Josh Trent: Using Your Breath to Release Stress and Boost Immunity – High Intensity Health

Check out the High intensity Health podcast page

Watch the interview here

Key Takeaways

  • Most people don’t breathe as designed (humans were built to breath from our diaphragm)
    • But most people have forward flexion (rounded backs, forward heads, etc.) – this causes them to be upper chest breathers
    • When you breathe though the diaphragm, it expands and pushes on the vagus nerve which runs all the way down the back of the spine
      • This cues the vagal tone to be more parasympathetic (AKA relaxing)
  • 6 deep breaths in and out through the nose has been scientifically proven to shift you into a parasympathetic state
  • Breathing Exercise #1 (which would be perfect to do prior to a big meeting or talk)
    • Step 1: Breath retention – a long period of inhales and exhales (~20-30 fast breaths) through the mouth and nose at the same time
      • This gets as much oxygen into the body as possible, “superoxygenating” your system
    • Step 2: Perform a retention hold
      • How? – You pull in your “bathroom muscle” and your core musculature while holding your breath for 30+ seconds (for as long as you can)
      • This trains the nervous system to be calm under pressure
  • Breathing Exercise #2 | The 2-7-8 (to be done for a performance boost)
    • Inhale for 2 seconds in through the nose (filling your diaphragm)
    • Hold your breath for 7 seconds (during this time, the diaphragm is pressing on the vagus nerve)
    • Lastly, breathe out for 8 seconds (letting go of the stress)
  • Breathing Exercise #3 | 21 Warrior Breaths (combined with box breathing)
    • The main goal – get in and out as much air as possible, fully exhaling/inhaling, using both the nose and mouth for 21 cycles
    • At the last count, you exhale fully and hold your breath for 5 seconds (this starts the box breathing)
      • Then inhale for 5 seconds and hold for an additional 5 seconds
      • Next, exhale for 5 seconds and hold for a final 5 additional seconds

Books Mentioned

Products Mentioned

  • Josh supplements with Qualia (it’s a nootropic)

Intro

  • Josh Trent (@trent_sd) the host of Wellness Force Radio
  • Check out his website
  • A breathwork practice allows you to change the body’s autonomic nervous system response in a positive way
  • Mike brings up a study which showed just 10 days of breathwork training allows for statistically significant changes in the response to a standardized pro-inflammatory stressor (an endotoxin)
    • The levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines (including IL-10) were much higher in the intervention group (the group with the breathwork training)
    • The intervention group also showed elevated pro-inflammatory signaling molecules (IL-6, TNF alpha, and IL-8)
    • The takeaway – breathwork can change the body’s immune system response in a positive way (on a broad manner)
      • Many anti-inflammatory drugs are specific to the individual cytokine or interleukin they target

How can breath affect our physiology?

  • “Think of breath as the only autonomic lever we can pull that will actually change our state”
  • Humans were built to breathe from our diaphragm
    • But most people have forward flexion (rounded backs, forward heads, etc.) – this causes them to be upper chest breathers
      • “Most people really don’t breathe as designed”
    • When you breathe though the diaphragm, it expands and pushes on the vagus nerve which runs all the way down the back of the spine
      • This, over the course of time (20-30 breaths) cues the vagal tone to be more parasympathetic (AKA relaxing)
    • If, on the other hand, you breath through your upper chest – stress rises

Breathing Exercise #1 | Breath Retention and Retention Holds

  • Josh recently spent a month in Thailand doing a deep immersive training in SOMA Breathwork
    • “The one thing I learned was that I was actually breathing wrong… and I didn’t even know it
  • While in Thailand, Josh also learned about the idea of breath retention
    • Breath retention is a long period of inhales and exhales (~20-30 fast breaths) through the mouth and nose at the same time
      • This gets as much oxygen into the body as possible, “superoxygenating” your system
    • After a breath retention, it’s common to do a retention hold
      • How? – You pull in your “bathroom muscle” and your core musculature while holding your breath for 30+ seconds (Josh held for 90 seconds his first time)
      • This trains the nervous system to be calm under pressure
        • “In this state, it’s very challenging for most people to feel calm or comfortable. That’s where the training of breathwork actually exists, in that hold. This is the big piece about breathwork I think most people get wrong. They think breathwork is just about breathing fast and then going and laying in ice. It’s about staying calm even though you’re recieving a signal from your nervous system that you potentially should not be calm.”
  • The above exercise only take 3-5 minutes
    • It’d be perfect to do prior to a big meeting or work-related discussion
    • “Anyone that’s involved in a stressful environment can benefit from this breathwork”

Breathing Exercise #2 | The 2-7-8

  • Here’s what you do:
    • Inhale for 2 seconds in through the nose (this fills your diaphragm)
    • Hold your breath for 7 seconds (during this time, the diaphragm is pressing on the vagus nerve)
    • Lastly, breathe out for 8 seconds (letting go of the stress)
  • Josh adds:
    • “This 2-7-8 has been proven to give a performance boost”
    • It’s perfect to do before a big meeting or a talk
      • Josh recently did it prior to moderating a panel at Paleo f(x),

Wim Hof

  • Wim has utilized breathwork to complete a few remarkable feats:
    • He was injected with a harmful virus and was able to completely release it
    • He spent 2 hours in ice all the while keeping his core temperature at a safe level

Breathing Exercise #3 | 21 Warrior Breaths (combined with box breathing)

  • Watch Mike and Josh do it
  • The main goal – get in and out as much air as possible, fully exhaling/inhaling, using both the nose and mouth for 21 cycles
  • At the last count, you exhale fully and hold your breath for 5 seconds (this starts the “box breathing”)
    • Then, you inhale for 5 seconds and hold for an additional 5 seconds
    • Next, exhale for 5 seconds and hold for a final 5 additional seconds

More on the Benefits of Breathwork

  • Breathwork is FREE (along with fasting and exercise)
    • Organic and grass-fed food costs $$$ 
  • 6 deep breaths in and out through the nose has been scientifically proven to shift you into a parasympathetic state
    • If you remember anything from this podcast, make it be this
  • Many people have an easier time meditating if they do breathwork prior
    • Why? – Breathwork relaxes and quiets the monkey mind
    • “Anyone who struggles with meditation would be apt to try breathwork pre-meditation”

What would Josh tell his younger self?

  • “Take a deep breath”
  • Josh has a tattoo on his arm in Italian that translates – “If I can breath, I can choose”

Josh’s Favorite Podcast Interview of His Own

  • His recent interview with Dan Brulé, the founder of Breath Mastery (due out soon)
    • “The way he can explain what breath is doing from a science and spirituality standpoint is utterly fascinating”

Getting Real

  • “The number one thing that blocks us from being authentic is being incongrunent with ourselves. If you dig to the bottom of what makes us unauthentic, it’s because we really haven’t taken in what we think is true and spoken it out into existence.”
    • “We’re not speaking our truth because we’re not fueling it with enough breath”
    • “Inside of us is always the seed of what’s really happening. The real truth is always in there, but people ignore it because it can be scary.”
      • Thus, people escape through work, porn, junk food, etc.
    • “That’s where the juice f life comes from – when we’re just being our damn selves”

Supplements

  • Josh supplements with Qualia (it’s a nootropic)
  • He occasionally has caffeine/coffee (and alcohol) – it’s not an everyday type of thing

Wrapping Up

  • Intelligence has less to do with how much you know and more to do with your ability to gather information, apply that information, and then embody it

Additional Notes

  • Prior to recording a podcast, Josh will do 15 nose inhale/exhales
    • He finds it really calms the nerves
  • “We’re all just getting back to these tools to mitigate stress naturally. Look at animals in the wild – they shake and breath when they’re stressed.”
  • “If we’re not harnessing the power of our breath to mitigate stress, then we’re aging faster than we have to.”
  • The Flow Genome Project is treating PTSD with breathwork
  • Check out Josh’s 21-minute morning routine program
    • It involves: making your bed, hydrating with salt/lemon/water, doing breathwork, meditating, mobilizing, and then journaling
      • “Those 6 things, and plugging in the breathwork before the meditation, have made a huge difference for me”
  • Discussed in Hooked, one of the main reasons we’re so addicted to our phones is because our limbic brains crave a variable response (something brand new every time we pick up our devices)
  • Another book Josh recommends – The Power of Habit
  • The author of Well Designed Life: 10 Lessons in Brain Science & Design Thinking for a Mindful, Healthy, & Purposeful Life (Kyra Bobinet, MD MPH) appeared on Josh’s podcast – check out the episode
  • “Whether you’ve heard of Tim Ferriss or not, there’s a reason he wrote Tools of Titans. It’s because there were common narratives he was seeing with all of his guests that actually move the needle for us in regards to health and well-being. That’s what I do with my podcast.”
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