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Hello! My intelligent rebels.
In 2016, I was very lucky to meet Stig Severinsen. Stig Severinsen is a Danish man who is a worldwide record holder of holding your breath underwater. And, guess how long he kept his breath underwater? 22 minutes. Yes, that’s right 22 minutes. Well to be fair, he breathed pure oxygen just before which doubled his performance but still it’s a pretty impressive performance. He’s also a holder of a worldwide record of freediving under ice. So, he’s just the master of breath. In this video, he shares how you too can learn some breathing techniques that you can apply in every field of your life every day to have more performances and to be more serene, and to be more zen in your life. So, without further ado, here is Stig Severinsen from the end of 2016.Hi Stig!
Stig Severinsen: Hi! How are you?
Olivier Roland: Stig first, I said you are our worldwide champion of freediving. Can you explain what it is briefly?
Stig Severinsen: Yes, it’s… Freediving is holding your breath underwater and doing something.
Olivier Roland: All right.
Stig Severinsen: So, you can dive deep. I had the world record in that. I was the first to break 200 feet limits. You can swim in long-distance which I really like because I come from a swimming background. So, you swim. I have some Guinness World Records in this and some other world records. So, the specialty I really like is diving under ice.
Olivier Roland: Under ice.
Stig Severinsen: “Plonger sous la glace” in French or something like this. But, really exploring the body in the most natural way. So, we were in East Greenland and doing some records. And it was fabulous because when you really meet this vastness of nature, you know, you become so small. And you understand you’re just a little, nothing in the universe.
So, it’s a great way to challenge yourself and this is just what I do. I don’t recommend anyone to go out and dive under ice but it’s just a demonstration for me that in life, we all face challenges. And it’s my way of like an artistic expression of a metaphor for a difficult challenge, a task, you know like the hero’s journey. “Okay you come to slay the dragon and you plan you travel for days and years and then finally you’re here.”
So you know, you have to see if you’re a man or a mouse, right? So for me it’s a very interesting thing because then with the breathing and with the right mindset, you can overcome the cold water and maybe make a world record.
And this is my point, I want to show that there’s an incredible power in breathing and conscious breathing because it controls our life energy. And, the life energy controls our focus, and the focus controls or dictates our success, and success hopefully dictates our happiness.
Olivier Roland: Yeah. I mean, how long have you been under ice?
Stig Severinsen: It’s not so much about it, it’s more the distance. So, 500 feet is one Guinness world record I have, 250 feet is another one. Maybe, people have seen it. On YouTube because it went like a viral because that was last year this ice bucket challenge, and you know for a good cause to raise money, but so, some people put my videos and say “Oh, here’s a real challenge not just pouring some water on the head”. But, let’s not talk so much about the records, people can Google or YouTube or something.
Olivier Roland: You can choose the videos on YouTube, we put some link under the video.
Stig Severinsen: So it’s just numbers, it’s this and that. But yeah, you’re right 22 minutes. I was the first to break 20 minutes on breath hold in the world and that was a great honor also to break a human barrier. It’s all about mental barriers, right.
We put these limiting beliefs on ourselves from the medical world, from the entrepreneurial world, from a socio-economical world. We put these limiting beliefs so we live in scarcity and we’re not really sharing our full potential.
So, when I do this diving, it’s not because I’m crazy. If you think I’m crazy, it’s fine, a little bit crazy is good. But it’s actually very controlled. I’m very perfectionistic, I’m very passionate but it’s not just the world record. I’m a four times world champion as you explained. You know, I could be six, eight, ten times, it doesn’t matter I don’t change the world.
So now, when I do these dives under ice in shark tanks like I said, I was the first to break twenty minutes. In 2010, I did twenty minutes ten. So, I demonstrate that I can focus so much on a task that I end up at twenty minutes ten seconds like the year 2010.
Olivier Roland: So, you obviously have an amazing discipline or willpower. Can you share some tools you use or are using right now to increase this discipline or willpower to make things easier, you know?
Stig Severinsen: Well, they’re different things.
Everything I do in life, I do it from breathing. We all do this because we breathe every day. We breathe about thirty thousand times a day actually, but many people don’t think about it. So, one good thing for everyone is to just elevate the consciousness. So, to stop to think more about how do you use your energy and also how do you generate more energy if you need it. So, we generate energy from people around us, from good food, from making exercise but the core energy, we create it from breathing and we translate oxygen into energy.
I work a lot on breathing exercises and stretching and keeping the body subtle. And what happens is also that your brain becomes smarter or more creative, because when you start to connect the breathing and the way you think in a more subtle way, you can start to connect the dots so to speak you start to be able to open different areas of your brain. And then, also we can talk about moving into different mind states.
So, you can move into a process that I’m sure every entrepreneur and every person in the world has experienced, it’s called “flow”. And, flow is a term from sports psychology coined by the very famous sport psychologist Mihály Csikszentmihályi, that I’m honored to call my friend as well, but a very, very intelligent, wonderful man who did interviews with thousands of top athletes and artists.
And, he asked them “So, can you point out some of the key elements when you’re totally in your passion, when you love what you do, when you have almost like a creator in your arm? You don’t know what you’re doing, things are just happening automatically and your brain is fired up, it’s like a firework. And, you don’t actually demand any direction, you just stay open”.
So, there are many mindsets you can enter and “flow” is one of them. “Flow” is when you become what you do. One very interesting key factor is that time disappears. If you need to plan something or evaluate something or create something, it’s an incredible ability if you can find what you would call “work flow”. So, find the flow between your skill and the challenge. If the challenge is too easy, we all know what happens, it’s boring. You don’t get the job done. If it’s too difficult, what happens?
Olivier Roland: You give up.
Stig Severinsen: You give up or even worse you get stressed. Many, many people get stressed because the task doesn’t fit their level of expertise or they maybe believe they don’t have the skill. Even though they have, it’s a limiting belief and that will stop them from moving, advancing forward.
So, I think a lot about how breathing and different situation affect me and the incredible thing about breathing is that, it is the communication between us. It’s the silent communication. So when I breathe, the breathing is in you. The breathing is in people around us, in the plants and animals. It comes back, we exhale the CO2, the carbon dioxide, the plants make the photosynthesis and we get the oxygen. So, we help each other in biology because I’m a biologist. It’s called a symbiotic mutual relationship.
Olivier Roland: You are a biologist and you have PhD in medicine.
Stig Severinsen: PhD in medicine. So, I come from a world of research and science but I am a biologist at heart.
Olivier Roland: Okay.
Stig Severinsen: It’s my passion: animals, ocean, nature, all colors. It’s just, you know, biology means the science of life. “Bios” is a Greek word for life and “Logos” is learning or knowledge. So, biology is the science of life, what is more interesting. Maybe entrepreneurship, the science of real life.
Olivier Roland: Yeah.
Stig Severinsen: But no, in general, the breathing is so fascinating because it is secret and it is subtle communication. We all know when we feel sad or we give up, you know the body language but it’s also the breathing, we hardly can breathe. Ah… it comes up here in the tub, especially if you’re stressed also.
It is long breathing, you know? It’s tough long breathing. So, its chest, its chest, its chest. You’re not in the diaphragm, you’re not in the creative space, you know, you’re tensing up and your brain does not have room to move. You know, you’re tense, the signals are not coming back and forth, and then, you lose your creative energy and your imagination, so to speak if you have a job or a project where you need to be very creative and find new solutions.
So, I use the breathing a lot for that. And the breathing I think, the most important thing maybe that people should understand is that breathing is the master of your life, and it’s the best teacher.
So, I used to say breathing is like the most certain lie detector, right? If you want to lie to yourself, well it’s the truth, you know, machine. So, you cannot lie to yourself. You can try to put nice clothes, you can… you know… If, you know, you had more hair than me, maybe…
Olivier Roland: If you breathe badly it means you’re stressed and not as happy as you should, right?
Stig Severinsen: Exactly. But I’m just saying outer appearance. You can, you know, look good in clothing, you can do many things, you can even go to the gym and look great but you are not happy inside, you don’t feel great.
So, we can keep up appearances. You know, we can put a mask. We do that in many situations in life but breathing, you cannot trick. You cannot trick your breathing. You know, when you sit down for one minute in your life whether it’s to check for happiness or for fear or for excitement, when you check in with your breathing, it will tell you exactly how you’re doing.
If you have lost control of the breathing and you’re jumping up and down, you’re sad, you have fear, you are… maybe going into panic. If you are talking slowly and with a soft voice and your breathing is very slow and long on the exhale, and there’s a pause before you start again and it’s because you’re looking at a baby or a rabbit. You know, bunny rabbit like something nice, right or something that you like, you know artists, painting or something that’s incredible “Ah that’s amazing”.
But, when you are stressed, you have no break. There is no pause in your… in your breathing and your talking. “That’s not my fault, if you do that again I’m going to fire you because I am telling you the last time”. So, this creates a lot of negative tension around you.
So, the breathing mandates the energy around you. It’s not spiritual talking. It is spiritual of course at many levels, but I’m not talking at the spiritual level. I’m talking on the physical, physiological, psychological level. So, if your breathing is not controlled and relaxed, it creates tension around you this energy.
We all know it; you can be behind a guy and you know he’s not feeling well. You don’t want to be near him, we all know the situation in life. You don’t have to look into the eyes to understand if a person, you know, has this negative energy. And the positive energy is the same, it attracts you.
Olivier Roland: Yeah.
Stig Severinsen: It’s flowing, it’s glowing. You know, there’s this energy and that comes from the breathing when it’s balanced.
Olivier Roland: So, you have tools or methods to improve your breathing?
Stig Severinsen: Of course, the wonderful news is that we all breathe, right? We’re all here.
Olivier Roland: Great news.
Stig Severinsen: But, we all don’t breathe equally well and that’s one of my points.
You know, people spend hundreds if not thousands of euros, dollars a month for good food, healthy food, and organic food. You know, we’re aware of the environment which is very good. We also, many people are very conscious of the clothing, going to a fitness gym, you know, look good, be strong, and take care of themselves. It’s all good.
But, nobody pays attention to the breathing and that’s why I started many years ago researching into all the incredible benefits of just breathing better. Optimizing your energy control, connecting that with your mind of course, that’s the key. And the thing with breathing is, we breathe 30,000 times each day and imagine if you had a bank account…
Olivier Roland: 30,000 times.
Stig Severinsen: Twenty-five, thirty thousand times each day, we all breathe. So, imagine if you had like a bank account and every time you put a dollar in you took 25 cents or 30 cents and threw in the garbage bin. That’s not a very good business.
It’s not a very good business model either but the thing is we don’t think about it. You know, it’s like we think about the good food because we see it and it’s there but breathing is more… it’s volatile, it’s not so easy, we can’t see it. We can feel it if we listen to our body. But in general, we don’t walk around listening. That’s why I said if you sit down and listen to your breathing and what’s the frequency and how it feels, where you’re tense, where you’re an open, then it will tell you the truth about how you are feeling.
Olivier Roland: Okay. So,
Stig Severinsen: How you’re doing.
Olivier Roland: Can you just share like few practical tips?
Stig Severinsen: Well. Well one thing is, if you’re upset or stressed or coming close to a panic attack, you know, you’re really freaking out, maybe afraid, then of course again, you go to your breathing. So, you start from the basic physiological aspect and then, you move into the neural paths. You know, to your brain. So, you just control your breathing. So, you’re crying.
Olivier Roland: So… okay. Yeah.
Stig Severinsen: And then, you go “Ah, it doesn’t help me”. You know, I’m here okay that’s enough… and then, you shift to nose breathing. You don’t hyperventilate and get a dry throat. And you know, get a bad pH balance in your blood because you have too much CO2 blown out. So, you don’t have the balance between oxygen and carbon dioxide right.
So, you say “okay, there’s a simple technique. I saw this on this great video on this blog, okay what was it? Nose breathing. So, you start to breathe with your nose and you should do that always. Because, the nose is not only a filter for particles and mosquitoes and pollen in the air, it’s also viruses, bacteria that will get stuck in the mucous membrane.
So, whether you’re an entrepreneur or a nurse or an artist, it doesn’t matter. If you want to be more healthy and not fall ill, it’s not natural to be ill and in this day and age everyone is sick, that’s not natural. It’s natural to be healthy. You know, that’s natural.
Look at the animals, they’re never sick. A dog is never sick, you know, they live for 12 years and never had a day of sickness. It never had a day of “Oh, I got to stay home from work”. Really, right? Look at the animals, look at natural things. That’s why I’m so fascinated by nature.
So, you use your nose for breathing and your mouth for eating. That’s the first tip. Always nose for breathing, mouth for eating. Also because with the mouth you see what happens? Not only do I get a dry throat and the air you know, hits this part of the throat but you go into the chest immediately.
And, it’s a very typical thing for men because we’re quite masculine and we want to go through things and we want to get work done. You know, when we talk about feminine, it’s more soft and it’s more elegant like a ballet often, right? It’s more soft and feminine.
So for men, it’s often very hard. So, you’re like “I’m wanna to breathe”. Often, I ask people try to take a big breath and the guys will often go… because it’s like they feel “Oh, I do a lot of work”. You know, it’s really hard, I must get a lot of air. But the truth is, if you compare this, which is just a little bit of air up here, right? You can hear it is nothing compared to… Here … It’s a bit more air.
Olivier Roland: That’s a very, very interesting demonstration. I hope you saw it on the camera. All went from the breathing.
Stig Severinsen: It’s a full yogic breathing, yes.
Olivier Roland: Yes. And you’re really like…
Stig Severinsen: Yeah, the diaphragm? The breathing muscle?
Olivier Roland: Yeah.
Stig Severinsen: Yeah. So, that’s very important to understand that when you do the masculine hard breathing, many bad things happen. Many, many bad things happen, physiologically, neurologically, anatomically. What happens?
Olivier Roland: What happens?
Stig Severinsen: First of all, you create a lot of tension in your body. That’s obvious, that’s the man, you know, superman. So… that’s already bad.
So, what happens if we look at it?
First of all, you push out your chest. You increase the pressure in your chest. This means, the heart becomes compressed. It means, it does not have so much room to work so the cardiac output cannot be as large, they cannot pump as much blood. So, what can it do? It can increase the frequency; heart rate goes up. Instead of “boom, boom” it goes “pup, pup”. It cannot work, so you go “pup, pup, pup, pup, pup, pup, pup” because it needs to put out the same amount of oxygen.
You know, you have 30 trillion cells in your body. They need oxygen, every single one of them. The cells don’t wait. We have aerobic cells, you know, they need air.
So, the heart rate goes up, what happens when the heart rate goes up? There’s a biofeedback to the brain, what does it say?
Olivier Roland: Stress.
Stig Severinsen: Stress, adrenaline, cortisol, fight or flight. This is the system of our nervous system that the brains, that we call the sympathetic. It’s actually a quite bad name… if people don’t remember these medical terms, it’s a quite good way to remember it because the sympathetic is actually not very sympathetic. It’s quite bad, right? It’s a stress system.
But, of course the fight or flight, the stress system is good sometimes. Sometimes, I almost go into the French dialect, you hear? I’m a little chameleon sometimes.
Olivier Roland: Sometimes.
Stig Severinsen: Sometimes. The mirroring, it’s interesting. No, but sometimes, you want to be able to be in a stressed situation in the sense that you want to be able to be strong and run. That’s why it’s called fight and flight. You know, with the old days, there was a bear, a tiger “Oh, you fight or you flight, you run”.
Olivier Roland: Yeah.
Stig Severinsen: So, it’s for short-term survival. But the thing we all know is, in this society we live in a long-term stress, you know, balance. So, we’re totally shifted, you know, out of balance to this stress system. So, what breathing does, and especially in nose breathing is that, it brings you to the other system.
As you can visit that system anytime you want. It’s called the parasympathetic but it doesn’t matter with the terms, it is called rest and digest. So, it is as the term, you know… So, describes, you rest, meaning that your body rebuilds the immune system, rebuilds the proteins and amino acids get time to rebuild your muscles and tissue that was broken down from training or from stress. It heals your skin if you had a scratch. You know, you heal again faster. It replaces everything in your brain and all the cells that needs to have an exchange every now and who needs a renewal. So, especially also your brain.
So, all these things start to happen. You know, also digestion. Many, many people have problems. I’m sure also entrepreneurs, especially in the most stressful times, will know that they have issues with digestion, with going to the bathroom, falling asleep. It has so many implications because when you breathe from your chest and you don’t move the diaphragm, you don’t get a massage of the organs.
Olivier Roland: A massage of your organs.
Stig Severinsen: So, you don’t massage the intestines. You don’t get the food pressed down in your system. You don’t absorb the nutrients, the energy, the vitamins, the minerals as well as when you have it softer and more relaxed and all your cleansing organs, kidney, spleen, liver are sitting right under the diaphragm, this breathing muscle.
So, if you don’t move this, I can make a little quick demonstration, sorry. Rated PG fourteen. We are in America. So, the diaphragm is this, it’s just like an umbrella and this is the most important muscle in the body, you know. Maybe you never talked with your muscle but, you know, we know this muscle from the gym, especially the boys are weightlifting but this is much more important because this is what creates the energy.
So, if you’re stiff here and you’re breathing up here… the heartrate goes up, the hypertension is the next step. So, you get high blood pressure, then your brain has two much blood and you cannot think and then you have this negative biofeedback loop for the adrenaline. And what happens with the heart when you have adrenaline? It beats faster.
Olivier Roland: And so, it’s like… yeah.
Stig Severinsen: Negative spiral…
Olivier Roland: So, it’s very interesting because we can see that from just bad breathing everything is going wrong. And we are less focused, less sporty.
Stig Severinsen: Think about the fact that you’re more prone to become ill because your immune system is shut down. Let me give an example so people understand because it can maybe become too technical.
Okay. You’re really stressed, you’re running around, you have all these meetings and you have plans, you have to do this, you have to sell, you have to do that… All these things that we all know from entrepreneurs, right? I’m also a sportsman but I also have a business and I think I’m an entrepreneur, I think I qualify maybe.
The thing is that, when you’re in this stress system, you know, you’re in fight and flight. You know, it’s a good description. You either have to fight the problem, the challenge or you die more or less. That’s what the body thinks. And if there’s a bus coming towards you, you will die if you get hit by a bus, right? So, you have to jump to the side or you have to run. So, that’s jumping. You don’t fight the bus, no. It’s too big “okay”. You’re smart, you jump. But, when you are in the fight and flight, it’s like the red phone, you know.
Olivier Roland: Or the blue.
Stig Severinsen: Well, like for the war phone. You know, they take the red phone and it’s like “tu tu tu tu” the blue lights. You know, the alarm. So, when that happens, you create adrenaline, your pupils dilate. Everything starts to rush that’s why you feel the shaking.
Olivier Roland: And the brain is bad.
Stig Severinsen: And the brain, the creative mind shuts down because there’s no time to be philosophical. Maybe, think about something because you’re going to be dead in one minute. No, one second. Like… now when the bus hits you.
So, when you’re in this situation, the body goes “alright shut down” all systems. Immune system? Not very important right now. We can wait tomorrow with this immune system, white blood cells, you know, all this that keeps us healthy. Healing the body inside little tissues, scars, muscles that were torn from training not important right now. We don’t have the time.
Forget about those amino acids, forget about the nutrient uptake, not important right now. Hormone balance, we don’t have time to check that right now and since we’re in stress, we cannot produce the happy hormones as I call them. Serotonin, dopamine the once we get when we make love, when we eat chocolate, when we create and feel fulfilled inside and we stay with people that we care about. Then, we have time to create all this and all these things when we cuddle and we touch each other and then have contact and feel great, right? We are vibrant.
All that is shut down. “Sorry, no time for that” because we are dying. In one second, we’re going to die. So, it’s maybe just to, it’s a little… it’s not an exaggeration, but it’s just to show that you really have to be careful with your life and not kill yourself slowly. You know you, as an entrepreneur, we get so caught up and we have deadlines, we have this, we have these big visions because it’s our own baby.
We have this dream of making a company or a product or, you know, save the world. Hopefully, something very interesting. And, we all know that’s the stress factor. We know we are here for a limited time and maybe also for payments. You know, payments for the house, for the car, for the new software. We have different timelines.
Olivier Roland: So, how can an entrepreneur, a busy entrepreneur watching this video learn to have more deeper breathing?
Stig Severinsen: So, we can go back to this PG-rated material. So, they can start to breathe with the nose because when we breathe with the nose,
Olivier Roland: Okay. And they have to…
Stig Severinsen: It facilitates diaphragmatic breathing. It creates deeper breathing because you start to have control of anything in life. Anything needs control.
Olivier Roland: Okay.
Stig Severinsen: Regulation.
So, you regulate the air stream, the airflow. Not only do you clean the air, we talked about it briefly, but you know, you get the particles out of the viruses. So, you don’t get them into your lung and you don’t get a lung infection. But also, you… Since it’s very delicate the breathing system, so you get the air in, and then it creates a special turbulence and laminar flow in the inner nose.
The inner nose is very big and it’s a very complex organ. It’s as big as the mouth. We look at the nose like this, some people have a small nose, someone has a bigger nose but this is the small outer nose. The nose inside, we have a huge inner nose and that nose will warm up the air if it’s too dry. It’s like climate, you know, regulation. It will moisten the air because your lungs if you get too dry air in your lungs or if you run outside when it’s cold, it’s like an asthmatic attack.
So, when you breathe with the nose, you get all the benefits because you get the right temperature, the right moisture. So, it’s soothing, it’s soothing for the lungs to breathe and then the optimal amount of oxygen can be taken into your bloodstream and sent with your heart out to all your organs and all your tissue.
So, when you do nose breathing, you facilitate this… type of breathing. Some people call it belly breathing but of course, you don’t breathe into your belly, but since the diaphragm moves down, it pushes out all the organs.
Olivier Roland: Okay.
Stig Severinsen: The stomach … you look a little bit fat.
Olivier Roland: So, how you do that? How you do that to make sure you begin with a…?
Stig Severinsen: You put one hand on your belly,
Olivier Roland: Yeah.
Stig Severinsen: And you put… It is the simplest exercise in the world but maybe you cannot do it the first time. But you practice again and again and suddenly it’s easy. And maybe even some people looking here, I’m sure will realize “Wow, I’ve been a mouth breather all my life”. Or, “Wow, I breathe too high in my chest that’s why I feel stressed here”.
And maybe, some people have a hard time speaking their voice out not like “Ah” but getting a message out because maybe they have tension here subconsciously. They have tension here, so it’s hard for them to get this inner voice out… their message because they’re tense.
So, when you start to open and understand this difference a whole new world can open up – in an instant, life-changing – just from that change of breathing. So, you put a hand on your belly and one on your chest and then you do only belly breathing. It’s the first step… and you’re doing a good job. The chest is not moving but …
Olivier Roland: Just your hand.
Stig Severinsen: Just the belly
Olivier Roland: And just your left hand should move.
Stig Severinsen: And you know, you take all vanity away, you don’t care if you look fat, whatever, you just relax and breathe. Then, we move up into the chest and we keep this one still. So, this is the more masculine, the more… but we still control it a bit more with the nose, right?
Olivier Roland: It’s less fulfilling, you feel it less…
Stig Severinsen: It’s not nice and it is tension.
Olivier Roland: It’s less relaxing, yes.
Stig Severinsen: It’s not nice. And then, we combine them and we see that it should be starting here as a wave. And then, you stop when you’re about here in the upper part of your lung. You don’t want to go here and into your clavicular bones.
Some yoga teachers will show you this but it creates too much tension here and you only gain 2% – 5% more oxygen or air, but the tension will be 50% higher. So, you lose that game, all right?
So, you try to combine it now. So, you take first stomach then you roll slowly over the diaphragm like where the connection is to your ribcage and then… And then, you just let go. Don’t care about it. Where it comes out here, here, just…
Olivier Roland: So, with the mouth?
Stig Severinsen: With the mouth. You can also use your nose but now we use the mouth, of course, it’s easier to hear for people. But, it’s also easier to control because you have incredible things like the tongue “Shhhhh”. It’s a very, very strong muscle, very incredible instrument. So, we can direct the air so precisely.
We can even say we don’t want to push it out. Nothing comes out like you just stop as you can use your throat. That’s when you get a bit more advanced than the yoga breathing. You use your throat and you use your epiglottis, the soft thing in here…
Then of course you try to find that wave and then you make a slight pause between the inhale and exhale, and this is very important because you’re starting to yawn.
Olivier Roland: Yeah.
Stig Severinsen: And maybe your editor is going to cut this out, maybe he’s going to say “No, he yawned”. And you know why?
Olivier Roland: Because I did this deep breathing.
Stig Severinsen: Yes, because you do deep breathing. So, it’s a wonderful proof that’s why I took this example, you try to hide it. And now, I start to yawn because it’s… you know, it’s contagious. So, this is a beautiful example of why it de-stresses you. You know, it takes you from that, crazy system to the rest and digest.
And you cannot be in both systems at once they are course balanced in your life, but they’re usually, in every modern human civilization, world too much in the stress system. We all know this.
We know it. We have bad habits but we don’t do enough. We’re not conscious enough about moving into this world and taking care of ourselves. Letting the body heal whatever you want to put in the term heal but heal, grow, regrow, take care of the immune system. Create white blood cells, that is the part of the blood that kills all the bad things that come into our system.
So, yawning is a reflex that you’re relaxing, that you’re taking in more air. We all know what a yawn looks like, it doesn’t look like this “huh”. No, it looks like…. It’s a full breath of… it’s like a timeout, a reset. And what we do now when we start this process that looks so simple and you go “Oh my God, it’s the most simple in the world”. Yes, that’s a wonderful use. Everyone can do it then you have a million exercises as you can become better and you can stop.
Olivier Roland: Wow.
Stig Severinsen: To move and you can use different muscles in different areas. It’s very important to understand we can breathe in many different ways. And this is my message to people, we have an incredible body, fantastic organ, you know. So, when you start to control the diaphragm.
Olivier Roland: My God, it’s very impressive. Wow. I don’t know if you see that on camera but it’s like a big hole right now.
Stig Severinsen: Well, it doesn’t matter the point is you can breathe here like a quick demonstration. You can breathe here. You can breathe in both. You can breathe here. There are so many things we can do. Once, we start to learn this process but we don’t learn this in one day like everything in life. But my point is, we have this wonderful instrument and it’s such a shame if we don’t use it.
So now, we looked at some of the negative things, heart rate goes up, hypertension. What that creates is stress on your brain, adrenaline, sleep patterns get disrupted. You don’t get a good night’s sleep, it’s hard to fall asleep…
Many, many people have this difficulty to fall asleep. This exercise, we’re doing now belly breathing and moving into the chest, so good and I’ll show an even better one now. But, I just wanted to point out with this yawning, that in just a few minutes even less, when you start to make this a conditioned response.
When you start to make the breathing connected to your mind in the sense that it sends a signal “Oh, now my body is breathing in a nice way. Now, I’m relaxed, now I feel good.” Then, the brain goes into a different mode and it starts to be more creative and open for those spaces that it needs to connect because you’re not in the fight and flight like “I got to get out of here or kill the tiger”. There’s no room for creative thoughts or for thinking into the future or reflection of life.
So, all the negative things, there are many more of course with unbalanced hormone system, different illnesses, a whole list that we don’t even have to go into, but people kind of get the picture. So many negative side effects for enough breathing but of course, it’s the source of life.
If you don’t take care of the source and you don’t take care of the energy levels, of course, you’re going to be sick. I’m never sick. Why should I be sick? I breathe well, I eat normal food, I travel, I move. I’m not an angel or Superman, I’m a totally normal guy but I’m very rarely sick because I just take care of myself. I also stress.
Olivier Roland: And you have a strong immune system that is not…
Stig Severinsen: I probably have a strong immune system, well I do have, because we’ve done a million studies on me on and all these Discovery Channel National Geographic programs I do. Because science loves to study a guy that can control some of these things and especially the breath-holding because there’s so many benefits, but let’s not talk about those now.
But then again, when you move into that system and the yawn comes it’s because you’re talking with a nerve called the vagus nerve. And you know, we have these thousands of hundreds of thousands probably smart entrepreneurs and business people watching your videos but maybe a fraction of them have heard of the vagus nerve, you know?
Olivier Roland: I’ve never heard of it.
Stig Severinsen: No, it’s the most important nerve in your system because it is the nerve that runs from your breathing and respiratory center, and the place where you also control your heart rate. So, there’s a little control center right up here where the brain meets the neck. So right in this area, where the brainstem starts and that sends nerves. Now, we have 12 cranial nerves. So, two more, 12.
Reptiles and birds have 10, but when you go to the fish and to the frogs, they have 10. We have 12 but that’s just a little thing if people think that’s interesting. But, we have 12. But the tenth cranial nerve is the vagus nerve.
It means wandering, vagabond, vagus, it wanders. It’s the biggest nerve we have, it is 3 feet long – 1 meter – and it starts here and it goes…we have double nerves but I just show one side, right? It goes right here near the carotid artery from the breathing center and it moves right into your lungs. And it sends a branch into your heart, and it sends branches to all of you in organs. And even down to the lower part of your spine.
So, when you start to move into the vagus nerve, you activate the rest and digest, the relax system. And, you start to regenerate and you give yourself permission, and time to yawn, and breathe, and take oxygen, and de-stress your muscular tension.
So this tension, you let go, your neck melts like butter, like “Oh, it feels so good to yawn”. You know, this… the worst thing in the world is, if you have a yawn and you couldn’t finish it… right like, horrible. You want to go again. And there are also techniques you can use in breathing to exhale slowly and tap into different anchors and you can get to yawn on demand. I can do it immediately.
Olivier Roland: Really.
Stig Severinsen: If anybody sees me before my world records in any YouTube, before I’m yawning like crazy. Not because I’m lazy, I’m totally de-stressing my body.
Olivier Roland: Are you thinking that yawning is a good technique to de-stress?
Stig Severinsen: I think it’s fantastic, but it’s not just about the yawning. That was more of a demonstration that you’re relaxed. And, it’s because you’re triggering the vagus nerve. So, that’s what I want to get at. When you breathe in this way, not only does it oxygenize your body and your brain more, and you become more healthy and stronger and you sleep better because you do this. What I do in my philosophy and pathology, the system I’ve created is that I’ve taken all the best things I know from science, from my Ph.D., from talking with the best doctors in the world.
I’ve taken everything I know from extreme performance sports, holding a breath for 20 minutes, diving deep into the ocean, and then my interest in Eastern philosophy, timeless wisdom. I did martial arts, so I’ve also been to India and Ashrams, it’s a yoga school. I have two gurus, two masters in India.
So, those are the three elements, the three pillars that carry Breatheology, my platform. And I take many complicated exercises and I tried to make them very, very simple. So, I always work in a very simplistic framework. So, for phases in my training program if I do rehabilitation that I do with PTSD patients with people that have COPD, smoker’s lungs, people that have different post-polio, different neuro, degenerative diseases, I rebuilt a nervous system.
So, all we do is rebuild and rewire the nervous system and the connection to the brain, and the connection to the organs so it all becomes stronger again. So, we have to decondition, we have to get away from the bad habits. So, what I teach people is to become aware of bad habits, breathing in the chest, having too high a heart rate, being too much in the stress system, using the mouth, doing the wrong things but it’s not anybody’s fault. It’s not something you’re taught in school.
We just develop bad habits and we mirror other people and we see what people do. And if you’re in an office and people are stressed, everyone around you will start to feel stressed. That will affect food choice. You will eat more salt, more sugar. We all know this, you’ll gain weight when you are stressed. When you relax and feel better, you find a girlfriend, you fall in love, and everything becomes easier because you’re in that other system.
So, it seems simple, simplistic and it is but I want to take people up and show them, they have an amazing body and it’s such a shame if you don’t use it. For anything, sports, sex, breathing, creating incredible products, helping the world. It’s a shame if you don’t live your full potential. And if you don’t breathe fully, you cannot use your full potential because you’re only at 70 percent of that max potential.
Olivier Roland: Awesome. So, I didn’t expect to focus entirely on the breath but it was very interesting. I hope that now, you understand why breathing is so important.
So yes, everyone is breathing all the time but it doesn’t mean that we do it the right way. So, you share with us a few exercises… like to breathe deeply with the beginning with the bottom of the diaphragm.
Stig Severinsen: Yes, relax the shoulders
Olivier Roland: Yes, exactly.
Stig Severinsen: And we’ll give a little bonus exercise of course because to really super boost it, to make it like a ninja trick almost. You put a ratio and it’s very simple to understand because what you now know is that you have this vagus nerve, this incredible tenth cranial nerve. And now, you know that was the first thing we talked about how can you use breathing if you’re stressed or you want to be more creative or more productive.
Or, you can simply just be aware of your breathing and start to breathe more fully. And that will trigger the vagus nerve so it will activate the stimulus, the electrical signals in this one. So, your heart rate will decrease, that’s one positive benefit. The blood pressure will fall. When that happens, you don’t need to breathe as fast.
So, your respiratory cycle reduces, meaning your whole body relaxes, meaning you can rebuild your immune system. Your brain becomes smarter and you become healthier. And not only that, but you also become more resilient to stress and you become more aware of when stress builds up and when you should stop or go to bed or buy healthy food and make healthy choices.
So, the last thing I want to show people to really trigger that vagus nerve because they will learn this quickly.
Olivier Roland: All right.
Stig Severinsen: And of course, it’s a lifelong process. I love breathing, I am so passionate about teaching it and breath-holding but that’s another story. That’s the second part of breatheology that’s the other thing “the yin and the yang”. But today, we took one part of the breathing.
The breath-holding, we can take in part two because it is so fascinating and it’s not known by doctors, and it is timeless wisdom that is so powerful even more than the breathing for mind control and for goal setting. But when we put a ratio of one to two which is so simple, right?
Olivier Roland: So, what do you mean, one?
Stig Severinsen: One to two, so the inhale is one and the exhale is double. And the last thing I will say to people out there is, I always teach whenever I teach students in the world, the key to relaxation is in the exhalation. Alright?
Olivier Roland: Okay.
Stig Severinsen: Because when you exhale, what happens? You’re not an expert but I just ask you, you exhale, what happens?
Olivier Roland: Well,
Stig Severinsen: Yeah not the physical thing. How does it feel?
Olivier Roland: Well. I don’t know it’s like yeah. It releases tension.
Stig Severinsen: It relieves tension.
Olivier Roland: Yeah.
Stig Severinsen: It feels good. This is not so good…
You always get told breathe, breathe, breathe, but breathing is not so good. It creates stress. It creates adrenaline because you’re doing a job, you’re working. But here… you let go. So, what do you do in the one/two ratio breathing? You extend that exhale.
Olivier Roland: Okay.
Stig Severinsen: It becomes double the time. In other words, you stay double the time in the relaxed system. Now, you’re a little bit stressed when you inhale. You go to the stress scale but then you exhale, you make a slight pause, very important. You come out of that soft inhale, it has to be soft and round, and then before you go down you take a slight pause. It stops and then your body tells you, you’re ready. And then it’s just a roller coaster…
Olivier Roland: So, how many times should we do that?
Stig Severinsen: You can do just 5 to 10 times,
Olivier Roland: 5 to 10 times.
Stig Severinsen: Sitting in the car, in a taxi but the point is that you do the ratio 1 to 2. So, let’s say we inhale for 4 seconds, let’s do that. So you go… 4 seconds let’s say 1-second break 2 – and then or 2 seconds and then 8 seconds out… and soft landing… and 4. So, you always have to have this very, very soft almost like waves on the ocean, like hills in the mountainside, like in the countryside.
And, this binds everything together. It binds your mind together; it binds your surroundings together. So, you become much more important than just yourself. That what you emit to people around you, will come back. So, when you’re in this exhale and you know how to control it, because we talked about the tongue or the lips or the throat, you get a machine that can control the airflow. So, it’s completely different to the uncontrolled, unconscious mouth breathing.
And, anyone who is stressed knows, maybe they don’t know what they realized now when I tell them that when you’re stressed there is no pause. So, imagine if you want to land a project or you want to sell something and you sit there, you’re a bit nervous, sweating and so consciously because you don’t know these little techniques, you don’t take breaks.
You will never win that project. You will never get that sale whereas you sit down you do nothing, but you do but it looks like nothing. You say welcome to the people “Yeah, great you could come”. And, you just follow that rhythm one to two. So, it doesn’t have to be exactly on the second two but just a slow exhale, right. We get the point, the exhale is the relaxed, right? The exhalation is the relaxation.
Olivier Roland: Yeah, okay.
Stig Severinsen: So, you will create this wonderful energy around you and people will be attracted to you and you see… It’s very, very subtle.
Olivier Roland: Yeah, it’s very interesting
Stig Severinsen: It’s very, very powerful.
Olivier Roland: Yeah. I can say that being around you, I can feel this.
Stig Severinsen: You can feel the energy here for sure.
Olivier Roland: See it from where you are.
Stig Severinsen: Maybe people feel it in their own body.
Olivier Roland: But… Yeah. When you are around you, it’s like yeah very relaxing and grounding, you know, okay. Well, awesome.
Stig, thank you very much for sharing, thank you.
Stig Severinsen: Thank you. Thank you for your time, everyone.
Olivier Roland: Maybe, we’ll do an episode 2, so… Anyway, if people want to get a bit deeper into this, you have a website called “Breatheology”.
Stig Severinsen: Yeah, breatheology.com, where they can find me on the YouTube channel or they can just Google whatever they’ll probably find me, Guinness world record of 22 minutes or something like that. Or, maybe you throw a link on your blog or something, I’m sure…
Olivier Roland: There is a link just under.
Stig Severinsen: People are clever and Google is your friend and I’m sure they will find the way. But the most important thing is that you actually take action and start to try this breathing, you know. Don’t feel like “Oh, it’s a little bit strange and I’m a guy, and is this yoga”.
Forget about all these objections, just try it. And you know, you’ll feel how great it is and especially if you’re in a stressful situation it’s a wonderful weapon, secret weapon because you breathe 24 hours a day, you know, why not make the best of it? It would be stupid, silly not to do it.
So, just try it and feel this change. And then after a few days, you get into this good habit because it becomes a good habit.
Olivier Roland: Yes.
Stig Severinsen: And then after a few weeks, you feel better, you sleep better at night. You go “my God… I get so much feedback of course for my clients. I didn’t believe that I could sleep so well.”
So, the last thing maybe when we end and shut the camera is, if people have trouble sleeping because I know many people have this problem, also when they travel, new time zones, it’s a modern world, right. But mostly because the mind is so busy. We have all these things and we cannot fall asleep. Many people cannot. I fall asleep in 0.4 seconds. It’s one of my secret weapons to also be strong and fresh for World Championship competitions. When you do the one-two breathing, it’s the best technique to fall asleep.
Olivier Roland: Great.
Stig Severinsen: So, you do slow exhale and you will sleep like a baby.
Olivier Roland: Awesome.
I hope you enjoyed this video and you learned some useful techniques you can use to enhance your breathing and so enhance not only your performances but also your wellbeing.
To complement this video, get your free extract of my upcoming book, the name of the extract is “3 principles to succeed in every field of your life” and you will see it’s a good complement of what Stig shared in this video. So, to receive it you click just on the thumbnail here. You can also watch this other video, and of course, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel, so you don’t miss any future amazing videos.
Thank you for watching, see you soon. And in the meantime, don’t forget: be intelligent, be rebellious and be part of people who meet other amazing people so you’ll learn from them.