The Science of the Nervous System, Functional Breathwork Training and Our Sixth Sense of Interoception with Conni Biesalski

"How you experience life is determined by your nervous system. Change the state of your nervous system and you will change your reality."

Jonny Miller
Welcome to the Curious Humans podcast. Conni. How are you feeling in three words right now?

Conni
Well, hello, first of all. And currently, I am feeling I'm feeling very grounded. Right now today. I'm feeling very connected. And I'm feeling quite, I'm feeling open. There's a quality of openness in my body and my mind. Thank you.

Jonny Miller
Beautiful. So as context for listeners, we met back here in Bali, where you interviewed me for your great podcast, probably two years ago now, which is, is actually one of my favorite programs, agents I've done. I honestly can't believe it's taking me this long to have you on here.

Conni
Because it's divine timing.

Jonny Miller
Yeah, yeah. And in your yourself what is just appeared across the across the way? I've been here as well.

Unknown Speaker
So you got some corny vibes over there now?

Jonny Miller
Yeah, plenty, plenty, plenty. Right. So before we dive in, to into the deep end, I like to start with the question that you've probably heard me ask a few times, which is, were you exceptionally curious as a child? And if so, could you tell me a story about something that you were curious about?

Unknown Speaker
Huh? Yes. Wow. Yeah, I was super curious as a child. And I was I remember. For one, I was always really interested in photography, for example, and making videos and stuff. And I just be documenting all sorts of things in my environment. And the other thing was that I was outside a lot. And I want it I had an older sister, she's three years older, and, you know, whatever she did, I wanted to do any I needed to try that out as well. And so I just remember that quality of wanting to try out everything. And my mom actually, she she confirmed that a while ago, and that I had this Yeah, there's openness to just wanting to do everything that other people were doing and figuring things out on my own. And then I loved watching movies, and I loved recording on VHS and like, I had this massive collection of, of, yeah, recorded movies and stuff. And, and there was this one particular movie that I loved watching when I was like, 678 years old, and it was about this little this. Yeah, this boy. And it was like set in the future where he had like a robot as a friend. And like, he had all these computers and his room and, and he had this alarm that was you know, like a robot connected to his computer. It fascinated me, but it was all set in real world and, and I watched this movie over and over and over again. And I was so fascinated and curious about computers and robots and and so I wanted my first computer when I was like seven and which was not, which was a big deal back in the days, you know, because it this is like, and, like early 90s. So um, yeah, it was always very, very curious about learning and understanding technology and cool memories now coming up there. So we

Jonny Miller
love that. Um, did you have any favorite books or stories growing up that come to mind?

Unknown Speaker
books? Actually, I read a lot of comics that I remember. But I was really into, well, this one movie and an Indiana Jones and like all the sort of stuff and like the hero movies and the the adventure movies. And yeah, Indiana Jones was probably one of my favorite movie series of all times back in the day and like things like the a team and you know, the one with David Hasselhoff what was it what the car forget what It's called, where you could do all these things in his car, you know, press all the buttons, and it would fly. And so that was huge. And, yeah, so I was hugely into reading, and not just comic books, all sorts of books that I could get my hands on and watching movies and stories and immersing myself and dreaming about them in

Jonny Miller
life. Well, the reason that I like to ask the question is, I find sometimes the types of stories that resonate with us when we're younger, in some way going to inform our life purpose to some degree, and it sounds like Indiana Jones type of adventure themed stories. Were something that really resonated with you. And I knew that that definitely matters.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, the hero's journey in one way or another, right, like getting on an adventure and then facing struggles and facing the demons and but having a clear sort of goal. Yeah, that kind of resonates.

Jonny Miller
Okay, well, I was thinking about the kind of, you know, the questions I was gonna ask you for this conversation. And I feel like I know you pretty well. But it's, it's almost like, in my mind, you had this former life before we met, which I know, was nothing about. And I learned, for example, today that you were a scuba instructor. So could you maybe share a little bit of your, your, your wide ranging journey up until the point that we met two years ago in Bali, just whenever, whatever kind of comes to mind?

Unknown Speaker
Yes, for sure. So I always wanted to get out of this small little town in Germany that I grew up in, in the south Germany, and I managed to get away to do one of those exchanges when I was 15. And I went to the states and lift them for family. And this is a crucial point in my life. Because once I'd come back, you know, I'd spent a year away from my family. And I mean, there were reasons why I wanted to get away as well. It's not like, it was just rainbows and unicorns, but there's, you know, issues in my family and just not feeling rooted and seen. And so I was always driven to go somewhere else. And then. And then I came back and I didn't, I had a really hard time finding my place again, in my family and in school, and then I was sent off to school in England, actually, in Brighton, where you used to live as well. So I went, I went to school in Brighton for two years, and I got my air levels there. And, and so by the time I was like 1718, I'd spent three years abroad already. And this basically laid my path out for wanting to just travel the world live in different places. And that's what I just continued to do. And always I was an analog Nomad for a long time. And one of the ways that I made a living also, at some point after university was being a scuba dive instructor in Indonesia, and then also in Australia. And eventually I came back, wanted to spend a year here with my partner at the time, she was Australian and, and got a visa for a year. And then we were going to head out again. And I worked at a PR company during that year, and just realized very quickly that I'm a really bad employee, I don't like working for anybody else. And for someone else's dream. And so I quit after eight months and started my own thing freelancing. And I started a travel blog that eventually turned into Germany's biggest travel blog, and it got really big, really fast, and I had quite a lot of success in that realm and, you know, running an online business and had a few other projects going and, and at the same time I was, and this is an important sort of, sort of side story to all of this, I was in the closet until I was 2627. And with my sexual identity and really suffering through a lot of this, you know, and suppressing my identity, suppressing my truth suppressing a lot of emotions. It was you know, looking back, it was a really, really, really difficult time that I did eventually had to pay the price for in terms of my health and it just doesn't work out when we're not living who we really are and expressing who we really are. And so I started having some gut issues and skin issues in my 20s. And yeah, eventually, I did have my first girlfriend when I was like 27 or so and all these health issues went away and that you know, already showed me that the connection between mind and body, you know, is so strong and I didn't know anything about spirituality or mindfulness at the time our mind body connection, you know? And yeah, anyway, so I continued to be a digital nomad and lived in Bali for several years and in the states and all over the place. Really, and went through a lot of darkness. And when it came to relationships and, and lots of breakups and just a lot of toxicity in car, yeah, codependency attachment issues as I used to be very anxiously attached in relationships. And so I had to go through a lot of a lot of darkness throughout the years. And when I was on this healing journey, really, I really wanted to figure out what is wrong with me? That was my big question for many years, which is really not the right question to ask. But it led me to all sorts of teachers and you know, went to all the workshops and retreats, and Tony Robbins and Joe dispenza, and, you know, all the plant medicine and, and whatnot, trying to figure out where my suffering came from, and how you know, and healing my wounding from from childhood or wherever it came from. And so, yeah, I did a lot of therapy, a lot of coaching. And eventually, I eventually explored breathwork. And then that just really hit a spot for me several years ago. And I became more and more fascinated and interested and started studying it more and more and became, you know, and I've done several certifications by now. But mainly, I teach, and in coach with transformational style breathwork, deep dive breathwork for dynamic breathwork, but also oxygen advantage and good Taiko

Unknown Speaker
methods. And yeah, that's what I do these days, and I'm in a healthy relationship, managed to sort out my abandonment and attachment issues and super happy and stoked about and that's roughly it in a nutshell, I think.

Jonny Miller
Wow. There's definitely about 1000 different directions we could we could go right now. what's what's coming to mind is, if I think back to when, when you interviewed me a couple of years ago, I think we were both working on various different creative projects at the time. And now kind of two years later, we're both pretty much gung ho on on breathwork. And on sharing Nervous System research in order it spawns. Do you think there was a moment for you that you realize that shifted really happened? Or what was that kind of process like for you?

Unknown Speaker
You mean, the shift from what I was doing at the time to now being a full time? breathwork? Teacher? Yeah,

Jonny Miller
yeah. Yeah,

Unknown Speaker
it's interesting how these things happen. And I thought about this the other day, because yes, after the whole travel block, business thing, and I eventually sold it a few years ago now. And then as a little bit, not lost, but I just, yeah, I tried out a few different things and really went down the whole YouTube and photography and filmmaking route. And I've always been a writer. And so just really immersing myself in my own creativity and creative pursuits and started several projects with that. And, and, and then when breathwork entered the scene for me, and you know, in the beginning, when I started my certifications, I didn't really think I was going to teach any of that stuff. I was just curious, you know, I just wanted to learn more, like I've done my yoga teacher training quite a few years ago now, and I didn't do it to teach, I just wanted to learn, so I wasn't really sure where I was going to go with that. And then over the last year or so, I felt that I was more and more being pulled into into breathwork and teaching. At the same time. I love my creative pursuits, and photography, filmmaking writing, and, you know, had quite a successful newsletter and whatnot. And so, I was really, you know, for a while it was I was torn, because I knew that if I was to really put my focus on just one thing, it would grow much faster. And I, you know, just, it would be more fulfilling than trying to do everything, you know, at once. And so eventually, it just, it just organically evolved in a way that I ended up putting my focus on all things breathwork and suddenly, I wasn't making any videos anymore. I wasn't writing as much and, and then and now looking back, you know, the last six months or so, my breathwork business has has grown and it's you know, it's it's gone really successfully and it's really fulfilling and, and I didn't I never made the conscious choice, it just, it just my soul just kind of pulled me in one direction. I just followed it and, and I'm glad I did. It doesn't mean I'm not going to go back to, you know, making videos and pursue my photography and stuff and I totally will. But I also know that it's important to for a while to focus on on one thing to get the ball rolling and for the snowball effect and the compounding effect to kind of step in and so that's where I'm at right now I do sometimes I want to do more If stuff again, that you know, the stuff that I did before, I also know that I'm not going to pick up where I left off. That's, that's going to be something new. It's going to be an iteration like an upgrade to that. And I'm curious as to what that's going to be. But sometimes, yeah, I want to sit down. And, yeah, I want to I want to go and make videos and things. And but I just know right now I need my focus on on all things. breathwork. And it's, it's, it's fun. It's very fulfilling, seeing seeing something grow from a little seed to something bigger serendipity to step in as well. It's like when you, you know, that's the fun thing is when you really go all in on one thing, then suddenly, the universe conspires?

Jonny Miller
Yeah, yeah, definitely. Definitely. Well, before we kind of really get into the weeds, I feel like for listeners who might be relatively new to the term breathwork itself, could you kind of kick us off by defining what you know, what breathwork is? And why it's different from maybe other like, more top down approaches? And what are some of the different ways of like working with the breath?

Unknown Speaker
Hmm, yeah, totally. So breathwork in and of itself, like the word, I think it's like, it's more of an umbrella term, really. And it gets thrown around like candy these days. And, and it's really turned into a bit of a movement, and it's becoming more and more popular. And so, a lot of times when we talk, you know, different people talk about breath work, but actually talking about different things. So in one way or another, it's a way that we can use our breath to change our state, our nervous system, state, and change the gases, you know, within our bodies, especially oxygen and carbon dioxide. And that has profound effects on how we feel how we think things like that. And so I like to always kind of, yeah, just divide breathwork into a couple of camps. And one of them is breathwork, as a daily practice, to sort of shift our nervous system state to sort of regulate our nervous system state, that it'd be down regulate, into calmness into more of a parasympathetic state or up regulating into a more sympathetic state. And, and then we have the more transformational style, the more more dynamic breathwork, you know, let's say in a lot of people have heard of holotropic breathwork, or the transformational style coming from Not to be confused with transformational breath, which is a trademark School of breath work. And, yeah, and then there is rebirthing, and urodynamic. And so there's so many different schools with with, you know, slightly different approaches within the more dynamic transformational breathwork. camp. And so, yeah, that's, that's kind of how I look at breathwork. And it's important to distinguish these two, because you get two very different effects. And so let's say, you know, when we talk about transformational style, breathwork, that's when we we lie down for an hour, or maybe 90 minutes or even two hours. And that can be in a one on one, it can be in a group, like a breathing circle. And we would breathe to alongside a, you know, specific, so that designed music set. And going through a process, you know, of, eventually, as we're breathing through an open mouth, and not all of these dynamic practices are actually through an open mouth, there's a couple of practices, they only do nose breathing, for example. And it's what you and I, Johnny and I, we both teach conscious connected breathwork which is where we breathe through the mouth. Without any gaps, we connect the in and the out breath. And the longer you do this, after about five or 10 minutes, the things started happening in your body and in your brain and you start to shift into an altered state of consciousness so that you can access parts of your subconscious and of your emotional world in a way that you normally can't like during the day and so are during the rest of your life really and so eventually you hit a peak during the session, and then you come back down and it's you know, more slower integrative music and so it's it's used mainly for, you know, emotional release process emotions, process, you know, and unprocessed trauma, but also for downloads and and just, yeah, sometimes like anything's possible really doing a breathwork session sometimes it's it's compared to, you know, doing doing plant medicine. So, but without the side effects. So there's no vomiting or anything like that. And yeah, and the other thing that the daily practice more sort of, yeah, the daily conscious breathing techniques that are out there. And there's a big variety, right? I mean, it's, it's, many of them come from pranayama, from the yogic tradition, you know, 1000s of years old. And then there's, there's newer approaches to that as well, like, we're trying an oxygen advantage by Patrick McEwen. And he's, for example, he's also a potato teacher and, and that's more geared towards Yeah, regulating the nervous system. To be able to also increase Yeah, increase our stress, resilience,

Unknown Speaker
increase our vagus nerve vagal tone, improve our heart rate variability, things like that. But they're also to be able to, to, you know, in situations when we're facing challenges, that we can use these sort of techniques in a way that we can regulate our nervous system more and the way that also you say, Johnny, I think I read on your twitter at some point. And that I like to say as well is that we perceive our lives through the nervous system, right. And depending on what state that we're in, depending on how big our window of tolerance is. Yeah, that sort of equals our experience of life. And so we can use breathwork in that way, too, as a daily practice, to sort of set the foundation and then we can also use it, you know, in certain moments, and use it as as necessary as required.

Jonny Miller
Awesome. Yeah. I love that. And I think we're really aligned in our approaches, in that we were kind of talking about this before we hit record, but we both recommend sampling as many different styles of breathwork and other things. And something I'm really passionate about, and I know you've written about as well, is this idea of using interoception? to tune in to what feels right and when. And so perhaps you could speak to work, whether you call it autonomic awareness, or interoception, what does that mean for you?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, this one's huge, because I used to be really disconnected from my body, I really wasn't home in my body. And, and so when, when we're, you know, due to trauma due to chronic stress. And when I talk about trauma, like I'm not just talking about shock, trauma, like, I think there's a bit of a confusion as well, around the term trauma. I think, for me, trauma has anything from developmental trauma, attachment issues with our parents, needs that weren't met. But also birth trauma, prenatal trauma, ancestral trauma, there's so many ways that we, yeah, that we can hold on to an energetic conditioning in our bodies, or a nervous system conditioning in our bodies, that can cause in one way or another. In my case, for example, I was really disassociated from my body, I was really separate from my body, I didn't feel safe in my body, I just didn't feel connected to it, it was, you know, remember my first yoga class, and, like, in 2010, or something, and the teacher was, like, now become aware of your breath. And I was like, Well, I have a breath, and never ever connected to my breath before. And so, so I've come a very long way when it comes to interoception. And by interoception, we mean, you know, becoming the ability to, to become aware of what's going on within your body. And that starts with noticing or sensing when our bladder is full, and we need to go to the bathroom, where, you know, feeling when we're hungry. And, and, but also when it comes to emotions, you know, sensing fear in our bodies, or, or, you know, where do you feel anger in your body, like, there's always a sort of somatic signature attached to any emotion and for the longest time, I didn't, you know, especially when it came to dating and relationships, I would have not, I would have not identified as an anxious dater. I just couldn't connect to the fear. Like I was super anxious. But I just I couldn't really feel it. I couldn't identify the feeling as fear or anxiety or something. But um, and so through practices like yoga like meditation, like breath work, but especially also somatic therapy, psychotherapy. Really Having someone guiding me in that process to, you know, how certain things feel, and becoming more aware of them. And I think that that is really an essential skill to have as a human. And, you know, like, like, like human one on one, like you always said to, is that, having this connection to our bodies. And, and, and really taking the the signals from our bodies seriously as well, right rather than suppressing them or ignoring them or distracting ourselves. And so we're so used to, in our, you know, in our modern world, to, to be out there to have our focus external. And we, you know, a lot of us are, like I said, there's many reasons why we're like that, but also, we're not taught to be in our bodies very much. I mean, I wasn't taught how to be my body growing up, and, and so, yes, for so many of us, especially the ones that are, you know, very much up in their heads. And again, I used to just be really living from the neck up. And then doing computer work, being in our phones a lot, you know, staring at this place, thinking a lot for work, but also overall in life and being an over thinker. All of that happens in our brains and not in our bodies, really, and But still, there's a lot of stuff happening in our bodies. And so

Unknown Speaker
yeah, I mean, looking at, you know, a lot of chronic illness that's going on these days. I mean, I just, I went to the, to the hospital this morning to get an X ray done for my wrist, and there's a bit of an injury there, but, and then seeing so many, you know, sick people in the hospital, and, and so many people with chronic health conditions. And, and I think a lot of that stems from the fact that we we hear we unlearned interoception, you know, we are we always had as babies, right? Oh, I'm hungry now, where a, I want to I want to be cuddled or something. And so we cry, you know, and it was very intuitive. And then eventually we unlearn that and disconnect. And so I think a lot of chronic health issues, if we had more interoception if we were more connected to our bodies, we would send the signals that Oh, wow. I'm experiencing a lot of stress, you know, and we would make adjustments or, you know, I I don't know, I think there's, there's a lot to be said about the fact that humans, especially in the Western world, yeah. Live from the neck up, and then we have to deal with a lot of health issues, to bring us back down.

Jonny Miller
Yeah, I totally agree. It's started absolutely pouring down with rain here. So hopefully, not too loud in the background. No. Okay. But what comes to mind for me is you're sharing that is I've, I was actually just twisting my aura ring on my on my hand here. And I think that these kind of wearable tech, whether it's an apple watch on ordering, or rootbound. For me, at least they've been really helpful in connecting with like, if I get like, an 80, out of 100, rested, connecting into my body mean like, oh, how do I like how do I feel? How does he feel? Or how does the 60 feel if I haven't really slept very well. And I think it's almost been this, like, Trojan horse way of getting me to check in with my body at the start of every day. And like tune in to like, what does my body need right now? Does it need more rest? Does it need a longer meditation? These kind of things. So I think it seems like things are trending in the right direction. But I agree with you. And I can certainly relate to feeling very numb from the neck down for most of most of my teenage years, and certainly in my 20s as well.

Unknown Speaker
But you don't you also find it quite interesting. And a little ironic, maybe that it's come to this point where we need devices to tell us how we feel. And I experimented with, you know, the whoop, strap and and now I have a chest strap and the polar and then I use an HRV app, but I only do it, you know, maybe once a week or sometimes I don't do it for weeks, sometimes I do three days in a row and whatever, like really just as a little check in. But yeah, it's it's fascinating how, you know, we've developed in that way that because we are so disconnected, that we need, you know that now and that's a good thing too, because it actually helps so many people to like you were saying, right, like, okay, I can you know, this is this is my HRV today, this is my readiness score or whatever and I can make adjustments and tune into how does that feel like what how does the number actually feel in my body? Things like that. So it's a great way to re learn but yeah, I hope we can get back to I don't know, a life where Yeah, it's just normal to To live from to live life,

Jonny Miller
you know, actually being at home in our bodies, and yeah, it's almost like an interoceptive trudge, that kind of gets you to where you're where you're walking. And then hopefully, like, like you say, at some point decides to it's kind of like all aspects of like seeing your heart rate variability change over time and things definitely, definitely give reasons to check in every once in a while. But I definitely agree. on that. On that note, I know that you've been working with many people and clients on a one to one basis, what, what types of transformations Have you seen in some of the people that you've been working with? What kind of chime in? I mean, me as a coach? Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah. Yeah, it's been quite fascinating working with people, especially one on one. And currently, I'm also running a group coaching program on all things, breathwork and nervous system. And, and so it's, it's fascinating to I mean, the one on one coaching program was a one month program. So I was working well, actually, it was more like two months, but I was, it was four sessions. And another group coaching is six sessions. And so it's, it's, it's a, it's a short timeframe, right, because a lot of the effects really only take place, I'd say, three or four weeks into working with someone. And so with the one on one coaching, for example, I realized very quickly, like doing weekly sessions, forget it, you know, it's people for one the time to integrate and to, you know, to get into a rhythm with with new techniques and stuff, and daily routines. And also, I needed more time to see, to see the see the effects. And, you know, most of the people that I work with are very much so stuck in their heads. And so the most fascinating thing that I've seen, and that just yeah, it feels really fulfilling to me as a as a as a breath coach, and as a coach in general is to see people coming back home to their bodies, and to connect to their bodies and to, to deal with their anxieties better to slow down their mind to, to have you know, better sleep to better digestion to just being. And I think actually even before that is to see people becoming more conscious of the nervous system in general and of the different states, and then being able to then say, oh, wow, I was in dorsal, you know, yesterday. And, and now I have all these tools that I can use to come back into sympathetic, and then back up into ventral Vegas, where I can socially engage again and feel safe in the world and in my body. And so that in itself to see people connecting to their bodies, but connecting to the nervous system in that way, seeing them, how, you know, in the beginning, they struggle to do certain breathwork exercises. And then eventually getting used to it and liking them and enjoying them. And in going away from, you know, it being another extra thing to do on their list in the mornings, to integrating breathwork into their lives, you know, off the mat, especially. And, and really, yeah, seeing how, because breath work, it's not just a daily practice, it's for me, like breathwork is a lifestyle. It's, it's, for me, breathwork is about like, it's integrating burritt conscious breathing in one way or another, into everything that I do. And this morning, I was in the hospital waiting for ages, I had to get up at 630 in the morning to go to this appointment. And I thought it was gonna take, you know, 10 minutes an hour to do an X ray. Like it's not a big deal. And it took forever, right, the whole thing took two hours. And I was sitting there and you don't have any reception in the hospital. I think in most hospital, I think they do that on purpose. And so you all you can do is sit there. And so I use those those opportunities to breathe. And to do I decided my morning practice. So it's sitting there and just waiting and it calmed me down. And, you know, it's like, you know, I was chill and other people were getting really annoyed. And so I love teaching people to use, you know, conscious breathing and breath work in all sorts of different situations, especially also while moving, not just while sitting. And and that's something when I see people really enjoying breath, work and having fun. And then also of course, you know, guiding people through transformational style breathwork sessions, seeing them release, pent up sadness and anger and things that they've carried their whole life and then Come out of a session, they're like, holy shit, I just feel so much lighter. I finally, you know, was able to release this big thing or, and just the vaccine that just gives me goosebumps actually just talking about it just now to guide people through that process of, you know, finding a bit more emotional freedom. Yeah.

Jonny Miller
Yeah, beautifully. You mentioned a couple of times, dorsal and ventral Vegas. And I think it might be helpful for listeners to if you could briefly unpack though, and maybe even in reference to, you mentioned that you had previously felt quite disembodied or disassociated from your body and maybe sharing that in context with with the dorsal I think it would be really helpful for listeners.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, totally. So, you know, the conventional way that we look at the nervous system is, there's two branches of the autonomic nervous system, I shall say. There's the sympathetic, the, you know, mobilizing, activating fight or flight, branch, and then we have the parasympathetic, rest and digest the slowing down a branch of the nervous system and, and that's only partly correct, really, because, eventually, Steven porges he, I don't know, quite many years ago. Now, he identified a third branch of the nervous system, which he called the dorsal Vegas state and the Vegas nerve in and of itself, and many listeners might have heard of the vagus nerve. Many people are talking about it these days, just like breathwork. And it makes up a big part of the parasympathetic nervous system. It's probably one of the most important nerves in our bodies. And it runs from the bank, brainstem, down our neck, esophagus into the stomach. diaphragm intestines are the big Oregon's connected to the heart, of course, lungs. And, and so he identified that there's actually two branches of the vagus nerve. And actually, there's like, it's not just one nerve running

Jonny Miller
like a highway, right?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, it's a highway and it's like a network and and of nerves really. And then also, the vagus nerve is connected to many other cranial nerves, cranial nerves are nerves that originate in the brainstem. And, and so it's connected to like, very closely connected to some other cranial nerves, that also are very important functions, especially in the face. So now we have the sympathetic branch of the nervous system, then we have the ventral Vegas branch and the dorsal Vegas branch, and essentially, is that he identified that when people are in shutdown when they're in withdrawal, when they're immobilized. And, you know, you can think of an, you know, an animal. And there's a couple of videos on YouTube, the challenges of how animals react in when they're facing a threat, like being chased by a lion. And this is one video where I don't remember what the animal was, but it was, I think, it's an Impala. chased by a lion, I think it was where, and, and it was like, the lion had it in its mouth, essentially. And then the Impala just it appeared to drop that, right. And then the lion let go of it. For whatever reason, they're not interested when the animal just kind of drops dead. And he eventually backed off. And then the the camera keeps filming the empower. After a while it started started shaking and coming back to life and, you know, was shaking and shaking. And eventually it stood up and walked off as if nothing ever happened, sort of. But anyway, that animal went into shutdown. And then there's another form like, if you think about a deer in headlights, right, and it's just a deer crossing the road, and you know, you're approaching it in your car, and it's nighttime, and then it just stops frozen, right? So that states also cause the fruit called the freeze state. So there's different varieties of the freeze state, the dorsal Vegas state. So we have these three states now. And essentially, in terms of evolution, it's quite interesting to actually that the dorsal state was the first one to develop. So when we were even before we were fish, essentially, all we could do in the face of threat was to just shut down and mobilize Freeze, and then just kind of hope to not be eaten. And, and then the second sort of state of evolution was our sympathetic nervous system. So we were then able, you know, we were fish. And then we're able to run away, you know, flee or fight. And then the third, like stage of evolution was the ventral Vegas, which is all about social engagement. So when we were faced when we're facing a threat, you know, let's say, an angry neighbor or something, we can first talk before we start either running away or, or hitting them, or, you know, a mobile going into freeze. So that's a very new sort of invention by evolution is the, you know, the, the social engagement part. And that's awesome, when we're when we're in ventral Vegas is when we feel safe, like we feel safe in our environment, we feel safe within our bodies, we feel we feel connected. And, yeah, so whereas in the, in the, in the Free State and dorsal, and I experienced dorsal a lot, actually, of the years was being depressed, for example, feeling hopeless, these sorts of states and thoughts that can go around in our, in our minds. And, and that was, and that's interesting how that was never really taken into consideration. It's almost as though when you're depressed,

Unknown Speaker
you're not in fight or flight, right? So like, what are you and Steven porges eventually came up with that theory and, and the theory of social engagement as well, because when we, when we're in dorsal, or when we're in sympathetic, like, it's hard to be socially engaged, and to have a nice, relaxed conversation, or when we're depressed, like, you know, I used to just totally not want to leave the house and interact with anybody. But in dorsal, we are like, our nervous system is still in survival, right? Like, we're still in survival mode, it doesn't actually mean that, like, we might not be in sympathetic, but we're definitely not in parasympathetic, either. Right, we're not in a relaxed state of mind or body, you know, and so, I find that really, really interesting, because it's still quite detrimental to our nervous system, and thus to our overall health. And so yeah, I think that sort of answers it. But yeah, coming back to dissociating from our bodies, which is definitely more connected to the dorsal state, because we're not feeling safe in our bodies. And, and so we, we disconnect, we, it's, it's more safe to be living up in our heads. And, I mean, there's people out there, and I've worked with, with clients, who had issues, just focusing on their breath, it made them anxious. And so we're so disconnected, we're so we feel so unsafe in our bodies, that just being in them, doesn't feel good, makes makes us anxious. And so it's quite fascinating to look at the nervous system from from the polyvagal sort of lens and, and it explained a lot for me. And also, you know, if you look at it as a ladder, right, so dorsal at the bottom, then you go up the ladder into sympathetic, and then on the top is the ventral Vegas and, and essentially, when we're in dorsal, we first need to be mobilized, we need to work our way up into sympathetic first, and to then come up into ventral Vegas. So for a lot of people who stuck in dorsal, who might be very lethargic, you know, procrastinate a lot, have a really hard time getting out of bed, you know, like that feeling of hopelessness and being depressed and whatnot. Chronic Fatigue actually, is one, also expression of being in dorsal a lot. For them, it might not be the best idea to just do a sitting breathing practice, and they might just get really tired and even more tired and more lethargic. And so for these people, I often recommend to, you know, maybe dance first and then or shake their body, like feel their body first, in a way that's not threatening before sitting down for a breathing practice, or maybe even just have them do a walking, breathing practice, you know, outside in nature, for example, things like that. So, it the polyvagal theory really helps me understand my clients better. And I wish that more noxious breath workers, but also therapists and psychologists and stuff had more of an understanding of poly bagel theory, because they were Yeah, you need different approaches, depending on You know, where people end up like it, you know, when we look at the window of tolerance. And then when we fall out of that window of tolerance, where we can sort of navigate life like, of course, we always get triggered one way or another, right. And that's just life and there's stress, it just happens. It's part of life, and it's good. But sometimes in some of us, due to trauma and chronic stress, we fall out of that window of tolerance. And we might fall into hypo arousal, which is dorsal, or into hyper arousal, which is sympathetic, and those are people that are super anxious, they get panic attacks are just super stressed and constantly doing something and they have a really hard time to slow down and really hard time to find calm. And so yeah, we need different approaches for depending on where people are at, but their nervous system.

Jonny Miller
Yeah, yeah. I find this stuff so fascinating as well. And it's almost been like a new lens for me to kind of view my own experience in many ways. And the metaphor that resonates with me is this idea of the ventral being like a brake in a car. And the dorsal almost been like the handbrake and the ventral Vegas is much I think it has greater myelination. So it's almost got much more sensitivity. And so that's really, I think, what, what I've realized is, is I'm training in myself and in the people, I work with the capacity for using the ventral brake, which requires that kind of felt sense of safety. And I think that's what is really coming online for a lot of people. And I was even thinking, um, I was in a busy cafe, the other day, and I was kind of stressed out, and I read that even the the muscles in our inner ear will change when we're in this sympathetic state. And when when the when the eventual isn't online, and it kind of changes our capacity to listen, our gaze will become more narrow and focus. And because we kind of preparing to fight or flight, and it's just been such a helpful lens, and like a check in for myself, like am I in that kind of ventral state and, and also thinking about how they can be combined, like when I'm playing with, with Karla our puppy, it's like, I'm in both sympathetic, and I'm in ventral, it's like an activated, but I feel like snakes and it's like a mixed state. Exactly. It's like combining, combining the two. And, yeah, it's such an interesting lentor

Unknown Speaker
totally, and I like working with my clients to map out their nervous system in that way. So that, you know, I would start out and present the different states and make them understand, you know, how they feel, or what, how they might feel, really, I mean, it can be different for, for everybody, how they might feel, what we might think, how the world appears. And so, so we go through these different states, and they identify how they feel in each state, usually, you know, when they think of a situation, how know what's going on, in their mind, what they, what they believe about the world, how the world is, things like that, and, and, and so in that way, we're creating this map. And that in itself is really important. Because they, then they're, they're building on their awareness and their you know, and then being able to, you know, as they go about their lives, they can track where they're at with their nervous system, or maybe at the end of the day, they can look back and be like, Oh, so this morning, when this happened, I went into sympathetic, because I had this argument with my partner, but then I actually went into dorsal because I wanted to shut down, I didn't want to talk, I just kind of shut the door. And and then I came back into ventral because I had this really good conversation with my best friend. And, and so and then, you know, the next step is to then map out, you know, triggers, like what are triggers? What, what are things that trigger me into dorsa? What are the things that trigger me into sympathetic, but also what are things that keep me in ventral, and then so we we met that one out, and then they're called triggers and glimmers glimmers of our you know, what, what helps me stay in ventral, which is a lot about play, actually things that put me into flow. And then, and then also coming up with like a map for what, what resources can I access and use to get me out of dorsal to get me out of sympathetic and to stay in ventral? And so and what are resources that I can use to self regulate? And what are resources that I can use to co regulate so with somebody else and that's another important concept, right with polyvagal theory is co regulation. Like, we're not like no human is an island, right? It just doesn't work like that. We're wired for connection we're wired for, to be in relation. And so I yeah, I think that the topic of CO regulation in our hyper independent world is totally underestimated because Yes, there's definitely like it's it's it's important to learn how to self regulate something that I had to learn for a very long time, but then also being okay to seek help or to seek out co regulation seek out support from another human being or from a pet even like

Jonny Miller
we've been. We've been naming Carla our pro regulation puppy.

Unknown Speaker
Yes. I mean, not kidding. That's why a lot of people, especially those living alone, you know, and then going through the Panini crisis, as I like to call it, where a lot of people are, yeah, living life very much isolated. Having a pet is really helpful and healing for co regulation, for sure.

Jonny Miller
Yeah, yeah. And that the distinction between co regulation and self regulation is really important. I also think that self regulation can be kind of divided up into like, unconscious and conscious or deliberate and, like habitual. And I think that bringing awareness to, we all have self regulation, kind of habits, whether or not we realize it, for some people, it might be drinking a glass of wine or beer at the end of the day, it might be, I'd be smoking, it might, you know, kind of list, there's a whole list of things. And I think feeling empowered to self regulate with something like breathwork, or going for a walk and kind of having one which is more conducive to long term health that doesn't have the side effects of uploads or downloads, or stimulants or whatever pills people people are taking. I think

Unknown Speaker
we already self regulate all the time. Right? Right. Right, like, and so most of us have learned certain ways that are maybe not as healthy. But we do them unconsciously Let it be scrolling through social media, for example, as a way to self regulate as well. I remember Yeah, I remember a couple years ago, when I was going through a breakup, and a lot of times, I would just find myself scrolling mindlessly through social media, because it helped me to self regulate some sadness or anger, it just did. And, and sometimes it was really hard to do the thing that was the healthier choice, actually, you know. And, and so we do it all the time. And so it's really about bringing awareness to them, yes. And then mapping out ways that we can maybe do things more consciously, instead of maybe having that glass of wine or two or three, that's also a way to self regulate in one way or another. or coffee is a way to up regulate, right? I'm not, I'm not saying you know, that this is good. And this is bad at all. I'm just saying that, yeah, like, there are conscious ways and unconscious ways and to increase or to, to, to make the toolbox bigger, have more confidence and healthier ways. And, and I tell my clients to, like we map it all out, and then they've got it all written out. And then of course, they can add to it and, and then to just put it up on their fridge or somewhere where they can see it, you know, not just have it on their phone, but but really having having these lists and that those those maps visible in their environment. Yeah.

Jonny Miller
That's, that's great. And so, um, yeah, what comes to mind is, is if I was like using myself as a case study, let's say that I, I come to you and I, I feel like my heart rate might be quite high and that maybe I've trouble falling asleep. Maybe I've experienced burnout in the past. And I'm kind of curious to see how breathing connects to this, but I'm not really sure where to begin. But how would you? What tests or questions might you ask me or this hypothetical client to kind of gauge if I actually do have a dysregulated breathing? And then what B might some what might be some starting points to begin to establish a healthier one?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, totally. Well, so I guess there's an easy way to assess whether someone has a functional or dysfunctional breathing pattern going on. So generally, people who deal with anxiety a lot and have a lot of chronic stress going on, over thinking very much, much up in their heads. They find it really hard to calm down, that they struggle to sleep. These are like, basically all of them are indicators that there's some sort of an unhealthy breathing pattern going on. And so what is dysfunctional breathing? Well, dysfunctional breathing, is how, like, how do we breathe when we're stressed when we're in a stress response, right, and usually that is we breathe from the chest. We breathe through our mouth. We're breathing faster. We are breathing, maybe more irregularly. It's heavier, it's noticeable. It's louder. Maybe we're saying a lot or yawning a lot. And I've had people say, No, I think I have a pretty, I have a healthy breathing pattern I, you know, pretty slow and my aura ring tells me, I don't know, whatever, 14 breaths per minute and there's a pause, like, we would like to have a pause at the exhale. And, and things like that. And and then I'm like, do john a lot. Do you sign a lot? Oh, yeah, yeah, I do, actually, you know, quite often actually not often feel like I can't, I can't get enough air, you know, and I'm like, well, there we go, you know. So people don't even even notice that consciously A lot of times, and that they have a dysfunctional breathing pattern, it's really only something we become aware of, either when something's wrong, or we talk to someone who knows about breathing. And so then, so then what is a functional breathing pattern? Well, it's basically the opposite. It's breathing into our bellies using, I mean, we're always kind of using our diaphragm, even when we're chest breathing. But you know, a lot of us have really tight diaphragms, especially from chest breathing, because we're just using the muscles up here, maybe even our shoulder muscles, and also what a lot of people have neck pain or back pain. And so using our diaphragm, we're really feeling our ribs move out, and on the inhale and, and move back in on the exhale. It's slower breathing. So they say, the average, like functional breathing, respiratory rate per minute is between 10 and 14. And everything above that is considered fast breathing, and thus dysfunctional breathing. And there are studies out there that show that even just 20 years ago, yeah, most people were at like, you know, 10 to 14, maybe, let's say 10 to 16. And these days, most people are in a range of 14 to 20, you know, and that. So breathing rates, on average have increased a lot. Yeah, that's like, that's a lot more breathing every minute.

Jonny Miller
Yeah, I just I just add to that, before we continue, I think for me, the the point that it's dysfunctional is that it's not matching the environment, right. It's not matching the stimulus. So it's not dysfunctional to necessarily breathe, and rest, right. breathing. Breathing address? Yeah, yeah. Address. Yeah, yeah, completely, because I think it is important that we have a dynamic range. And that's kind of what we're training to some degree, it's like, training a repatterning of the of the three diaphragm, so that breath can move fluidly throughout. And that we can really drop into the resting kind of mental state that we've talked about.

Unknown Speaker
Exactly, yes. And also, you know, sometimes I find that other breathwork, as they teach to just do belly breathing, I'm like, Well, actually, we don't just, we don't want to isolate our chest completely. We roughly want about 8020, right. So we want 80% of the movement. If you look down now, at your breathing, we want 80% to be you know, your ribs, your belly, and then we want about 20% of your chest moving like we still want your chest moving a little bit, just not the 80% the other way around. And then nose breathing is huge. Because that in itself is connected to the diaphragm and also to our parasympathetic nervous system. And that's the vagus nerve. We want to Yeah, we don't want to hear your breathing. And I think my mom is the homie. Yeah, Mama.

Unknown Speaker
Oh, wait, and then there's something happening in the background here. I'm sure I can because my mom has to go to the hospital herself right now. So maybe you can edit this out? Obviously. Yeah.

Jonny Miller
We're good.

Unknown Speaker
Yes. My mom. Yeah, she has to go that she has got a surgery today and in the car keys. It's not a big deal. But anyway. Alright, sorry about that. Well, where are we? Oh, nose breathing. Yeah, so now it's breathing connected to the diaphragm. not breathing. Yeah, connected to the sympathetic or parasympathetic part of the nervous system. We don't want to hear someone breathing. So breathing and frass should be nice and chill. You shouldn't really see it or hear it and and yeah, so that's roughly you know, the the comparison dysfunctional and functional breathing patterns. And it's always I don't know sometimes I'm not a huge fan of calling something dysfunctional. So yeah, I actually like to stick to healthy and and healthy breathing patterns. So then the, I guess the big question is, though, Why is it such a big problem, right, like why is breathing in this manner, a big problem and In summary, the problem with a unhealthy breathing pattern is that we're breathing in too much air, we're essentially over breathing. And that, in effect, disrupts our the breathing gases and, and the balance that we need to have there, especially when it comes to carbon dioxide and oxygen. And so when we're breathing faster, when we're breathing through a mouth, or chest breathing, all those things, they, we get rid of a lot of carbon dioxide. And so a lot of people think that carbon dioxide is just a waste gas, right. But there's actually so much more to co2 than most of us know. And it's just there's so many breathing myths floating around out there, right and, and one of them is, the more we breathe, the more our body gets oxygenated. And, but it's actually the other way around. And so it's important to understand that carbon dioxide is the primary stimulus to breathe. And what that means is also that we need a certain level of carbon dioxide in our bodies. And roughly, it's said that we need an average level of 40 milligram per Mercury, which is how they measure carbon dioxide in our bodies, it doesn't really matter. And let's say we need 40. Okay, and so when we're over breathing, and this, this level of carbon dioxide is chronically low, we become very sensitive to carbon dioxide, and it's build up in our bodies. Now, as I just mentioned, we need co2 in our in our bodies, because it's the primary stimulus to breathe, it's actually not oxygen, a lot of us think it's the decrease in oxygen that prompts us to breathe when we're holding our breath. But it's actually the increase in co2. And if you were to measure your SPO, to our, you know, the amount of oxygen saturation in your blood, even if you were to hold your breath right now, for a very long time, it would still hover at around 95 to 99%, you need to do quite a bit of intense breathwork practice and, and breath holding to get below 91, which is then considered hypoxic. So So carbon dioxide enables oxygen to be released from the red blood cells. And it's related to the Bohr effect. And, and essentially, we need a certain level of carbon dioxide,

Unknown Speaker
for oxygen to be delivered to the brain, to the organs to the muscles, for increased blood flow, things like that. Carbon dioxide is a basal and bronchodilator, meaning it dilates our veins in our Airways, and it stimulates the vagus nerve. And in Yes, lastly, it also eliminates waste from the body. So there's a lot of jobs that carbon dioxide has. And when we get too sensitive to the buildup of co2, we offload we off gas, too much co2, which in and of itself, eventually leads to chronic over breathing. So, you know, as generally as babies, if we didn't have a birth trauma or anything related to that, then normally babies breathe very organically, you know, you see the ribs moving. And the the Yeah, and so essentially, eventually we learn we conditioned ourselves to start breathing from the chest. And that can also can be related to trauma, when we're consistently in a stress response, right when our nervous system is in sympathetic a lot, a lot more than than it should be our breathing pattern changes. Because when we're breathing from the chest, when we're mouth breathing, those are direct signals to the brain that our body is in danger that there's a threat. And it goes into sympathetic mode. And so that's where the connection comes in between how you think and how you feel is how you breathe. And the other way around how you breathe is how you feel and how you think and how you live. And so it's all connected because the way we breathe impact impacts our biochemistry. It impacts our endocrine system or our hormonal system, because we're in sympathetic mode. We produce a lot of adrenaline and cortisol. And so we can change the way we breathe, and has changed the way we feel change the way we think and change the way we live. Mainly because there's all these connections between the breath and our nervous And so for example, every time we inhale, we activate our sympathetic nervous system. And every time we exhale, we stimulate our vagus nerve, our parasympathetic part of the nervous system. And so this is direct connection, which is fascinating. And so that our breath is the remote control for our nervous system. And so if I change to heavy breathing right now, you know, hyperventilating, Wim Hof style, I'm going straight into sympathetic mode, I might feel maybe more energized. But I'm in sympathetic mode, right. And if I then want to bring myself back down again, into a calm state, I can slow down my exhales, right and thus, stimulate my Vegas nerve more. And so there's all these different ways that we can play with the breath, and then affect our nervous system. So

Jonny Miller
yes, that was awesome. And for, for listeners, who might be in a sympathetic state, amazing science and I thought occurred that might tie it back to what we were sharing around the the ventral and the dorsal, in that I've been researching burnout for the last couple of years. And what typically happens when someone goes through burnout is, is they will have a breathing battle like this that keeps them in that sympathetic state, for long periods of time. And where the dorsal kicks in is when we've been in that, that state of chronic stress and high tone, sympathetic for so long that the body eventually just shuts down. And when it shuts down, that's when the dorsal kicks in. And that's usually when like, the brake drops, and they're like, Oh, shit, I'm burnt out, and they might cry, they might, you know, need to go off work for six weeks, that kind of thing. And that's just lasted for the ride completely. Yeah. Can't get out of bed. It's because that door after a period of extended chronic chronic stress,

Unknown Speaker
and isn't it fascinating to understand, you know, burnout in that way, and then being able to help people move through, you know, into intervention again, and be able to explain to them what actually happened, because I think what happens when we learn about the nervous system, and about the breath, and how and about polyvagal theory? Yeah, normalize it, and I feel like I can, you know, it helped me so much. But then also, because I was able to have more compassion towards myself, it wasn't that something was wrong with me. My body was doing, you know, it was doing its best exactly what it was designed for. Heart. Exactly, you know, and, and so when I struggled with gut issues, again, and when, like dermatitis, and eczema and things like that, I could understand that my body was really trying to keep everything in homeostasis. But when, you know, I was going through all these anxious dating scenarios, and going through so much anxiety and being in sympathetic mode for years and years. I was making it really hard for my body to keep all my systems in balance. And so, you know, understanding it from that perspective, yes, I was just able to be kinder to myself, you know, and cultivate a bit more self love also in that regard. And, and I think a lot of us, we beat ourselves up, and especially a lot of you know, you know, people that you work with also in the startup scene, they're higher, you know, the type A is overachievers, perfectionist, and then things something like a burnout happens. And then we beat ourselves up for it, like, What's wrong with me? You know, why can't I keep performing the way that I used to? And then people, not understanding what's happening in the nervous system. You know, we try to push ourselves more and more and more, only to aggravate the symptoms. And I listened the other day to an interview with this Swedish triathlete, and very successful triathlete for many years, and eventually he also had burnout. And it was an interview with Patrick McCune from the oxygen advantage. And Patrick and Patrick asked him an interesting question. He said, what were signs and symptoms that your body sent to you before you had, you know, you've read like he hit the big brick wall. We're not like because then that the athlete after you hit burnout, he said, I was basically in bed for like, a year. I just couldn't do anything. And so then that and I found that interesting, you know, as he was sharing all these things that he was ignoring,

Jonny Miller
because there's signs Yeah, so it's messaging, right? It ties back to interception, right? what we were looking at earlier and this this this idea, I like to talk about this like feather quick dump truck maintenance, and often we will receive the feathers and the bricks, but if we don't have sufficient interoceptive capacity, then we have to wait for the dump.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, it's so true. And so if we were more connected to our bodies if we had better interoception and and, I mean, we can have interoception and still Ignore ignore. It's possible. Yeah. But yeah, interoception definitely makes it easier to not ignore as well. But I think there's also part of us that needs to, you know, develop some self compassion and some, you know, just like some sensitivity and which is hard for Taipei's. Right. And overachievers, like, because we want to, we want to be go, go go. And, and, and, and it's, it's hard to slow down when we're, you know, on that line of Tibet and building businesses and, you know, being, yeah, it's full on. And so I think that, that that is that so important is to really learn to read the messages that our body sends us because there's so much that we ignore before we hit the brick wall. Sure, totally, totally. And it's also I think, for a lot of people, it can feel unsafe in some ways to actually feel genuinely relaxed in the body. And it's so much easier to default and more activity and more kind of destructive,

Jonny Miller
which is why

Unknown Speaker
addiction to stress, right? Like our bodies get addicted to stress hormones. sounds weird, but it's true. And it's not even that we can consciously control that. It's like, it's really this feedback loop. Right? And, and then we need our bodies to produce adrenaline, to feel a certain way that we're used to and to feel safe in our bodies. And so we keep doing things that put us into that state without him realizing that we're in this in this loop of chronic stress. And yeah, and I think that with, with type A's and overachievers so then they already have really stressful days, you know, with their jobs. And I think, you know, and then you see a lot of those people doing CrossFit or like full on weightlifting, right and right into or Ashtanga Yoga like really full on exercise, you know, even more, you know, stimulating their sympathetic

Jonny Miller
nervous system, which is a nice segue to and I was gonna ask you about myth busting, but you've actually covered three of the four. But I think that's the CrossFit piece is a good one to talk about. Wim Hof breathing, and how I think many people think that it's kind of a good practice for everyone. why might that not be the case?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, I mean, the Wim Hof breathing. Gosh, yes. So I um, I experimented a ton with Wim Hof breathing, especially last year, actually. And I was I was dealing with some skin issues and,

Unknown Speaker
and I tried Wim Hof. And in the beginning, it made me feel really good. And as a recovering type a, you know, it's great to be able to hold your breath for really long and increase your breath, hold time and, and all of that and, and it's, it's like CrossFit and Wim Hof breathing. I mean, they're geared towards Thai bass, you know, and they're like, type is, are especially attracted to these kinds of practices, because then we can push ourselves even harder. Yeah. And so, so I did that. But, you know, after a while, after a couple of months, it It didn't really do much, you know, for me, and I went into a few Facebook groups. Wim Hof Facebook groups, not not moderated by any of the official Wim Hof people, but just people sort of supporting each other. And I saw many, many people posting in these groups, the struggles that they had with Wim Hof breathing. And, and then I did my oxygen advantage training. And I learned why that is and why many people struggle with Wim Hof and why it's just not the best practice. For so many people out there, especially not on a daily basis, you know, like doing this on a daily basis. Like now I have to really, like shake my head, like, remembering myself doing this on a daily basis. Yeah, I'm thinking that it would it would change my health. But essentially, you know, what happens is that when we do Wim Hof breathing, we're over breathing, breathing. I know, Wim Hof or Stan like it when we call it hyperventilating, but that's what we're doing. We're off gassing a lot of co2, and that's hyperventilating. And so we're over breathing. So we're we're putting ourselves into sympathetic mode. We're getting rid of too much co2. And there's studies on this now that look at this specific phenomena, what happens? So we're taking 30 breaths, fast breaths in and out. And we do breath hold, and so then the argument would be that well, I'm You know, I'm doing the breath hold, so my co2 levels come back up. And that should compensate right for the breathing well, but then you do a second round of 30 breaths, fast breaths, in and out, usually, you know, in through the nose out the mouth, or even just through the mouth. And then you do another breath hold. And a lot of times, you can hold your breath for even longer after your second round. And then you do the third round. And then a lot of people do a fourth round and a fifth round. And so what happens is, with every round that you do the hyperventilation, your SPO to or the oxygen saturation, your blood goes down, right. And you can measure this very easily on your own with one of those oxygen devices. Yeah. And, and so and the argument that the breath hold, re establishes a co2 balance in your blood is faulty, because there have been studies on this. And they clearly show that the breath holds do not compensate for the over breathing, the the SPO two stays too low and carbon dioxide levels stay too low. And so what that also means is that with this practice the reason so there's two reasons why people feel really good doing the Wim Hof breathing, number one, it triggers adrenaline release. And adrenaline is a stress hormone, and it kind of feels good. And we get addicted to that. And the second thing is that when we hyperventilate for periods of time, there's actually less oxygen and blood flow to the brain. And that in itself can shut off or slow down certain parts of the brain, especially the rational brain. And it is actually also what happens during a deep dive, 60 minute, conscious, connected breathing session, that's what happens. That's why we can access these altered states of consciousness, right. But I feel like there's a bit more purpose to that. And also, it's something that we don't do on a daily basis. You know, maybe you do it once a week, even though I recommend him to just do it maybe, you know, once every two weeks, but yeah, and so. So that's why we feel lighter, we're maybe not as much as you know, in our heads are thought slowed down. But it's not, the effect is not sustainable. So we feel that way for maybe a couple of hours afterwards. And then we have to do this again the next day, because we got to feel that way. Again, we got to feel the adrenaline rush and but it doesn't, it doesn't actually help with our breathing pattern. And so a lot of people that have low balled scores or controlled pauses, and that's basically a test where you can assess someone's breathing pattern. It's a breath hold test, very simple. But if you're below a certain number, then it's very clear that you have unhealthy breathing pattern going on. And then doing something like Wim Hof breathing every single day will aggravate the owner breathing will act will actually make your breathing pattern worse and not better. And so if someone has a healthy breathing pattern, you know, like a bold score above 25 or, you know, at best, you know, above 30 I mean, be my guest to go and do Wim Hof breathing if, you know, she needed so bad, but it doesn't really like it doesn't really sustainably do anything for your for most of people's health. And and so what's what's way more effective, and that's more of the potato and the oxygen advantage framework is to like how can we increase our co2 tolerance? That's the big question that you ask and you don't increase your co2 tolerance by off gassing a lot of co2 like Wim Hof breathing, you actually need to train yourself to become comfortable with breathing less, and by becoming more comfortable, and tolerating air hunger. That's, that should be the goal. And so that's why a lot of the practices will take on oxygen advantage are all about breathing less. Experiencing air hunger, doing breath holds, but very controlled breath holds nothing crazy. Like it's not about pushing yourself. Like it's not about speed. It's not about it's like there's nowhere to get to. It's just Yeah, and it's a very a lot gentler and a lot more it's and the other thing is also I find with Wim Hof is a lot of people they don't necessarily like I see a lot of people especially on YouTube breathing from their chest doing Wim Hof, which is even crazier. You know, it's full on seeing people pump up their chest with air. Yeah. And so then what happens even more so people feel dizzy. I mean, there have been accounts where people have conscience, because the oxygen levels they drop so low, you know, that people become unconscious. And so what also happens is people feel this high right? And, and they shoot themselves out of their bodies. It's a very disembodied experience in my perspective, and whereas, you know, doing practices like buteyko, oxygen Vantage, we're way more in our bodies. We're way more. Yeah, we decrease the risk of dissociating even more, you know, we're actually training to be in our bodies more. And I think that's what most of us need way more than feeling high off of breathing and having these ecstatic experiences. Yeah,

Jonny Miller
yeah. No, that's, that's really well, I think lately, and I think that's one of the key points for me as well, the type of people who are attracted to Wim Hof are probably the people that needed the least because it's going to keep them stuck in that state of chronic sympathetic and keep them further away from accessing the ventral vagal which is what they were they really need. So, so potentially, for people who are in a state of dorsal shutdown, or do you have a tendency towards depression, the occasional Wim Hof if they have a good co2 tolerance, I think is it's probably something worth experimenting with. But I completely agree with you in in terms of the Yeah, it's just

Unknown Speaker
it's chasing peak experiences is what it is, and what is your experiences, a lot of times our experiences where there is a lot of adrenaline production, our bodies, and so when we're chasing that, we're still not really in a, you know, at home in our bodies, we're not, you know, really, in a regulated Nervous System state. We're still in dysregulation And so yeah, in the long run, there's not really a whole lot of use to that. So.

Jonny Miller
Yeah, I totally agree. Well, there were a ton of other questions that I was going to ask you, but I'm, I'm conscious of concept time. So I have scattered a

Unknown Speaker
second episode. Yeah.

Jonny Miller
Well, that's the round two. But I've got five kind of rapid fire questions before we wrap up. If that sounds good. So the first is simple one, what is one big recommendation that you suggest for deep dive into some of these functional breathing topics that we've been talking about?

Unknown Speaker
Yes, I think the best one right now on the market is actually on my desk here right now. Is the breathing cure by Patrick McEwen. It's his his new book that just recently came out. And also I mean, I might be biased, maybe yes. But also his other book. Oxygen advantage is also really good rate.

Jonny Miller
Yeah, yeah, both both fantastic. for ordering junkies, like myself, what is something that we can do to increase heart rate variability?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, quite a few things. Actually. One, one thing that I like to do regulate is a few Vegas nerve practices. So whenever we do a practice to stimulate our vagus nerve, we're essentially also working with our heart rate variability and to increase it. And for one, there's a Vegas nerve massage that you can do. So you behind like your ear lobes kind of like on the side of your neck, just on the bottom of your ears. And if you put your index finger there on either side, you feel like a little dip, right? And it's like interesting, if you massage that it's like a, it's an interesting sensation, right. So that's actually where your vagus nerve comes out from the hind from your brainstem. And then it goes down your neck, and there's this muscle here on the side. So you can massage your Vegas nerve right here from the bottom of your ear down your neck to your collarbone. And that's really, that's really awesome. I like doing that a lot. Um, the other thing is, there is an exercise that I learned from Dr. Perry Nicholson. And because one thing you can do to stimulate the vagus nerve is humming. And if you kind of want an app that just a couple of gears, you can you can do humming, but also pound your chest because here, like around your collarbone is is where your Vegas nerve then wraps around the esophagus. So here's what I like to do. Okay, I started out with Lou and then I go into AA, and then I go into E and when I go into E, I like hit these muscles here. You know, I kind of go into this big smile where I'm like, kind of tensing these neck muscles here on the sides.

Unknown Speaker
And so I'm hitting these muscles here and wiping my eyes and, and my mouth and I do that three times and the Vegas of massage and and there's lots more but those are two that Just can do right away. Like,

Jonny Miller
I love that. I'll give that a try. And it reminds me of what James Nestor wrote in his book breathe around how a lot of the ancient chanting practices were actually kind of coincidentally incredibly good at stimulating the vagus nerve. And they were firstly 5.5 breaths, or 5.5 seconds for the inhale and the exhale. And also just thinking now even the the the practice of chanting arm it's, it's traditionally a u m, and it's like it almost goes from your from vibrating in your bellies and your chest and then in your in your head, and you kind of feel the vibration. And I think it's so interesting how these techniques that science is now kind of figuring out have in some ways been practiced for like 1000s of years by

Unknown Speaker
having a revival. Yeah. 5.5 breaths per minute. So yes, coherence breathing is something I do every day. Okay, five and five out. Yeah, that's definitely a good one for HRV. Awesome.

Jonny Miller
So next question, what is the dating breath? And why do you call it that?

Unknown Speaker
The dating breath? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, you know it, you know, the story. Um, so I, as I said, I assume an anxious dater. And every time I went for, when on a day, I feel really anxious. And this one time, I was in Berlin, and I was meant to go on the state. And I had the choice between taking public transport or walking 20 minutes. So I opted for walking. And I say, Well, I was really, really nervous. And so I say, Well, what can I do to calm myself down? And so I just Yeah, I did the, I think, I think it was the five and five out of four and an eight out it doesn't really matter, either one of those, but you can combine them with your steps. And so I was I was breathing in for four steps and breathing out for eight steps and, and I calmed myself down. So by the time that I met my date, I was super chill, and I can highly recommend anyone is going on a date, to not take public transport or the car walk, and then do do some breathing exercises to an extended exhale. And you'll be way more relaxed. It

Jonny Miller
was amazing. Finally, what is one thing that you're really excited about in the coming months?

Unknown Speaker
Ah, yeah, so currently, I'm really excited to get a Portugal on Friday because it could be a potential home base, we're kinda scouting the south of Portugal, the Algar around lagash. And hopefully also be able to go surfing again, sometime soon when my wrist has healed but yeah, I'm really excited about creating a home somewhere. And getting a band getting a dog and just, yeah, having this having this life by the ocean with my partner. So looking forward. To and also we're, we're starting our teacher training or breathwork teacher training at the end of October. It's in German, this time around. It's a six month program. So I'm really stoked to kick that off. We have around 20 people or so and it's exciting.

Jonny Miller
Amazing. Yeah, I'm sure that would be incredible. Okay, well, this has been it's been an absolute pleasure. I know, we've probably only scratched the surface of what we can talk about. In the meantime, before ranty, where's the best place for listeners to learn more about breathwork alchemy, teacher training, your podcasts, your blog, all the things?

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, currently, I think the best, the best platform where I'm most active is Instagram. And so it's breathwork dot alchemy. But also my website breathwork alchemy.co. A good place if they can hit me up in the in the DMS on Instagram. And I do weekly live breathwork session there every Monday at 6pm. Central European Time. And that's there's also quite a bit of an archive by now of like the last 10 or 12 sessions or something. There's a different theme every week. So yeah, come on, come and hang out. Say hi. So this was a pleasure. Thank you so much.

Jonny Miller
Amazing. So I'd like to close with the real key line. He said, try to love the questions themselves and lift them now. Perhaps you will then gradually without noticing it. Live your way into the answer. With that in mind, what is the question that you're living yourself right now? And what question might you leave our listeners with

Unknown Speaker
right now One of the, one of the questions that I'm living into, once more actually is, how can I, how can I make my days feel more like play? And how can I infuse play into everything I do? There we go.

Jonny Miller
Okay, Was there another question attached to that? What question with you With you leave our listeners with it.

Unknown Speaker
Yeah, now that that that is, that would be a good question. But I think another one I could leave them with maybe more in regards to to breathwork is ask yourself the question, stop for a moment, several times a day, and just check in and ask yourself, how's my breath right now? And then just observe. That's the start of breath work.

Jonny Miller
Awesome. Well, we will wrap the show with that. Thank you so much. Thank you, Johnny. It was fun.

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