Ashley Kumar, physical therapist and breathing specialist, tells us why we need to breathe correctly. Did you know you were not breathing in the right way? Listen now.
Ashley Kumar, physical therapist and breathing specialist, joins Jeanne for this interesting conversation. We often think breathing is the most natural thing in the world so it must be impossible to do it wrong, right? Ashely enlightens us on how ill-equipped we are to breathe correctly and the serious consequences this has on our long-term health.
She also speaks to Jeanne about her panic disorder and how breathing techniques can help with panic attacks. One of the most significant steps in Jeanne's recovery journey was "belly-breathing." Ashley explains why this concept has been miscommunicated to patients and why we should really be practicing diaphragmatic breathing. She explains what this is, how to do it, and what the benefits are of doing it.
Ashley shares various breathing techniques and concepts in this episode with a step-by-step explanation.
Ashley Kumar: Instagram
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00:00:01.450] - Intro
Welcome, goddess, to your sacred space. This is My FIGGI Life podcast, where we openly discuss life's wins and losses on our journeys to self-discovery. This is your best life. This is your FIGGI life. And now here is your host, Jean.
[00:00:20.930] - Jeanne
Hello, FIGGI goddess, and welcome to the my FIGGI life. This podcast Today we have a really special guest who's going to talk to us about the importance of breathing and breathing techniques and I am so excited to introduce her to you. But before we get there, I have some super exciting news to share. The FIGGI Skincare Store is finally up and running its online. You can shop now at FIGGI.EU. So, make sure to check out all of our products and buy the Sensi-Soul skincare regimen for dry and sensitive skin. We are going to welcome Ashley Kumar to the podcast today. She has her Doctor of Physical Therapy and has been practicing PT for over a decade. She works at a holistic wellness centre in St. Louis, Missouri, where she helps her patients heal their whole bodies to live pain free active lives. Her passions lie in postpartum care, the correlation on posture and how it affects the diaphragm and pelvic floor and diaphragmatic breathing for core strength and stress management. She has two young boys and has realized the importance of optimal breathing techniques to manage her stressors and improve her pelvic floor dysfunction that occurred with giving birth.
[00:01:37.690] - Jeanne
She is on a mission to help as many people learn optimal breathing techniques to take back their lives and feel amazing in their bodies because breath defines our behaviour. Welcome to the podcast, Ashley.
[00:01:49.870] - Ashley
Hi there. I'm so excited to be on here and to just help others kind of knowing how to breathe and the importance of breath because I think sometimes, we just don't even realize that we are breathing right because it's so autonomic. So, yeah, I'm excited to share some knowledge and help others to do what I've used to help me with managing my stress.
[00:02:10.910] - Jeanne
The reason why I reached out to you is that I actually saw some of the reels and videos and clips that you were posting on social explaining the whole idea of diaphragmatic breathing. And I thought, well, that's interesting, I'm going to try that. And it worked so well. So, I just had to continue the conversation with you. As my piggy listeners know, I have panic disorder and when I was diagnosed, one of the first kind of treatment options that they gave me was learning to breathe better and using breathing techniques to calm yourself and to ground yourself to try and get out of that panic. But this is something that's supposed to be supernatural to us, right? Breathing is something that we do without thinking. So why would we even need to go into this entire discussion to talk to people about breathing the right way, right?
[00:03:05.020] - Ashley
And so I think it's just that as a child. We don't have to think about it. Unless your body is under any type of traumatic stress or any type of disease or conditions whenever you're a child. But then you always bounce back. But then as we get into our adult years, it's disrupted by different things like daily stressors, postural imbalances, being on the iPhone or the computer slouched over and then your diaphragm gets smashed over stimulation, definitely. And for example, some of the there's even prescription drugs that mimic the sympathetic nervous system, which I'm going to break down here in a minute, what that means. And so those are different reasons why we lose that ability of that second nature and then we start to live more in this sympathetic state instead of that calming parasympathetic state as maybe a child. And so, we forget how to breathe autonomically. We don't even realize that it happened to us, right? So life gets in the way and that's what happens.
[00:04:00.940] - Jeanne
Let's just clarify that for our listeners. When you're saying sympathetic state or response, are you talking about the fight or flight response when you're going to that super stress?
[00:04:11.090] - Ashley
Yes. So it's your autonomic nervous system. It's something that's involuntary, but you do have some voluntary control over it. But the parasympathetic is your rest and digest it's whenever you feel your best. Your food is digesting well, you're in a calm state, your breath is more levelled out and not as rapid or hyperventilating. And then you have your sympathetic state, which is your fight or flight. And that's totally okay whenever you have a stressful event, but then you should come back to your parasympathetic and return to homeostasis. But so many of us are constantly living in chronic stress and so therefore we kind of blunt our ability to get back into that parasympathetic calmed breath.
[00:04:53.270] - Jeanne
I can definitely see a lot of that in my story, which I'm sure we will still discuss during the episode. But I think just to put things into perspective for our listeners and understanding why we need to talk about it. And it's something that we feel is so general, but we still need to explain. I think the next thing that comes into that and understanding that is to understand why what goes wrong if we don't breathe the right way. What could the consequences of that be? How do we feel that in our bodies, in our everyday lives?
[00:05:22.870] - Ashley
If you slowly start to notice that you're having more anxiety or stress, then you might notice that your body kind of tenses up or you might not notice it. Some people just aren't even aware of their bodies. It's pretty wild to me, but they aren't. And that's okay. But you kind of get some tension in your shoulders. There's some sympathetic muscles called the hip flexor, which is the SOAS, as well as the upper traps. And they go along with this sympathetic response, kind of like what fires whenever you're running from a lion. And so those muscles tend to get tight and hold tension and then don't let go. And then that muscle tension leads to other issues like migraines and headaches and neck pain and back pain and those sorts of things. And so, it's commonly known for my chronic pain patients that they have anxiety. Right. And so their anxiety then I'm looking at their breath pattern, I can just know right away that it's actually their breath and their anxiety that's causing some of their chronic pain. Not always with every chronic pain patient, but it is very common. So yeah, that's kind of what happens whenever we breathe incorrectly.
[00:06:28.340] - Ashley
Also, I don't know if you've ever noticed this FIGGI, but whenever you have a lot to do or you have a lot of stress on your mind, do you hold your breath?
[00:06:37.170] - Jeanne
Oh, yeah, for sure. I definitely become aware of that. I'm more aware of my body now as I have become with my maintenance for my panic disorder, which is great. And one of the first things that I always notice is like, I feel out of breath.
[00:06:55.910] - Ashley
[00:06:56.630] - Jeanne
After I've been stressed, especially when I'm in a work situation and I'm super stressed, I will get like, moments where I feel like I just want to take that sigh.
[00:07:07.260] - Ashley
Yeah. And it's your body's reminder. It's like, please breathe. Please do that. So, yeah, we sigh under stress. If you notice someone has a lot on their plate, they'll sigh a lot. And I never picked that up before, before I started studying the breath in great detail. And these are all these things that are coming out on your body physically that's actually happening to you internally. So whenever we hold our breath, what happens? You lose two to your body and your brain, and that's like, all breath is encompassing and everything is connected. But I'd say for me, as a physical therapist, the biggest thing that I see is the muscle tension and the chronic pain, and there's just this indescribable, why did this happen to me kind of thing. Right. Those are the patients that it's like, well, it's not really trauma or an injury. It's more of how you are behaving, what does your behaviour look like? And then that unfolds the whole picture of what your breath is. So, I say breath defines our behaviour.
[00:08:04.480] - Jeanne
That's very true, because this is something that I definitely still struggle with a lot. Usually when I have to go for a physical therapy session, it is, I would say, eight out of ten times related to my neck and my shoulders that have in turn been causing really severe migraines. And its usually times when I've either had a relapse or I've been a lot more anxious, is my normal state of mind, hence the disorder. But if I've, even more than that, been anxious because then I've been tight and I've been like, pulling up my shoulders and you don't realize it, but you breathe from up here, from almost like your neck up. You don't take any full breaths because you're constantly so stressed. You're taking those kinds of short breaths. You don't realize it, but that's what you're doing. And it just causes all of the stress here in the upper part and.
[00:09:06.130] - Ashley
The pit in the stomach. Those are brain and the neurons that are happening from the brain. There are so many neurons as well in your stomach. And so how they say your gut, your feeling and your gut, right, that in your intuition, all of that. So the body is encompassing and these are all of the things with the autonomic nervous system and how the breath then plays upon what you're feeling with your state of mind. And the other thing that's interesting and I wanted to mention is we know how we have some patients with or some people with Kyphosis and so they're flexed forward and they're kind of stuck in that hunched posture that's once again, the breast defines our behaviour and our posture and how we look. So I think of those people as their rib cage hasn't been moving and like that bucket handle opening and closing. And so, their ribs are almost suffocating their lungs because they haven't used their good diaphragm to open and close. And there's thoracic cavities and their ribs are very stiff. I can tell right away it's their breath that I have to work on. We work on all this mobility work and it doesn't stick.
[00:10:11.990] - Ashley
So that's the diaphragm's job, to keep those ribs moving and flushing toxins and all of that. But we're really keeping those ribs mobile and that will help your posture just as much as all of the other mobility work, in my opinion.
[00:10:29.610] - Jeanne
I want to ask you so many things about diaphragmatic breathing, but I think I first want to dive into understanding the difference between most people know about belly breathing or have read about it or have seen it somewhere. And I must say, when I started doing it and practicing it, as I said, as a way to be mindful or to better breathe, it never felt comfortable for me, especially when I was super anxious. It almost felt like it made my anxiety worse. And also, if you're doing something to make you feel more mindful and better and more at peace, it didn't help me a lot to see my belly, like, expanding to the edges of what it could be and then retracting. So it never really worked that well for me. Then I saw, of course, the diaphragmatic breathing. I tried it and it was much, much better. Why did they recommend belly breathing? What's it supposed to do to help you?
[00:11:30.140] - Ashley
So, in the yoga practice, it is taught to inhale in through your nose and down into your belly. And they don't mean anything wrong by that, right? It's just that that's how they are queuing someone. And so the person then would take it to breathe into the belly, which will therefore I mean, I could push my belly out right now and bring it back in. So it's almost like you're forcing the belly to push out, but are you really taking your breath there? No, likely not. So my cue for people, if I were to tell you, instead of breathe into your belly and take your energy there, I want you to take your breath and put your hands around your rib cage and breathe 360 degrees into your rib cage from the front to the sides to the back. And that's where your diaphragm sits, is all the way around and under that not around, but under that rib cage. And so it's just how you cue somebody, it's so important. And that's like kind of my eye opening experience. Is everyone's talking about breath yoga. They're telling you to breathe into your belly, but no one's really I don't know.
[00:12:32.100] - Ashley
Not no one, but a lot of people aren't doing it right. And I figured that out because patient after patient, 95% of the time, we're not even breathing into their ribcage, their lower rib cage. So, their back ribs were not moving. And so with that belly breath, what are you really doing? Well, you're kind of doing opposite of what we should be doing. You're inhaling into your belly and you're thinning your abdominal muscles, and you need those abdominal muscles, let me tell you. Yeah, and so there's that breath. And so I think it's just like a telephone thing where I called you, then you called your girlfriend, and your girlfriend called your other girlfriend, and things just got miscommunicated. The other one is the chest breathing the paradoxical breath. And so other people say you read Breath by James Nestor. It's an amazing book about breath. And he's like, just breathe in Wimhoff. He says, just breathe. And he gets really attitude about it. He's like, breathe while the truck goes. And so, people are like, okay, well, just breathe because it's good for me. And so, they do that 30 breath hyperventilation. He kind of wants you to go into 30 intense hyperventilation breath and then holds.
[00:13:39.810] - Ashley
But for those people, what I notice they're doing is their chest breathing. And so, the chest breath is more that stimulation of the sympathetic system. So it uses your accessory neck muscles versus your diaphragm, which is your primary inspiratory muscle. So the secondary neck muscles are being used whenever someone has pneumonia ALS on their end of their ALS life. Right? So the accessory neck muscles are not our primary breathing muscles. It's not the diaphragm and the intercostals. So once again, we're too. Yeah. And so it's like, well, why does my neck hurt? Well, maybe it's because the hyperventilation breath type causes your neck muscles to fire. And that is why the leading reason for neck pain is stress. So these kinds of things start to wear out the body, whether it's the lumbar spine or the neck, whether it's the belly breathing or the chest breathing, neither of those are really getting to your relaxed state and your optimal way. That your body's physiological way that was born and meant to do breathing properly. These are the things that I think just need to be communicated over and over again. That's why I'm so passionate about getting the word out to help people understand how to properly breathe.
[00:14:49.810] - Ashley
Because we're all talking about breath, but how are we doing it? Are we doing it properly?
[00:14:54.520] - Jeanne
Why do so many psychologists recommend this belly breathing technique, especially related to bringing down anxiety and lowering anxiety?
[00:15:04.350] - Ashley
Like I said, I think they're meaning, well, they're queuing is what everybody the telephone got confused. Or maybe there just weren't enough physical therapists explaining how we're supposed to 360 degrees breathe through our diaphragm. But the message is just a little bit breathe into your belly. And they're hoping that you're diaphragmatically breathing because whenever your ribs move in 360 degrees of motion all around that lower rib cage, your belly does, the pressure does increase, but it should increase as a cylinder in the front, the size of your torso and the back. And so they are meaning well, like I say, but most people are interpreting that to just push their bellies out and kind of hyper extend their backs. That happens a little bit. And they get some motion in their lower lumbar spine in their rib cage or lower ribcage.
[00:15:59.010] - Jeanne
What is then the difference between belly breathing and diaphragmatic breathing?
[00:16:03.750] - Ashley
So I'll have you go ahead and place your hands, kind of like imagine your hands are out, your thumbs are out, and take those hands and place them around your lower rib cage. So your front forefingers will be on the front rib cage, and your thumb will be on the back of your rib cage. And let's break down diaphragmatic breathing so that the audience really understands how to implement this. So, what you'll do is so my.
[00:16:27.150] - Jeanne
Hands are really around the lower part of my ribcage, right? I can feel like my thumbs at the back of my ribcage and my fore fingers here at the front, right?
[00:16:36.240] - Ashley
You got it, girl. The thumb at the back of the ribcage is the most important part. And then sitting with your rib cage stacked over a neutral pelvis, that's important. I don't want you to have an arched back because you will not feel your back ribs move. That's why posture is very important. I want you to take a nice deep breath in through your nose and try to feel motion in your ribs all the way around and especially into your thumb. Go ahead and do that.
[00:17:00.650] - Jeanne
Oh, my God.
[00:17:03.910] - Ashley
And if your back ribs don't move, your diaphragm probably isn't dropping down and flattening on your inhale. And then it's like, well, where is it going right? Is it getting stuck in my chest or is it going just into my belly? And then now try putting your hands around your rib cage. So what you want to do is you inhale in and you feel your front ribs and your back ribs move. That's the diaphragm breathing. Now the belly breathing would be put your hands around your ribcage and maybe arch your back up a little bit and then take a big inhale in. And sometimes it gets stuck in your chest but it might just more go to just your belly. But the belly breathing will be the ribs don't move much. That's the difference.
[00:17:51.830] - Jeanne
I love how you have to kind of have that mind body connection because you really have to concentrate and think even when I'm holding my fingers around my rib cage. And I definitely feel a huge difference between doing it and then really thinking and connecting between doing it and having the back part of my ribs also extend, as you mentioned, like breathing into the back as well.
[00:18:17.740] - Ashley
Yes, thinking this. Your lungs you're trying to fill essentially whenever you inhale into your nose, you're trying to fill your lungs full of two. So, your primary respiratory muscle is your intercostals and your diaphragm. So you want to feel the front and the back ribs and the side ribs all open up like a bucket handle as the ribs should on inhalation. But if you really feel your whole entire lungs up and you take a very big deep breath, you'll feel those lower ribs move and then it will come up to the middle ribs and the top ribs as well as you feel those lungs full of two. We'll talk about breath technique here in a little bit, but that is just the main thing of how to get the diaphragm awakened. So I recommend people put either their hands around their rib cage or type a TheraBand around your lower ribs and then let that be proprioceptive feedback and it will help to wake up your diaphragm muscle just like using a resistance weight to activate your bicep curls. So your diaphragm will get some feedback and that really helps people just like AHA moment, it's awesome.
[00:19:28.180] - Ashley
So, you need that little bit of feedback. And it's a great technique for if you want to practice your breath, how would you say?
[00:19:34.220] - Jeanne
We would start to kind of practice it in a way where it becomes second nature to us. Because now, obviously, when I'm sitting here and I'm concentrating on doing it, I'm doing it. But if I'm sitting in front of my desk or if I'm going about my day, then you often forget. So, are there steps that we can take for it to become more natural form of breathing for us?
[00:19:56.800] - Ashley
So say you're driving in your car and you're first thing in the morning. I recommend what do we usually do whenever we go to work as we drive in our car, we trains go to work, right? So we have to sit in our car. Or if you're at your house first thing in the morning when you sit down at your desk, you can kind of flex your body down just a little bit so you really open up that posterior diaphragm, which is the one that usually gets weak on people because they're not really using their usually if they're stressed in that arched back position. Rib cage is flared in the back of the diaphragm isn't descending down. So you could put your hands on your steering wheel, drop your ribcage in the front down a little bit, and then inhale into your back body and do five really nice breaths, really nice deep breaths to just start that patterning. And then if you wanted to set your alarm three times a day. But what I tell patients is if you have a stressful moment, always make it a habit that after the stressful moment, you go into a quiet place, you get away from the stress, you go to the bathroom, sit on the toilet, you bend over and you get your breath back.
[00:20:58.480] - Ashley
Because that is where we go wrong. We get stressed, we stay stressed, and then it lends into the rest of the day. We don't sleep at night, heart rate variability goes all out, our deep sleep goes away and it's like this chronic cycle and then we end up having issues and disease creeps in. So let stop that sympathetic state as soon as you can and get back to your rest digest, you know, so after you're stressed out, go away to a quieter place and calm back your central nervous system. And that's, I think, how I would tell people to do that in their day to day versus setting an alarm is just not as meaningful and at the right timing.
[00:21:37.890] - Jeanne
And if I set an alarm, I get even more stressed because then the alarm goes off and I'm like, oh.
[00:21:42.710] - Ashley
My God, I'm not doing it exactly.
[00:21:47.410] - Jeanne
Or the alarm will probably go off during a meeting or a podcast, then I'll be even more stressed. You've spoken about it a little bit, but just to clarify and to just maybe get more information about that, can diaphragmatic breathing help you with panic attacks and not anxiety as such, but say, for example, you're in the midst or at the beginning of having a panic attack. Can this also help you to level out your breathing again and try and get back to a calmer space? But obviously, knowing FIGGI goddesses, if you have panic disorder or anxiety disorder, we all know when you're in the stage of a panic attack, there's a lot that goes on and there's a lot more that goes into it. But breathing definitely is one of the key factors that can help.
[00:22:35.280] - Ashley
So, I have two things I'm going to mention. One is a specific scenario that I've experienced that I think put me in the right timing, in the right place. And then two is I'm going to tell you the actual physiological reasons as to why it helps. So number one was I was in Catalina Island and randomly at this big event, and there was a man in a wheelchair. He was having a panic attack. And I just randomly looked over. I just walked over to him. It just was like something that was in me. I just had to go. It's like my calling and pulling. So, I went over to him, and he was having a full blown panic attack. Put my hand on him, had him close his eyes. He couldn't breathe. So that's what happens, right? Whenever you have a panic attack, you feel like you can't breathe, you're suffocating. So, I just sat there and calmed him and kept him going on his breath and counting. Hey, man, I just want you to inhale into your nose. Started off with 2 seconds because he couldn't breathe, and exhale three inhale. One, two, exhales out through your mouth.
[00:23:31.320] - Ashley
One, two, three. We talked through that till I got him up to 4 seconds inhale five second exhale. And the guy, his panic attack completely stopped. So, I intervened. That hyperventilation, which is too much oxygen, and we got him more CO2, which is essentially a calming effect in CO2, in your blood, helps to calm you. And the paramedics came in by that.
[00:23:54.330] - Jeanne
This is the same as the brown paper bag, right? The brown paper bag also gives you this, correct?
[00:23:59.920] - Ashley
You got it? Yes. So it helps you with that CO2 calming effect. And so the paramedics came, and they didn't need, you know, the paramedics. He was like, oh, this angel helped me. And it's like, I'm not an angel. I'm just teaching how to breathe. So what happens, what happened to that man that day? What happens to you whenever you have a panic attack? Well, hyperventilation happens, and that's too much oxygenation in your blood. And your body oxygen is a river. Your body is always looking for some homeostasis. The balance between CO2 and two. But too much oxygen will get your state of mind. It's a stimulant. It'll get you two riled up and get you back in your sympathetic state. And CO2, we could take you back to the parasympathetic and calms you down. So, I just want to get that balance back as soon as possible, right, with your breath. That's kind of the ANASY physiological reason why that works. But it also whenever you start to do that breath and that diaphragm drops down, most major and most important vessels, they pierce through the diaphragm, which is crazy. Your oesophagus does your inferior vena cava your aorta and your vagus nerve.
[00:25:01.530] - Ashley
And your vagus nerve comes from your cranial nerves out of your brain stem, but it comes all the way down and feeds through the diaphragm and into the intestines, and that helps to lower blood pressure and heart rate. So as that diaphragm is squeezing that vagus nerve and stimulating it, it is causing also to send risk signals to your heart and your brain to slow your heart rate. So those are the reasons why you can tap back into your you took an involuntary autonomic process, and you made it voluntary by your breath and your state of mind, where you controlled that. And that is why the CO2, and the simulation of Vegas nerve causes you to calm down. So it's pretty cool that you can actually intervene.
[00:25:46.270] - Jeanne
Just stepping away for just a second from anxiety and all of that. One of the things that this really also helped me with a lot, and please, FIGGI God is, you know, the podcast. I'm not a doctor. I'm not diagnosing anything. Please, please go to your medical professional or your physical therapist if you have questions. I'm just sharing my experience with you. I had my gallbladder removed many years ago, and ever since then, I've had a lot of pain on the side of the removal, especially the muscles there. And sometimes, like, it feels like I can't sit up straight. And if I go for physical therapy, they always told me it's the scar tissue from the operation that was stuck there, and it needs to work out. So, I'm probably not explaining this in the best way. You can correct me in a minute, but I need to work on these muscles. Like, I need to rub them or massage them. And ever since I started doing this diaphragmatic breathing, I've noticed a real big difference in that pain that I'm feeling here, because it's literally right under my ribcage where my gallbladder was. And it's so far one of the only things that have made a real difference in that pain.
[00:27:05.800] - Jeanne
So, does it help to stretch and exercise those muscles just underneath the skin that could have been affected by cutting through it?
[00:27:16.970] - Ashley
Yeah, definitely. It does both your scar tissue mobility and then I love to do some dry brushing as well as a whole massage on my GI tract. I do that regularly. But it's funny how appendicitis appendectomies appendix issues, right? Ileocecal valve is another huge one that's correlated to the sympathetic system. Whenever you're in a chronic state of stress, you get a leaky ileocecal valve. And an ileocecal valve is the connection of the small intestines to the large intestines. It's funny. It's on the right side of the body, right on top of the SOAS muscles. So many physical therapists see it as a tight SOAS. Yeah, the SOAS is probably also tight. This is the autonomic nervous system. The autonomic nervous system causes the SOAS to become tight and revved up. The ileocecal valve flails in the wind and doesn't stay closed. The GI, the food stops getting that good peristalsis, because whenever you're stressed, everything. Kind of stops because your body is running from the lion, but even the gallbladder, right, as it's all in that area by the small and large intestine, the SOAS, but the Peristalsis, you're assisting peristalsis and getting you back to the parasympathetic system by the inhalation.
[00:28:28.360] - Ashley
The diaphragm dropping down the pelvic floor also relaxes. And then on the exhalation, the pelvic floor rises. The diaphragm goes back up into its dome shape. So, you're essentially massaging your GI tract without actually having to put your hands on it to massage it. So it helps with that elimination of toxins. Yeah. So the diaphragmatic breath definitely helps with any of my abdominal surgery patients. Big time. Wow.
[00:28:51.180] - Jeanne
Yeah, I really have felt a huge difference since doing that's.
[00:28:55.710] - Ashley
[00:28:56.380] - Jeanne
So you noted something about the diaphragmatic breathing, and you said that you have to concentrate or put a little bit more emphasis on the outbreath.
[00:29:05.850] - Ashley
Whenever you inhale, I'm going to go through that first. Whenever you inhale, your diaphragm moves down and it flattens, so therefore you have more room for your heart cavity. So your heart volume increases and more blood flows through your heart. And so then it sends a signal to your brain that says to speed up the heart. So not only is that oxygen going to cause that more stimulation, but also it's just the fact that your diaphragms drop down, you have more room for your heart. So your heart's going to speed up a little bit more on your inhalation. Your exhalation, your diaphragm is going to go back up and relax in that dome shape. It's going to decrease the amount of space for your heart to pump. And then that's going to send a signal to your brain to say, slow down your heart. So why does that exhalation also? There are so many reasons, but this is just another one of them, is that exhaling longer, slows that heart rate down, and therefore we have some degree of control to relax down and decrease our heart rate. So, it's going to be the CO2. The longer the XL, you're going to have more CO2 in your blood as well as you're going to have your heart cavity a little bit tighter because the diaphragms don't back up.
[00:30:17.370] - Ashley
So, your heart rate therefore is going to slow down some. I don't know if you've ever heard of Andrew Huberman. He's a neuroscientist out of Stanford, but research study at Stanford and he found out the fastest way to calm the central nervous system. It's even better than his reports show. It's even better than meditation. This technique right here is the very best way to tap into calm your central nervous system. So it's a double inhale. So you go and you inhale the lungs full of oxygen, or you inhale the diaphragm drops, right. The lungs fill with O two, you inhale as much as possible to fill the lungs. And then you get that second inhale to fill even that last little drip of o two. And then you hold. You know, your hold is all dependent on where you're at. Whether it's a two second hold, five second hold, or ten second hold. And then you hum or sigh with your exhale. And you want your exhale to be long girl like maybe your inhale is only 4 seconds. And your exhale, you want to maybe try to double it as 8 seconds and then you hold.
[00:31:16.890] - Ashley
The most important thing is the exhale and then the hold after the exhale. Because remember, CO2 So we want to relax. And CO2 is a relaxant. So, it goes something like this. I'm going to preface that with your nose does two things. It breathes and it smells. So many of us smell our way into a breath. And that's the wrong way because our smell causes those accessory muscles to fire. So like this if I were to smell the roses and then it's like oh, that was short. And that went right up to my chest. Try that out for me. Try to smell and you see how it's like short, right? Yeah.
[00:31:55.930] - Jeanne
And I feel it in my chest for sure.
[00:31:57.770] - Ashley
Yeah, you feel that go in your chest, don't you? Versus breath. So you open up the back of the Trachea in the middle of your throat and you want to feel the cold air hit that. Versus your nose hairs. Okay. And it kind of sounds dark Vader like this is what it should sound like. Could you hear that?
[00:32:21.200] - Jeanne
[00:32:23.210] - Ashley
It almost likes snoring but it's not snoring. Okay. So, try that out. So much better. And you want to get that good. You want to get that working. And did you see how whenever you did that it went straight down into.
[00:32:36.130] - Jeanne
Your diaphragm and you really do feel the cold air here at the back of your throat.
[00:32:44.300] - Ashley
Yeah. So that's really important because I think that's how you get the inhale in and that's how you get the diaphragm working. So I'm going to go through this really quick. The double inhale the hold and then the exhale. And the exhale is either a where you hear that and that's a vibration. That vibration also stimulates the vagus nerve a bit more or you can just sigh and go. Okay, that's not going to stimulate you're.
[00:33:14.680] - Jeanne
Keeping your mouth closed though, right? I don't see you opening your mouth to let go of the you're keeping it closed. Okay.
[00:33:20.920] - Ashley
So that is interesting. There are so many different techniques. So if I did a purse lift, then I can't really hum or sigh. I'd say if you're in anxiety attack, you need to go purse lift. Because the purse lift is going to create more resistance and really going to keep you going on that exhale even longer. This one is more you really want to just calm yourself down after a stressful event technique or you do five minutes of breath work, and this is what you focus on. Okay, so I'm going to go through it real quick. It's a double inhale hold, say, 5 seconds exhale. Or I could sigh fully, deplete CO2 out hold, and rinse and repeat. That's the fastest way that Huberman found better than the Wimhoff method, which is 30 hyperventilation’s with a hold, which would be this.
[00:34:35.830] - Jeanne
That just makes me nervous. Even hearing that makes me super anxious.
[00:34:42.010] - Ashley
Which is so interesting. The Wim HOF method, I do think it's practical, and it totally works for some, especially whenever you're in the cold and you're needing to calm yourself down. But I'm more the slow, long kind of gal, and I feel like I connect more to that, and that seems to stimulate me a little bit better. Now, if I was having a panic attack, I would go like this in Helen, starting off with as long as I could. Right? Because the panic attack, you're in hyperventilation, so it's going to be hard for you to take a four second in hell. Let's just be honest. Maybe I start with a three, and I finish with a five. So I'm just going to go through that yogi breath where I open the back of the throat and I'm going to do a purse lift. The holds maybe near the end of your ability to get out of the hyperventilation, but you definitely probably won't be able to hold much because you'll be in such an excitatory state that that will make you feel like you're losing more, like you're going to have more difficulty breathing, I'd say.
[00:35:47.940] - Ashley
So, just starting off with that.
[00:35:49.500] - Jeanne
The other technique that we should talk about, and we've also talked about is the inhaling through your alternating nostrils. And I use this when I have insomnia, when I can't sleep, that time when you are so tired and you think the minute your head hits the pillow, you're going to sleep. And then all of a sudden, everything that you did not do that day is like completely listed in your mind, and it helps me with being a little bit more sleepy. Does that make sense?
[00:36:22.650] - Ashley
Yes. Totally does. Yes. So, there's two different theories or techniques with the alternate nose breathing. If you're looking to stimulate your parasympathetic, which I think is most of us, right, then you would hold the right nostril closed, and you would just inhale through that left nostril. Okay. And you do your same thing where you do your inhale for, say, four hold and then your exhale for, say, six or eight hold. So, sorry, let me go through that. You would inhale through the left nostril hold, and then you'd close the left nostril and you'd exhale out through the right. Okay. So you'd inhale in through the left.
[00:37:07.270] - Jeanne
And that's a little harder than you think just by saying you really have to concentrate, especially with the out.
[00:37:12.940] - Ashley
But the left side of the hemisphere of the brain is your creativity, your mindfulness, your relaxation, more your artistic side. And the right side of the brain is your logical thinking, your rationale, your engineer type of mind. So, your inhale into the left nostril brings more two to the left hemisphere of the brain.
[00:37:34.290] - Jeanne
I really know that many of you may be driving, or you may be afraid that you're going to forget all of these tips and you're trying to kind of visualize it. So are there some specific posts we can send the figuring listeners to where they can actually see you doing it?
[00:37:49.320] - Ashley
Yeah, definitely. I'm very active on Instagram, so my account is Ashley Kumar Kumarpt one on one. So if you want to follow me on Instagram, I have lots and lots of breathing things on there for sure.
[00:38:04.890] - Jeanne
And don't worry about it. I'm going to put a link to Ashley's Instagram in the description of this episode, which you can just easily click. Thank you so much for sharing all of these amazing moments and thoughts and life lessons with us. We are so grateful. I find this breathing exercises and how it influences your life so interesting. Thank you so much for your time and for coming on the My FIGGI Life podcast and I hope to see you here again. Remember, FIGGI Goddess, if you want to get in touch with Ashley, we're going to link her socials for you in the description below and definitely go to her Instagram and check out all of her cool videos on breathing and see if it can help you. Thank you so much, Ashley.
[00:38:54.850] - Ashley
I'm so grateful you have me on. Thank you, Vicki's.
[00:38:57.470] - Jeanne
Goddess, remember that everybody deserves to celebrate the goddess within. I wish you a week of love and light and we will see you again next week on the My FIGGI Life podcast.
[00:39:09.630] - Intro
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