wishing to learn how to play in the most economical way possible, a string quartet wanting to learn how to communicate better, or a professional musician who desires to reconnect with your love of music, everyone is welcome.


A thirty minute online session with Ruth changed the way I practise for the better and I am pleasantly surprised that less is definitely more! I am feeling much more relaxed and grounded now in my practice and am inspired to play more.” Rose- UK

‘Discovery‘ sessions with Ruth are available online. After an initial session to see if you and Ruth are a good fit, a group of five coaching sessions is recommended to get the full benefit of The Breathing Bow. In order to book your first session, please fill out the form below with details of your experience, explaining what it is you would like to get out of the work. If you have a website and/or a video of your playing, please include links to these.

‘I came across Ruth at a difficult time for me with my cello playing, and started having lessons via skype on a regular basis. She is extremely thoughtful and caring, and helped me gain a lot of insight into my playing and my attitude to my cello, shaping the relationship into a healthier and happier one. She is a wonderful cellist and teacher, and can offer valuable technical as well as musical advice.’ – Marina, cellist

Once you have organised the date and time of the first session please make sure your webcam is set up so that Ruth can see you and your instrument clearly.

Single session, 60 minutes – 90 euros

Breathing Bow Web package (6 sessions of 60 minutes) – 500 euros

Cancellation policy: Up to 7 days before – full refund. Up to 48 hours before – 50% refund.

Ruth is also part of the team at InsideOut Musician, where she offers regular online courses.

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The wellbeing of musicians is, at last, being taken seriously. Young musicians are now not only expected to take care of themselves, they are respected for doing so. The taboos around stage fright and injury are finally breaking down and a new openness, curiosity and empathy are taking their place. Most colleges now have performance coaches, well-being lecturers and/or yoga, Dalcroze or Alexander Technique teachers on hand. In this atmosphere, musicians are hungry for new approaches to their instruments, approaches that do not separate their increasingly healthy bodies and minds from their increasingly brilliant techniques and musical inspiration, but which unify them.

The Breathing Bow ‘Expansion Sessions’ are designed specifically to do just that.

Ruth Phillips can take a group of up to ten students and help them experience, not just through ideas and concepts but through the felt sense, how the breath is the thing that unifies all the elements that go into being a string player. Students will come away with a new experience of how they can use their breath to support them and calm them, how it is always there on hand to teach them about movement, presence, rubato and phrasing.

In a three-hour workshop, Ruth will concentrate on the expansion and contraction of the rib cage, how the arms float away from and return to the body in response to that movement and how this connects us to the tension and release of the music.

In a daylong workshop, we will continue breath work before exploring gravity and rebound and how, when we’re grounded, the upper body becomes light, allowing for the left hand’s self-assured movement. In the second half of the session, through two masterclasses, we will look at how this all comes alive through the music and in performance.

Below is a rough timetable. What happens is largely dictated, naturally, by who is in the room and what their needs are.

Ruth also offers these workshops in collaboration with Jane Fenton. Jane, a cellist and Scaravelli inspired yoga teacher brings her profound knowledge of how the body moves and breathes and adds another dimension to the work. Half days and day Breathing Bow workshops are available with Ruth, or Ruth and Jane.

Morning workshop

10am – Introductions and group discussion about how we experience the breath in the body during practice and performance.

10.30 – Meditation, becoming present in the body through the breath.

10.45 – Breathing exercises 1 and 2, lying and standing. The expansion and contraction of the ribcage, how it allows the arms to float away from and fall back to the body.

11.15 – Break

11.30 – Breathing exercises 3 and 4. With instruments. Exploring the natural tension and release in the arms as they follow the breath. Non-doing. Where movement happens on release.

12.00 – Breathing exercise 5. Connecting the expansion and contraction of harmony and melody to that of the breath, how this determines such things as bow distribution, contact point, and width of vibrato.

12.40 – Closing discussion

Afternoon workshop –

2pm – Meditation on listening.

2.15 –  Through gentle yoga inspired movements exploring the feet, gravity and rebound. Finding lightness in the upper body through grounding.

2.45 – Gravity and rebound as it works for us in the arms – how this determines such things as bow speed, attack, release, vibrato and shifting.

3.15 –  Break

3.30 – Breathing up and down the spine.

3.45 – Masterclass (two students). Putting it all together through musical performance and presence.

To discuss or book your Expansion Session at your school, institution or college, please contact Ruth directly HERE


Accommodation is offered in a beautiful Provencal village house in the hamlet of Les Baux, near Bedoin.

Price for coaching per day:
80 euros per hour.
Three day package for three days of three hours coaching per day:
650 euros

To book, please contact Ruth directly on

Travel Info.

Marseille Airport
Easyjet, British Airways, Air France, and Ryanair fly to Marseille and Nimes airports.

Eurostar goes from London St Pancras to Avignon TGV. Eurostar

Direct TGV (Trains Grand Vitesse) trains go from Paris, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Brussels, Aix en Provence (Marseille airport shuttle) and Marseille train stations. Rail Europe

The accommodation is 2km from the nearby village of Bedoin. Car hire is recommended and is available at all stations and airports.

Cello hire may be arranged on request.

Map of where the individual retreats are held

The house where individual retreats are held

‘In order to really be, you have to be free from the thinking…non-thinking is an art and, like any art, it requires patience and practice.’

-Thich Nhat Hanh (Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise)

– Next Workshop –


With Ruth Phillips & Jane Fenton

[Ltd. spaces available]

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