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Episode 12 – Breathing & Breath Work with Richie Bostock

Episode highlights

01:42 – How Richie ended up in the field of breath work

04:39 – Learning the Wim Hof method with The Iceman

10:13 – The key principles of breathing

15:45 – Managing stress by breathing

20:48 – Breathing protocols during physical exercise

24:10 – Why proper breathing is important after a HIIT session

27:35 – Mindful breathing can be 24/7

29:46 – Teaching children the techniques

33:22 – Five action points that you can start implementing today

40:15 – Feel good, sleep better, be more productive

 

Welcome to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast, where you can learn how to improve your diet, lose fat and get fitter in a sustainable and fun way without spending hours in the gym. Here is your host, Darren Kirby.

Darren: This is Episode 12 of the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast. Today we’re going to be talking about breathing and breath work, which may seem strange to some but being conscious about breathing and how you can use that to reduce stress, can have a profound impact on your physical and mental health. Joining me on the podcast today is The Breath Guy aka Richie Bostock. Richie’s mission is to remind the world how we breathe on purpose. Hi, Richie, thanks very much for joining me on the podcast today.

Richie: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a great pleasure to be able to share, hopefully, some information that’ll be really useful for you and others who are listening.

Darren: Yeah, absolutely. I think, like I said in my intro, sometimes when you say to people about breathing and breath work, they kind of look at you a little bit strangely because it’s something that we do unconsciously in order to stay alive. But I know through reading some of your stuff and watching you online, I see when you implement this stuff, it can have such a profound impact just on your general daily lives, really. It’s something which I incorporate in my morning routine and it really sets me up nicely for the day.  Before we kick off with all the questions and go into detail, can you give us a brief introduction about your background and how you became to be known as The Breath Guy?

Richie: Well, you hit the nail on the head there. It’s quite funny if I go to a dinner party or something like that and meet new people and they asked me what I do and I tell them, ‘I teach people how to breathe for a living.’ They get very confused but then it always comes with a bunch of follow up questions as to ‘what do you mean?’ I’m not a yogi, I’m not a yoga teacher, although I do love yoga, I’m not a Pilates teacher, I’m not a personal trainer. I really only focus on teaching people about the breaths and there is actually no university degree for that.

I originally started my professional career in management consulting back in Australia in one of those big consulting firms and eventually realized that that wasn’t for me after many, many years of working there and doing 80-hour weeks and living a very fast-paced lifestyle. But the way that I got turned on to the breath was because of my dad, actually. So my dad, years ago, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which is an autoimmune disease. I was always on the lookout for things that might be able to help my dad, whether it was lifestyle changes, alternative therapies, anything that might be useful for him. Because unlike, say, if you catch a virus or something like that, there’s no magic pill that you can take for an autoimmune issue and it just disappears. It’s often something that people will deal with for a lifetime.

I was just always on the lookout for things that might help him and then I came across this man on a podcast and his name is Wim Hof. He’s known as The Iceman and if you haven’t heard of The Iceman before, he’s this pretty crazy Dutch guy and he’s famous because he holds 20-something world records, all related to cold exposure. Things like swimming under ice for the longest distance, doing, I think, it was the fastest marathon or half marathon in the Arctic Circle, just wearing shorts and nothing else. He got to the death zone on Everest just wearing shorts and nothing else and just a lot of pretty crazy stunts, all related to cold exposure. Through his training and through his experience, he eventually created this technique, which he eventually called the Wim Hof technique. It’s a combination of cold exposure, so for us, say, in London, it might just be swimming in a lido when it’s in the winter or having a cold shower. Or if you can, get to an ice bath or something like that, that’s even better, and also breathing techniques.

This was really my first foray into this idea that the way that you breathe can actually have quite a profound effect on you and so I ended up traveling to Poland and doing a mini retreat, learning the Wim Hof methods that were in Poland in the middle of winter and just had the most incredible experience. We were swimming in the ice lakes, hiking around in the snow barefoot, just wearing shorts, -6 degrees, out for an hour and a half, two hours. We climbed the tallest mountain in Poland just wearing our shorts, -19 degrees plus the wind and snow–takes four and a half, five hours to get to the top. So really had an amazing experience there but what really struck me was these deep breath work sessions that we would do.

Till this point, I didn’t know that breath work was a thing and it was my first experience with breath work. We would go down into the basement of this hotel, and there was 25 of us all together plus the instructors who were teaching us, and we would do these breathing sessions for 45-50 minutes and have these really profound experiences. I remember coming out of my first one, just feeling this incredible sense of clarity, of confidence. I felt unshakeable, I felt like I could do anything in the world and that nothing could get in my way and I just felt amazing. And I remember after that session in the morning, just having breakfast and eating my eggs and I think I was mid bites and just had this thought of: Why doesn’t everybody know about this? Because it’s just breathing. If I can feel this good just by breathing, then what is going on? It’s almost criminal that people don’t know that this is accessible to them.

So, that was a real profound moment for me and to cut a long story short, I brought the technique back to my dad. We’re years down the line now, he breathes every day, cold showers every day, changed his diet in a big way as well. And the progression of his MS has just stopped in its tracks completely. After that, I became obsessed with breath work. I spent the next three years traveling all over the world, learning from anybody who was doing something interesting with the breath. And now here we are, just trying to share the good word and help people use this wonderful tool. I always call it the Swiss Army knife of the body for all the different things that it can do for us. So just to let them know and to teach people that this is available to them.

Darren: Yeah. You know, it sounds a bit of a cliché, but it is truly amazing. And it’s kind of testament to how many tools that we have at our exposure to improve our lives on a daily basis. Often when we’re trying to improve things, we go and look externally for things. It could be a workout, it could be some kind of food or whatever, to improve ourselves. But actually, we have many of the tools that we need to really profoundly change the way that we live. I know I can relate to your personal situation with your father. My father also has MS as well. Unfortunately, I’ve not managed to get him to change his diet or anything like that yet, but it’s very interesting to hear you say that it’s really stopped his MS in its tracks. So this simple, unconscious thing that we do every day in order to stay alive is quite powerful.

Richie: Absolutely. And you know what? I’ve had many people reach out because I’ve shared this story quite a few times on podcasts and magazines and on telly and stuff. I have many people reach out with all sorts of autoimmune issues saying, ‘Yes, I’ve been doing this already and it’s really helping me,’ or ‘I’ve just started it and it seems to be making a difference.’ Hopefully, your dad can get on it. My dad, he’s old school Brit and when I went to him, when I first found out about this method and I went to him and I said, ‘Hey, mate, this Dutch guy called The Iceman says that if you do some breathing and take a cold shower, it will help your MS. What do you think?’ He kind of just looked at me strangely, and was like, ‘What are you talking about?’ It took me traveling to the other side of the world and climbing a mountain in my shorts, with -19 degrees temperatures to convince him to do it, but it worked.

I would definitely recommend it for anyone as well, if you know anyone who has any autoimmune issues, to definitely try it out. And also, from a diet perspective, it’s so important. What helped my dad was something called the Wahls protocol, W-A-H-L-S by a lady called Dr Terry Wahls, who healed herself from her MS purely through nutrition. I think it’s also useful for any type of autoimmune disease, so yeah, definitely combine those two things together, and you’ve got something pretty powerful.

Darren: That’s quite amazing. So when we talk about breath work, are we just talking about sitting there, focusing on our breathing? Or are there specific techniques we can utilize for certain situations or things that we want to accomplish? How does that all kind of fit together and work?

Richie: Good question. I define breath work simply as any time that you become aware of your breathing and then start to change it, to modulate it, to create some sort of physical, mental or emotional benefit for yourself. It can be like on the most simplest form, doing a breathing technique for one to two minutes when you’re feeling stressed, to try and relax yourself. In its more complex form, it can be lying down and doing certain breathing techniques for one hour, two hours, three hours, nonstop, as an incredible form of emotional therapy. There are ways to breathe that allow you to access the unconscious mind and to really work through any emotional baggage that you’re holding on to, any past traumas, to be able to release and integrate that just by breathing, not even necessarily needing to talk about it.

I always say it’s kind of like talking therapy on steroids. It’s really powerful stuff. And then everything in between as well–you can breathe for meditation purposes, you can breathe for athletic performance, you can breathe for all sorts of physical ailments or diseases. You can breathe just to feel really good for no reason whatsoever. You can breathe to create energy, you can breathe to feel more creative, you can really use it in so many different ways. All you need to do is understand a few key principles around what does work with the breath and then you can start to even create some breathing protocols for yourself that could be very beneficial for you.

Darren: Okay. What are the key principles, then?

Richie: Well, this is a workshop in itself. It is a workshop. It really depends on what you’re trying to do. For example, like… When we play around with the breath, we usually tug on a few different levers. Now, that can be length and duration of inhales and exhales. That can be length and duration of perhaps pauses between inhales and exhales. That can be depth of the breath–do you take a full complete deep breath, filling up your lungs completely? Or do you only breathe until maybe 80% or 50% capacity? Because these actually do different things physiologically in the body. Do you breathe through your nose, do you breathe through your mouth?

There are lots of different little levers that you can use to change how the breath affects all the different systems that happen in your body, whether it’s your endocrine system–which is your hormones–your nervous system, your digestive system, your immune system, your cardiovascular system, obviously, your respiratory system, even your lymphatic system. The breath really touches on everything and that is because it is the only function in the body that is completely unconscious, and then also completely under our control.

It runs unconsciously because it’s governed by something called the autonomic nervous system and this nervous system controls all the stuff that happens inside of you without you thinking about it. Whether it’s your food digesting, the balance of your hormones, your heart beating, your breath, all these things. But of course, we can actually control the way that we breathe.

It kind of becomes like a highway or a gateway to get into this autonomic nervous system and then start to change the way that it is firing–affecting your hormones, affecting your heartbeat, all these kinds of things. And therefore, it’s almost like a control panel. You can use it as a way to turn certain things on and off, speed things up, to slow them down. It’s really quite unique and very, very special. Of course, ancient traditions have known this forever. So many ancient traditions all over the world have breathing practices of some sort but it kind of has gotten a little bit lost in modern society, but now it’s coming back to the forefront.

Darren: I think that’s a very good point that you make. For me, it seems like that’s happening in a lot of different areas. Sleep is another big one. When you talk to people about sleep, they’re like, ‘of course, I sleep,’ or ‘I only need X number of hours of sleep a night.’ But once you focus in on some of these elements, the impact that they can have, like I’ve already said, it is quite profound. It’s just I think, like you say, society has developed at such a rate and it is developing at a faster rate than it’s ever developed in modern history. And it is kind of stripping it back and taking it back and realizing or recognizing that we have these tools in order to help our daily lives.

Because obviously there’s this big focus on mental health right now, particularly I’m finding in the media and in social media. The natural reaction to a lot of these things are to visit a GP and get medication. Whereas, particularly with breathing and stuff like that and if you’re feeling stressed or you’re feeling overwhelmed, if you just stop and actually focus on that, and clear the mind, the impacts can be as good as taking drugs or whatever it is you need to try and calm yourself down.

Richie: 100%. And you know what? There is more and more evidence that shows that mental and emotional states really do physically manifest in one way or another. If you are constantly stressed, then that is going to start to create certain effects throughout your body. The easiest one to see is your digestive system. When you are stressed in your fight or flight mode, a lot of people don’t realize that the body starts to divert blood from your digestive system to your muscles. Because when you are stressed and you’re in fight or flight, the survival mechanism is to provide as much blood which carries the oxygen, carries the glucose, all the energy that we need to do something, whether to fight or to run away.

The survival mechanism is to send as much resources as possible to our muscles so that we can act. But if you are constantly stressed, it means that your digestive system and even your reproductive organs as well, are being incredibly underserved for nutrients and for nourishment. So when people are chronically stressed, things like IBS, gastro problems, and for especially a lot of ladies, things like polycystic ovaries, endometriosis–these go hand in hand with stress. And it’s just one example. When we start talking about things like trauma as well, man, that can manifest itself in whole other ways.

It’s really funny for me that mental health has taken so long to be a thing or to come into the forefront of everyone’s mind. Just because if at the end of the day, one of the main… I wanted to say goals, but (if) one of the main outcomes that we would like in our life is to be happy, then maybe mental health is one of the main things to focus on with that. The beautiful thing about breath work as it pertains to mental health is that it’s a very physical practice. You’re controlling your breath, you’re doing something, and that can have a profound effect on the mind.

A lot of people really struggle with things like meditation. Meditation can be very intimidating for a lot of people because you’re trying to get a hold of the mind using your mind. But when you do breath work, you’re getting a handle on the mind using your body. And for a lot of people, that seems a lot more accessible, that seems a lot more doable. And the great thing about breath work is that you don’t need to be a very Zen person or have tried meditation before, for it to have an effect. If you do certain routines, there’s a 99.999% guarantee that you are going to go into a meditative state of flow, simply because of the physiological changes that you are making in your body. You can’t help it to happen. It has to happen, regardless of how Zen you are. So it’s a pretty cool thing.

I do a lot of corporate work and I go into businesses and it’s really funny. I go into the financial district here in London and go into a bank and have 80 bankers lying down on the ground in their suits, doing breathing techniques. And they come out and they feel like… They feel brand new, they feel absolutely amazing. And basically, not a single one of them has even thought of the word meditation, so, yeah, it’s very accessible for everyone who wants to try and give it a go.

Darren: Yeah, and I think the other thing is I can only imagine what it’s like going into an investment bank–I used to work in them–and trying to get these bankers to actually concentrate on their breath work and things like that. And I would imagine there’s a lot of scepticism there until they’ve actually tried it. Like you say, the effects of it can be quite profound for something that’s very simple.

When we think about physical health and fitness and breathing, often when I work with people and I see people training and stuff like that, the last thing that they’re focusing on when they’re doing their workouts are mindful breathing. They’re just trying to get themselves through the workouts, or they’re just trying to run on the treadmill. And actually, what they don’t realize is, if they actually focused on their breathing, their workout would become a bit easier.

I’ve done this for my running, I’m focusing now on nasal breathing–making sure that I’m really taking in big gulps of air through my nose and breathing out through the mouth–and I found that that’s helped me in my distance running. So what are the type of things that we can focus on in that respect when we’re working out or thinking about doing fitness?

Richie: There’s a whole host of different breathing protocols as it pertains to physical activity and it just depends what we’re trying to do. What you were talking about there with running is absolutely perfect. There are more studies showing that nasal breathing is actually very useful, particularly for endurance activities–learning to breathe in and out through the nose while you run. And what will happen initially is it will be difficult and you will feel short of breath, and you won’t feel like you’ll be able to run as fast or as far. But what you need to allow to happen is for your lungs to catch up to your body. You need to, just for a period of time, maybe just taper it down a little bit. If you’re breathing through your nose and you feel like you need to breathe through your mouth, actually just stop and start walking, and continue to breathe in and out through the nose until you catch your breath, and then continue again.

But the idea being that you go at a cadence and at a pace that allows you to breathe in and out through your nose comfortably without having to stop or feel short of breath and then eventually, the body adapts and it gets better and better at it. That’s a great thing to do, absolutely.

Since that was for endurance, we’ll talk about something that’s a bit more like high intensity and this is actually great after any physical activity–any workout that you do. When you are doing a physical activity, particularly if it’s something like HIIT training or something that’s very intense or physical, you need to down regulate your nervous system afterwards, to help the body to go into a state of recovery faster. The best way to be able to do that is to practice some slower breathing. If you are able to take five minutes after your workout to sit or lie on the ground, close your eyes and relax, put on your favourite music or whatever makes sense for you. And then breathe in and out nice and slow, whether it’s five seconds in, five seconds out, four seconds in four seconds out, six seconds in six seconds out–even inhales and exhales. But for at least four seconds if you can and maintain that for five minutes.

That slower breathing–and this is one of the principles that we were talking about before. Slower breathing aids in shifting you into what’s called your parasympathetic nervous system, or your rest and digest response. This is when your body starts to go into maximum recovery mode. Doing even just five minutes– if you can do more, that’s even better–of just nice, slow, relaxed breathing, after your HIIT session, after your class, whatever, would be so useful for aiding your recovery.

Darren: That’s really interesting, isn’t it? Because once you finish the workout, you do a bit of a stretch and then you go and shower and you get on with your day. But just to take that five minutes out to relax your body and your breathing, how much of an impact it can have on your recovery and just your long term kind of health.

Richie: Absolutely. What happens for so many people, particularly if you’re living in a big city and maybe have quite a fast-paced life is people have stressful jobs and they need to just try and fit in exercise wherever they can. These HIIT classes are super popular now, aren’t they? Things like Barry’s or 1Rebel’s here in London, that kind of thing. People come and they do these high intensity sessions which have a 30-second warm up and a 30-second cooldown, basically. Most of it is just–let’s just fit in as much as possible. For sure, that has its place, but what it means is that you’re going from your stressful work environment into completely redlining your body physically and then what often people do is then they go straight back to work afterwards.

Your nervous system is never actually shifting into its relaxation response, into its recovery response. Which means that if you chronically leave your body in the stress response–the state of fight or flight–then all these physical manifestations, whether it’s adrenal fatigue, problems sleeping, chronic pains, issues with digestion, ultimately leading to some bigger issues like some chronic illnesses. It’s not a good thing. Being able to prioritize shifting down your nervous system, prioritizing relaxation, as a skill, that’s a weird thing for people to think about. Is relaxing a skill that you can develop? Absolutely. For me, it’s just as important as being active. You’ve got to go do your HIIT classes–they’re great. I love them, too. But balance it out, guys, because if you don’t, then something’s going to happen in the future and you just don’t want that.

Darren: Yeah, and I think this comes back to the point I said in the beginning. I think we are coming full circle in that we are kind of going back a step or quite a few steps and understanding that it’s not a linear approach to health and fitness. It’s not just a diet or a HIIT session like you say–it’s taking that holistic approach. And it’s looking at what we perceive to be very basic functions that we have, but actually making a point of focusing on them and using that in a holistic approach to improve your overall health. I think it is becoming more and more prevalent, it’s becoming more and more publicized, I guess, is a word in the media. It’s not just about going hard and just sweating it out and getting fitter. It’s actually looking at these other elements that you can use to kind of build it up.

In terms of when is it good to use mindful breathing? Obviously, you’ve touched on a few areas there in terms of stress, in terms of mental health and things like that. But what would you say is… Not the best, but the situations in which you maybe want to just put that into your day even and think about mindfully breathing?

Richie: It is your best friend, really. It’s there for you whenever it is that you need it. People often ask me: when do I do my mindful breathing or my breath work sessions? And I tell them I’m in a breath work session 24/7. Basically, every moment that I’m awake, I have at least some sort of awareness of what my breath is doing. Now, that doesn’t mean that I’m controlling it all the time but often what happens for me is I notice my breathing changing, even before I notice my emotion. For example, if something triggers me and I feel a little bit stressed, I straightaway become aware that, oh, my breathing seems to be a little bit faster up in the chest, and oh, I’m holding my breath. Oh, that must mean I’m stressed. Oh, yeah, there’s the stress–I found it now.

Becoming aware of your breathing is probably the best thing to start to learn because it really is a reflection of what’s going on inside of you, whether it’s physically mentally or emotionally. So it can be a really good indicator of what state you’re at, or what state you’re in. Becoming aware initially and just getting used to that idea that actually being aware of your breath is kind of important, is a great first step.

In terms of using your breath, it’s such a multi-faceted tool. If you wake up, you can breathe in a way to start to create energy so that you don’t even need coffee. Then if you’re on the flip side, end of the day, got to go to sleep, you can breathe in a way to help you to fall asleep quicker. In between, you can breathe in ways to help to feel more creative or to help make decisions or to ground yourself if you’re feeling nervous before a meeting or a pitch to a client, or something like that. There’s lots and lots of different ways of using your breath and it really just depends on the situation as to when, what, how you’re going to use it.

Darren: Yeah. Something that you’ve just been talking there has triggered a thought. And that is, how much of this do you get involved with children and teaching children this type of thing?

Richie: That’s a great question. The youngest child I’ve breathed is five days old. It might seem like that’s impossible, how could you do that? There is a way you can teach breathing non verbally, and it is doable. Children are interesting because before the age of six, usually children have a really nice breath, like they actually breathe in a way that we’re anatomically biomechanically supposed to breathe. But then life happens and various things impact the way that we breathe and all of a sudden–for many of us anyway–it starts to become quite dysfunctional.

Working with kids is an interesting one because of mostly attention spans. Kids will only give you so much attention for a certain period of time and then they want to go off and do their own thing, which is actually what’s beautiful about it. Kids have an amazing imagination, they want to play, they want to create worlds in their head. For many people actually, as you grow up, you lose that, which is a real shame. But, so you can definitely teach children some basic principles about breathing and even just instilling it in them from an early age. Just to notice their breath and notice that it is important, and that it affects them in some way, is huge.

I have worked with a couple of kids before and their parents were actually martial artists, so like Qigong, and Tai Chi, and they have very nice breathing practices. So the kids just naturally knew already, ‘Oh, if I feel stressed, I can breathe into my belly and take a nice long, deep breath in through the nose and that’s going to help relax me.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, you’re six years old. That’s amazing that you know that.’ I think it’s something that could definitely… Some basic education could be put in schools and it’s something that I would love to do one day. But, like anything, if you start to try and put something into public systems, it just takes a little bit of time. That’s all.

But yeah, I think the future is bright and exciting for the kids. The kids will grow up. These kids being born now will grow up with breath work being part of their awareness, part of their consciousness. They’re going to know that just like going to a yoga class or to a HIIT class or a cycle class, that there is such a thing as a breath work class that is going to be really good for them.

Darren: Yeah. I think it’s really positive that all of this is kind of coming to the forefront like you say. I think for me personally, once I do certain things, my kids pick up on what I’m doing anyway and by leading by example, they start to be inquisitive or want to start doing whatever it is that I’m doing. So if adults are practicing it to balance themselves out and cope with certain things, naturally children will pick that up. I agree, I think the future is very bright. In terms of actions that listeners could take away today… Obviously, they’ve listened to this and maybe they’ve not even considered breathing or breath work, what five key actions would you say? Or even a few action points, would you suggest that the listeners could take away today and start implementing this?

Richie: Action point number one is to give yourself a little breath assessment right now. The easiest way to do that is to look in the mirror and then take a nice deep breath in, just through the nose or mouth, it doesn’t really matter. But what I want you to notice when you take a deep breath in is–do your shoulders go up in a big way? Maybe there’s a lot of movement, maybe there’s some movement, maybe there’s just a little, maybe there’s none.

If you see your shoulders move up quite significantly, you feel your chest puffing especially in the upper clavicle areas, puff out quite significantly, then it probably means that you are a pretty good chest breather. And that actually isn’t biomechanically great for us and it’s attached to your stress response, your sympathetic nervous system.

Check this out. Even if you were feeling completely relaxed and then you started to breathe high up into the chest, you would start to stimulate the stress response in your body and you could measure heart rate variability, which is a great measure of how stressed you are. You would see HIV go down, you would see, if you took blood, adrenaline going up. You would be putting your body into a stress response for no reason other than you just breathe that way.

What that means is that if you are constantly breathing that way, then you are always putting your body into a mild stress response. So straight away, that’s the first step. Is to look at your breath and to see if you are breathing up into the chest habitually. If that’s the case, the easiest way to start to learn how to un-train that is to put your hands underneath your ribs. On your left and right sides. It’s quite tricky to explain just through voice, but imagine putting your hands just underneath your ribs and then breathing into your hands.

Another way to visualize it is–imagine that you have one of those inflatable rings that you would float in, in a swimming pool, and that that’s around your belly button. When you inhale, think about trying to fill up the space between where your body is and where the ring starts. You’re breathing into this ring, into the front, into the sides, into the back, and try to develop this thing called diaphragmatic breathing. The diaphragm is the primary breathing muscle in the body, it connects to the bottom of your ribs and when you use it in the right way, it expands the bottom of your ribs, pushes down on your digestive organs and pushes your belly outwards to the front and to the sides, and even to the back.

Learning to breathe what we call in the 3D manner, where you’re breathing sideways rather than breathing up and down with your shoulders rising, is such a great thing to learn how to do. If you are trying to practice that, look in the mirror, put your hands under your ribs, breathe into your hands. Do at least 10 breaths in the morning, 10 breaths in the evening, just as a start, just to get used to it, and start to then catch yourself throughout the day. Start to see if… maybe set an alarm for two or three times throughout the day to say check your breath and see if you’ve returned back to the vertical breathing, the chest breathing. And if you have, take a moment to take five to 10 breaths of the 3D breathing, the diaphragmatic breath, just to reset yourself.

Just by doing that diaphragmatic breathing, you will feel more relaxed because the diaphragmatic breathing is shown to be stimulating of something called the vagus nerve, which is the biggest nerve–it’s part of your parasympathetic nervous system. It will shift your neurology into a more relaxed response. So that’s great. I think that’s three. Four–let’s see…

Four is I can give you just a little technique of something that is useful when you feel stressed. It’s very, very simple. I call it 5 pm breathing, and I call it the 5 pm breathing because it’s a breath that you use if you are feeling… Actually, 5 pm is a time that you’re supposed to knock off work. For most of us anyway, maybe not so much in Central London, but you knock off work and let your head down, go have a cocktail and relax, right? But it also stands for five breaths per minute.

Five breaths per minute looks like this. You’re going to breathe in and out through your nose. It’s a three part breath where you will inhale, you’ll exhale straight away, and then you’ll pause for a moment. The inhale is four seconds long, the exhale is six seconds long and then the pause at the bottom is two seconds. You go in for four, out for six, hold for two. In four, out for six, hold for two, and you just keep going around the triangle like that. That is a wonderfully relaxing breath. Do that for two to three minutes if you’re feeling stressed and notice the difference. That’s four. And five…(Deep sigh)

Maybe that’s five. If you ever are thinking of something and if you need to make a decision, take a couple of really relaxing, grounding breaths. A great grounding breath is often quite similar to like a sigh. You might take a slightly deeper breath than normal and on the exhale, you just (deep sigh) just relax and drop and feel the weight of you just kind of drop back to the floor. And just use that as an anchor for a moment of stillness before you make a decision. That’s a really nice one to do as well and I do that all the time if I need to think of something or if I need to make a decision on something. Two or three of just those nice deeper breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth or the nose, it doesn’t matter. Just kind of sighing it out. Relaxing, grounding downwards, finding a moment of stillness and yeah, you’re in a much better state of mind then to make a better decision. That’s five.

Darren: That sounds great. That sounds great and what I love about all of this is that, obviously, you understand all of the science and everything behind it but actually, when you give instructions as to what you need to do, it is so simple but the effects have such an impact. They do for me anyway, and no doubt they have for people who do it properly. That’s what I really love about all this.

Richie: Yeah, that’s it. Respiratory science is actually one of the most complicated sciences of the body and to be quite honest with you, a lot of the stuff we don’t even fully understand to this day. But you don’t need to go into all that necessarily to feel the effect. You can just breathe and feel good for no other reason other than that you’re breathing.

Darren: Yeah. Before we wrap it up today, then, Richie, is there anything that I didn’t ask you that you feel that I should have asked you, which would benefit the listeners?

Richie: (Deep sigh) I think we covered a lot of really good things. I think just start to become aware of your breath, guys. I think it’s just the best thing. To start to build that connection with your breath and a relationship with your breath. This, for many people, might sound like very weird sentences to say, but it truly is a reflection of what’s going on inside of you and then it truly is one of the greatest tools that you can use to change what’s going on inside of you. If feeling good, sleeping better, having more energy, being more productive, and making better decisions is as simple as taking a couple of breaths in a certain way, well, then it’s a pretty easy win. So maybe it’s worth paying some attention to.

Darren: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I really appreciate your time today, Richie. I know you’re a very busy guy but I really appreciate you coming on the show and giving us that information. Really, really useful. I could talk to you for hours. If the people listening want to go into a lot more depth about this and find out a lot more about you, how can they connect with you? What’s your website, your socials and all that kind of interesting stuff?

Richie: You can find me. Most of my socials is done on Instagram. So @TheBreathGuy on Instagram. My website is TheBreathGuy.com. I do have a book coming out and it’s a little ways away now. It’s not till early May next year, but it’s going to be coming out. It’s currently called Exhale: The Science and Art of Breathwork. The title might change but you can see it on Amazon for pre-order there at the moment. And that goes into the depth and the science of why breathing works and how it works and then just a whole toolbox of different breathing techniques that you can use for different situations.

But in the more shorter term, I also have an app coming out soon which is really exciting. Probably going to be out in early October 2019. It’s a breath work app that has all sorts of different guided breath work–meditations and sessions for all sorts of different uses–so keep a lookout for that one as well.

Darren: Perfect. That sounds fantastic. I highly recommend people checking out your Instagram because you put some cool stuff on stories. Your website’s fantastic. I know you do some big group sessions and you attend a lot of the health and fitness festivals as well. So definitely check out Richie’s website for more information. Once again, Richie, thank you very much for your time today, and I’ll look forward to catching up with you again soon.

Richie: Such a pleasure, mate. Thank you very much.

Darren: Thanks for listening to the Fitter Healthier Dad podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please hit subscribe and I would really appreciate it if you could leave a review on iTunes. All the links mentioned in the episode will be in the show notes, and a full transcription is over at FitterHealthierDad.com.

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