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Yoga trainer, serial entrepreneur, and founder of Yoga Body, Lucas Rockwood, is a prime example of how living a healthy lifestyle can lead to optimal performance in work, business, and life. He is the host of the Yoga Talk Show, which is currently in the top 50 fitness and nutrition podcasts on iTunes.

Lucas experienced a health crisis at the age of 23, which made him realize that he needed to get his life together, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to get out of his 20’s. Looking back, he views his health crisis as an advantage because it helped him turn his life around very fast. Since, then, he has had quite a journey and has been travelling the world doing and teaching what he loves – yoga.

In today’s episode, Lucas discusses the impact of breathing to our nervous system. He shares his experience as a raw foodist, his views on different religions, and how these things affect our body. He also shares some practical breathing techniques which can be useful in achieving optimal performance daily.

“When you understand how breath functions, you can start to manipulate your state of mind. You can start to manipulate your physiology in really phenomenal ways in very short time.”

On Today’s Episode of the Low Carb Leader:

  • One of the best things about yoga is how it trains your nervous system through proper breathing techniques. This will help you train your nervous system to react in a very unique way to stressful situations.
  • Focus on the hermetic effect of exercise. Rather than focusing on exercise that burns calories, focus on how the exercise affects your hormones.
  • As a raw food educator and raw food chef, Lucas realized that although the effects are awesome, it is not practical and very exclusive.
  • Diet religions do more harm than good. You have to know what you’re doing and not necessarily stick to one diet.
  • People are attracted to different styles of yoga based on their personality.
  • You can use simple breathing patterns to control your nervous system responses, instead of resorting to crude methods such as coffee, sugar, etc.

Lucas’ Breathing Tips:

  1. Get in touch with your nasal cycle. This gives you direct insight into your nervous system state throughout the day. It will help you with your daily activities.
  2. Download the Yoga Breathing for Health & Longevity Worksheet on his website, because it will teach you 3 breathing techniques that can help improve your life: Water breath, Whiskey breath, and Coffee breath.

Resources Mentioned:

Connect with Lucas:

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Read Podcast Transcript

 

DAN:

Hello, and welcome to The Low Carb Leader. You have joined us for Episode 21. Today we are interviewing Lucas Rockwood, and he will be discussing the topics of yoga and breathing. Jacob, welcome to the show. We haven’t seen you for a while.

 

JACOB:

Happy to be here. You know, as little as I talk in some of these interviews people probably thought I was here.

 

DAN:

They probably did.

 

JACOB:

Yeah, and just not saying anything. But I haven’t been.

 

DAN:

Welcome back.

 

JACOB:

Thanks.

 

DAN:

We will be interviewing Lucas from Barcelona, Spain. So let’s get on with the interview. Lucas is a yoga teacher, a nutritional coach, a writer and a serial entrepreneur with a formal yoga training background in hot yoga, Ashtanga yoga, gravity yoga and yoga trapeze. Lucas has studied with some of the most well-respected teachers on the planet. Lucas founded Absolute Yoga Academy in 2006, one of the top 10 yoga teaching training schools in the world with 2000 certified trainers. He also founded Yogabody,  an internationally renowned nutrition, education and publishing organization serving 81 countries. Lucas is a highly acclaimed writer, radio show host, TV personality, business consultant, weight loss expert and health coach. Welcome, Lucas, to the show.

 

LUCAS:

Daniel, it’s great to be here. I appreciate you having me on.

 

DAN:

Yeah, and Jacob, welcome to the show.

 

JACOB:

Happy to be back.

 

DAN:

So Lucas, I just looked up your podcast, and you are in the top 50 for fitness and nutrition on iTunes.

 

LUCAS:

Yeah, I don’t know what that means, but I know that I’ve been doing it for a while and we have lots and lots of listeners. The iTunes – iTunes is kind of this crazy thing I never understand. But yeah, I’m happy to reach a lot of people every week.

 

DAN:

Yeah, and you have a lot of episodes.

 

LUCAS:

Sure do, yeah.

 

DAN:

Let’s start with your background.

 

Lucas’s Yoga Story

 

LUCAS:

Sure, yeah. So I’m a yoga teacher, and I’m a teacher trainer, and I do a lot of writing and have yoga businesses. But I kind of got started – my yoga story is similar to a lot of people’s story. I had a health crisis. And I was lucky in that I had my health crisis very young. I was about 23 years old, and I think a lot of people have their health crisis in their 50s or their 60s. And whenever you have that moment of reckoning I think it’s a good time, but the one advantage of being young is you can turn your life around really fast. I always say that there is three big things in life; health, wealth and relationships. And health is the easiest to get result quickest, and it’s even easier when you’re 23 years old.

 

So long story short, I woke up in the back of an ambulance when I was 23 years old. I had had a grand mal seizure related to coming off of drugs and alcohol. I was just kind of a mess. I was living in New York City at the time, and I just kind of had this come to Jesus moment where I realized hey, if I don’t get my life together I’m not going to make it out of my 20s. And I had a really toxic group of friends, and I had a really toxic lifestyle, and I didn’t really know where to turn. And I met a new friend, a girlfriend I should say, and she dragged me to my first yoga class, and I really got hooked on it. I got hooked on it right away. And for my very first class I started a yoga practice, which has been a daily thing ever since.

 

And so here I am all these years later, and it’s certainly let me down a very interesting, winding road internationally teaching yoga, practicing meditation, nutrition and all kinds of other things. But it all really started with that health crisis. And so for people listening, I think a lot of people are in a health crisis right now. And it might be that they look in the mirror and they’re carrying 50 extra pounds, or it might be that their libido is nonexistent. It might be that they literally can’t squat down to pick up their kid. But I find that a lot of people who connect with my work, they have something in their life where they just think hey, this is not the way it’s supposed to be. And if you’re at that moment I think it’s a really exciting time because if you find the right tools you can make some really dramatic changes pretty quickly.

 

DAN:

Lucas, talk a little bit about the yoga instructors you’ve had because your bio talks about many very well-respected teachers. How did you connect with those?

 

LUCAS:

Sure. Yeah, one of the biggest things that I’ve had in my adult life is I became a really good student. When I was growing up I was a really poor student. I never paid any attention. I did the minimum. You know, you do these book reports, and I’d never read the books. I’d just make things up. And again, same thing, in about my mid-20s I had just sort of fell in love with learning for the first time. I was always good at academics on accident, and then in my mid-20s I got good at academics on purpose. I started studying a lot and reading a lot, and I made it a really deliberate point to seek out the best teachers.

 

I was fortunate to be living in New York City when I first discovered yoga, which is really a Mecca for many, many things. But I got into raw food, and I got into yoga, both of which it was really a Mecca for. So I had really great teachers, really great Ashtanga teachers, really great meditation teachers. And the yoga scene was very different back then. There are – there was very established schools. You were either an Ashtanga, an Iyengar guy or a Bikram guy. And I got very into the Ashtanga school. And Ashtanga is a very regimented, very strict, somewhat hard-core boot camp style yoga. And everybody practices the exact same series every morning, and nobody talks. They don’t even – there’s not even a guided class. You practice all by yourself, and teacher comes around and yells at you and forces you into these sort of uncomfortable poses.

 

And so I got my start in New York City. And then from there I practiced in quite a bit in Southeast Asia. So I lived in Southeast Asia for about six or seven years, and I spent time in India, and I studied with Pattabhi Jois who was the founder of Ashtanga yoga before he passed away. And I really just made it a point to seek out and get direct experience with the best teachers in the world. And I think it’s one of the things that is really unique about the time we live in now. Twenty, thirty years ago just information and travel just made it impossible to meet your teachers. But these days, whether it’s a best-selling author or a university professor, whoever it is, if you can meet them in person, great. If not you can get access to things like this podcast and online [eat 0:06:25.7] web classes. And I just think it’s just a really exciting time for people who are excited about learning. And I was certainly excited about yoga, so that’s kind of the path that I went down.

 

DAN:

Yeah, that’s pretty cool. I’ve taken yoga just a few times, but I’m very tight when it comes to my muscles, so that poses a problem. But have you tried any, Jacob?

 

JACOB:

I’ve tried some, too. I tore a hamstring back in high school. So I was also very tight, so that’s when I started doing a little bit.

 

DAN:

So Lucas, when you’re talking to people like us how do you encourage them to take on yoga, and what are the main benefits of yoga because I think it may be misunderstood by a lot of people?

 

The Benefits of Yoga

 

LUCAS:

I would say for sure it’s more misunderstood than ever. And your response is a really typical response. I have three yoga studios, and the common thing is people will walk in and they’ll say I can’t do yoga; I’m too stiff. And it’s like well that’s the whole point. If you were flexible and limber and fit, then there would be no point. You could go do something else. But the fact that you struggle with it, the fact that you find it challenging is exactly an indication that you need it. So when I first started practicing I couldn’t touch my toes. I could just barely touch my knees. Just to stretch my arms above my head I would literally break out in a sweat. And so the ability for your body to change in terms of mobility is really shocking to the point where you won’t even recognize your own body. But in terms of the benefits of yoga, you know people tend to focus on flexibility, which can be a huge one. When I first started my mobility was so limited that I really did feel like an old man. And when I got my mobility back I really did feel like a new person. So that was a big thing.

 

What people don’t understand is that the real magic of yoga comes with nervous system training, and this is when you combine breath with movement and you do it mindfully for 60 minutes, for 75 minutes, for 90 minutes. The effects are really transformative. And this is what makes yoga different than gymnastics, or different than Pilates, or different than a CrossFit. When you have mindful breathing and you put your body in a stressful situation you’re training your nervous system to react in a very unique way to lifestyle stresses, and it’s something that spills over into the rest of your life. It’s something that balances your hormones. It’s one of the reasons people get amazing weight loss benefits even though they might be doing a really gentle yoga class. When you train your nervous system, which all of us need in our modern world, you really have tremendous, tremendous results. And everybody that goes to a yoga class hears that the breath is important and you’ve got to breathe when you move. But people fail to really understand the depth of it and how far-reaching the impact can be.

 

DAN:

It’s funny you talk about the weight loss. I would go to a one-hour class, and I work out a lot and so I’ve done weightlifting, and yoga by far is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And I don’t think it’s just because of the stretching. I think it’s just because of the intensity around that and the breathing. But I would always lose like a pound or two after a session. I always found that pretty interesting the next morning I’d weigh myself. But it’s just kind of a very enjoyable, stressful type of exercise that I found doing yoga.

 

 

Hormone Balance and Weight Loss

 

LUCAS:

For sure. A lot of the research around yoga and weight loss, you’d be surprised to learn that some of the most effective programs are incredibly gentle, as few as 12 poses per day, almost all of them on the floor. And people get really confused. I spent about 4 ½ years doing almost exclusively obesity research and weight loss coaching. I had an international business with conferences and all kinds of things, and one of the more interesting things is people always get caught up in this calorie thing. They think CrossFit burns more calories than yoga, so we should go to CrossFit, or I want to go to Zumba class, or I want to do – and all of those things are great, but you have to understand that for weight loss the idea that you’re trying to eat less and exercise more, that’s the 1980s, and it just doesn’t work. Everybody’s been trying to eat less and exercise more since 1980, and everybody’s been gaining weight pretty consistently all around the world ever since then.

 

And when you look at the actual weight loss research, the things that really work is rather than focusing on calories in and calories out, focusing on the hormetic effect of the exercise that you’re doing, meaning how are your hormones impacted, because your hormones are what guides everything. That’s what makes you attracted to someone of the opposite sex. That’s what makes you sleep or not sleep. That’s what gives you drive at work. That’s what creates your hunger or lack thereof. When you get your hormones in balance making healthy food choices is easy. Eating appropriately is easy. Getting a natural night’s sleep is easy. And yoga can be really effective at that. And that’s why some people are shocked to learn that for weight loss it’s not necessarily the hard-core practices that work. It certainly worked for me. I lost about 41 pounds in something like six weeks. But for some people the gentlest practices, sometimes even just meditation only can have really dramatic weight loss benefits not because they’re burning crazy calories but because they’re focusing on the chemical body, our hormones, and when you get your hormones in balance it’s very, very interesting the changes that happen.

 

DAN:

That’s extremely interesting. You mentioned a raw diet. Are you exclusively raw, or how do you eat typically?

 

The Raw Food Diet

 

LUCAS:

So when I first got into yoga I – the raw food movement was just starting. It was 2002, and the raw food movement was just a very, very new thing. There were just a couple of books out there and a couple of crazy guys with squiggly hair and hippies wandering around talking about eating dates and eating bananas and things like this, and I got really, really seduced by it. And I went and studied with a Dr. Gabriel Cousens who is a very interesting medical doctor based in Patagonia, Arizona. And I learned all about raw food nutrition and its uses in healing. And one of the more interesting things that Gabriel Cousens does is he reverses type II diabetes in just a matter of weeks with pretty much every patient he works with, and I found that really shocking because the mainstream medical community says it’s impossible; you have to deal with it for life. And it’s just this really, really simple process of controlling sugars. So I got really seduced by the raw food movement, and I was a raw food educator. I was a raw food chef. I ran a raw food nutrition program in New York City before I went to Asia. And then in Bangkok I ran a raw food restaurant, and I had raw food programs on television and all this kind of stuff. And I was really, really excited by it.

 

At some point along the way I realized that the extremity of raw food was just not practical. So it worked for me because I owned and worked in the restaurant industry, and so I had access to really complicated food prep, really complicated and exotic ingredients. And the reality is pretty expensive ingredients. And I felt like I was doing a disservice to my clients because while the information was awesome, the food the results they were getting were awesome, they just couldn’t sustain it. So over the years I’ve shifted my nutritional recommendations to just be a little bit more practical and a little bit more inclusive because at the end of the day our raw food diet is extremely, extremely exclusive. So I was a very strict raw foodist for two full years. I ate nothing but raw food, literally nothing else, and I really changed my entire body and my entire life. And after that I started incorporating cooked foods. But even to this day I eat a very, very large percentage of my food raw food. There is days when I might not eat anything cooked until eight or nine in the night, and when I’m traveling sometimes I eat only raw food for weeks and weeks at a time. But I don’t consider myself a raw foodist, and I don’t advocate it because these extreme diets, people tend to fall off the bandwagon. Instead of going back to something healthy they go straight back to McDonald’s.

 

DAN:

Do you consider yourself vegan or vegetarian, or do you eat meat sometimes?

 

LUCAS:

Yeah, so I try not to use the V word just because there is these sort of religious affiliations that I don’t really want to be involved with. But I eat like a vegan I should say. So I haven’t eaten any meat or anything like that in about 15 years. I don’t eat any animal products or anything like that. But again, these diet religions I feel like they do more harm than they do good. And so this idea of defining yourself by what you don’t eat or defining yourself by what you don’t do is a pretty limited worldview, and it doesn’t get you very far. And especially when you’re looking at optimal health, I just know so many people who feel like just because they don’t eat meat they’re never going to get heart disease. And if you go to any vegetarian conventions, or vegan conventions, or raw food conventions I used to have booths and demonstrate and speak at these places. You will quickly see a lot of walking dead. You will see people who look and are clearly struggling with their health. And so simply by eliminating a couple of problematic foods like factory farmed meat or dairy from your diet, that’s not the answer. You’ve got to know what you’re doing. And it’s just not as easy as aligning yourself with many of these diet religions, whether it’s paleo, or raw food or vegan. But to answer your question yes, I just eat plants. I’m a plant-powered yoga guy.

 

JACOB:

I don’t think you can stress enough to those that are listening that you’ve done a lot of education on what works for your body, and different things work for different people. So with that being said, how did you get into Ashtanga yoga as your primary focus?

 

LUCAS:

I feel like everyone is attracted to different styles of yoga based on their personality, and I’m and OCD type A kind of guy. And for obsessive people like me Ashtanga calls pretty hard. It’s very military. It’s very masculine. It’s very structured. It’s very rigid. And so that’s why it called to me. It seemed like the biggest, baddest monster in town, so that’s the one I wanted to do. And I started out with the hot yoga, which is arguably just as mean and just as cruel. And so that’s really what drew me to it. I like to go – I like my yoga practice to be my hardest thing of my day so that everything else pales in comparison, whether it’s my kid screaming or challenges in the office or whatever it is. I always like my yoga practice to be a bit of a suffer-fest so that the rest of my life feels like a downhill battle from there.

 

The Science of Yoga

 

DAN:

Switching to breathing, you spend a lot of time and you talk about the extreme importance of breathing correctly. Take us through that a little bit. How did you start to learn about breathing and all the benefits around that?

 

LUCAS:

So in any yoga class you go to breathing will always be emphasized, and everyone listening can probably relate to this. They can remember a yoga teacher harping on the importance of breath, reminding them to inhale and exhale. But no one ever really explained why. And as a yoga student and just as an academic nerd that always really frustrated me. And I had really great breathing instructions, a long lineage coming from India, assign me specific breathing patterns based on my heart rate. And all of it seemed really wonderful, but nobody could explain to me the science. And in the yoga world people always reference the science of yoga, the science of yoga. And there just isn’t any science in yoga. All of the science is outside of yoga. So I got really obsessed with understanding what the real science is. And like a lot of the eastern arts, the practitioners intuitively understand what science can backup, but they do a really poor job of articulating it. So if you go to a local yoga class your teacher will tell you it’s important to breathe, but they won’t help you understand why. And when you don’t understand why it’s really difficult to keep focusing on it. And so people stop doing it.

 

But here’s the deal. When you go to a yoga class and you breathe for 60 minutes, 75 minutes, 90 minutes, whatever the class is, when you put your body in stressful situations and then you breathe as if you were cool, calm and collected, the result is that you have this really profound nervous system training where you’re training your body to react to life’s stresses in a really advantageous way. And this is when people say they start to feel their yoga practice getting applied off the mat, when they start to feel the challenging situations in their life are less challenging. All of this is a direct result of their nervous system training, and there’s a bunch of very interesting things that are happening on a physiological level as well. You’re changing your brain activity. You are changing your sympathetic or parasympathetic nervous system response. You are affecting feelings of anxiety and/or peace. And you can do all of this by manipulating your breath.

 

And when you understand the way that the breath works, the actual physiology of the breath, you can use the breath inside and outside of yoga classes to create desired mental and emotional states, resting and wakeful state, hunger or lack thereof, to ease your nerves. And it’s one of these things that everybody understands your breathing corresponds with your mental state, but they don’t understand that it works the other way as well. When you breathe as if, when you understand how breath functions, you can start to manipulate your state of mind. You can start to manipulate your physiology in really phenomenal ways in a very, very short time. This is what always surprises people. In as little as 5 to 10 minutes you can dramatically affect your sympathetic parasympathetic nervous system response, even the pH of your blood, your wakefulness, your restfulness, all these things can be changed very quickly.

 

JACOB:

Are there some quick breathing tips that you could give us? I know Dan would like to hear that because he’s tired of editing my breathing out in these podcasts, so he’d like me to learn something.

 

DAN:

Yeah, you could – just by teaching Jacob you could save me like a couple hours in editing.

 

The Nasal Cycle

 

LUCAS:

So the first thing that I will recommend everybody learn is something called the nasal cycle, and this was first discovered in 1895 by a German physician named Richard Kayser, and here’s how it works. Just take your finger and place it underneath your nose right now, and then exhale very sharply a few times. You might have to do it a few times to feel it, but almost everybody, about 90% of people listening, will feel that one of their nostrils is dominant, meaning it’s stronger than the other nostril, meaning more air is passing through one nostril than the other. If you’ve ever done any kind of meditation practice you’ve probably noticed this before. If you’re somebody who has sinus problems you’ve probably noticed this before. What people don’t realize is this nasal cycle discovered over 100 years ago for about 90% of people gives you a direct insight into your nervous system state.

 

So if we think of our autonomic nervous system we have our sympathetic branch and our parasympathetic branch. And the sympathetic branch, it sounds nice, but it’s not. This is fight or flight. This is go go go. This is go hunt the goat. This is get things done at work. This is sports. This is athletics. This is wakefulness. And on the other side, the parasympathetic branch of your autonomic nervous system, this is rest and digest. This is peace and love. This is creativity. This is digestion. This is relaxation. And just by checking in with your nose you can see where you’re at throughout the day.

 

Now here’s what’s interesting. Your nasal cycle changes, for most people, about every 90 to 120 minutes, so every hour and a half to two hours you’re switching back and forth, back and forth. So you’re going from the sympathetic state to this parasympathetic state, from this fight or flight to this rest or digest, from this go go go to this thoughtfulness and creativity. And understanding this can really, really help you with mealtimes, with restful times, with creative work, with busywork, with exercise, with all kinds of different things in your life. When you start to understand that your nervous system is not a fixed thing; it’s moving throughout the day. And most of what we do in our modern life is designed to get us stuck in that right nostril, stuck in that go go go, whether it’s the zombie movie right before bed, whether it’s the coffee, whether it’s the muffin and the sugary snack at 11 AM to get you over that hump, all of those things are just go go – they’re just sticking you in that sympathetic nervous system response, the tiger attacking, the go go go, the fight or flight again and again. And without that balance we create an autonomic nervous system imbalance, which leads to a hormetic imbalance, which leads to a weight imbalance, which leads to a sleep problem. And it really stacks from there.

 

So the first thing I would encourage everybody to do is to get in touch with that nasal cycle. Now about 10% of people listening, they’re going to say hey this doesn’t work for me. My nose is blocked. Or hey, my nose, I can’t tell the difference. Sometimes people have allergies. Sometimes people have a deviated septum. For about 10% of people it doesn’t work. That’s a small enough percentage I still think it’s worth learning. About 90% of people, you’ll get really great insight. I’ll give you a few different specific examples where I’d like you to check. Whenever you’re very, very hungry you will always be in your right nostril, and that is an appropriate time to eat. Your body switches into sympathetic mode so you can go out and hunt or gather your food. After you are satiated, after you’ve eaten you will switch into your left nostril, which is parasympathetic mode, rest or digest. If you are lying in bed and you cannot sleep, you’re tossing and turning, check your nose. Every time you will be in your right nostril. If you are at work and it’s the middle of the day and you are nodding off, check your nose. You will be in your left nostril.

 

Understanding these nervous system cycles gives you tremendous insight into what’s going on inside. And rather than using these really crude tools we have, like sugar and caffeine and alcohol and cannabis, instead of using these we can use really simple breathing patterns to control our nervous system response when it’s necessary, when you’re snoozing and it’s 3 PM in the afternoon you can wake yourself up. When you’re lying in bed and you’re wired and anxious from the day stuck in your right nostril, you can wind yourself down really naturally, really effectively. No need for caffeine, or for sedatives, for alcohol, for barbiturates, none of that stuff. You can do it naturally, and it’s fast. It’s really, really effective.

 

DAN:

Lucas, we were just sitting here. Jacob just got done eating, and he was saying his left nostril is dominant, and I have not eaten and my right one. So we’re confirming that your 20 years of training has paid off.

 

 

LUCAS:

Well perfect. And you know if you’ve just eaten and you’re in your left nostril that means you have a really healthy cycle because you want your body to go into rest or digest. One of the challenging things that happens is oftentimes people will eat food and then they’ll drink a cup of coffee, and then they’ll go into a busy meeting and they’ll switch right back into their sympathetic nervous system response. And they will get a gargly belly, and they will get upset stomach, indigestion, gas and bloating because they keep forcing their body into that fight or flight response. This is the exact same reason that if you see – if you go to any kind of endurance race, any kind of like let’s say it’s a Spartan race, or a triathlon, or a marathon, you will see these athletes with their shorts around their ankles and they are defecating in the side of the road. And the reason that this is happening is these really, really quote unquote healthy people, they’re sticking their body in a sympathetic mode for three hours, six hours, eight hours, sometimes 24 hours, and they can’t rest and digest. So as they’re running this marathon they’re sucking down gels, they’re eating these power bars, they’re eating protein shakes, and their body wants to digest this, but because they force their body to stay in a sympathetic nervous system mode, all of the blood is diverted from their digestive system to their skeletal muscles, to their heart, into their arms, into their legs. And their body doesn’t give any importance to digestion. And because of that, if you talk to any endurance athlete, they have huge gastrointestinal problems. And a lot of busy executives do, too. A lot of busy parents do, too because they don’t give themselves the chance to switch from fight or flight, rest and digest throughout the day, cyclical.

 

And this is why our body loves routines. This is why, for example, any parent will tell you that a child just thrives on a consistent bedtime, on a consistent meal time. And this is why your nervous system adapts, and it goes from sympathetic fight or flight to parasympathetic rest and digest, from go go go to cool down and relax very, very fluidly and very naturally because that clock is regular. That’s why jet lag screws you up. This is why irregular eating pattern screw you up. This is why whenever you can committing to a regular schedule is very, very conducive to health.

 

DAN:

What is the best way to learn this? It’s called the nasal technique, is that what you called it, the nasal breathing –?

 

LUCAS:

It’s called the nasal cycle. It’s just a way to check in with yourself. And that’s just a way to start having insight into how your breath is telling you where you are in that autonomic nervous system, which branch of your autonomic nervous system are you in right now so you can better understand what makes sense. Should I eat right now, or should I exercise right now? Should I rest right now, or should I do creative work right now? And when you check in with that nasal cycle it will just give you a tremendous insight into what’s going on.

 

DAN:

What is the best way to learn that? If somebody – do you have resources on your website?

 

More on Breathing and Finding Balance

 

LUCAS:

I do, yeah. So if you go to yogabody.com/howtobreathe, so yogabody.com/howtobreathe, I have a free report there. It’s a breathing worksheet, basically. And it shows you how to use your breath, understanding the nasal cycle, how to use your breath in one of three ways. And whenever you’re playing with your breath you’re doing one of three things. I call it water, whiskey or coffee. And water breath is balanced breathing. And water is always good. Day or night, right when you wake up, right before bed, water is always a good choice, always going to be good for you. Never too sexy. Nobody’s too excited about it, but if we’re really being strict this is where the juice is at. This is where we need to focus on. If you need to pick one beverage, it’s water. If you needed to pick one breathing technique it’s balanced breathing, water breathing.

 

Whiskey breath, as the name suggests, is a down-regulating breath. It’s a slow breath that forces your body into a parasympathetic nervous system response, tends to knock you out. And it’s a really great natural sedative, a good way to go to bed. I recommend a lot of people use this instead of those two glasses of red wine, instead of that Ambien, instead of those sleeping pills. It can be really effective. And again, we’re talking about 5 to 10 minutes, and you’ll get knocked out quick right away.

 

Now the last one we have to use really sparingly, which is coffee breath. And all of these are outlined in that worksheet. But coffee breath is stimulating in the same way that coffee is. And it’s a fast breath. It’s a rapid breath, 20 breaths per minute or more. And we want to use it cautiously because it can create anxiety. It can keep you up at night. So we want to use this in the morning only and very sparingly.

 

But there is water, whiskey, coffee breath, understanding that all we’re ever doing with our breathing is creating a balance effect, creating a down-regulating effect or up-regulating our nervous system. When we understand those are the three options you can really quickly learn how to breathe without any guru from India, without any big long workshop. Literally you can master these concepts, these fundamental concepts very quickly. And you can start to put them to use in your life just in your bedroom without any more training.

 

DAN:

I think I’ve been doing the whiskey breath because at night if I wake up or right before bed I do like 8-second box breathing. Would that be the way –?

 

LUCAS:

Perfect. That’s exactly right. Yeah, so for people listening box breathing is a really great practice. And what Daniel is talking about is doing an eight count. I usually recommend a four count. And so you would inhale to the count – especially if you’re just getting started. So you would inhale to the count of four. You would hold for the count of four, exhale for the count of four and then hold at the bottom for the count of four. And it will usually slow your breath down to about 2 to 3 breaths per minute, which would classify as a whiskey breath, as a down-regulating breath. That’s a really great practice that you can learn really quickly. An even simpler one we teach is a 1 to 2 ratio breath so you would inhale to the count of four, and you would simply exhale to the count of eight. And that will slow your breath down to that whiskey breath ratio, as well. And that’s one that you can do just lying on your back. But that’s a really great way to deal with sleeplessness.

 

DAN:

You can feel it actually change your body. So I would try to do it for like three minutes, and a lot of times I would actually at the end of three minutes I would be dozing off and I would lose my count.

 

LUCAS:

That’s right.

 

DAN:

It’s very effective. We only have a few minutes left, but I want to ask a question about so we have people that are at work, and they’re busy, and they get all stressed out. What’s a technique they could use at work to kind of slow their breath down and just take a mental break?

 

LUCAS:

If you start looking at yoga breathing techniques you will find almost the only thing anybody teaches is whiskey breath. That’s really, really great if you’re trying to fall asleep. For people who are stressed out, for people who have presentations, for people who have keynote speeches, for people who need to go ask their boss for a raise or whatever it is, I would really encourage you to master water breath. And water breath is this balanced breath. And here’s the magic number; 4 to 6 breaths per minute. And now you say okay, 4 to 6 breaths per minutes, what does that actually look like? Most of you are breathing right now what about 8 to 12 breaths per minute. And so we’re talking about cutting your breathing rate in half. Again, that’s still pretty abstract, so let me make it very simple for you. It’s a four-four breath. So it’s inhale through your nose 1,2,3,4, exhale 4,3,2,1. You repeat that 10 times, and it has an adaptogenic effect on your nervous system. What does that mean? Well, it means if you’re down, if you’re sleepy, it will bring you up. It means if you’re up, if you’re wired, it will bring you down. The reason I recommend this breath specifically is because it’s effective in all situations.

 

So whether you’re stressed and anxious or you’re tired and unfocused, it’s a good breath to use all the time. Most of the yoga breathing practices out there will knock you out. And so it’s no good if you’re stressed out and then suddenly you’re tired. And alternatively some public speakers, they teach this really fast you know Tony Robbins-style beat your chest like an ape and jump around. And for a lot of people that would just make you really anxious and nervous. So again, people get really excited. If you go to the bar most people are ordering coffee and whiskey. But the smart person, the intelligent person, the really prudent person is ordering water. And so while it’s not sexy, it’s not exciting, that’s where the juice is. That’s where the balance is. That’s the middle path. That’s where Yin and Yang meet. And so I would always encourage people to focus on that balance breath, four-four count, 10 rounds, about five minutes and you will find really great feelings of focus.

 

DAN:

Oh that’s such a great tip. Well in our final moments what tips would you give the listeners how to get started, where to get started, and what’s the easiest way to pursue some of these things you’ve been talking about?

 

Tips to Get Started

 

LUCAS:

So the best thing you can start to do is just checking in with that nasal cycle. So you put your finger under the nose, you exhale, you figure out which nostril you are in, and I would encourage you to do that right when you wake up, right before and after meals, before and after exercise, and then before bed. So before and after sleep, before and after exercise, before and after meals, just those three times. That will give you really good insight into whether you’re eating and exercising and sleeping at appropriate times. You will very quickly find that at different times you’re totally imbalanced, and it might make sense for you to just start skipping lunch, or it might make sense for you to go to bed an hour earlier or an hour later. It might make sense for you to take 10 minutes and do breathing practice right before you go to bed. So start with that nasal cycle.

 

The second thing I’ll recommend is do check out that worksheet. It’s yogabody.com/howtobreathe, and it walks you through those three practices water, whiskey and coffee. Not complicated. You don’t need – again, you don’t need any guru. You don’t need any ashrams. You can learn these very quickly. Breathing can get as complicated as you want, but on a very basic level, if you understand that water, whiskey, coffee concept you can take control of your nervous system in as little as five minutes. And from there you can really start to have a big effect on your life.

 

JACOB:

I also wanted to have you cover some of the yoga resources you have on your website as well.

 

More Yoga Resources

 

LUCAS:

Sure. So for people interested in becoming a yoga teacher, if you go to yogateacherscollege.com. If you’re just interested in yoga geek speak and hearing me ramble about this kind of stuff, I do it every week at yogatalkshow.com is the link for my podcast.

 

DAN:

I looked at your website. You have a lot of good resources on your website and a lot of free resources, a lot of videos. I would encourage everybody to check it out. And Lucas, we’ll go ahead and put the – in the show notes we’ll put the link to that free guide. I’m going to go check that out as soon as we’re done here on the breathing.

 

LUCAS:

Perfect.

 

DAN:

All right. Well, we are out of time, unfortunately. This has been very interesting. Jacob, thank you for joining us today.

 

JACOB:

Thank you.

 

DAN:

And Lucas, thank you for dialing in all the way from Barcelona, Spain. We really appreciate it, and it was great getting to know you.

 

LUCAS:

My pleasure, Daniel and Jacob. I really appreciate it. Let’s keep in touch. And for everybody listening, do take some time to check in with your breath. If you have any questions or comments you can always connect with me personally. I’m easy to reach and always putting out new resources.

 

DAN:

Yeah, that’s wonderful. Well, thank you again for joining us today. We’ve really appreciated you being on the show, and I think people are going to learn a lot from you.

 

LUCAS:

Thanks, guys.

 

DAN:

Thank you.

 

 

 

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