Episode #8: Oxygen Advantage Meets Conscious Breathing

Patrick McKeown and Daniel Pålsson of Oxygen Advantage meet with Anders Olsson of Conscious Breathing to talk about the latest in breathwork. Anders Olsson talks about his story of how he got into breathing, how it transformed his life and why he sold his house to build Conscious Breathing and spread it to the world. Anders breathing journey started in 2009 when he read a booked called How to Swap Asthma for Life. Anders Olsson discusses how breathing helped his racing mind to unlock the turbo and slow down. Here are a few of the things discussed during the podcast:

  • Patrick McKeown and Anders compare breathing practices to mindfulness such as Vipassana
  • Anders participating in the study at Stanford for James Nestors’ book Breath.
  • How mouth breathing affected – sugar cravings – balance when blindfolded – Stress hormones such as adrenaline
  • Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life + Breathing affects all major disciplines of medicine: sleep, respiration, mental health etc.
  • Importance of sleep
  • Fight flight breathing on our brain function + Breathing taught in schools
  • When we reduce the fear and stress and worry we grow tremendously.
  • Fear holds us back from our potential. + Nasal breathing during exercise
  • Adrenaline levels elevated when hyperventilating
  • Carbon dioxide and breathing
  • Roger Bannister, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer and nasal breathing
  • Climate change and rising CO2 levels (air hunger and hyperventilation)
  • James Nestors’ book Breath + BreathQI + Conscious Breathing is a peace project
  • The future of breathing practice

Episode 8: Oxygen Advantage Meets Conscious Breathing

Published: June 14, 2022

Podcast Transcript

Patrick 0:00
A conversation with all things breathing and this is I supposed three breathing nerds. We just wanted to kind of, we’re having a chat amongst ourselves and we’re wondering where is breathing going, how has breathing arrived at this point, what has held breathing back and anything that’s got to do with it. I’m joined with of course my sidekick here Daniel Pålsson from Sweden and another Swede that many of you will be familiar with is Anders Olsson who was of course on the journey with James Nestor in the book Breath. Welcome everybody.

Anders 0:36
Thank you.

Patrick 0:38
Welcome Anders. Just a little bit of background and let’s kick off. You’ve been teaching breathing. Where did you start, where is it going and all things breathing.

Anders 0:50
Today, you’re outnumbered then by two Swedes right?

Patrick 0:52
Well that’s a hard one so it is. If you start speaking Swedish I’m absolutely out of the picture so we’ll stick to English whatever chance I have.

Anders 1:02
Okay. Well my breathing journey started in 2009 when I read a book How to Swap Asthma for Life. It was to a large extent about the Buteyko Method and how you could actually improve your asthma and eventually make it disappear by just turning to your breathing habits and improve those. Not long after that I took your course in Denmark. That was when we first met.

Patrick 1:34
That was Buteyko wasn’t it? It was. It was Buteyko in Copenhagen because Oxygen Advantage wasn’t around by then.

Anders 1:41
That’s true.

Patrick 1:43
From there so did you have asthma Anders? I can’t remember.

Anders 1:47
No. My issue was mainly a racing mind, problems to unlock the turbo and slow down. I could notice almost immediately that it gave me a new tool, an ability to unlock the turbo, to slow down. Since then I’ve just proven it to myself over and over again that carbon dioxide is really, it has a calming effect on our mind. I don’t mind having my turbo at all. I love it but sometimes it’s not adequate. You need another gear. For me that was a huge thing. I realized when looking back that that was the thing I probably have searched for my whole life, that ability to wind down. It was life-changing actually for me.

Patrick 2:41
Can you imagine the number of people who are searching their whole life and they never actually find that solution? I would say in terms of this is another conversation and I had a conversation with a journalist yesterday talking about, she was talking about very much anxiety but I was saying okay. There’s a lot of attention with people with anxiety but what about the people who don’t necessarily have anxiety but their minds are all over the place and they cannot concentrate. The other question is I had a meeting last night among 40 instructors. I asked them show me how many of you here in this group have been taught how to concentrate. Out of the 40 people only two put up their hands. It ties in with exactly what you’re saying so your mind was racing, you were in turbo and you came across breathing.

Anders 3:30
Yes, simple as that.

Daniel 3:33
Anders, did you try other things before that such as yoga or something else? How did you get into breathing like what led you to breathing?

Anders 3:46
I tried many different things like improving my working habits and thinking habits, sleeping habits. I also tried meditation and yoga but I couldn’t really, for example meditation I couldn’t wind down. It’s not that easy to meditate actually if you live up in your head. At least that was my experience.

Patrick 4:10
Oh it’s total, totally. Anders, we can discuss this that mindfulness, everybody out there knows pretty much about mindfulness. Can you imagine the person with the racing mind that their physiology is in that fight-or-flight response and their sleep is impacted? When they start paying attention to their breathing and their mind is all over the place, the problem is the physiology is off. Jon Kabat-Zinn, even if you were to look at vipassana with, the instructions don’t change your breathing but in actual fact this was fine back in the day when mindfulness was developed as a part of Buddhism where people were living very natural lives. Breathing was probably likely to be better but for the modern individual the one thing that we do need to do is actually change our breathing. It’s interesting that you’d speak about that.

Anders 5:05
That’s my experience as well. Mindfulness and meditation, they’re great but they’re like one, two, three, four steps up the ladder. We need to start with the basics which we have kind of forgotten. Also what I find more and more is the connection with our emotions and with our emotional blockages. When I look back I can realize what was the root cause for my stress levels. For me, it was when I grew up I somehow installed the program saying that in order to be loved I had to perform. My racing mind came from that idea that love is connected to performance and then if you perform more well then you can get more love, sort of which was not very clever but I guess a lot of us as well we go around…

Patrick 6:03
It’s not that it’s not very clever isn’t it? Society wants us to do this. Be good citizens and work your butts off and pay as much tax as possible. Don’t be a lounger. I think society is putting a lot of pressure on us. Also we then put this on our children.

Anders 6:23
Without knowing it. I mean we basically just repeat the things that we were taught by our parents. Unless we’re able to unplug from the rat race and take a step back and see the bigger picture and questioning what am I doing? Then we will just, I guess continue to go on and on and on with tunnel vision and just repeat what we have been taught.

Patrick 6:53
I know I’m sorry Daniel. I’m taking every bit of time here.

Daniel 6:56
No problem.

Patrick 6:58
You stepped out of the rat race and you took that risk then to and I can kind of identify with that to start teaching breathing. It’s quite a big departure. How did it feel? Was it risky? Were you apprehensive about it?

Anders 7:17
I mean I had to sell my house. I had run a quite successful IT company before and I had sold it but then my money started to, I started to run out of money. I had to sell my house. At that time I was either finding a job that could give me an income or I continue to develop the concept I’ve created Conscious Breathing. In order to do that I didn’t have enough money. I had to sell my house. At the time I remember when I gave my first course there was one participant. In the second course there were two participants. One of them who really needed it because he had asthma and you could see it all over his face that he was a chronic mouth breather and fast breather but he decided to quit the course. It was not a brilliant start. At that time I needed to make that decision but at the end of the day it was really, really easy because as soon as I saw myself in a company setting, working for a salary it was like I was trapped. I was boxed in. This was my life mission with spreading the breathing. At the end of the day it was a really easy decision.

Patrick 8:37
Do you think it was good instinct, hunch, intuition, something was driving you there?

Anders 8:43
Yes, indeed absolutely. It was my gut feeling. Before I didn’t always have the ability to access that. I believe when we live up in our head it’s really hard to be connected with our heart and our emotions and with our gut and our stomach and our gut feelings so yes, absolutely. I think it was the right decision.

Daniel 9:04
What year was that roughly?

Anders 9:08
That was 2009, 2010.

Daniel 9:12
Then actually it’s kind of interesting that we’ve got myself done a few podcasts because you did, you’ve done a few experiments here in Sweden and Clas Björling, who has been on one of our podcasts. He was on one of your so to speak your experiments. I know you did an experiment, I’m not really sure 10 years ago roughly or whatever it was with James Nestor when you, I guess you mouth-breathed, forced to mouth breathe for a week and how that affected your mind and your body. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Anders 9:46
That was in 2018. We did that in Stanford. Actually it was 10 days we blocked our nose so we could only mouth breathe. When James asked me do you want to participate? No, I said but I’m far too curious to not do it. It was a mixed feeling when we started that plugging our nose and only mouth breathing but I don’t want to have it undone because it was really, really interesting to be a 100% mouth breather for that long. At least that was how I felt in 10 days. It had a huge negative impact on my sleep, on my stress levels, on my sugar cravings, on my mind. Many times I felt really stupid actually. The balance, that was interesting how it affected my balance as well. One of the things we did just as an example. We measured tons of things three times per day, one hour each time. In total three hours per day plus a lot of things we measured at Stanford. One of the things was to just close our eyes and stand on one leg. With mouth breathing I had to put down the other foot six times more than with nasal breathing. That’s really a lot.

Patrick 11:13
I think that is partly due to the position of the tongue but there’s very little research on it Anders. There was one study that they did something similar. They blindfolded individuals and they changed the position of the tongue and with the position of the tongue resting in the roof of the mouth they had better balance on an uneven surface. It’s very, very interesting that most people won’t consider but in the main it’s kind of sad to think that between 25% to 50% percent of studied children persistently mouth breathe and nobody is saying anything. Most doctors don’t see a difference between breathing through the nose and breathing through the mouth. They don’t see that difference. It’s really, really amazing.

Anders 11:59
It is. Unfortunately, it’s detrimental for our health. You know the book Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life that came out 150 years ago?

Patrick 12:09

Anders 12:11
Even though you could dismiss it as just anecdotal because he doesn’t have any actual data from the Indian tribes but what he saw more than anything was that they had their mouth closed and they had superior health, straight teeth and beautiful faces compared to the at the time in the 1850s the bill of mortality only one out of four could celebrate their 25th birthday. Three out of four they died before that age. For sure, the tongue in the roof of the mouth and nasal breathing it has such a huge impact.

Patrick 12:54
It was written about again, sorry Daniel, back in 1909 I think it was an article by DeLong in a journal called Dental Cosmos and when you’re reading it, it talks about children in class being inattentive. The teacher is accusing these children of not paying attention. The face is dull and expressionless. We could read that today 113 or 114 years later, it’s the exact same issues as back in 1909. Why do you think it hasn’t moved on? Why there is something holding breathing back?

Anders 13:29
Well, I think there are few things but still when I started and you started much earlier than me. Then at the time it was really not very well known compared to then today it’s a huge difference but still we’re just scratching the surface. I see a few things. One is the medical community. I mean you can’t really train to become a doctor for six, seven, eight years and tell people how to breathe. Anyone could tell that. If you think of breathing just like a very simple thing but actually it is much more complex than we think. Another thing I think…

Patrick 14:14
Sorry. Do you think it’s too simple for the medical doctor? Why spend eight years training in medical school and devote a part of that eight years to something which is regarded as kind of left field, woo woo even though it’s entirely based in physiology and even though you could argue that it impacts all of the major disciplines of medicine: Sleep, respiration, mental health, movement?

Anders 14:43
I think that’s a part of it, yes. There are very few people that can build their career on doing breathing research for example. There should be more. I mean if I’m 25 and okay, I want to cure cancer. You probably won’t go for breathing immediately. You would consider other paths. You also need funding. Probably the funding for breathing isn’t really there either. I think there are a lot of things and also the fact that in the medical community you have all these specialties. If you’re specialized in the nose or specialized in asthma or you’re specialized in the heart you may not be able to see the bigger picture. You may not be able to see that oh, we have a common denominator here that people are not breathing very well. I think also another factor is it to go to us as individuals because taking responsibility for our breath that really means that we also take responsibility for our health and our life. Not a lot of us are prepared to do that. That’s scary but many of us I think we spend most of our life just running away from the things that scares us the most, the traumas we have which we all have right?

Daniel 16:18
Anders, the breathing is kind of hidden in plain sight. It’s something you do so many times you don’t really pay attention to it. It shifts slowly for most people for years. You don’t think about it. You kind of just adjust to it. It’s like same with weight gains to some degree. If you gain 70 pounds overnight you would notice it but if you do it over 40 years you don’t really think about it. I think one reason, I saw you also have an Oura ring. I could see that. Now you can actually see it. You get like these data points every day or visualizations. I think that will help like a portable doctor. That will give people feedback and help them say oh, it’s getting worse or better. Before there wasn’t really until something happened. Somebody would ask me or something but if you’re kind of like in between, you’re kind of like oh, you just live with it. I think it’s part of it. I think as well that it’s something you should naturally do. Most people think about like Patrick said we don’t breathe the same way we did thousands of years ago. We have a completely different life but we assume our physiology will be the same. It’s not when you sit still all day, look at screens. You have the stress all day. That alters the breathing pattern. I think it’s tricky. Then also to pay for something that’s free. You do it already.

Anders 17:53
It doesn’t fit in our economy right?

Daniel 17:57
Yes, even though you may argue this is one of the most important things you can do. If you learn how to change it still, I think that’s the dichotomy. That’s the paradox why it’s kind of what I call hidden in plain sight because you can’t really see it.

Anders 18:14
No. As you say I really think that all these gadgets can help people understand what is the price for the lifestyle choices I make. For example if you have a tracker at night you will be able to see that maybe alcohol has a negative impact on my sleep or eating too late or eating too much or unplugging from social media too late, etc.

Daniel 18:43
I think for many people that’s the first step awareness. Awareness that it matters. Then once you’re aware then you have to know what to do. It’s not enough to have a gadget that just tells you okay, these are the numbers. Then you have to know what to do, why you’re doing it, when you’re doing it. Also like anything else you need kind of people to help you to build the habits sometimes like even though you know what to eat people don’t do it. Even though we know exercise is good for you, you don’t do it. I think it’s a long road and we’re still at the awareness stage in the breathing world I would say. There’s not enough people in the world that’s aware of it.

Anders 19:23
I agree totally but we are moving in the right direction. One reason I believe why we know all the things that are good for us and still we don’t do them. I think it boils down to energy. There sleep is so important. In today’s society we have a tendency to, I mean it’s almost wow, you have a superpower. You only sleep five hours per night. Wow and we are jealous about that person but I’m not sure if that is long-term beneficial. I think we should prioritize sleep much more and just if we ask the question, do you wake up to the alarm? If we do that that means actually that we are depriving our body of the sleep it needs and wants. I think most people do that. What we also forget if we have realized that sleep is important we tend to forget the connection between breathing and sleep. It’s not only about laying down in bed and sleep. We also have to consider our breathing while sleeping.

Daniel 20:33
I agree. What’s as far as where do you think breathing is at right now? What does it take to make it move forward? Do you have any ideas of what you think should happen to make it, more awareness around the world?

Anders 20:55
I know Victor Hugo, he said nothing is stronger than an idea whose time has come. I guess it’s just for us breathing nerds to continue spreading this simple knowledge. We plant seeds and over time those seeds will grow and over time people will tell other people so at some point we will create a tipping point and it will just be very natural I think for people to not in the first instance when they have health issues go to surgery or pills or syringes but to go to themselves and see what they can do. A lot of things like sleep and breathing and emotional release, those are free or moving and exercising.

Daniel 21:52
I think I saw it was Mind Valley that said they’re kind of trying to create this new type of university but basically at the bottom of their teaching or whatever you want to call it is focus. if you’re not focused you’re not kind of open to whatever subject you’re talking about math or English or whatever but if you want to be focused breathing is key.

Anders 22:17
Focus needs energy. Our brain is our main consumer of oxygen. If we have fight flight breathing when we’re concentrating it may not be optimum.

Daniel 22:30
For me I think we need to get it, it’s important to get it into schools. That’s the point. You need to bring it back to the generation growing up where breathing is then a natural thing that you actually learn to breathe and focus before or in parallel with other subjects because if you’re not focused then the door is shut for learning. It’s kind of like you’re in school but nothing. You don’t really learn so then they test people more and more. It makes them more and more stressed. Instead maybe focus on teaching young kids how to breathe and how to focus and then slowly bring them into actually learning the subjects. That’s like kind of the opposite but then it becomes a habit. When the habit is formed and it’s automatic then it becomes natural. I think it could also be a generation issue. It’s going to happen sooner or later but it may take 10, 15, 50 years. Who knows but hopefully sooner than later?

Patrick 23:27
I think it needs to start straight away Daniel. I think it’s absolutely terrible. I went through the school system as all of us have done. I didn’t have a great experience with it. I got out at 14 years of age never to go back out of total frustration. You can have very, very bright kids with poor sleep and poor breathing. They are not going to do well academically. Their self-confidence is going to be affected for this for the rest of their life because you will always compare yourself to your peers when you’re in that classroom environment because society is telling you whether you’re intelligent or not based on what you do academically even though of course it has got very little to do with intelligence. It’s got something to do with it but it’s not the entire picture. I’m just thinking of the number of kids in school and in high school and in university where the point that you made there is a demand and an absolute need to be focused, to narrow your attention to one thing, to be able to hold your attention, to be concentrated and also to have a decent attention span. It has been completely overlooked in the education system. These kids are not being taught how to concentrate. It’s not about mindfulness. I think it’s huge. I think it’s crying out for help. Maybe the, I don’t want to go into the religion to ask too much but sometimes I feel that it’s kind of ironic that interest in institutionalized religion is wavering and decreasing and interest in breathing is increasing. I’m wondering is breathing going to be the void or fill the void to some degree because as human beings we need to be able to have something that when things go wrong that we have some tools to bring us solace. Traditionally it was the church. Things go wrong, you visited Mass. You had a higher being who was looking after you and it gave you relief. Now when things go wrong many people are not going to church. Could breathing be that solace?

Anders 25:49
I think that’s a really interesting point Patrick. One way of looking at it I think is that not only religion we can also see how we in general we look for external things. We look for authorities whether they are religious or political leaders or money or medication we have a tendency to overlook the enormous power we have inside. I think you are right that we are doing a shift where we put less and less of our efforts into external authorities as we turn to our breathing and are able then to connect with our inner self and our inner power. I did a podcast interview a couple of days ago and there we discussed a study which I think is really interesting. They did it on rats and those poor rats but that’s I guess how it is. They throw them in water and they wanted to see how long they would survive before drowning.

Patrick 26:53
It’s so mad.

Anders 26:56
It’s not very nice, these poor rats but anyway they, on average for 15 minutes they survived before sinking down and drowning but before they drowned they picked them up and put them to the side. Then they were laying there for a few minutes just catching their breath. Then they threw them in the water again because they wanted to see how long would they be able to do it the second time, a shorter time the same or longer. I thought maybe they would only be able to do shorter because I thought maybe they were then conditioned to giving up but they did longer and not only longer they did a huge amount longer. They were able to stay there for 60 hours. They went from 15 minutes to 60 hours just because their mind first they were in fight flight, doing away with all their resources, they were in a panic state, probably breathing very fast and all the alert systems were on red alert. The second time they were sure that someone would save them. They were more calmer, more relaxed, probably the breathing was then also more relaxed. They had hope. They knew that there was someone caring for them but there wasn’t actually someone caring for them but that was probably what they thought. I think when we reduce the fear and stress and worry we can grow as human beings enormously. We have so much untapped potential whether it’s our health or whether it’s love and cooperation because right now we are not so nice. Not to each other, not to the planet, not to the animals, not to the plants. I think we need to step up in order to give something nice to our kids that are growing up now.

Patrick 28:55
I totally agree.

Daniel 28:59
That’s an interesting study. What was the purpose of it? Did they actually check their breathing specifically or was it…

Anders 29:06
No, I don’t think so. It was more to see how they would react.

Daniel 29:11

Anders 29:12
I’ll send you the study.

Daniel 29:16
Because I mean there have been other studies. I think you had them in your book Patrick as far as with CO2 and these rats are living. I can’t remember the name.

Patrick 29:28
Oh that was the naked mole rat.

Daniel 29:29
The naked mole rat that don’t get cancer and so but that’s more in a natural habitat.

Patrick 29:36
It is and it’s always difficult as well to kind of show that relationship like we know that they’re able to survive in high CO2 environment, low oxygen environment. Is it because of the CO2 and the low oxygen that they’re able to resist cancer? Nobody has really that answer but there’s something in it. It’s interesting. It is.

Daniel 30:00
But also moving forward I think schools are very important for it to really take off because there is where you form the habit and also it becomes a part of your life. You need some good habits to kind of like you do physical exercise. You can of course combine it with physical exercise but you actually do it but I think actually also, I think Wim Hof has really also helped everybody in this community to make it very visual of breathing, with more forceful breathing in the cold. I think if people are led to that breathing method they will naturally over time go somewhere else. I think that’s a natural progression I think in every area wherever you are. I think that also helps. You can see it but it’s still moving forward. I think yoga is great but it’s more like what we’re trying to do here is to bring breathing into everyday life, every second at work. It’s not something you do in the basement and then for two hours or one hour then you’re done.

Anders 31:06
We take a thousand breaths we take per hour. If we want to unlock the turbo how can we move away from fight, flight breathing to rest and digest, safe and secure breathing?

Patrick 31:21
Anders, the question that I often feel is based on Daniel’s point there. All of the sports sciences and professors working in this field, teaching, strength and conditioning coaches and teaching all of those youngsters who are going to go out into the fitness industry. Why have they no interest in breathing? Why have they no interest in nasal breathing during exercise? Why are they not looking at the relationship between breathing and movement because we know of course if breathing is off movement is off and the athlete has an increased risk of injury. Why aren’t they not looking at breathing in terms of changing states of mind? I’m really intrigued. Even just coming back to the one thing about the nose because if we bring it down to that very, very basic level there’s only been a handful of sports medicine sciences. One is George Dallam from Colorado State University and he’s been very interested in it because he’s seen the results with triathletes that he’s been working with at a very high level. What do you think is going to cause that shift because Daniel, I’m just thinking. Can you imagine every strength conditioning coach in the gym and all of these members coming into the gym, all of the personal trainers and if the personal trainers were aware of it. You breathe through your nose. You got better recruitment of the diaphragm, all of the stuff that we know that could be transformative.

Anders 32:52
It could be and I have one take on that there was a study where they measured adrenaline levels. They were hyperventilating and normal air first. The adrenaline levels rose by I think 360%. Then they did it again a week later. They hyperventilated but this time the air was spiked with 5% CO2 so the CO2 levels were more or less the same. Then the adrenaline levels didn’t change either telling us that when you lower CO2 because in the first hyperventilating they reduced the CO2 by about 50% then adrenaline goes up. If we take a step back and ask ourselves why do we love to exercise. Maybe one reason is because we want that adrenaline rush. If we do nasal breathing and keep more CO2 in our body it’s like we’re taking away that effect from people. There is something missing. No, I don’t know what it is but I don’t like it. I want to be in fight flight state. I want to feel strong based on adrenaline but I think there is another level being strong based on higher levels of CO2. Then you actually don’t need your fists as much. You don’t need to run for your life. You feel just strong from the inside out. That could be an explanation.

Daniel 34:25
I think that comes back Patrick to your question a little bit what we talked about before that there is science. Maybe they haven’t read it but they haven’t done it necessarily in school so they haven’t experienced it for themselves. Then they haven’t seen it on others and then they haven’t read the science.

Patrick 34:41
I think this is the key Daniel.

Daniel 34:43
This is progression. You have to have those three in place. If you only have some science but you haven’t tried on anybody else, you haven’t tried it on yourself then it’s not strong enough.

Patrick 34:56
The key is the reason that I’m in breathing and so many more including yourselves, when we practiced this specific pattern of breathing we got results and we knew there was something in it. I think what has held breathing back is that breathing has been taught all over the shop for the last number of decades, we’d say the last 40 decades, with not having a full understanding of what’s actually involved with breathing that it’s more complex, that it’s more multi-dimensional. Not to rely on the extroverted breathing technique of hyperventilation or not even hyperventilation simply filling your lungs full of air. The problem which has held back the biochemistry of breathing and when you’re talking about carbon dioxide Anders is when you’re doing really, really light breathing, subtle breathing, under breathing there is nothing to see but this was really caught me. I remember when I started practicing this breathing less air which totally flies in the face of what everybody, many people are talking about even to this day. The temperature of my hands increased. When you experience changes in your body as a result of that you know there’s something in it. It does come back to what Daniel’s saying. This is not about theory. This is about practicing exercises to open up your nose to improve your blood vessels, to increase oxygen delivery, to change states and to experience it. What do you think?

Anders 36:27
I agree totally. I mean the day some athlete does something that Roger Bannister did. He did the impossible. When someone wins an Olympic gold medal in 5000 meters and just doing nasal breathing then probably and world record then probably.

Patrick 36:51
It’s going to be black people do have a better, African origin have a much better nasal structure than ourselves, especially a white person like me with one nostril is smaller than the others. I’m not going to be doing any 5000 meters but that would be the key because your ability to do physical exercise with the mouth closed is going to be influenced by nose size and nasal cavity size but it could happen. You’ve seen the photographs of Sanya Richards-Ross, I think is the runner. She’s a 400 meters sprinter. She won a number of golds in the London Olympics. In a few photographs online you see her on full flight and she’s got her mouth closed like it’s pretty amazing. I think it does need and that’s why Wim Hof in terms of he has been able to put it out there because of course what he’s been able to achieve in terms of the extreme feats. It seems that it’ll get attention when there’s something huge.

Daniel 37:52
It’s also I think when they run Patrick, I think it’s only if you’re observing somebody and like yourself you see one person mouth breathing which is normal when you run 400 meters or 5000 meters versus another one who’s not but if they had these like they had tape on their noses in football. I can’t even remember 15 years ago but it didn’t really, I guess it was there for a year or two then it didn’t really take off. At least you saw it. When you have something physical, something that you can see but if you don’t see it again, it’s hidden because most people wouldn’t pay attention. Oh, he’s not breathing. There is actually a few videos on Instagram with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer where they go back and forth for like 30 shots, unbelievably running from side to side. Most people don’t think about it but what I find amazing is after the point they’re both nose breathing. You don’t see them panting at all. It’s unbelievable but most people wouldn’t pay attention because it’s kind of hidden. I think that’s one reason. It’s almost the more successful you are the less you breathe, the less you see it. That’s one part of the reason I think.

Patrick 39:15
Where do we need to go with it?

Anders 39:17
I have one idea and that is that actually well, first when I spread Conscious Breathing I don’t try to convince anyone. I’m just planting seeds. I’m just turning to those who are willing to listen. In the beginning I tried to save the world, try to reach everyone but then I realized…

Patrick 39:39
It doesn’t work.

Anders 39:41
It doesn’t work.

Patrick 39:42
Their eyes glaze over. Here’s another weirdo left of field.

Anders 39:46
How can I get out of here?

Patrick 39:48
I’ve been there too.

Anders 39:50
Yes but one thing I’m thinking is that actually nature is playing on our side because we see that whether we believe in climate change or not there is an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. If we try to understand what was the reason why the civilized people in the 1850s living in cities had much poorer health than the savages, the Indian people referred to in this book Shut Your Mouth and Save Your Life. One reason could be maybe that they spent more time indoors, they had more insulated houses and then the CO2 levels, they increase because we are CO2 factories. Nowadays, we spend like 90% of our time indoors and we have very well insulated houses. The CO2 levels are about two times as high as the atmospheric levels which are also increasing. Our exposure to CO2 is getting bigger and bigger. Now with the last couple of years, with the lockdowns where we spent even more times indoors and with the masks where we re-breathe even more of the CO2 than normally. That it’s like we’re coming to a crossroad. Either you are able to deal with these higher levels of CO2 that you’re exposed to and you’re able to reach a new level of awareness or you fall into the other category where you start to breathe more. I’m not saying that I like what’s going on when we dig up all the oil and we consume way too much because that’s the structure of our community. If we stop consuming the whole society will fall apart. We need to consume. I’m not saying that I like that but maybe it’s helping us to reach a new level of awareness so that we can create a society that is more long-term sustainable.

Patrick 42:00
It’s difficult to know because I think the vast majority of people, even wearing the masks, react to the increased CO2 and air hunger with hyperventilation.

Anders 42:10
They do. That’s my point. It’s like a crossroad. If you’re able to deal with it then you will actually be able to benefit from it but most, I agree, most people they will probably end up open up their mouth and breathe higher up in the chest.

Patrick 42:25
This initially then comes down to it’s really the awareness that you spoke about. You’re talking about in and out through the nose, breathing light, breathing slow, breathing low.

Daniel 42:37
I find it interesting. I’m going back to what you just said early on. It’s about kind of saving the world and planting seeds. Even though I agree with it, is there really no way to accelerate that process when there’s something so important. It seems like maybe a naive illusion but at the same time something that’s that important is there no way because the people who are interested in breathing are normally there’s too few and they have usually some sort of, they’re biohackers have some sort of problem but it’s not the masses. How do you reach them? Any ideas on that?

Anders 43:24
I mean for me that’s where I come from stress, performance, tension. If I adopt that mentality I will see myself being more stressed, more tense. No, I just continue with the one step at a time, more Zen approach, otherwise I would not be able to do this I think. I would be too frustrated.

Daniel 43:49
I understand that.

Patrick 43:52
It’s easy to fall into it Anders. Well, I suppose Daniel if we look at what has really catapulted this was in the last couple of years was James Nestor’s book Breath. We need more books getting out there into the public imagination. If I was asked what was the single biggest thing that made the biggest contribution to breathing in the last 20 years it was that book.

Anders 44:19
I agree.

Patrick 44:20
In many instances it was, we were working in the cold. We were working then that’s a lot of the information. In our circle we knew it but we didn’t have the ability of getting it out there and that general public. James is able to script a wonderful book with stories to capture the imagination. We need more of that but I think it’s about targeting it from a number of different perspectives. If I was asked what sector has the biggest potential to transform lives is the yoga community. Can you think of the modern yoga instructor that understands breathing from a biochemical point of view, a biomechanical point of view, a resonance frequency point of view, that understands the vagus nerve, understands sleep, understands changing states, understands how to assess the breathing of the student coming into class and understands how to bring breathing off the mat and all of those hundreds of thousands of people going into yoga studios with asthma, with panic disorder, with high stress, with insomnia, with all of these issues that the yoga instructor could transform this by simply bringing this information. It’s the knowledge. It’s not that anything massive has to be done. It’s just a matter of tweaking what’s already out there. We have to put aside the image that breathing is about left of field and woo-woo and airy fairy and energy and crystals and all of that. Breathing is absolutely for the people. That’s where we need to drive it. I think it’s happening. I think it’s happening but I don’t know where to bring it. That’s my issue.

Anders 46:15
But maybe they were just like James’ book came and made a huge difference. Probably there would be new things coming from the side and help to grow this. Regarding research, I think is very important and my dream has been for a long time to create my own research institute. I’m still working on it. We have this device we have been developing now for almost five years.

Patrick 46:42
What’s it about? You’re going to let me into your secrets.

Anders 46:45
Oh yes. It’s called BreathQI. You basically analyze, it’s like a capnometer. You analyze the oxygen and the carbon dioxide and your breathing frequency, your breathing volume, your breathing rhythm and also the temperature and humidity. I mean the big vision with this product is if a dog can smell cancer or diabetes which they can. Why in the world shouldn’t our electronic nose also be able to do the same? I think that we will be able to discover over time when we have a lot of measurements and data, see patterns and see like okay there is a breath print like a fingerprint for an asthmatic, for a person with panic attacks, for a person with sleep problems, etc.

Patrick 47:38
A breath DNA.

Anders 47:39
Yes, a breath DNA.

Daniel 47:41
I think that’s a part as well Anders and Patrick is when you get these parametric devices more and more, when that becomes mainstream and you’re looking to see what effects and eventually you will hear about breathing and then eventually everybody will have them whenever that is but you I can tell when people have it on. It’s still far from mainstream but it’s getting more and more exposure. Also of course a ring that’s like maybe that’s the point. You don’t really pay attention unless you’re looking for it. Again but eventually it will happen. I think it’s very important to get that feedback in the first couple of years or whatever it is to see what affects you because if you don’t do it then you don’t really know if you’re going in the right direction. I think all these devices I know some are negative will help to spread it and eventually get into schools as well.

Patrick 48:40
It would be wonderful. In terms of the final, 10 years from now I really feel that the trajectory where it’s going Anders, is going to be very interesting. I think it’s moving. I know traditionally when a concept gets into health, it takes about 20 to 25 years. It takes 500 papers on PubMed. Now, I suppose we can also draw on the research over the last 30 years with heart rate variability. In many ways we have the research out there in terms of changing states and resilience. It’s knowing the techniques then to impact that and it comes back to the devices that Daniel was talking about. The devices are giving you feedback but the real question is how do you alter, how do you improve it, how do you optimize it. We can do that by breathing. It does start with sleep. I would agree with you and also with nasal breathing because if you have insomnia and sleep disorder breathing, already your recovery is going to be impacted negatively. It is also brought in by your everyday but one thing that you seem to feel that breathing could be the savior of the planet. I don’t want to put that out in an exaggerated way but you see that there’s a role that would people become more engrossed, not engrossed with breathing but more aware of their breathing that it will give them a better capacity to be more caring for themselves, for the people they’re around but also for the environment at large.

Anders 50:22
I am absolutely 100% certain about that. For me the Conscious Breathing project, I mainly talk about it as a health project, a performance project but at the end of the day the core is a peace project because if you have peace on the inside there will be peace on the outside. You will communicate more peacefully. You will act more peacefully. You will be kinder. You will cooperate better. I think that is where we need to go. I think we’re all in this together. We do this journey together. It doesn’t matter if I take care of myself very good. I eat all the right things. I breathe, I sleep, etc. and then someone that is not feeling well is getting drunk and goes into the car and drive me over. It doesn’t really matter then how well I have taken care of myself. I really think we need to have the attitude of helping each other that really we do this together. Let’s help each other to grow and evolve and become a better version of ourselves. I think breathing is a core. I mean it helps you to coordinate. The breathing rhythm will affect the heart rhythm, the brain rhythm and the digestive rhythm. We will be able to sync with the breath as the leader, as the CEO in Me Incorporated. It will be able to sync the brain waves, with the heart rhythm, with the stomach.

Daniel 52:04
It’d be very interesting in five years’ time or maybe sooner. Hopefully sooner to come back and kind of see where breathing is at. Maybe if you can go back and say well, it was because of biometric devices. It was because of influencer Instagram or whatever or maybe everything or whatever it is because it will be very interesting. I guess most of the time whenever you guess you make the wrong prediction. It would be very interesting to do that actually because I think like both of you see it. There’s a lot of things going on in the breathing space and it’s kind of going faster and faster so I think ironically so I think in five years’ time we’ll see we’re at a place and maybe breathing is at a completely different place. It would be very interesting at least to see.

Patrick 53:03
It’s super. Well, I think it’s been a pleasure.

Daniel 53:07
Yes, absolutely.

Anders 53:09

Patrick 53:09
Anders and Daniel, it’s been very good. It’s actual fact different podcasts because we’ve spoken at least oftentimes you feel the podcasts that kind of you talk about the one thing over and over and over and over. Here we did something different so that was kind of nice.

Anders 53:23
I love that.

Patrick 53:25
It’s always good.

Anders 53:26
We’ll do it again.

Daniel 53:28

Patrick 53:29
If people want to find out a little bit more about you they go to your website.

Anders 53:33
ConsciousBreathing.com and it’s the same name on Facebook and YouTube and Instagram Conscious Breathing.

Patrick 53:40
It’s a pleasure guys.

Daniel 53:41
Great, thank you so much Anders.

Anders 53:43
Thank you.

Patrick 53:44
Thank you Anders.

Anders 53:45
Thank you.


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About the author

Anders Olsson is a lecturer, teacher and founder of the Conscious Breathing concept and the author of Conscious Breathing. After living most of his life with a ”hurricane of thoughts” bouncing back and forth in is head, Anders was fortunate enough to come across tools that have helped him relax and find his inner calm. The most powerful of these tools has undoubtedly been to improve his breathing habits, which made Anders decide to become the worlds most prominent expert in breathing. This is now more than 10 years ago and since then he has helped tens of thousands of people to a better health and improved quality of life.

Anders Olsson

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14th - 15th - 16th September 2022