In this episode we're joined by Steve Whitney. He is a SOMA Breath Master Instructor, Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher, and is trained in Vipassana, Buddhist and guided forms of meditation.
In this episode, we're joined by Steve Whitney. He is a SOMA Breath Master Instructor, Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher, and is trained in Vipassana, Buddhist, and guided forms of meditation. We talk with him about the benefits and science behind Breathwork and how to hack your physiology.
Jeremy: [00:00:00] This
Steve Whitney: [00:00:01] is the fit mess with
Jeremy: [00:00:03] Zach and Jaron. Hello, welcome to the fitness. Thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you haven't already, please do subscribe on whatever podcast player you're using our topic this week is the many benefits of breath work. And I know that sounds bizarre if you're not familiar with breath, work to think that that just breathing is a something that you can do to benefit your health in some way, but the benefits do range simply from.
Surviving because you need to breathe all the way to some very deep spiritual experiences that we'll get into in just a little bit. Our guest this week is Steve Whitney. He is a master breathwork instructor. He's based in Thailand. He has tons of options, uh, available as resources online to learn more about breath work and how to incorporate it into your life.
So I'll start with the disclaimer that I feel like this is a topic where talking about it. I'm in over my head. I don't, I don't fully understand the science of breath work in a way that I would like to in terms of presenting it as a tool for other people to use. But I can say that my personal experience with breath work has been some of the most profound healing I've ever done in my life.
I've had a handful of experiences on, on retreats to experimenting with, uh, with, at home breath work that have opened me up to experiences that I never thought possible. And we'll talk about those a little bit later with our guests. But Jack, you use it more kind of just as a day to day anxiety management.
Zach: [00:01:27] Yeah, that's one of the better tools that I have is just taking mindful breaths and you can be having a conversation with somebody and be doing some mindful breath work. While you're talking to somebody and they don't notice.
Jeremy: [00:01:42] Right.
Zach: [00:01:42] Right. It's just one of the greatest tools that you can use anywhere.
Any place I guess swimming is probably not.
Jeremy: [00:01:49] It's a little more challenging, great
Zach: [00:01:50] place for it, but you know, you can use it anywhere, any place, any time to help manage your anxiety. And that's what I use it for. Um, amazingly, like I just never knew how shallow I breathe or how, how shallow my breath was.
Until I started going to yoga and realizing that it was, you know, taking a deep breath for me, it was hard and my stomach muscles and my, my diaphragm and my chest were actually, um, it was interesting. Like I would take an inhale and exhale. You could feel my diaphragm like spasming down because it had never stretched that far.
Jeremy: [00:02:25] Oh, that's funny.
Zach: [00:02:27] But man going from that to where I am today, where it's like, my wife for a long time was asking me every 10, 15 minutes what's wrong because she was, she was, she thought I was signing all the time because I was taking a really deep breath and just laying it out. And she was like, are you okay?
What's the matter what's happening. I'm like nothing just managing my anxiety.
Jeremy: [00:02:46] Right. It is funny how little attention we pay to breath as. More than just a function of being alive. I was having a conversation with my nine-year-old a couple of weeks ago, and I don't remember why, but we were talking about breathing.
I was trying to think I was trying to get her to, to fall asleep. Cause she'd been laying in her bed tossing and turning forever. And I was trying to get her to take deep breaths, like deep belly breaths and like physically, she couldn't do it. Like she couldn't understand, she would take a big breath in and I would watch her chest get really big.
And she would breathe out that way. I'm like, no breathe, like start with your belly. And she's like the disconnect on how to do that. She's she hasn't figured out yet. It's
Zach: [00:03:29] really interesting. Where did she learn that from? Because it's not natural to breathe here with your chest,
Jeremy: [00:03:35] right? Yeah. I don't know.
Zach: [00:03:36] I wonder if you and your wife actually, you know, breathe through your chest and they noticed you breathing that way and they picked it up from there because naturally we all belly breath when we're, when we're kids, but you have to learn it from somewhere else.
Jeremy: [00:03:50] But I wonder if it's the fact that she was thinking about it. Because logically as a kid she's been told your lungs are what you use to breathe. So when you start to think about how am I supposed to do this the right way? Well, my lungs are for breathing. So you take that big chest breath. And she just couldn't make that connection.
Zach: [00:04:08] Oh, come on, man. You just got to explain the negative pressure that your diaphragm creates and that's your breath.
Jeremy: [00:04:14] Again, this is a topic that I don't understand fully enough to, to teach anyone, including my own nine-year-old, but that's why we invited Steve Whitney to appear on the show. His story is incredible.
And he'll tell you how he went from kind of your typical corporate job climbing the ladder, drinking drugs, the whole thing. To hang a breathwork instructor in Thailand. It's, it's just a remarkable journey that he went on and he has tons of great advice on breathing and really how it can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your health.
The story of how you got into where you are now from where you were, is a fascinating journey. And I know it started with kind of a typical corporate job in Colorado, and now you're in Thailand. Take us if you can briefly on that journey. Tell us how you got to where you are from where you started.
Steve Whitney: [00:05:08] Yeah.
So it's a pretty wild story. I mean, I was, I was corporate America, a self-taught building engineer and property manager. I was like 24, 25 years old, moved to Denver, Colorado. And. Uh, landed a massive contract with one of the, uh, more larger commercial development companies in Colorado. And I was just a single individual, worked my ass off and, uh, and got the job.
And I was actually denied that job. And there was a flood and FEMA came in and I ended up with 600 people inside this building and no one knew what to do. So I showed up and kind of. It was kind of one of those hero stories. It kind of saved the day with a bunch of chaos and that's how I landed the gig.
And, uh, that lasted for about six, almost seven years. And it was very high intensity dealing with commercial real estate. So tons of stress, uh, I gained a pretty heavy, heavy drinking problem and kind of that stereotypical. Story of, you know, a young entrepreneur, uh, getting into the corporate. So I drank good scotch.
I made killer money. I had penthouse apartment, fancy truck, all the bells and whistles, but yeah, drank like crazy almost every day. And I was doing drugs on the weekends and really just trying to suppress and maintain this high level of stress. Let's see about five, six years into my business. Um, my mother passed away, um, sporadically.
And so she'd gotten cleared from the doctor. She had diabetes and gotten cleared from the doctor. And a week after that, we found her unconscious and a week after that she passed away. And that was like my, that was my rock, my solid, I was very, very close to her. She was a pioneer. She fought for the schooling system because I was dyslexic ADHD.
And she was just a pioneer, I mean, going against the schooling system, creating opportunities, sports organizations, she did everything. So, uh, it was really hard on me and, uh, that gave me a reason to drink. So at that point I really started to spiral down downward and, uh, a year after my mom died, my fiance had a heart attack.
Wow. Partner ends up having a heart attack at 28 years old. And. No one could quite figure out why. And in that time I also got a DUI. And so my partner goes to Thailand to do a retreat, to try and heal her heart naturally because she was against Western medicine and some of those practices. And, uh, in that time, yeah, I got a DUI.
And so I, she comes back from Thailand, says, I don't want to live here anymore. I want to move to Thailand. I said, I've gotten in trouble while you were gone. And I can't leave the country. And so the court case went on for about five months and we began to sell all of our things. And I just, I was not spiritual.
I had not done yoga, meditation, nothing. I was into sports fitness, and, you know, I weighed almost 200 pounds. And so I weigh about 150 right now. So I was very, very unhealthy. I just kept praying to my mother that I would change my life. If she would help me to get out of this, I promised that I would do something different with my life and that I would help others.
And I would, I would make a difference. I would make an impact and sure enough, the time came and somehow the case got dismissed. Completely. My lawyer was blown away. Everyone was blown away. They were like, this is, this is magical. And they knew my story and what I was doing with my mother and, uh, kind of trying to channel her energy and everything else.
And so, yeah, that's a, I, we got the case, got dismissed. I was on a plane two weeks later and we sold everything, sold the business and flew to Thailand. And that's actually where it got worse. Uh, with this loss of identity, I became deeply depressed. And in Thailand I was training in yoga meditation. I did teacher trainings, energy work, uh, I mean, anything I could possibly get my hands on and I became deeply depressed and started to have suicidal thoughts of just like walking off the edge or running my bike into traffic.
And it terrified me because it's nothing I wanted, but at those thoughts were happening. And so I was. I was really concerned for my livelihood
Jeremy: [00:09:11] that happened while you were doing all this work with meditation and you still were not able to sort of fight that back.
Steve Whitney: [00:09:19] Yeah, and this is one of the most important parts I feel like in my story, because I really want it to act as an inspiration because some people, certain things are not going to work with you necessarily, depending on the state that you're in.
And when I was training in these things that were supposed to bring me to enlightenment and joy and bliss and health and healing, we're doing quite the opposite, it was just worse and worse. And it was. Um, accidentally, I ended up at an event that I didn't want to be at, and it was a Soma breath, um, breathing event.
And in that two hour session, which was hosted by the founder, this is before Soma was really even a thing. And I did one session and I saw light inside of myself that I had never seen before. It gave me that moment of inspiration. And I went to the founder Niraj. After that session, I said, I have to know more.
I have to know more. And I knew in that moment that I was going to dedicate my life to this and dive into it, to find out what just happened to me. And yeah, over, I think it's been about three and a half years and I have put every ounce of my energy into training in this learning, the science of breathing, healing, my own pains, wounds, moving into, you know, really the true power that has always existed inside of myself and doesn't inside of everyone, but generally we never get to have a taste of that sweetness.
And, uh, and now that's exactly what I've done is I've tuned into my own. And now I'm sharing it with others and my life has transformed completely. And so, yeah, it's kind of a, it's an interesting little twist, but that, uh, the breathing shifted everything for me. I needed to go to my core source, my life force energy.
That's what shifted everything else to deeper root. Once I had that moment of a shift and clarity.
Jeremy: [00:11:06] So then let's, let's look at that. The, the, the Soma breath where I've, I've had a couple of breath work experiences myself. Uh, I've never, I've not done so much. So if you can sort of give us the, you know, the, the one Oh one on breath work and sort of where Soma fits into that.
Steve Whitney: [00:11:22] Yeah. I guess Tillman is really unique because of the rhythmic breathing section. And this is one of the cornerstones. Of of Soma breath. And a lot of people have heard of conscious connected breathing, but there's a difference. There's an optimal rate at which you can breathe. And this has been scientifically proven to optimize the functions in your physiology.
So your breath influences all the functions inside of your body. And so, uh, when you breathe in a certain rhythm, Then you start to alter the actions and reactions that are happening in your mind and your body. And this is the cornerstone of, of Soma is rhythmic breathing. And the music is designed to have you breathing in a certain rhythm at a certain rate.
And there's multiple different rhythms that are going to. Alter the effects inside of your body from deep relaxation and healing to creating coherence, this optimization of the internal world and the communication from heart to mind. And then you can also get a shot, a natural shot of adrenaline and a boost of energy.
I'm using a different breathing rhythm. And so this is one of the, yeah, the, the core foundations of, of Soma. And then it's using intermittent hypoxia. And this is so cool because this is where you actually hold your breath out. Uh, till you can't hold it out any longer. And this is really magnificent because we all know about athletes going to the top of the Himalayas or in the high altitudes to train because they become basically superhuman that their endurance, their strength, their stamina, their health, their longevity, you know, ancient, shamans, and yogis that go to the top of the Himalayas.
I mean, they're 90 years old and they look like they're 60. Okay. Well, there's a reason why. And it's this, it's breaking the misconception of oxygen. We think we need more oxygen. We need to breathe deep, breathe more. Actually, don't get me wrong. Oxygen is vital to your energy in your life. Without oxygen.
There is no life, but oxygen is actually the silent killer. Okay. So this is creating oxidative stress, respiratory alkalosis, and this high level of oxygen actually deteriorates your cellular structure. So a lot of degenerative diseases are created from too much oxygen and not using it correctly. And so when you hold your breath out now only do you lower oxygen levels in your bloodstream, which is really good and gives your mitochondria break.
And that's how you produce energy. And so it's really important to not overwhelm your mitochondria, but the other thing that happens. My outside of lowering the oxygen levels is that you start to build up CO2 levels and rise them. And the CO2 is the magic molecule. I love talking about CO2. We think it's a bad gas.
It's a waste product, and actually CO2 in the proper amounts in your bloodstream is what removes the oxygen from the hemoglobin in your red blood cell and allows it to enter into your muscles and tissues and your other cells, your other organs. So, if you think about it, if we're breathing deep and breathing out all the carbon dioxide and have high levels of oxygen, then what we're doing is we're flooding ourselves with oxygen, but we're not using it in our body efficiently.
Okay. And so when you start to train and using breath retention, holding your breath out, you start to optimize the usage of that oxygen and you also train your body. In brief periods of low oxygen. So what adapts to having less oxygen, therefore it's more efficient at using oxygen. So the rhythmic breathing is a core foundation and the intermittent hypoxia it's called an in Sanskrit.
It's holding your breath out past the comfort zone until you can't hold it any longer, magical things happen inside of your body. And those are two of the, uh, the main core foundations of. Our more , um, method. We have many, many methods that we teach. That's the most common and pervade for groups, um, settings,
Zach: [00:15:25] when you're holding your breath out and building up the CO2, is that a one time?
Um, impact that goes away after a little while, or if you do that, uh, continuously you build up, uh, you know, your body builds up more CO2 on a regular basis. Do you have to continue doing that? Or is that just a, a one-time thing?
Steve Whitney: [00:15:48] So it's the, the part that's important to understand is that your breath is on autopilot.
It's part of your autonomic nervous system. So if we don't bring conscious awareness or control to our breathing, then our breathing will become a product of our external environment. And we're not living in a monastery and meditating all day. So our breath is going to be influenced by that external environment, which is generally stress, contraction, fear.
And so, yes, it will convert back. And so that's why it's really important to have a daily practice. And it's not necessarily important to us daily, but to make sure that you're continuously training your body so that it's always becoming more efficient and staying in that, you know, in that balanced state, this is the other cool thing about Soma is a lot of breathwork modalities are not safe to do every day.
It's hyper ventilation, it's an aggressive breathing and it's very powerful and it's wonderful, but it's something that should only be done maybe once a month, you know, And it's more of like a release method. This is getting into the science of pranayama and something you should do daily to increase your health, your energy levels, your vitality, your longevity.
These are really important things because the body can heal itself. If we allow it to go back to its natural default state, then, um, you know what, you'll be right back to where you started.
Jeremy: [00:17:04] So. I'm glad you mentioned that because I've had a handful of breathwork experiences, a couple have been in person, group settings.
And the first one was by far the most profound, uh, it was, um, I don't, I don't know. I, I guess it was like a whole Tropic, you would know more than I would. They, they didn't tell me the name, but it was rapid breathing for like 45 minutes. There was like a native American music being played. We were on the floor surrounded by pillows so that we could thrash as our body reacted in the way it was supposed to.
Right. And it was the most spiritually profound thing I've ever done. When I describe it, I have hard time. I have a hard time believing it myself, but I, you know, I traveled back in time to help myself as a child through some traumatic things and, and healed from them. And, you know, I tell these stories to people sometimes, and they're just like, Whatever hippy, you know, sounds like, yeah.
You know, somebody fed you something weird or whatever. Um, and, and I've had other ones even at home where it's kind of, uh, an electronic, uh, or like, uh, a recorded. This is the word I'm looking for, uh, a recorded session. And there've been times when I've done these breathwork sessions where I actually kind of need some help coming out of it where I just feel like I'm kind of floating and I'm not all the way back.
So. If somebody does experiment with, with this at home, what should they know to make sure that they're going to be safe about it and not hurt themselves?
Steve Whitney: [00:18:29] I really highly, highly recommend that they find a, a trained practitioner to tell you the truth. And this is what a lot, a lot that I see. I've had many, many conversations with practitioners.
Um, cause I, I had the, um, instructor training program for Soma. So I have a lot of conversations with potential instructors and it's, it's sad because a lot of people don't want to learn the science. They only want to learn a method where people cry or they scream or they have this one. Profound reaction, but I asked them.
So, what are you doing to their nervous system? What are you doing to their heart rate, their endocrine system, their hormones, what are you doing to it? And they go, I don't know. I go then why are you teaching this without having that knowledge? And so that's my number one is become educated, become educated and learn because it doesn't have to be so aggressive.
You can have the same spiritual or not spiritual. It doesn't have to be the spiritual, profound experience. It's really about. Accessing all the potential inside of your body, your physiology, your neurology, being able to control the release of these hormones and the ability to actually expand into your full potential.
It can be spiritual. And if it is the best thing to do, in my opinion, one is to not run away from it coming out of a breathwork session. We want to run away and the feelings, the emotions, and know that this is normal. They're not doing anything wrong. This is incredibly normal, but it's okay to sit with it.
It really, really is to, to gain a different relationship with the fear of the pain or the joy or the lists. All of them exist. They're just emotions, they're energy and motion. And you can transmute and use those to your good, to your benefit to this highest power. And so, but it's really important that you ground down one way to really become calm because you've put your nervous system through some strain.
In regards to what you're talking about is to try and breathe in through the nose and out through the mouth, breathe in for a count of two and out for a count of four. Yeah, anytime that you breathe out more than you breathe in, you start to lower your heart rate, your blood pressure, and you start to activate more of your parasympathetic nervous system when you inhale sympathetic exhale, parasympathetic.
So if you breathe out more than you breathe in, in a consistent rhythm, two, four, four, eight, it's like a 0.5 ratio. Um, it's four to the floor in regards to music. It's four to the floor. This is really going to help you calm down, become much more grounded. Soften into yourself, your energy and emotions are going to move more freely through you without getting hung up.
And you're going to be able to basically ground down and come back to this reality and, uh, in a more gentle
Zach: [00:21:09] manner. That is my go-to breathing technique right before I have to give a speech or give a presentation or anything where I'm a little bit nervous. It's
Like five minutes of that and I'm golden.
It, it it's one of the best investments, but I wanted to ask you, uh, so I run really high on the anxiety side. Really, really anxious. I, I have a lot of stress in my life that is due to that anxiety. And due to the lifestyle I choose to live. But one of the things I wanted to ask you about there's breath work, but then there's visualization that goes along with it sometimes.
And you can manage, you know, the current stress or even heal from past stress. How does visualization tie into breath work?
Steve Whitney: [00:21:56] Oh, this is such a beautiful question. My friend, this is actually one of the things that, again, set Soma apart from so many different modalities. So in regards to like the law of attraction manifesting, and we think manifesting is this thing that, you know, most people think it's material.
I want to call it. I want this. It's not manifesting. Could be manifesting your health. Manifesting out of a disease. So manifestation is really just the ability that you have to create your reality, whatever that might be and what we're generally taught, like in the book, the secret and law of attraction is that if you visualize it, It will happen.
It will come well. There's a break in the chain. There is nothing. And this is why most people actually struggle with manifesting or with creating. The reality is it's really important to generate a visualization, create a vision, but you can't stop there. Okay. So the important thing in yoga and Ayurveda and pranayama is your mind and your body are one, right?
They're connected. They're one, one thing. So then why would we only stay in the mind? So we need to create a, you need to create a visualization, but through that visualization, it trigger the of senses. What would it look like? What would it feel like even what would it tastes like or smell like? And through that process of engaging the senses, you start to generate a feeling.
And that's also really important in visualization is that you eventually shift and turn it into a feeling. What would it feel like to have that relationship? What would it feel like to have that business or job opportunity or even financial abundance, whatever it is that you're trying to call it. And again, it doesn't stop there.
Okay. And this is usually a people will move into a feeling, but the other thing is 95% of your life has run from your subconscious mind. So if your conscious mind is creating a visualization. But deep in your subconscious mind, you don't believe it. And you feel like crap, you have all this pain, this fear, this doubt, this worry.
Then again, that's a break in this link where people are not seeing the success in their ability to visualize or create the reality. So your breath directly influences the level of vibrational energy. You can actually manufacture your own happiness through the release of different hormones in the body.
And you can actually get a charge and electrical charge. Every, you have trillions of atoms, all having an electrical charge. You can increase that charge by using your breath. So now what you do is you create a feeling, but then you charge that feeling up with the breath. Okay. And this is when you move into passion, right?
Gratitude love the highest frequencies. And this is where the power of visualization really takes root is when you combine a feeling and the breathing elevate that feeling into a higher frequency and magical things can happen.
Jeremy: [00:24:46] And this is where a lot of people take issue with that philosophy, the magical things happening part to me, it doesn't stop at the magical things happening.
It's it's all of those things, creating a path to then take action to make them happen. Uh, to me, it's it's, if I can believe something is possible, then I'm going to take the steps that lead to that positive outcome. So, so if you can sort of clarify what you mean by magical things happening, can somebody truly manifest that job they want, or is this creating a path for them to take the action they need to accomplish that goal or whatever it is they're trying to create.
I love it,
Steve Whitney: [00:25:25] brother. I love it. So you're absolutely right. If we're just sitting, waiting for something to drop into our lap, you know, this could take much longer. And th but the difference is, is that when you elevate that level of vibrational energy and with the proper guidance and proper breathing patterns and, and, and combination and method, what you're doing is you're moving into inspiration, drive and passion.
Okay. If you move into the state of passion, then what do you do? You go hit the ground. You're making phone calls, you have confidence. You're like, Hey, what's going on? Hey, what's it, let's do this. Let's do do that. And next thing you know, what happens is that your field? And I don't want to get into like the quantum and I don't really go deep into that and nor do I really train or study in it.
I have some knowledge, but basically what happens is, you know, that feeling when somebody walks into a room and they're just. They're on, they're on it. They're in their flow and you were just literally magnetically attracted to that person. They just have that energy about them. That is because they're in that infamous flow state.
They're in passion. So what happens is now I'm attracted to that person. I want to go talk to them and through that, uh, uh, an opportunity can be created. Yeah. Um, a potential job opportunity might arise again, anything and everything, but it's moving into passion that drives you to become that strong energy of a person that attracts, um, opportunities and potentials to their life.
So, yes, you definitely need to go take action, but it's easy to take action when you're in a state of passion. Right?
Jeremy: [00:26:58] Definitely. I just, I wanted to clarify that because too often, I think people are told. You can create your reality. Now go sit on your couch and think about it and wait for it to happen.
Steve Whitney: [00:27:08] No, no, no, no.
Go out there and make shit happen. That's what it's all about. Shit on the inside. You don't want to do anything. So
Zach: [00:27:16] th this is such a great conversation. Um, I'm so happy to talk with you. I really am going to go. I've never been so excited to. Go lay down and breathe right after conversation. Um, I want to take this back to when I found yoga and realized that I wasn't belly breathing, I was breathing all through my chest.
It was very shallow breathing. And you know what? One of my yoga teachers said, you know, if you just lay there and just breathe, when I tell you to breathe, you're doing like 50% of yoga. I didn't realize at the time. That I wasn't breathing with my belly. I was breathing all in my chest. And then when I tried breathing with my belly, it, I actually couldn't take deep breaths because I wasn't using those muscles a lot.
So if you're talking to somebody who's in that situation and I've improved greatly to the point where I can do like a full minute breath, but if you're talking to somebody who's in that position and has trouble breathing, like what are some of the basic, basic things that they can do? To really get into this a little bit.
Steve Whitney: [00:28:19] So one is actually the misconception that again, you need to breathe deep. If I were to put a pulse oximeter on right now, I would show about 98 to 99% oxygen saturation level in my bloodstream. I don't need more oxygen. So it's actually more about learning how to breathe in a rhythm and to breathe smooth and slow.
Okay. And pranayama, the less you breathe, the longer you live. So somebody that's trained to and to move into that, you know, kind of more belly breathing cause the chest, you have so many, um, sympathetic nervous receptors in the upper lobes of your lungs in your chest. You're constantly in a state of survival and, and that constant stress and, and this is really, really dangerous for the mind and the body.
And so yes, breathing into your belly is very, very, very good, but one way to help that is to make sure you're breathing in through your notes. Okay. So when you breathe in through your nose, one, you warm the air. Okay. So when you warm the air, it helps it to drop into the lower lobes of your lungs, where you have more parasympathetic, nervous receptors.
Okay. The other thing is you induced nitric oxide and that's a vassal dilator. Okay. So you actually start to dilate your blood vessels and increase more blood flow in circulation. So now you're feeding the nutrients to those muscles that are not so trained in your lower diaphragm to be able to actually react to that new engagement.
The other thing is to remember is guys there's no. There's no pill for that, you know, it's just like you go to the gym one day and you were like, yeah, I'm buff. I'm cut. I'm ripped. Amazing. No, it doesn't quite work like that. So how old are you?
Zach: [00:30:03] 41.
Steve Whitney: [00:30:04] Okay. So think about this. You've got basically 41 years or 40 years of conditioning of the incorrect way to breathe.
And that takes time to shift and adjust. I mean, I hated breathwork when I first started trying it, I despised it. But when I started to learn that again, it's not about this, this heavy, deep breathing, but it's actually about learning how to control your nervous system, your heart rate. It's the ultimate biohacking tool.
It gave me just changing that perspective. Changed how I approach breathwork in the first place. So that's the other thing to keep in mind. One, it just takes time and two, you have to recondition your entire body. The other thing is, this is actually kind of funny, especially for men. If you have your shirt off or even if you don't have your shirt off, um, men tend to flex their abdomen.
Flex their abs. Right. We want to look chest out. Abs flexed. I look good. Yeah.
Jeremy: [00:31:04] Right, right.
Steve Whitney: [00:31:05] Yeah. So all you're doing is basically training yourself to breathe into your chest. If you think about it's kind of funny. I was trying to look good. Yeah. And, and, you know, and
Jeremy: [00:31:17] in the process exactly,
Steve Whitney: [00:31:19] exactly. And so try bike being like Santa Claus, just plop out your belly and then train it that way.
Just move your belly in and out, in and out, in and out. It's almost, you could even create like a little wave and make it a little fun. You know, these things don't have to be so serious either. Uh, you know what I mean? And so, but the more you start to engage that belly and that diaphragm, the more that your body is going to adjust, and it may kick back for a minute.
Maybe like, no, I don't like this, but guys, we all know when the body reacts in that way. It's generally because we need to do it. It's generally we need to go into that. Right. Um, so yeah, play around with your belly a little bit, stop sucking it in. And, uh, and over time it yield by using the nostril breathing.
Um, you'll also be able to enhance those muscles and their ability to breathe in that manner.
Jeremy: [00:32:09] It sounds like a lot of the work that, that you teach. Isn't like you mentioned that the experience I had is more of like the once a month kind of like go really deep, see where your, where your, where your mind goes, that sort of thing.
But, but what you teach is more of a, kind of a daily practice. You're not going to get those same sort of either hallucinations, spiritual experiences, whatever you want to call them. I, so I, that, and I guess that's my question is since I've had these experiences, I've, it's really sort of messed with my sense of reality.
How much of what I've experienced is a truly spiritual, real thing that I experienced or did I just trick my brain into seeing, or feeling something that it didn't otherwise know how to do?
Steve Whitney: [00:32:53] I'm so glad you guys were sitting down for this. So no, there, there are multiple ways to have a very spiritual reaction.
And I want you to understand too, is that the Latin root word of breathe or I'm sorry, of, of spirit is spirit to, is to breathe. So the Latin root word of spirit is actually to breathe. Okay. So it said that your breath is the bridge to. To, to the gods, to the spirits, to your higher self and the ancient texts in the rig Veda, um, in which Jen, you know, basically built the formations of yoga, pranayama and meditation, and they were all using breathing to communicate with the gods to heal their bodies, commune together as a tribe, as a community.
Anyway. So there's some history behind this whole connection between your breath and spirit, but the other thing is only anything about this. So basically with this aggressive, fast breathing, you're putting the nervous system under such strain that you begin to activate the limbic part of your brain.
And this is where we hold emotion and memory. And basically you put the body under such strain and contraction that there ends up becoming a massive release. And that's probably what you experienced. And again, this is fine as, as maybe a therapeutic tool every once in a while. Yeah. About this, have you guys heard of DMT or tryptamines that are produced in the bottle?
So one thing, and there isn't a ton of research on this, but one thing that they have found is that DMT is released in the body right before you die. So I want you to think about this. So when you learn how to breathe in certain rhythms, you can control how much oxygen and carbon dioxide you're either breathing in or removing.
So if I see eat up my rhythm
in, through the nose and out through the mouth, this helps me stay calm. So I don't get too eradicated and too charged up. And this is where we have negative, traumatic reactions. Right. Um, anyway, so what I'm doing is I'm breathing out more. Carbon dioxide. Okay. So when I hold my breath out, okay. I can hold my breath out for longer because it's not a lack of oxygen that makes me want to have to take another breath in.
It's actually a rising and buildup of CO2, carbon dioxide, again, the secret molecule. Okay. So, but if I breathe in a faster rhythm, I breathe out more carbon dioxide than normal. So this is actually, you know, let me. Hold my breath out for longer because I've removed more carbon dioxide than normal. Okay.
Are you staying with me on this? Beautiful. So now I'll think about this. If I can basically alter the oxygen and CO2 levels in my bloodstream, that helped me to hold my breath out for longer. Then now I can hold my breath for a long period of time and I'm actually biohacking. My brain and my body. So my body thinks I'm suffocating.
At this point, my diaphragm has stopped moving. Um, I'm not breathing, I'm not taking in any oxygen. And so at a certain point, the body will start to, will start to react and it reacts in the thought that I'm suffocating and I'm potentially dying. And so what does it do? It starts release. Tryptamines feel good, hormones, dopamine, and serotonin, and, and it also can release DMT.
And so it's here that you can have the most profound experience connection with higher power with spirit and an, a pure state of consciousness where actually you can receive insights and downloads. We're so capable as human beings, but we have sensory overload. And the other interesting thing that happened is we actually had a neuroscientist do a research study on six people doing a 20 minute Soma breathing method.
Just 20 minutes and they hooked up brain scans. And what they found was that all of the people were dropping into theta and even gamma brainwave States. So this is like monks that are in deep forms of meditation, expanded States of consciousness. These are the brainwave States that are for this elevated brain activity.
Okay. The other thing that happened was their default mode network. All of them went offline. And the default mode network. Is this part in your brain that associates with your identity, with your ego? Basically, this is how we identify ourselves in the world. Okay. And so the interesting thing is that the default mode network went offline, was not being active in all six participants.
Okay. The only other time that I can't say the only other time, but one very strong situation that creates the same effects in getting brainwave States from into data and into gamma, and also getting the default mode network offline is from a heroic dose of psilocybin or Iowasca or LSD. Right. And so we are creating the same chemical reaction and balance in the body, but for some, they may have a few hallucinations or colors.
They're usually quite divine. Um, but everybody is different. So I'm not saying this is a hallucinogenic experience. You're putting your body into a state that you can actually be open to receive information can come through that exists inside of your brain. That we're generally not accessing because we're thinking about this.
We're worried about that. We're running over here. We're fighting with our partner, whatever it might be, but it's quite profound how we can actually create the same response in our brain and in our body as a heroic dose of, you know, a psychedelic. But without the hangover, without that long several hour experience happened in 20 minutes, you come right out of it within a few minutes, you're back at it and you feel amazing.
And this is why it's such a powerful, um, reprogramming tool when using visualization. And breathwork because you access the depths of your subconscious mind by creating this, you know, biochemical reaction and the release of these tryptamines in the body. I
Jeremy: [00:38:59] guess maybe to put a finer point on it. One of the experiences I had, uh, I had recently a friend had recently died and in sort of the throws of this experience, I asked them, where are you?
Are you okay? What is it like? And I just, I got this message back. Not only from him, but from others that I had lost. And they all said, it's all the same. Like that was, that was the response. And I don't and I still wrestle with, is that something that I need to believe that I needed this experience to go in myself and, and find that answer?
Or did I really communicate with the dead? Uh, you know, I know it sounds crazy to even ask and I don't know, but that's what I do. I imagine you hear this a lot more, uh, than I do. So I'm just curious your, your take on that.
Steve Whitney: [00:39:51] Honestly, I have no take on it. Because it's not in my position to have an opinion on this by no means, buddy, this is your experience.
It's up to you on what you take of it and really, you know, whatever we believe we create. And so if that's what you want to believe, then I say, fricking, go for it, brother. Right? The funny thing is, you're not going to fucking believe this literally. Two minutes before we went live on this. I made a post.
Okay. And on Facebook and because I've been moving through some emotional turbulence last few days, and it's been really interesting and, uh, and I've moved through a lot of emotions, so I'm very used to this. And so I was just kind of observing, feeling it and it was very painful and, uh, And I had an insight the other day.
And basically the insight was a remembrance of, of a meditation that I did. And I, um, I won't go into the long story, but the first four days were horrific. Absolutely horrific. All my pains, all my doubts, all my fears were just slapping me in the face for four days. As I'm sitting in a silent meditation, meditating eight, 10, 12 hours a day.
And. I'm laying in the dormitory and this guy walks up to me and it's like midnight, one o'clock in the morning. And I'm like, what? In the world? And he leans down to me and which, by the way, when he showed up to the Vipassana, I was immediately attracted to him for some reason, like his energy, like that guy that walks through the door.
And I was like, Oh, he looks cool. I want to chat with him. Right. So anyway, but I'm in silence. So he walks up to me, leans down, cause I'm laying down in smiles. I'm like, what the fuck? What is happening here? And I'm just looking at him like, can I help you? Oh. And he goes, Hey, sweetie. And all of a sudden, my stomach drops.
And that's what my mother used to call me.
Jeremy: [00:41:42] Oh, no way.
Steve Whitney: [00:41:43] Yup. And, um, and I looked at him and immediately I went mom and, and he smiled. It's so big. And I was like, Holy shit. I'm getting chills right now. Just talking about it. Yeah. And I was like, Holy shit, it's my mom. And I channel my mom. Like I tune in, she helps guide me.
Like I am so connected with my mother and I love it. And if my life isn't going well, it's because I'm not connected enough. And I need to spend more time communicating with her. But anyway, um, so he looks at me and I was like, mom, and he looks at me, smiles and goes, you're doing wonderful. You've got this.
Keep going. You're going to do great. And these are like words that my mom, my mom was my biggest cheerleader. She always said these things. So I knew it was her. And I literally just like moved into this state of actual fear and bliss and I laid there and then he disappeared. He disappeared. And I'd never knew if I was having a lucid dream if I was fully dreaming because I swore I was fully awake.
I mean, I literally, at no point ever had a moment that I was like, Oh, now I'm awake. And so I literally laid there in shock for about six hours and watched the heavy storm roll in. And I just sat there and just breathe. And I tell you what the next five days. After that happened. I was in such an elevated state of bliss, joy, all the pain left.
I knew it. I actually, you left the POS and a two days early because I was so fucking inspired that I needed to go hit the streets. I needed to get out there and share the message
similar experience. But that is something that I held to me. And because I believed in it now that I'm going through the last few days. Um, through an account of an emotional turbulence, whatever it is, I don't need to know why it doesn't matter. Um, but I remembered that moment. And in that moment I immediately went, Oh my goodness.
Stephen, you're strong. You're amazing. You are whole you're guided. Do you move it through? Move it through. Hello pain, move it through. And I literally, that was like a yesterday or two. The day before I got up this morning, I felt on fire. I felt alive. I felt that the energy had shifted and moved and it's because of my belief and that spiritual experience.
So it is up to you on how you take this
Jeremy: [00:44:00] further. Yeah. Yeah. It's always just interesting to hear from people that have done, you know, deeper studies in this stuff than just my sort of dabbling in it. So, uh, man, this is a fascinating conversation. Thank you so much for taking the time. This has been a real, a real treat.
Steve Whitney: [00:44:14] I really appreciate you guys. And anyone that's dealing with anxiety, tension, stress, um, literally your breath is the ability to tap into all these functions in, through the nose, out through the mouth, extend that exhale, and you'll be literally blown away. And, uh, actually, if you guys don't mind, I'd love to share some links with some videos.
Okay. I actually myself, uh, in these devices that show my nervous system and the power frequency, um, in which one is activated and how quickly I can shift from fully sympathetic to parasympathetic. I can raise the more my heart rate by 60 beats a minute in a matter of 30 seconds, just showing that you do have this control.
So you guys are much anyone listening in. You're so powerful. You are so capable. Don't forget this. And your breath is your life force energy without breath. There is no life. So give it a shot.
Zach: [00:45:07] Man every time I hear stories about breathing like that in situations like that, it literally just blows my mind as to how powerful, the simple act of breathing.
Jeremy: [00:45:22] It is amazing. The story I told about, um, you know, I, it feels weird saying it out loud, knowing people are going to listen, but. Basically communicating with the dead, whether or not it's real or whether it's a hallucination, it's the most bizarre thing to have that experience and to take comfort in it, to, to basically talk with somebody who, who, as far as you know, and up until a few years ago, you would just would believe they are dust in the ground, you know, and gone to have a communication with them.
Then not only does it terrify you, but puts you at ease. And gives you a better sense of, of what it means to die. I mean, it's, it's a remarkable thing and, you know, I hope it's real. I hope, I hope that I didn't just manufacture some bizarre thing in my body that chemically. You know, assimilated that conversation or whatever, but it is amazing the healing that that brings.
And I wish that I was more skilled with breath work to on my own. Be able to just take some time and do the work to release some of that. Cause there's, I mean, there's some childhood stuff that came up randomly, like, you know, I'm putting the roof rack on the van to get ready to go on a, on a road trip.
And I'm just hit like a ton of bricks by something that happened when I was like 12 years old and I just was emotionally shattered by it. And it's cause I can't let this thing go. And I know that with, with the right breath work technique, I could, I just don't know how to do it. And so that's, you know, maybe I need to give Steve a call back.
Zach: [00:46:55] Maybe you should. I think it's so interesting because the breath work that you've done, yours is more of a. Biggest bang for my buck. Let me just do this whole big thing have hallucinations. Whereas mine is like, I need four really quick
shots of breath,
right? Like I use mine in small doses multiple times a day, and then you go off and have a bender of
Right. You know, once every few months. Maybe the two of us need to learn more about the other side, right? Maybe you need to bring more daily
Jeremy: [00:47:29] practice in. Do I just think, I think that because it's not as profound, I mean, there are definitely times when I feel overwhelmed building up and the stress of the day and all that, and, and I will stop and take a few breaths.
And my family is really good about telling each other. Especially when my kids start getting worked up, like guys, take a breath, just literally stop, take three breaths or whatever. And, uh, And I, I do that, but it's not as profound. So it's not this strong memory that I, that I carry with me as much as it's just, Oh, time, time to get out that blade on the, on the pocket knife.
Zach: [00:48:02] but you don't work. You're just easing your nervous system at that point. You're not activating all the chemical reactions that, that Steve was talking about that simulate. What happens to your brain when you die?
Jeremy: [00:48:15] Right? Not quite that, uh, now quite that deep.
Zach: [00:48:19] No, no. But I want to learn more about it.
This was a good conversation to have. I'd like to go a little bit deeper into breath work. It's one of my foundational pieces. It's one of the things that keeps me sane on a daily management level, but I definitely want to take it a little bit deeper and see if I can get into one of those trends. I mean, my loved ones who have died probably come back and call me an asshole.
So maybe I don't want to do that, but, but I'm,
Jeremy: [00:48:47] I'm curious to see. Yeah, I'm certainly not going to tell everyone here that, uh, you know, breath work is the way to communicate with the dead, but I have seen some weird stuff happen for people and some weird healing. I mean, even more profound discussions.
I've I know of people that like, they suddenly are dancing around a fire, you know, 2000 years ago with their ancestors and ha and having full. Conversations with them, you know, in the, in the hour that we're together in this breath work, they're having experiences that lasts days. It is just such a powerful tool if you can use it.
Right. And, but I do think that, um, it is something that you want to do with someone who knows what they're doing. If you're going to go that far, that, like I mentioned, there's, there's been times when, or one time in particular, when I, I needed help getting out of it, the experience I was having, it was literally floating.
And when I came out of it, I still felt like I was floating and I needed to, to be grounded and to be sort of brought out of it. So it can be something that's pretty overwhelming if you're doing it on your own, don't know what you're doing. Get into deep, but there are a ton of apps. There's tons of resources to experiment with, to, to find some of the ways to use breath, work, to help you accomplish some of these goals that we're talking about.
Zach: [00:50:01] I think most smartwatches now, like whether you've got an Apple watch or a Samsung, Fitbit, whatever, I think most of them have like a breathing app on them that, that, you know, tell you when to inhale and exhale. And it's, uh, you know, if you truly don't know what you're doing, it's a great place to start.
Jeremy: [00:50:18] Yeah. Very simple. More like what you're talking about with just sort of day to day stress management. Those are, those are great tools for that. Definitely. So imagine that
Zach: [00:50:26] we talked about a topic today that keeps your heart beating, can reduce your anxiety, deactivate the nervous system, and take you all the way up into communicating with dead people just by breathing.
I mean, it's kind of a. Big deal.
Jeremy: [00:50:41] It's kind of a big deal. And I love that it's, you know, it, it is sort of the anchor to the two of the things that we lean on most for our own wellness, meditation and yoga, primarily our breath work. I mean, that's, that's where most of that work is being done. So it is something that we, we can't recommend enough, even though we, you don't know as much about it as we'd like to.
Uh, but, but talking with Steve was a great place to start. I'd love to talk to him again and, and explore this topic more as a, as the weeks and months of the show. Go on.
Zach: [00:51:08] Obviously we know enough though, because we're both alive.
Jeremy: [00:51:12] Yes. We, we have figured out how to maintain life through breathing.
Zach: [00:51:19] So I've taken the last week off from work just because I had a whole bunch of time I had to burn.
So I've been painting a ton in my house. So like there's just massive amounts of pink fumes and breathing that in has been. Stressful. I hate painting. I'm really good at it, but I absolutely hate it. So I finished painting last night and cracked open an athletic brewing run wild IPA. It was amazing. Just absolutely love being able to do work and crack one of those suckers open and there being no alcohol in it, but it tastes so good.
Jeremy: [00:51:51] Exactly. And it w it was great to have him for the holidays. And, uh, you know, I'm the end of this week. I'm actually heading up to Canada for a while. I got to do some research and make sure I can buy, uh, some athletic brewing beers up there. Cause if not, I'm going to need to make a stop at the store on the way and try and get him across the border without a, without a hassle.
There you go. We'll see. Uh, but with that, we are going to wrap things up for the week. Thank you so much for listening and subscribing on whatever podcast player you use. You can do that on our website where you can also sign up for our weekly newsletter so that you never miss a, any information going on with the show or new episodes.
And, uh, of course follow us on all of our various social media accounts, uh, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and so on our thanks to our guests, Steve Whitney. Again, his website is breathewithsteve.com and thank you to athletic brewing company for continuing to sponsor our show. And again, thank you for listening.
That's going to do it for this week. We'll be back next week with a brand new episode on wednesday at thefitness.com. See everyone. We know this podcast is amazing
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SOMA Breath Master Instructor
Steve Whitney is a SOMA Breath Master Instructor, Certified Vinyasa Yoga Teacher, and is trained in Vipassana, Buddhist, and guided forms of meditation.
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