How To Blast You (And Your Child’s!) Physical, Mental, & Spiritual Resilience Through The Roof With Breathwork.

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If you've been listening to my recent podcasts or following me on Instagram, then you know that during the quarantine, I've used much of the extra time at home to buckle down hardcore on daily breathwork training and meditation—and also included my twin 12-year-old boys in my daily sauna breathwork and cold thermogenesis routine.

At first, I was inspired to do this based on immune-boosting breathwork information like this from breathing expert and author of a book I recently featured – Anders Olsson – along with many others, including Wim Hof, who has even demonstrated the ability to be able to consciously activate his and others' sympathetic nervous and immune systems to battle the purposeful exposure to endotoxins.

But it turns out breathwork is about more than conscious activation of your immune system. The expansive list of benefits—from nitric oxide production, to CO2 retention, to mental clarity, to aerobic capacity, to a decrease in salivary and plasma cortisol, to faster sleep onset—have been discussed over and over again by myself, podcast guests, and also in some of my favorite content and books, including podcast such as:

and breathwork books I frequently mention, including:

So in today's article, you'll discover the exact 5-week breathwork and meditation routine my boys and I went through, along with everything you'll need to complete it yourself as well as a how I view breathing an integral component of the spiritual disciplines, and a brief history of the SOMA breathwork protocol that inspired this routine I created.


Breathing as a Spiritual Discipline

Breathwork goes beyond the physical and mental. I've been able to enhance my spiritual disciplines, meditation practice, and connection to God by using my breath.

For example, we know that, based on a concept called “cardiac coherence,” a long, relaxed exhale activates your parasympathetic “rest-and-digest” nervous system, slows the heart rate, and increases the heart rate variability.

But I also view this long breath out as a sign of trust in God: a trust that the next breath in will be there for you to fill you with life. Each night, as I fall asleep to the gentle diaphragmatic lull of my “4-count-in-8-count-out” breathwork pattern, I'm silently thanking God and trusting God that there will be yet more oxygen available for me for my next inhale.

Breathing like this with a sense of trust and gratefulness is incredible for spiritual enhancement, while hastily sucking your breath in with stressful chest breathing and shallow exhales is not only a fast track to initiation of stressful heart rate and nervous system patterns, but also a sign that you've set aside trust to instead greedily consume the air around you, like a young child stuffing their face with all the birthday cake they can find or (perhaps more relevant to our times), a nervous shopper buying every roll of toilet paper at the department store.


What is SOMA Breathwork?

The primary form of breath training that my boys and I used for our 5-week protocol was adapted from the SOMA Breathwork 21 Day Protocol, which I first discovered when I interviewed breathwork expert Niraj Naik in the podcast episode “The Renegade Pharmacist: How To Increase The Effects Of Psilocybin, The Secrets Of Colostrum, Fixing Constipation With Breathwork & More.

This SOMA breathwork style is primarily derived from a modern twist on ancient Pranayama breathing.

In Sanskrit, Prana means energy and Yama means control, or restraint. Pranayama is a series of breathwork techniques, each with a different therapeutic purpose that is said to work through the control of energy in the body. Through Pranayama, you can learn how to become aware of this “pranic energy” and learn to manipulate it in a way that is beneficial for balancing the mind, body, and spirit.

There are many different types of Pranayama exercises, but the SOMA breath techniques focus on 7 Pranayama exercises that have the most practical benefits for everyday life as well as evidence-based research to support them, including:

  • Omkar: Chanting and extending the exhale with AUM mantra. For relaxation and cooling the body, preparing for Yoga asanas, and a useful exercise to help you get into flow state.
  • Anulom Vilom/Nadi Shodhana: Alternate nostril breathing. To activate the whole brain, for relaxation, and preparing for Yoga asanas.
  • Bhastrika: Bellow breathing. For energizing the body and mind, cleansing the body, oxygenating the brain, and balancing the Ayurvedic Doshas (particularly Kapha).
  • Kapalbhati: Rapid forced exhales while pulling in the abdomen. For getting rid of stale stomach gases, clearing the sinuses, increasing energy levels.
  • Kumbhaka: Breath retention either on inhale (puraka/antar) or on exhale (rechaka/bahir). Promotes healing, deep meditation, builds CO₂ tolerance (when held on exhale).
  • Ujjayi: Constricting the throat to slow down and control airflow in and out of the lungs. For relaxing, relieving headaches, clearing sinuses, and cleansing the body of built-up toxins.
  • Kaki Mudra: Drinking air. For cleansing the bowels and promoting the growth of good bacteria, also reduces hunger pangs during a fast.

Nisshesha Rechaka Kumbhaka (nish-esh-ah — resh-ah-ka — kom-bah-kah) is an ancient Pranayamic technique that is also a key part of SOMA. In Sanskrit, Kumbhaka means breath retention. Nisshesha Rechaka Kumbhaka means holding your breath (on the exhale) beyond the comfort zone. This is very similar to the technique employed in the Wim Hof Method. The SOMA technique is indeed inspired by the core breathwork technique of the Wim Hof Method, but also by the work of Dr. Prakash Malshe, an Indian doctor who uses Pranayama and Yoga to treat his patients, and by Swami Ambikananda, Saraswati of the Traditional Yoga Association in the UK, who has one of the most popular yoga schools that teaches methods based on the earliest recorded traditional yoga practices.

Niraj Najik, designer of SOMA breathwork, has learned from and studied with each of these practitioners. His course, which my boys and I wove into our 5-week breathwork focus, takes the fundamental Pranayama techniques listed above, puts them in a certain order, and makes them easy and accessible to anyone who would like to benefit from them.

Here's the full list of resources we used for our 5 weeks:

So what exactly did I do with my boys when I led them through 5 weeks of breathing and meditation with Dad during the quarantine?

Below I've outlined the exact schedule for each day. I hope you find it helpful, and I challenge you to set aside 35 days to try this protocol. It will change your life, I guarantee.


The 5 Week Breathwork Training Protocol I Brought My Boys Through (Always With Dad, Always In The Sauna, Always With A Cold Plunge After)

Your first question may be, “How do I find the time for this?” We freed up our own time by deciding to skip or shorten our evening workouts and instead do each of these breathing routines below in the sauna, followed by a 3 to 5-minute cold plunge.

I couldn't be happier that my boys and I are now more resilient, aware, and mindful “certified breathwork ninjas,” and so grateful that I can now share our exact routine with you.

Now let's dive in!

Week 1:

Sunday: Watch the introductory SOMA tutorial video from the 21 Day SOMA protocol.

Monday: Complete the SOMA Week 1 Daily Dose (20 minutes).

Tuesday: Complete the SOMA Week 1 Daily Dose (20 minutes).

Wednesday – Do EcoMeditation with Dad (21 minutes).

This is inspired by a book I read last year called “Mind to Matter: The Astonishing Science of How Your Brain Creates Material Reality.” While reading the book, I discovered that author Dawson Church has created a wonderful 21-minute meditation session that incorporates all the science-proven tactics he discusses in the book, including tapping, gratitude, love, mindfulness, and heart coherence. I've been traveling a ton lately (17 straight days on the road!) and adopted this meditation as an evening routine. I found it to be quite good for sleep, but also did it twice in the morning and found it to be quite energizing for the day too. It's free and well worth a try. You can read more about Ecomeditation and grab the .mp3 audio here.

Thursday: Complete the SOMA Week 1 Daily Dose (20 minutes).

Friday: Complete the SOMA Week 1 Daily Dose (20 minutes).

Saturday: Complete the Bhastrika Pranayama breath routine from Week 1 of SOMA (20 minutes).

Sunday: Recovery day – 5 minutes hot tub, 5 minutes cold pool, then 4/4, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1. Then, before bed, do the 11-minute nighttime dose from SOMA breathwork course.

On this first week, to learn more the of the “science” behind what we were doing and to become even more familiar with the value of breathwork, I also had my boys read a new book called “Breath” by James Nestor and write a 2-page book report on what they learned.

Week 2:

Monday: Watch this Wim Hof video, then do 3 rounds of 2 minutes of Wim Hof breathing in the sauna and finish with a 3-minute cold soak.

Tuesday: Complete the SOMA Week 1 Daily Dose (20 minutes). Then, before bed, do an 11-minute nighttime dose from SOMA breathwork course.

Wednesday: Ecomeditation.

Thursday: Do 3 rounds of 2 minutes of Wim Hof breathing in the sauna and finish with a 3-minute cold soak.

Friday: Complete SOMA Week 1 Daily Dose (20 minutes). Then, before bed, do an 11-minute nighttime dose from SOMA breathwork course.

Saturday: Complete the Bhastrika Pranayama breath routine from Week 1 of SOMA (20 minutes).

Sunday: Recovery day – 5 minutes hot tub, 5 minutes cold pool, then 4/4, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1. Then, before bed, do an 11-minute nighttime dose from SOMA breathwork course.

Week 3:

Monday: Complete SOMA Week 2 awakening breathwork (45 minutes).

Tuesday: Watch dance sequence intro and try dance sequence from SOMA breathwork course with Dad. Then, before bed, do an 11-minute nighttime dose from SOMA breathwork course.

Wednesday: Complete SOMA Week 2 awakening breathwork (45 minutes).

Thursday: Do 20 minutes of DMT breathing with Dad followed by a 3-minute cold soak with box breathing.

Friday: Do 3 rounds of 2 minutes of Wim Hof breathing in the sauna with maximum pushups on exhale and finish with a 3-minute cold soak.

Saturday: Complete SOMA Week 2 awakening breathwork (45 minutes).

Sunday: Recovery day – 5 minutes hot tub, 5 minutes cold pool, then 4/4, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1. Then, before bed, do an 11-minute nighttime dose from SOMA breathwork course.


Week 4:

Monday: Do 3 rounds of 2 minutes of Wim Hof breathing in the sauna with maximum pushups on exhale and finish with a 3-minute cold soak.

Tuesday: Complete SOMA Week 3 awakening breathwork (60 minutes).

Wednesday: EcoMeditation.

Thursday: Do 20 minutes of DMT breathing with Dad followed by a 3-minute cold soak with box breathing.

Friday: Do 3 rounds of 2 minutes of Wim Hof breathing in the sauna with maximum pushups on exhale and finish with a 3-minute cold soak.

Saturday: Complete SOMA Week 3 awakening breathwork (60 minutes).

Sunday: Recovery day – 5 minutes hot tub, 5 minutes cold pool, then 4/4, 3/3, 2/2, 1/1. Then, before bed, do an 11-minute nighttime dose from SOMA breathwork course.

Week 5:

Every day: Complete a daily 15-minute brisk walk with the Relaxator breath training device. (This is a device designed by Anders Olsson to train nasal breathing and carbon dioxide retention while walking, working on the computer, etc.)

On your own time or with Dad, do SOMA Daily Dose (24 minutes) 3x this week.

On Fri, Sat, or Sun: Repeat Week 3 Soma (60 minutes).

That's it! Obviously we didn't strictly follow the SOMA breathwork course and sprinkled in our own additions and modifications, such as EcoMeditation and Wim Hof breathing, but it was a completely do-able (and transformative!) 5 weeks for both myself and my twin 12-year-old boys.


Summary

Ultimately, breath is powerful, and a gift.

It's a core part of what I consider to be the most powerful book and powerful story of all time: the Bible and the story of Creation. Genesis 2:7 says:

“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

That's right: breath is life! I also find it fascinating that our breath of life came into our nostrils, which, if you listen to my podcast interviews with Patrick McKeown and James Nestor, you know is important because nasal breathing is accompanied by a multitude of physiological benefits compared to mouth breathing. So one could say that our mighty Creator was the very first practitioner of breathwork, and purposefully engineered into each of us the immense importance and complexity of our own breath. Just think about that the next time you take a breath, and use that as fuel to be enormously grateful for each and every breath you take.

Here's a reminder of the resources I included at the beginning of this article and used throughout the 5-week protocol outlined above. I consider these to be some of the best programs to purchase and download to your phone or computer to walk you through the routine each day:

One of the greatest gifts you can bestow upon yourself, or any of your loved ones—including your children—is an intimate relationship with the breath. I hope this article has equipped you with the tools you need to do just that.

Thanks for reading, and leave your own questions, comments, and feedback about breathwork below. You can also let me know if you try any of these routines and find them helpful, or share your own breathing tips!

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4 thoughts on “How To Blast You (And Your Child’s!) Physical, Mental, & Spiritual Resilience Through The Roof With Breathwork.

  1. Tecwyn Griffiths says:

    Hi Ben, great info here. I have heard you talking about breathwork on multiple occasions and finally gave the Wim Hof Breathing Tutorial a go from the link you provided – WOW! I was blown (excuse the pun) away on the impact a little breathing had.

    My morning routing already incorporates a workout and meditation and I am confused where breath-work fits in. Would this replace the meditation? It just makes it a lot to pack in doing all 3 in the morning, and the feeling of clarity after the breath-work is similar to the feeling I get after a good meditation.

    Thanks for all you do,

    Tecwyn (Brisbane, Australia)

  2. Randy George says:

    Fantastic resources, Ben. Thank you! Breath work is an integral part of our training in old samurai martial arts (kenjutsu & bladed weapons arts, and aiki-jujutsu) and we’ve been taking the time to teach on breathing during the pandemic. I’m excited to share your resources with our instructors and students, and LOVE your “4 count in 8 count out” practice.

  3. Jeremy Reisig says:

    Thank you for another thought-provoking email packed with VALUE Ben!

  4. Todd Rosen says:

    So much great content in one email. Ty!

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