Spirituality of Nutrition

Live Intentionally With the Power of Breathwork

The Power of Breathwork

Breathwork is an amazing tool to help you slow down, stay present, and refocus within just a few minutes.

ITN founder and CEO Cynthia Garcia has reaped the benefits of breathwork for many years and shares the science for why it works on today’s episode.

It’s a simple practice that can truly transform your daily life. Not only can breathwork guide you through moments of chaos or anger, but it can also help folks who struggle with depression, anxiety, and PTSD to calm their body and mind. 

Breathwork is not a cure-all, but it’s a start to living a more present life.

Cynthia shares two techniques — deep abdominal breathing and the 4/7/8 practice — to give beginners an idea for what to expect and how to get started.

Tune in to learn more about how and why you should add breathwork into your wellness routine. 

Breathwork and Spirituality

Here at ITN, we believe that spirituality equals connection.

Connection with yourself, with others, and with the environment.

Practicing breathwork is a great way to connect with yourself and strengthen that personal relationship.

It helps you get in tune with your body and your mind in a calming, peaceful, safe way.

An inspirational quote from episode 021

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Getting started…

You don’t need to be a meditation expert to reap the benefits of breathwork.

In this episode, Cynthia walks you through two different breathing techniques that can help kickstart your breathwork journey.

And, we even put together a guided meditation that will help move you through a “Detox Your Mind” 7-minute practice. Click here to access this guided meditation exercise right now.

Listen to Discover...
  • The physical, mental, and spiritual benefits of breathwork
  • Where breathwork originated from and how other cultures use it to improve health
  • The biology behind how breathwork encourages the nervous system to let go of stress
  • Two simple breathing techniques that Cynthia recommends for beginners
  • How to implement breathwork into a sustainable daily routine

Episode Resources:

Listen to The Transformational Nutrition Podcast on Apple Podcast Spotify Stitcher

Ready to take the next steps toward becoming a Nutrition Coach?  Download our detailed Course Catalog

Want to hear more from the ITN student featured in this episode? Connect with Jared!

Download your free guided meditation audio right now.

Read the transcript for this episode:

[00:00:00] Cynthia Garcia: Breath work is essentially conscious breathing and it can be found in many places and time periods across the globe. Most notably breath work has been continuously practiced in China, India, Japan, and Tibet for healing and maintaining overall good.

Welcome back to the Transformational Nutrition Podcast, the podcast that is redefining nutrition as anything that eats you physically, mentally and spiritually. I’m your host. Cynthia Garcia, the founder and CEO of the Institute of Transformational Nutrition. 

And in today’s episode, we are talking about breathwork.

That’s right. Breath work. Now, the first time I ever heard about breath work, I had no idea. I thought, well, I breathe fine. Why do I have to work at it? Don’t get it. And that was in a yoga class. I was like, Hey, you know, and on a side note, I got to tell you, I love yoga. I’ve been doing it for years. It helps me to move my body in a gentle way.

As gentle as I want to be. Yoga can also be pretty intense, but it’s a great way for me to distress. Get me in a great mood. It’s just the best. And again, yoga class is where I first heard about this thing called breath work again. I was like, I’m reading. Okay. But here’s the thing. I remember I went to this class and I was so stressed.

It’s so crazy. I almost didn’t go that day because I had like a million other things that I should have been doing. And then I remember I get there, there was nowhere to park. There was traffic cause it was in Los Angeles and I was just like, okay. Do this, but I went because I knew that I needed to move and I knew that this class would clear my head, put me in a different mood and I’d be so much better.

It would all be worth it. So I got there and I go into the class and I’m still feeling pretty distracted. I kind of went through the motions and then we got to the end of the class. And as we were doing our cool-down. The instructor said that she wanted to do some breath work with us. And again, that’s where I was like, I don’t get it, but okay.

Sure. But immediately I thought I got to get home. I got stuff to do. I got to do this thing. So I started to go to the grocery store. I remember. So on and so forth, but long story short, she walked us through this breathwork exercise. And I stayed because I was too embarrassed to get up and leave and that’s the truth.

And so I just sat there and I thought, okay, what are we doing? I went along with her prompts when she said, slow down, set your intentions for the evening. She helps us to release some stress. And I remember going through this exercise and at some point my mind just shifted. My brain shifted and I wasn’t sitting there like, why am I doing this?

I’m wasting my time anymore. But I felt light. I felt lighter. I felt like everything had shifted. I felt like everything had really slowed down and I was present. I was energized and there wasn’t anywhere else I needed to be in that moment. Except. There. Now, when I say that, it kind of sounds like this magic spell that was cast by this instructor that just made all of my problems disappear, but I don’t want you to think of it like that.

It didn’t make me forget about all these things I had to do nor did it make me feel like I had just been healed by this higher power or something, but it did help me to slow down. Take things one at a time and be much more relaxed, present, renewed, and focused. Now that yoga class was a long time ago, like a really long time ago.

And ever since I’ve been incorporating breathwork into my routine, I don’t do it every single day. I do try to get some small kind of breathwork in every day, but I don’t do a whole. Exercise every single day, most days, but there are times when, if I can’t squeeze it in, I at least do the minimum because I know what a big difference it makes in my body and my mind and my mental health in my spirit.

So that’s what I wanted to talk about today. I want to give some context as to what breath work. Is in case you’re not familiar with it, like, like I was. And I also want to share with you a really cool tool at the end of this episode that you can take and use for yourself to get all of the benefits that I just talked about.

We love spotlighting the stories and transformations of our students here at ITN. Especially excited to share Jared Fisher’s journey from being told he had a debilitating disease and suffering a horrific accident to being a certified transformation or nutrition coach with his own thriving product-based business.

Let’s meet Jared. Now

[00:05:04] Jared Fisher: I was in an accident when I was 17 years old. Yeah. I woke up or I regained consciousness underwater. And I remember thinking at the time, like, this is how my life’s going to end. I’ve been a huge surfer my whole life. And I was involved in a surfing accident. I had several surgeries to repair the injury.

After that. I was always a really small kid growing up. I never really had a growth spurt. And so that was really a source of, I would say, insecurity for me and contributed to an overall lack of confidence. And then when I had this injury to my face, that just kind of made it worse because I had these horrific scars on my face.

I would say that really started this downward spiral. Oh, it turned into alcohol and drug abuse and really just living a lifestyle that was not supportive of good health. And then I found myself in my late twenties and I started having really bad, lower back pain. And I saw a couple of doctors and they’re looking at my MRI and they’re like, whoa, this looks.

They diagnosed me with degenerative disc disease. There’s really no cure. And basically I was told, yeah, your spine looks like that of somebody in their sixties. From there, the daily drinking continued, I was put on prescription pain medication. Things just kind of continued to spiral and get worse from there.

[00:06:38] Cynthia Garcia: So breathwork is essentially conscious breathing and it can be found in many places and time periods across the globe. Most notably, breathwork has been continuously practiced in China, India, Japan, and Tibet for healing and maintaining overall good health. Now breathwork encompasses various techniques that incorporate the intentional use of the breath.

Basically you can learn. The flow of breath to balance your body, your mind, and your spirit, which is what we focus on at the Institute of transformation on nutrition. It’s that model of transformational nutrition, which has physical nutrition, mental nutrition, and spiritual nutrition. So breath work is an amazing way to meet all five of those areas.

And how it works is basically being aware, like creating a conscious awareness of your breath. When we breathe consciously and with intention, we can slow down our mind hone in on the present moment. And that can cause a great sense of relief and allow us to go back to our day to day activities, feeling clear and focused instead of confused.

And. I mean, if you really think about it, it’s amazing that breath work isn’t even more popular than it is today because our breath is literally what keeps us alive. And so often we go through the day, chronically shallow breathing, denying ourselves our full life force. I saw this saying once again, I’m actually in my yoga studio.

True story that said how we breathe is how we live. I was like, whoa, what, what? So if we want to live life to the fullest, then we should breathe to our fullest. Now, like I mentioned before, there are various techniques for controlling your breathing and then reaping the benefits of doing so I’m going to share a couple that I really like to do.

And these are the ones that I do most often. They’re really easy. They don’t take a lot of time and you can even do them with me on this podcast. So the first one is called deep abdominal breathing. And what you’re going to do is you’re going to imagine that your belly is a balloon. You can close your eyes.

If you want, you can leave them open totally up to you. And I want you to take a long, deep breath visualizing the air that you’re breathing in, filling up that balloon deep in your belly. You should feel your belly expanding your chest rising when you have that full breadth. And be sure to do this slowly and intentionally, and by the way, don’t breathe into your chest like that.

So that your chest is the first thing to rise. Your tummy should be the thing to rise. So breathe deeply. Your, your tummy should go out. Your chest arise a little bit naturally, but that’s okay. Now, as you release your breath on the exhale, focus on your chest, falling, your ribs being pulled in your belly, being pulled.

And actually by doing this and engaging your abdomen in the breath you stimulate, what’s called your vagus nerve, which sends a message to your entire body and mind to relax. All right. So that’s it. That’s deep abdominal breathing. All right. So take that in, do it for a few counts. I like to close my eyes and set my timer for maybe five minutes.

You don’t have to do anything crazy if I’m super busy, but I still know what benefits this will bring to me. I’ll just do it for two or three minutes and I focus really deeply and intensely. So that works for me. But you do, you. Listening as Jared shares his turning point and what spurred him and his family into action.

When it came to their health.

[00:10:23] Jared Fisher: I remember one day I was literally laying on the couch. I could barely move and my kids, they were young at the time and they came up to me and they’re like, Hey dad, you want to go outside and play? And I was just like, it just kinda hit. I can’t even get up and go play with my kids. And so it all kind of came to a head.

I actually went to see a doctor and he told me that I had Andrew paws, which is basically the male equivalent of menopause me going through that my wife come to find out she’s had Hashimoto’s, which is an auto-immune disease. I was experiencing what I was going through, which included drinking every day, eating out every day, taking pain medication every day.

My daughter was having allergic reactions to a lot of the things that she was eating. My son was having anxiety. So my wife was the one who really took the bull by the horns and initiated change for the family by starting to make all of our food. We stopped eating out every day. And it just went from thinking that we were healthy or doing things that were supportive of good health.

But in reality, we weren’t to making the shift where health became the focal point of both of our lives. And it was no more eating out. It was making every meal that we were eating from scratch and really reinforcing these health habits.

[00:11:50] Cynthia Garcia: Now the second one is called the 4, 7, 8 breath. And what you do here is you’re going to inhale for four seconds. You’re going to hold your breath for seven seconds and you’re going to exhale for eight seconds. You’re also going to run a remember to breathe deep into your belly. So that that’s what expands first instead of your chest.

Okay, this is a great one to begin with. If you’re new to breath work, and honestly the other one is as well. But this one in particular that prolonged exhale, the eight counts encourages the nervous system to let go of stress. And afterwards you feel extremely renewed and that’s really all there. To it. I know this sounds really simple, but when was the last time you did either of these types of breathing?

When was the last time you allowed yourself to slow down long enough to actually focus on something as mundane as breathing. Now, if you were like me back in the day, the answer is probably never, I didn’t have a routine to do it. Back in the day, but I do now. And if I didn’t have a routine and put it into my daily routines, I probably wouldn’t do it.

And that’s just the truth. But now that I do, it feels so necessary. Right. It feels so necessary. Now you might think, well, is it, or is this just a waste of time? I’m breathing just fond, Cynthia, like really? Okay, cool. Let me give you some benefits of breath. And then you get to decide fair. Okay, cool. So let’s start with the physical benefits, right?

Again, we’re all about physical, mental, spiritual here at ITN. So physical. When you think of breath work, probably the first thing you think of is the physical aspect of breathing, inhale, and exhale. Right? So, as I mentioned, you can actually practice breath, work, completing a full breath cycle, where you involve your whole body, your tummy, your mind, your abs, right.

You’ve closed your eyes. And it takes effort to coordinate all elements of this kind of breathing. Even though the simple process. It seems effortless. You do it without even thinking about it. But the physical benefits of deep breathing are immediate. You can activate your parasympathetic nervous system and in turn, slow down your heart rate and lower your blood pressure, creating a feeling of calm.

You can also rely on your diaphragm instead of your chest, inviting your neck and your chest muscles to relax, to open up and to bring in more oxygen. Okay, you can engage your abs to really focus on bringing that oxygen in and making sure that it reaches your body cells and organs. Breathwork also improves oxygen capacity in the blood, which leads to overall improved energy levels.

And. Stamina. If you get really tired at right around that two or 3:00 PM slump, instead of grabbing a caffeine filled, drink like coffee or a soda or something sugary to pick you back up and get you back on track. Try doing breath work instead, just give it a shot. Right? See how it works. The amount of oxygen that we inhale through our breathing, it directly influences the amount of energy that’s released into our sales, right?

That’s why I want you to try breath work instead of turning to again, a sugary drink or a caffeinated drink, because the body will use that extra energy to again, give you the energy gets you through the afternoon, and if there’s more left over, it’ll boost your immunity. Now it also affords you the ability to push your physical workout to a new level because you’re flooding your body with oxygen.

Okay. So with a daily breath work practice, you can learn to consciously control your energy levels and your immune system. I know it’s pretty cool. So try this next time you practice breath work, or maybe for the first time. Focus on the physical aspect of your breath. What’s your chest and belly rise and fall.

But again, remembering that you should be breathing into your tummy first and foremost, notice the temperature and the moisture of your breath tune into the muscles and the bones that are moving in your body. Observe how your body feels when you shift from shallow to deep breathing and just be really present and awake and aware to all.

Jared is leveraging his certified transformational nutrition certification in a different way than many coaches who become certified do. And we not only encourage that, but we love it when our students use their education in a way that inspires and motivates them to go out and impact the world and a better, healthier way.

[00:16:24] Jared Fisher: I would say I’m definitely not using it in the traditional capacity. A lot of people probably think that this program is designed for somebody who wants to work with clients one-on-one or in a small group setting. And I would say this is a great program for those who want to do that. But I would say it’s definitely not.

To those who want to work with others, one-on-one myself being an example. So my wife and I, about a year ago, we decided to take one of the recipes that she’s been making, which is a pancake and waffle mix. And turn that into a food company it’s called organically food for me, the way I’ve leveraged, that is part of the program was.

Dedicated to nutrition aspect. Part of the program was dedicated to a psychology spirituality, but there’s also this running a business component. And although I’ve been running a business in a completely different industry for the past 16 years, you know, it was really looking for some guidance there to help leverage this nutrition and health knowledge and translate that into.

The business that my wife and I have launched. There’s so much of what I’ve taken from that program has been applied to what we’re doing with organically foods, the whole business incubator, part of the CTNC program. There’s some amazing resources there.

[00:18:09] Cynthia Garcia: Okay. I’ve talked to you about the physical benefits. I mean, seriously, if 3:00 PM slump doesn’t do it for you. I don’t know what we’ll give it a shot. Let me know what you think. Now let’s talk about the mental benefits. So in addition to reversing the physical stress response in your body, This breath work or deep breathing can also help calm and slow down any emotional turbulence in your mind.

In fact, there are numerous studies that show that breath work can help with depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It’s often used to help people who have mental health issues, and it’s seen as a way to calm and focus your mind, listen and process negative emotions. Thir trauma. All these things can get tracked and stored in the body and they become these energetic blocks that can take a real physical toll on the body.

Breath work is an incredibly powerful tool to help unlock unravel and release those spheres, those traumas, those limiting beliefs and all of those negative emotions. In addition, how we breathe often indicates how we feel, think about it in the way that shallow, rapid breaths makes us feel anxious and tired, long, deep breaths that originate in the tummy and the abdomen can help us to feel calm.

Centered grounded and energized. Now, the reason for this is because deep breathing activates that parasympathetic nervous system, which takes us out of fight or flight response, right. Which is a sympathetic nervous system. So by activating your parasympathetic nervous system, it’s going to slow down your heart rate, lower your blood pressure and help you create this deep feeling of calm.

While it’s reducing your overall stress and anxiety, and let’s tell the truth. Couldn’t we all use a little bit more of that these days. I know why. Sure. Also when it comes to mental health, neuroscientists have made a direct correlation between an increase of alpha brainwaves and reduced symptoms of depression.

That is powerful stuff for all of my friends out there who struggle with depression. Like I do. So pay attention to this. There are five types of brainwaves that we move through during a given day. Breathwork is an effective way to shift your brainwaves from beta to alpha and even beta thereby decreasing negative thought patterns, stress and depression levels.

Seriously. The way that we breathe can incredibly affect our mental health. Like that’s insane. Like I know you got to breathe, so why not try doing it in an intentional way? So I gave you some ways to focus on the physical. When you’re doing breath work. Let me give you some ways to focus on the mental, to focus on your mind.

When you practice breath work, you want to be aware that thoughts in your head, but don’t attach to them. Notice what you notice, and then let them go feel what feelings come up, what emotions come up and let them go notice your inner voice and anything that it’s telling you. And then visualize the intention that you set for your breath work practices.

In other words, be mindful. We asked Jared what he would say was his favorite aspect of the CTMC program. And I love his response. Let’s listen.

[00:21:30] Jared Fisher: From the curriculum to the faculty. I really feel like Cynthia has just pulled together some incredible resources to create a very comprehensive program that you can follow at your own pace. What I also really liked about the program. It’s not just focusing on nutrition. It brings in and ties in the psychology component, as well as the spirituality component.

This program specifically, it’s such a comprehensive well-rounded program and it’s so well done and well put together. I would say it would be nearly impossible to go through this program and not come out with some amazing ideas. Um, at least a sense of direction is to what is it you want to be doing?

[00:22:26] Cynthia Garcia: All right. Finally, spiritual benefits of breath work because yes, breath work can also be very spiritual. You see, when you practice breath work, you can move beyond your body and mind and connect with that deeper essence of yourself. You can remove all the outside. All of the external stressors and thoughts and connect to your true being, right?

This is personal spirituality. You can make this communal spirituality, another type of spiritual nutrition by doing it with others. Right? I’ve done so many sessions that yoga class back in the day included where breath work with other people has made my own experience so much more profound and impact.

And if you want to move into environmental spirituality, practice your breath, work outside on the ground and really connect deeper with the planet. Right. And you can connect with something higher. If that serves you while you’re doing your breath. So, how do you focus on spirituality when you’re doing your breath work?

Let me give you some tips. First of all, when you inhale, feel the universe, feeling you with air and energy that is alive and made just for you and your needs in that. Allow yourself to make space for this energy deep within yourself, feel how this energy connects you with a deeper part of yourself than if you’re doing it outside or with others feel how it connects you to those other people, to the planet, to the environment, or to a higher being.

If you choose. As you exhale, send that energy back out to all the living things around you. It creates a really beautiful cyclical, spiritual practice. All right. So look by no means. Do you need to feel as though every single breath you take throughout the day needs to be intentional? And controlled. I mean, if you did, you’d never get anything done.

And that’s just the truth. Breath work takes time. It takes effort and it takes dedication. Right. It takes practice. Just like anything else that you would do for yourself. You don’t just take one shower, you do it daily, or at least on a regular basis. Right? The same is true for breathwork. You may not get the hang of it right away either.

So take note of that, but don’t give up, I would encourage you to take a class on breath work or a yoga class, like. So that you can learn how to do it effectively, but in your day to day, try to take just five minute breaks. In fact, try to take just three, five minute breaks throughout your day to focus on breadth work.

I love to do it in the morning, right before I start my day. And it just really helps me to focus on exactly what I need to do. So part of my routine. I in my morning routine, when I get up, I have my coffee, I read through my story based life plan. Like I look at the goals. I do all of these things in a morning routine, but before I get into the day to day, I’ll take time and do some breath work just to help me focus to center myself and then move forward.

And then oftentimes after lunch, Like right around, again, that two, 3:00 PM time period, I will do some breath work and if I don’t get it in, then when I’m finished with my day, I’ll squeeze in a quick session so that I am relaxed. I am refocused and I can spend time and transition to my family. I can transition away from work and just show up as a mom and, and a wife and a friend.

And not as you know, all the work roles that. We are hearing from Jared one last time as he shares his, Epiphanes not only from his journey, every claiming both his and his family’s health, but also from his personal journey of becoming a certified transformation on nutrition coach with ITN,

[00:26:25] Jared Fisher: the realization that I’ve come to, at least for myself, is this. Health above anything else is my greatest asset. I really truly believe it’s the foundation for happiness, for fulfillment, for a better life. I feel like good health just makes everything else in life better. You talk to somebody that doesn’t have their health and what is it that they want more than anything.

They just want to be healthy with good health. I’m able to be a better father, a better husband. A better leader. It’s made such a big difference in my life. I’m so passionate about sharing that with other people, because I see so many people struggling and not knowing what to do, not knowing where to turn.

And my name is Jared Fisher. I live in orange county, California. I’ve been married for 13 years. I have a son Jackson daughter, JC and evolves. And wellness space. I would say that’s really become like the centerpiece or the focal point of my life as of about eight years ago.

[00:27:39] Cynthia Garcia: All right. So this is breath work. I am so excited to share this with you. I really do want you to give it a try and I’m going to make it easy for you. So I put together a guided meditation that you can use. For breath work that is so profound and so deep. And I really think you’ll love it. Plus it’s quick, it’s designed to give you great results in just a few minutes a day, so you can go grab your free copy at transformationonalnutrition.com/guidedmeditation.

Okay, so transformational nutrition.com/guided meditation. Go grab your copy. You can go download it right there and put it to practice. All right. Put it into your daily schedule. Now, if you want even more resources and you want to interact with people who are on this same journey, head on over to our Facebook group, to search for transformation generation and join us there to continue the conversation.

Don’t forget. You can see all the show notes and other resources for this episode. Over at transformationalnutrition.com/episode021. All right. So transformationalnutrition.com/episode021. Thank you so much for joining me today and I’ll see you next week for a brand new episode.


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