The Mindful Midlife Crisis

Episode 49--How Breathwork Enhances Our Lives with Kolin Purcell and Anna Schlegel, Part 2

March 09, 2022 Billy & Brian Season 4
The Mindful Midlife Crisis
Episode 49--How Breathwork Enhances Our Lives with Kolin Purcell and Anna Schlegel, Part 2
Show Notes Transcript

This is the second half of our two-part interview with Kolin Purcell and Anna Schlegel.  Did you miss Part 1?  Go back an episode and get caught up!  Then join us for this episode! 

Billy and Brian talk to yogis, breathwork specialists, yogis, and retreat leaders Kolin Purcell and Anna Schlegel about the breathwork seminar the two of them led while Billy was at the NGor Island Surf Camp in Dakar.  Kolin and Anna discuss: 
--How has re-examining your relationship with your breath changed your standard mode of daily operation?
--It sounds like you’re heading to Ecuador to scout out a location for a mindful co-living/remote working facility.  What’s your vision for this?
--For those out there who work more traditional 9-5 jobs, how can they incorporate some of what you’ve discussed today into their daily lives?

Like what you heard from Kolin and Anna?  Contact them at:
@anna_b.ram and @flowingwithkolin

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Welcome to The Mindful Midlife Crisis, a podcast for people navigating the complexities and possibilities of life's second half. Join your hosts, Billy and Brian, a couple of average dudes who will serve as your armchair life coaches, as we share our life experiences — both the good and the bad — in an effort to help us all better understand how we can enjoy and make the most of the life we have left to live in a more meaningful way. Take a deep breath, embrace the present, and journey with us through The Mindful Midlife Crisis.

Billy: Hey, friends. This is Billy popping on again before the show. You may have noticed in the title that this is part two of our conversation around breathwork with Kolin Purcell and Anna Schlegel. I met both of them when I was at the Ngor Island Surf Camp in Dakar. They led a breathwork workshop while I was there. I found the information so fascinating and informative, that I invited them to be on the show. Then Brian and I got carried away listening to them talk about breathwork, that the next thing we knew almost two hours had gone by.

So, we know you listen to this podcast during your commute to work, or when you're out on a walk, or cleaning the house, or whatever it is you do while you're listening to us babble on. We know that when they get long, you might tune out. So, we broke this conversation up into two parts. So, if you missed part one, I'd strongly encourage you to give that a listen first, then come back to this episode. Or you can do whatever the hell you want. You're an adult. I'm just here as your guide. Just do what you will with the information we share with you.

Anyway, we hope this conversation leaves you feeling the same way we did. After our conversation with Kolin and Anna, Brian sent me a text that said, "Why do I feel so great right now? Is their energy just that infectious? Wow. I'm just in a great mood for some reason." I assume it's because of today's show — because I was not in this mood earlier — the effects of breathing, right? Quite honestly, I think it'll leave you feeling the same because their energy is just that infectious. So, with that, here's the second half of our conversation with Kolin Purcell and Anna Schlegel. Enjoy the show.


Billy: So, you have a very interesting way of defining the types of breathwork that's out there. Can you talk about those? Because I find these so very interesting.

Kolin: Yeah, so when I was going through this process of learning about breathwork — I literally started with a Google Doc three or four years ago, where I wrote 'Breathwork Research' at the top. I said, as I go throughout my travels and as I read stuff on the internet, whatever, attend courses, I'm going to just take notes here. What I started to find was that, there are so many different ways that people think about this idea of breathwork. Meaning, training the breath, intentionally breathing.

Everyone would always ask me about it. I was confused about what exactly are the different types, and what are they doing? So, I've just come up recently with — it's just a little framework that I use to classify different types of breathwork. It's very vague. Certain types of breathwork can fit into multiple parts of the structure. But there's four categories, essentially.

The first one I could talk about is kale — kale breathwork. Kale, meaning, the leafy vegetable. We're pretty familiar with it in the States. I think I have trouble describing that one to people while traveling. I guess it's not quite as popular abroad. But you know kale, very healthy, leafy vegetable. For most people, it's not the most amazing experience to eat it on a regular basis. It doesn't taste like too much. But everybody knows it's really good for you. If you start eating kale, you're not going to notice immense changes to your life overnight. But if you eat kale for a few months and you incorporate that into your diet, you'll probably see some positive influences on your overall nutrition and energy levels, whatever.

The kale breathwork is like that. It's very simple. It's very straightforward. You can practice it for just a few minutes a day. That kind of stuff, if you train it regularly over time, give it a few weeks, a few months, and you'll really start to see noticeable improvements to your physiology and your life and your energy. So, that's maybe the biggest category that we preach and teach these days, because it's just very easy. It's very simple.

Then you have breathwork that is more, I would say, effect-oriented — the other three categories. So, you're chasing a certain type of outcome. There's the coffee breathwork, which is pretty self-explanatory. That's like caffeine. That's breathwork that uses things inhales or certain ratios of breathing to really pump yourself up.

It's one type of breath work that people may be familiar with these days. It's this Wim Hof breathwork. This crazy guy, Wim Hof, he does a lot of cool breathing stuff. His breath work, I think, can fall into multiple categories. But many people report his stuff to really be very uplifting. It involves a lot of intense breathing. Some people do it. Some people replace coffee with it. They do it in the morning, and it pumps them up for the day. I know a lot of people who have done that. So, that's very cool. You can look into Wim Hof or similar techniques.

Billy: Very extreme. So, if you're not familiar with Wim Hof, he's the one who advocates cold showers in the morning. He'll sit in ice baths for hours on it, because he's learned how to manage his breathing. He's very intense. As a Minnesotan, I do not subscribe to the Wim Hof breathing technique because it's snowing outside, and it's going to be below zero this week. I think Wim Hof is a bunch of bullshit. But that's because I don't like—

Kolin: Billy, you should subscribe especially to Wim Hof, being a Minnesotan. Because he's training for your environment.

Anna: I think Billy is like, let's just go to Thailand instead.

Billy: Well, that's why I'm trying to leave Minnesota.

Anna: Well, yeah, it doesn't always have to be that extreme. There are very nice, easier ones too. For example, this one is called Kapalbhati. It's very common in yoga. It's very effective. I did it a long time, like in the mornings. I sometimes even did it back in the days when I was working in an office. I was falling asleep in the meetings. So, I was taking five minutes and doing it, and you really feel like, "Now I'm a bit more alert and awake."

Kolin: So, there's a lot you can do there. The third category, I would call the opposite of the coffee breathwork. I refer to it as the Xanax breathwork, which I don't know if that is a patented brand name or what. Xanax being the, I believe, anti-anxiety medication that is really just slowing down your nervous system.

So, it's what we've been talking about this whole time — slow exhales. It's the easiest, simplest. Belly breathing. Both of them, very easy, simple forms of what we call Xanax breathwork. Very easy to just slow down the nervous system. As we've said repeatedly, it's what we think most people need the most these days — to learn these calming techniques. So, you've got those.

Then the fourth category, which I won't go into too much, we refer to as the LSD breathwork. So, that's fascinating for most people. There's a variety of types of this as well. One of the most common ones is called Holotropic breathwork from Stan Grof. It's also very, very intense breathing exercises usually, and usually done over a fairly long period of time. They induce a mental state of all sorts of things, euphoria. But mostly, it's near psychedelic. It actually brings your brain chemically to a place fairly similar to being on a psychedelic substance.

These ones can be just fun to experiment with, but they're mostly used in the therapeutic world where people are trying to basically go very deep into their psyche and explore things, heal things that might be very difficult to do otherwise. So, there's been some really fascinating research with these types of breath works comparing them to antidepressants and other things.

To me, it's just such a cool example of how powerful breathing can be. It's so simple. It's just breathing, but you can induce these wild states and really change yourself, your physiology, your mind, everything.

Billy: At the end of the presentation that you guys gave in Dakar, we did this breathing exercise where we were breathing to a disco beat. But then there was these long pauses of breath holding as well. There was a euphoric feeling in that. There was a high in that. I distinctly remember that. There was something that really shocked me about how long I held my breath at the exhale. Because that's always something when I do Box breathing — for those of you that don't know box breathing, you inhale for four seconds. You hold for four seconds. You exhale for four seconds, and then you hold for four seconds. The hold after the exhale is really, really challenging for me, even those four seconds. But you did this exercise without even knowing it, I think, at the end of that exhale. Were we holding the exhale for over a minute?

Kolin: Yes, so, all of you guys held for, I believe, a minute and 20 seconds on the last exhale. We call it an external retention. Meaning, holding with no air in the lungs, which is pretty insane. Because I think if most people were to try that just right off the bat, just breathe all the air out, hold time yourself, most people are not going over a minute if they're not well-trained. But that's the thing. You can influence your physiology so quickly with the right type of breathing, that you can actually, in that moment, hold for significantly longer and get some very interesting, euphoric feelings out of it.

Anna: Yeah, you can influence it, and you can also train it. Maybe spinning that to your question before, Brian, on how you use it for surfing. So, with these retentions, whether externally or internally — meaning, with air in your lungs or without air — you can actually train the time that you can hold your breath. Maybe you want to explain that with the two levels in your brain.

Kolin: Basically, you have this exchange of gases going on whenever you're breathing or not breathing. You're always building up C02 in your system. Most people think that you need to breathe, that when you hold your breath, you need to breathe again because of the lack of oxygen. That's actually not true. Your oxygen levels stay fairly constant for most of the breath hold.

You need to breathe again because you build up so much C02 in your system, and you need to release it. It's very different. So, what you're doing when you're training breath holds is you're training your tolerance to C02. So, that can be done at a very extreme level. I just heard recently that the current freediving apnea breath holding champion recently did 23 minutes or something of breath holds, which is insane.

Billy: Wow.

Kolin: Those guys are crazy. But the point being, you can train that fairly quickly, actually, just by everyday practicing a little bit more of holding your breath, holding your breath. I actually really recommend this training. Because I've found it to be really valuable for obvious reasons like surfing, where you might need to hold your breath.

But even if you're not going in the ocean, the ability to hold your breath is very mental, right? It's not about this need to intake oxygen, even the need to get rid of C02. That's your mind telling you. It has this mechanism that says, "Okay. I'm feeling like too much C02. Let me get rid of it." But actually, like everything else, for example, when you start to get hungry, do you really need to eat? No. Once again, you can go weeks without eating after you feel hungry. The breath is the exact same way. You can go a long time without breathing after you think you need to breathe. So, how do you train that? It's the same way that you train not eating, the same way you train fasting. You build up slowly. You say, "Can I not eat for a day? Can I not eat for two days?"

It's the same thing with the breath. You just go, "Can I push myself a little further a few seconds?" What this does at a deeper higher level is like it forces you to learn how to tolerate that suffering, I suppose. I had this a bit of a philosophical angle on breath holds where it's like, if you can learn how to hold your breath, and you can learn how to fight that discomfort of being in a situation where you think you need to breathe, I think it translates to a lot of other things in life. I think then when you feel discomfort in other parts of your life, you can say, okay, do I actually need to react yet? Do I actually need to breathe? Do I actually need to yell at this person? Do I need to get stressed about this situation? So, I don't know. I found a lot of interesting links between life and holding the breath.

Anna: Yeah, it's like mindfulness in that area. It's mindfulness on your breath. If you're on the water, all of a sudden, in surfing, for example, and you're experiencing these feelings and you are aware of these feelings and you're, "It's okay. Everything is okay." I notice you're mindful of it.

Billy: There's definitely a Buddhist influence there when it comes to letting go and accepting that, hey, you can endure this a little bit longer, that idea of suffering. But it's really not suffering. It's just allowing yourself to be simply.

Kolin: Exactly. What is the Buddhist meditation? It's always about when you feel the suffering, don't suppress it. But become aware of it. It's the same thing with holding your breath. You have all this suffering going on. Don't just ignore it. But can you actually just zoom out a little bit and say, okay, this is my suffering? But it doesn't need to be this way.

Billy: This is also fascinating. I imagine that our listeners are finding this fascinating, too. So, what we're going to do is we're going to take a quick break. Then when we come back, Anna and Kolin are going to talk about the mindful co-living and remote working facility that they are looking into building and developing for people out there like you, who may be interested in doing some more work with your breath. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis.


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And now, let's take a minute to be present with our breath. If you're listening somewhere safe and quiet, close your eyes and slowly inhale for 4, 3, 2, 1. Hold for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Slowly exhale for 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Let's do that one more time. Inhale for 4, 3, 2, 1. Hold for 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Slowly exhale for 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Go ahead and open your eyes. You feel better? We certainly hope so. And now, back to the show.


Billy: Welcome back to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. We are here with Kolin and Anna. They are yogis. They are breathwork teachers and, very clearly, have a better understanding of how the human body works than either of us would do. That last segment was so fascinating. We just want to shift gears here. Because I'm sure there are people now thinking, "Well, this would be cool to work with the two of you." You can go to and see where they are doing their breathwork seminars. Anna, you have one coming up here before too long, correct?

Anna: We, actually, both are doing a retreat next year in 22 in Sri Lanka. It's called Finding Flow. That's where you can find all the infos, too, on


Anna: Exactly. There, we will be doing all sorts of stuff to find your flow to live better, and definitely going to talk a lot about breath.

Billy: It sounds like, as we mentioned here, you're heading to Ecuador in three days to scout out a location for this mindful co-living and remote working facility. It sounds like this is your baby right here. This is something that you're excited to develop. So, what's your vision for this?

Kolin: I think the vision for this has changed a lot over the years. I've been thinking about something along these lines for quite a long time and collaborating with various people on it. But where it currently stands is, Anna and I, we've been traveling around for a while. We've been discovering all these really cool things, many of which we've talked about today with the breath. I would actually primarily describe us as mindful meditation teachers. We've run a lot of retreats in that area. Then there's the yoga and the body stuff, as well as the surfing. So, we've been thinking for a while how do we combine all these things into something where we can really effectively share this stuff with people on a very intimate level?

Moving from the model of just traveling and running workshops in random locations to having our own space where we can customize it as we like, and we can run events as we like. The way that it's evolved most recently is, maybe rather than just having a retreat center that's only used for short term events, what if we also allow people to come and stay for longer periods of time? Maybe, let's say, a minimum of a month at a time, you could come. We'll have good internet, so you can work remotely if that's something that you do. But that you could live in a community with other people who are interested in the same things — who want to learn and grow and explore these various techniques.

That's the way that we're thinking about it now. It's just finding a place that one is going to be like a really beautiful and immersive physical space. Hopefully, near the ocean so that we have access to waves. But also just in nature, really, really well connected to whatever nature is in the surrounding area. Because we believe that that's very important for mindfulness as well. Then just developing this community of people who want to be there and be immersed.

Anna: It's amazing when you can do week-long retreats where you're silent, for example, and really are in this bubble where you can really concentrate on your development. We will have that, too. But it's also amazing to integrate it in your everyday life. We did that ourselves once, where we were actually off two- or three-weeks island retreat, and then it got canceled. We were like, "Oh, so what are we going to do?"

So, we decided to just do it ourselves every day until 11 AM, to be silent but still go surfing and practice and do our thing. Then the rest of the day, normal life. Maybe work or whatever. It was amazing. We want to bring all these different things to people, where you can immerse and really focus and awake. But then, it's also important to really integrate it in your life and to establish a practice and live what you just learned. We love to learn from other people. We love to have other people bringing stuff in. So, we hope that's all going to be possible in wherever we create this place.

Billy: As I've done a mindfulness retreat in the past with Sarah Rudell Beach — if you don't know who Sarah Rudell Beach is, go back to Episode Four. She's absolutely an amazing mindfulness teacher. But the retreat that I did with Sarah wasn't a silent retreat. Kolin, I know you've done a silent retreat on. I'm not sure if you've done one before. Can you talk about your retreat experiences in a little bit more detail, and who might benefit from going to a silent retreat?

Some of them are seven days. That might be pretty intense. I know there are three-day ones. There are five-day ones out there. You don't have to travel to Sri Lanka to do them. But you could, and that would be amazing. Can you talk about all those facets of a retreat and what goes into it, and maybe your takeaways from the retreat?

Kolin: Yeah, actually, before we had this recent pivot to this idea of mindful co-living and incorporating that in as well, retreats, to me, have always been the focus of my teaching and my practice. It actually started a long time ago when I read this book. I do forget the name of the book. I'll have to look it up. But it was talking about the science behind mindful meditation.

What they actually got into was, essentially, determining that daily practice is very important. That's how you build a lot of neural connections. But actually, where you saw the most impactful and lasting change in people, in test subjects in these various studies, was through immersive retreat experience. So, this would be multi-day meditation experiences, where you're completely disconnected from your normal life, and you're only focusing on being mindful.

That initially sparked my curiosity of like, "Oh, I should take a look at more at this retreat model." Because I've been doing a lot of daily practice at that time. Eventually, I did my own first silent retreat a few years ago. That was a complete game changer for me. It actually is what changed my entire path towards teaching this and exploring this stuff.

Before, I was doing it more casually as just a personal thing. I think, to me, it's just very obvious that taking time to just completely get away from normal distractions, as the Buddhists call it, and the silent retreats, removing yourself from sense pleasures. So, we have all these things throughout the day. Our phones being, by far, the best example that are just providing us hits of dopamine and keeping us in these loops. That's fine for the most part.

But to break away from all of those loops and allow your brain to enter a different mode, some people call that depatterning. It can be extremely healthy and lead to a lot of growth in a lot of different ways. To me, it was very obvious. After I went on a couple of days retreats, that it's the highest impact thing that you can do for yourself. It's why I've been so passionate about organizing them. Actually, Anna and I have organized a few different retreats — some silent, some not. Anna, do you want to actually talk about some of the interesting differences we found between silent retreats and non-silent retreats?

Anna: Yeah, I would say, both are very valid. You're just exploring different things. For me, personally, silence is just a retreat. It's exactly what it is. It's a retreat from everything around us and this almost relief that you can be without any of it. That's what's often so hard for people. I think that's where often a lot of this fear lays, of doing something like that. Whenever I talk to people about it, it's like, "Oh, I cannot do this." Everyone can do it, but it's definitely scary. But I have yet to find anyone coming out of it. Anything other than happy and blissful, almost. There's such a thing happening of this. Like at the beginning, you're there like, "Oh, God, what to do? Da, da, da." But then you just surrender to it. You let go, and you just let it happen. Then you start to see what's around there. There's nature. In every moment, it's the same as you find in meditation. There's something all the time, and it's actually amazing to get to know that.

I would say compared to non-silent retreat, there's just a different focus. So, I think this is the main benefit of a silent retreat — to really discover this world without any distraction. On the other hand, the retreats where you can talk, there's a lot of connection going on. Very different than on silent retreat. Interestingly, also, the group always is very connected in a silent retreat, which is fascinating. There's a lot of connection in other types of retreats. There's a lot of practices that you can learn, that you can explore with people around you, with the teacher. So, definitely a lot of value, too. Just different forms of exploring, I would say.

Kolin: I think the key in what she said is that most people come out — I hate to say this, because I'm sure there are some people who come out of retreat and are miserable. But in my experience, going to many of these and seeing many people graduate from the experience — including many, many people for the first time — it's remarkable what people appreciate, and how changed they feel, at least initially, and oftentimes later as well.

So, taking that leap is the hardest part. People really are resistant to a lot of the idea. What like you just said, seven days. Oh, it's so long, right? But what's funny is, once you get into the flow, seven days actually doesn't feel that long. Everyone has different opinions on this. I think it does depend on the person.

But for most people, I actually recommend going for it and going for at least seven days if you can get the time off of work or whatever. Because going two or three days, from my experience during silent meditation retreats, by far, the hardest days are days two and three. So, if you're only doing a three-day retreat, you're getting two really hard days, maybe three really hard days. Then you're leaving, and maybe you get something. I'm sure. Certainly, you'll get something out of it. But really, when you fall into that flow on day four, day five, day six, that's where you see a lot of big change in people. So, my personal recommendation is if you can, go for it. Go for the length.

Anna: What we also always do — no matter if silent or not — we always encourage them to give us their phones. Because whenever you do a retreat and no matter what sort of retreat it is, it's a retreat. It's meant to be a bubble for you to be away from everything that you're used to. If it's your holiday and you want to read and whatever, that's okay. But to really step back a bit from all the world outside.

We talked to a friend. He had this very nice way of putting it. Because you wake up and look at your phone. He was like, if you look at your phone, that's like having 10 people standing beside your bed first thing in the morning when you're waking up. He was like, "Oh, I told you this. Have you heard this?" She's doing that and that. You're just waking up and it was like, I cannot talk to all these people. But that's what people do. That's literally what you do with your phone. So, we always do that in any sort of retreat. Because it's your chance to really learn how to be present and, like I said, to actually see what is there when you are present.

Billy: It's funny that you bring that up. Because when I went on the retreat — it was a three-day retreat — they didn't take our phones. When you talked about the second and third day were the hardest, I knew it was going to be a three-day retreat. It wasn't the silent retreat. But the funny thing is, it ended on a Saturday night. We went to Brian's band. It was playing that Saturday night, and I could feel the pull back to normal society. I'm like, "Okay. I just want to get out of this retreat, so I could go to see Brian's band." But I think you're right in that, that second and third day really are the biggest hurdle to get over.

I wonder if I hadn't had my phone to stay connected still with the outside world, had it been a different experience for me? I absolutely loved the experience. I highly recommend any experience like this, especially if you're doing it with Sarah Rudell Beach, because she's absolutely amazing.

One thing that I thought was so cool about the retreat was, when you woke up, you had breakfast in silence. There was something really calming about that. Especially as an educator, and you walk into a building with thousands of students, there is an immediate buzz. There is a chaos to it. Starting the morning in silence was really a calm and rejuvenating way to begin the day.

I used to start my day like that. I've reverted back to some bad habits. Maybe not necessarily bad habits, but just some old habits. I've really been examining how I start my morning. I think how you start your morning, and how you end your day, those routines really can dictate how your day is going to go.

Kolin: Yeah, how your life plays out.

Billy: Exactly. So, I think it's important for us to develop healthy routines in the morning and in the evening that include quiet time. Brian, I don't know what it's like for you at home of four boys, between the ages of 11, 12, and 5, however old they are now these days. You can speak more to this, especially from a parent perspective. Where do you find quiet time?

Brian: The shower. I meditate in the shower before I go to work. I'm like, "Okay, I'm going to get started. I'm just going to take a minute to be calm," that sort of stuff. You're right. Because oftentimes, our little one will jump in bed at 5:30 if we're lucky. Sometimes it's 4 or earlier. But he's always around in there. There's always noise. So, you have to push yourself into making time for that. After they go to bed, okay, kids are all in bed. It's 8:30, 9 o'clock. Now it's me time. Now I can decide what to do for myself. Because, obviously, raising children is pretty intensive, as far as attention goes.

Kolin: Well, I remember Leanne talking about she would just get a coffee and go to the park. She would just sit in the car with the coffee and enjoy those moments of solitude and quiet before she would have to go back into it. But I imagine that that was even a good reset. One of the best resets that I would do, back when I was in the classroom, was when I would come back from lunch, I have my prep period. I would go into the back office. I would do a 10-minute meditation. I always felt way more productive and refreshed after that meditation than if I said to myself, "I don't have time to meditate. I have to crank all this stuff out."

If I would have just done the 10 minutes of meditation, I would have been far more productive, and the quality of work would have been better. I can't stress that enough to try and find 5 minutes a day, 10 minutes a day, especially in the middle of your day when your dragon asks. That's probably one of the best times to try and carve it out.

I think when we talked to Kristen Brown, she talked about power shots. What are the things that you can do in order to rejuvenate yourself throughout the day, and giving bosses the permission to allow their workers to do those kinds of things because they'll see an increase in productivity?

Anna and Colin, for those people out there who work a more traditional 9-to-5 job, how can they incorporate some of what you've discussed today into their daily lives?

Anna: I think it's very, very cool that you mentioned their way. Because like we said, what we really need is to calm ourselves down a bit. It's interesting. In this productive world, our thought is always doing more. We'll have more.

Kolin: How do we get an energy shot?

Anna: Yeah, how do we get an energy shot? We get an energy shot by getting us more energy. But really, it's the opposite. We get an energy shot by taking a step back and taking these five minutes to calm ourselves down, to balance ourselves out. In the end, it's always about balance. If you're always up there, more up there is not going to help you.

With the breathing exercise that we talked about, you can really integrate them very easily even if your day is swamped. One of the easiest things is to incorporate the belly breathing, for example, whenever you can. Very easy time to do it is in the morning or in the evening when you're actually in bed. You could either wake up and before you rush into your phone and get up and do this and that, just take a second and observe your breath.

So, with the breathwork, the starting point is always to observe it. It's not even influencing it in some way and doing this or that. The first step that always can bring you a lot of peace — like you said, Billy, we did a meditation. In this meditation, we did not do any manipulation of the breath. We just observed it, and you already came out more relaxed and more calm.

Easy time to do that is in the morning, is in the evening. Good exercises that are very easy to incorporate in any time of the day, belly breathing, extending your breath. Belly breathing at any time of your day, in these little downtimes that you have. Maybe when you're waiting for the bus, when you're waiting in line somewhere, just randomly when you think about it. It's not something where you need time for, where you need a certain space for a certain seat.

When you're waiting for the bus — I did it during my first month when I actually realized how tense my belly is. It took a few weeks to actually release that tension. Whenever I was waiting for the bus, I tried to focus on relaxing my belly and breathing into the air. That already makes a difference. That's already a few minutes a day that giving you very calm and relaxing energy.

At night, very awesome to practice belly breathing because it's actually calming you down for sleeping. Very awesome to practice extending your exhalation because that, also, like we said, is activating parasympathetic nervous system. Meaning, it's calming you down. You will sleep like a baby. So, this is very, very good. Also, if people have trouble falling asleep, that's a super easy exercise that you can do that does not cost you any time.

Nose breathing, you can incorporate very easily in your day. Meaning, whenever you think about it and you observe like, "Where am I breathing," breathe through your nose when you're doing exercise. It's just like these little bursts of attention. When they come, just use them. You don't need a lot of extra time or extra space for it.

Kolin: Then I think the final thing there is just, if you do want to go a bit further and you want to go more into this, I would say, training mode, which the way that I describe the difference is everything that Anna just described, and a lot of things we've been talking about. They're reactive practices. They're things that we do to control something that is happening in the moment. Maybe we're a little stressed out in the middle of the day, and we need to calm down, or something like that. But this idea of more we're talking about the kale breathwork or any sort of kale practice where you're actually doing it not to create some specific state of mind in the moment.

You're doing it to train yourself to be able to better handle situations down the line. That is what I emphasized so much in my teaching. I think it's a way that meditation and breathing is almost being misused in some sense these days. Because it's always just about fixing a problem that's already there, rather than setting yourself up to not have problems down the line.

So, I'd love to talk about that stuff. One of the sad things about breathing right now is that there's not a lot of great resources out there that I've found in this area of how do we train our breath more consistently every day, to really build up to something where we're breathing efficiently and well, and all that.

We've talked about maybe putting together an online course about this one day. That might take a little while. But in the meantime, if this is something that seemed really interesting to you as you're listening to this, feel free to reach out to us. Sure, Billy will include some contact info or socials. We love talking about this stuff. Actually, we coach people on a regular basis if you're really interested in getting more involved in creating some simple practices for yourself that you can do every day to build yourself up.

Billy: We love listening to you talk about this stuff, because you have such a depth of knowledge and understanding of breathwork. We really want to thank you for joining us here today. Once again, you can go check out Kolin and Anna at We will link that in the show notes. We will link their Instagrams in the show notes as well, so you can connect with them. Anna and Kolin, thank you so much for being with us today.

Kolin: Thank you.

Anna: Yeah, thank you.

Billy: Have an amazing experience in Ecuador. I cannot wait to follow those adventures as well. That sounds like it's going to be absolutely amazing. So, for Ana, for Kolin, for Brian, this is Billy. Thank you for listening to The Mindful Midlife Crisis. May you feel happy, healthy, and loved. Take care friends.


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