Stig Severinsen has a PhD in Medicine and he is also 4x Freediving World Champion and Multiple Guinness World Record Holder. He is the Founder of Breatheology and author of the best selling book, “Breatheology- The Art Of Conscious Breathing.”
In the beginning of our conversation, Stig talks about his record breaking dive in the ocean, swimming with fins underwater, on just one breath, for 202 meters (662 ft 8.7 in). He wanted to end 2020 on a positive note, as the dive was meant to give people hope and inspiration, since “people were thirsting for some positive news, not just the scare campaigns all of the time.”
Stig explains that breaking these records is much more mental than physical. It starts by having a clear vision of what you want to achieve, followed by steps of action.
For Stig, breathing is the perfect antidote to all of the fear in the world today. There are so many challenges in life. “Breathing gives you the ability to take the power back to yourself.”
Even more overlooked than breathing is relaxation. He says you can actually train yourself to relax. For example, when you breathe with a slow, controlled exhalation, you trigger the vagus nerve and an automatic relaxation response. “With breathing, you have an incredible tool right under your nose.” It’s a switch you can flick – what he calls Relaxation on Demand!
Whether you are competing in sports or just living your life, you can take advantage of moments during the day to check-in with your breathing. This is what Stig refers to as finding “the break in the break.” In other words, you take little moments or “breaks” in the day to check-in with your breath and breathe in a more conscious and controlled way.
According to Stig, your breathing is your life. He says that you can’t fake your breathing, it’s a truth-tester. He continues: “Your breathing is a reflection of your state, physical, mental, maybe even spiritual.” Bad breathing habits produce various downstream negative health consequences. In fact, this is a major reason why so many people struggle with sleep apnea and poor sleeping patterns.
During Stig’s research over the past 20 years, he’s been surprised that no one is talking about breath-holding and its benefits. In his recent TED TALK, he calls “breath-holding the new black.” Breath-holding goes hand in hand with conscious breathing; it’s the Yin to the Yang or Light to the Dark ~ and you can’t have one without the other.
Stig says breath-holding offers tremendous potential for PTSD. In his work, he teaches people to “become comfortable in an uncomfortable situation.” Even in the chaos, one can still find that place of inner quiet and peacefulness, like the eye of a hurricane. Incredibly, breath-holding allows us to get to know ourselves from a new perspective: “With breath-holding you have this amazing opportunity for an inner journey.”
Although you can’t change your nervous system overnight, if you are willing to take baby steps, over time you can re-condition it. Not to mention these breathing techniques can also improve mental health and rejuvenate the body.
You can learn more about Stig, his book and his Breatheology programs right here: https://www.breatheology.com/