Josh is the Founder of Wellness Force Media, host of the Wellness + Wisdom Podcast and the creator of the BREATHE: Breath & Wellness Program. He spent the past 19 years as a trainer, researcher, and facilitator discovering the physical and emotional intelligence for humans to thrive in our modern world. This episode is for new AND seasoned breathwork practitioners!
In an exclusive interview on The Skinny Confidential Podcast, Josh shares:
- The different types of breathing
- Why mouth breathing disconnects us from our body
- Why you should choose breathwork over meditation
BREATHE | Breath & Wellness Program
A 21 day guided breath and wellness program using ancient wisdom to boost your immunity, calm your mind, and give you freedom from chronic stress in the modern world.
Combining special breathwork infused with safe vape cannabidiol, BREATHE gives you everything you need to let go of old weight, de-stress, and build immunity so you can live your best life.
In this special (limited time) offer, you will receive:
– Lifetime access to BREATHE
– Free upgrades to all future training modules
– Free additional training modules
– Special VIP coupons for safe vape, essential oils, CBD, nootropics and more
– Private WF group access
Start Your Day with Breathwork
The best thing to do is to just practice in the very first part of the morning, like when you are fresh, because what happens is, is there's a lot of things that happen with the subconscious mind in the morning when we wake up, our brain has literally been washed, right? And I forget the chemical, but you can talk to Dr. Kirk Parsley. He's really good. He's a sleep scientist with Navy special warfare. Our brains wash; so when we wake up in the morning, we're fresh and when we're fresh, like we can actually start to really, truly visualize, use the law of attraction. If you like that term. I don't know if you guys like that term, but when we do that, all we have to do is inhale through our nose, exhale through our mouth with no pause. It's called a circle breath.
Box Breathing or Circle Breathing?
The box breathing‘s really powerful too. But I find that if people haven't meditated or if people haven't done any kind of breathwork, box can be a little confusing. Box meaning you inhale for four seconds. You hold for four seconds, you exhale for four seconds and then you hold for four seconds. I mean, you're literally drawing a box. Circle breathwork is really cool though cause we already did it. And everybody breathes circular anyways, most of the time.
So, when we're breathing for like three minutes in the morning, first thing your brain's been washed, you've woken up. You're actually starting your day. It's the most potent time for you to breathe and breathing like a circle is the best place to start. So if somebody wants to begin, learn to breathe properly like a circle, that just means inhale, exhale, no pause and visualize a circle. Visualize that balloon behind your belly button. And that's a beautiful skill.
Key Difference Between Box & Circle Breathing
Can you show us with your own breath? So I can hear it. The difference between circle and box?
Sure. So here's a circle and I'll just draw it with my finger. Right? So as I'm breathing with the circle, inhale, exhale, inhale through the nose. You notice that I put my hand in my belly cuz I was breathing out instead of up. And that's one thing we wanna really focus on too, is like when you breathe, don't breathe up, breathe out. I learned this from Dr. Belisa Vranich. She wrote, ‘Breathing for Warriors.' We are all in this life because of stress.
And because of that model from our parents, we become vertical breathers. We breathe like this instead of breathing like this. And if you look at any animal in Africa or just go out here in Austin, any animal that is running or is exercising, they breathe like a bellow. They breathe sideways or they breathe, horizontally. They don't breathe vertically, but we breathe vertically because we get stressed and we're trying to like hold onto our stress.
Learning How to Breathe Again
We're essentially short breaths. We're not too removed from like cavemen and cavewomen. But we're in this modern world with all this technology and we just really forget to connect with that cave part of ourselves, that Neanderthal part of ourselves. So doing that circular breathing is how we've been breathing for 250,000 years since our species came online. And so really honestly, breathing like a circle is a beautiful place to start. And then from there then learn how to breathe like a box.
How to Box Breathe
So how do you breathe? Like a box? So breathe like a box. We can do it together. The reason I put my hands here is so people can do it with us and, and it really cues us to breathe horizontally. So imagine this right now. Just let your shoulders fall and imagine that there is like an animal or, or an elephant, like pushing down in your trap. So let your shoulders sink to the ground. Hold your neck back. Almost like give yourself a double chin because you want to have your spine, your head and your spine stacked on your waist. And when you breathe right now, make sure you're visualizing a box. So we're gonna inhale through our nose for four seconds.
Hold exhale your mouth for four seconds. Pull your abdomen towards your spine. Hold for four seconds. Inhale your nose for four seconds. Hold see if you can get a little more air in your belly, like suck your nose, fill your belly, exhale with an audible sound for four seconds. Ah, Hold for four seconds. You can just return to your normal breathing.
Grounding with Breathwork
The box breath is powerful because it grounds you. The circular breath is powerful because it wakes you up or it pulls energy up to your crown chakra. And so the key difference is like one of 'em grounds you but I think really the box breathing is the one that people should master.
I swear to God of my life after just doing that little bit of breath, I feel serotonin rushed through my system.
You probably do.
If you, if you're waking up in the morning, you wanna do the circle, but say like, you're trying to wind down at night. You wanna do the box? You don't wanna do the circle at night?
Breathwork at Night or Morning?
if you had a day where you've been super heady and maybe you've had a lot of caffeine, that's another health hack, by the way, do not have caffeine past 12. If you have a certain genotype you can test for your genotype, definitely do that. You can do it through 23andMe or Strategene.
If you have sensitivity to caffeine, if you know, you're a person that's kind of edgy at nights and you constantly feel that stop having coffee. But if you do find yourself caught in a caffeine cycle, do the box breathing, do five to six rounds of box breathing. And then you can also do what's called warrior breathing.
Warrior breathing is just a quick inhale and exhale through the mouth. It super oxygenates your system. It fills your body with as much oxygen and POS as possible. And then when you get to a place where you're doing your breath holds like maybe you do 20 to 30 warrior breath where it looks like this.
So 20 to 30 times, just like that, when you saw I was breathing through my belly, my shoulder is not moving. Right? So 20 to 30 times of your warrior breath, then do four to five cycles of that box. Breath that we did together. You are good because after that, your body is very oxygenated. You'll have kind of a high feeling because you're experiencing like super oxygenation. And then this is the big training.
Combining Warrior, Circle, and Box Breathing
If you want to get rid of your stress. And this is what I tell my students, make sure that you prime yourself with the warrior breath, then do a circle or a box and then hold your breath. So on the exhale like this and after you've done 20, 30 breaths, you've done your circle or your box, hold for 30 to 60 seconds and see how much stress you have, because the same way that we hold our breath, when we've super oxygenated, it's the same way that we don't trust ourselves to be safe when everything's actually safe. By doing these breath hold retentions. After the box, after the circle, we can train ourselves to be calm in any situation, right?
Recovering from CV19 with Breathwork?
You might think this is crazy, but I have heard actually, maybe you won't think it's crazy. I have heard through a lot of wellness experts that breathwork is actually helping people recover from CV19.
Because people are having like, after they've had it lung issues from Cv19 and so to be able to work out your lungs after you have CV19 is really good for you.
Yeah, it's beautiful. I, I haven't read any research on that and it's not medical advice, but I'm just gonna say this. We have these intercostal muscles; our TVA, the transverse abdominis, like when we train those muscles specifically on the inhale and exhale, we're actually growing stronger. So, we become a more strong breathing apparatus. It makes sense if you train your body physically, you're stronger in life. You can hold more things; You can lift more things.
If you train your breathing muscles, then hell yes, I would think so absolutely. But also, you know, there's things that take in mind like sinus health, respiratory tract health – those things need to be put in there as well. And we have some modules in the program about that because I had chronic…I mean, you guys, I couldn't breathe for like 20 years.
I was gonna ask you…One, you have a very calm demeanor. I wonder if that's, I probably could use a little bit of that from breathwork myself, but how did you discover all of this?
How Josh Discovered Breathwork
I fought a lot of anxiety and depression for quite some time. My mom had manic bipolar. My dad left home when I was about two months old. So I never really had that like headquarters of safety, which is now like, and I love my parents.
Like, look, forgiveness is a gift that I give to me. So like I don't hold it against them because they were literally just doing the best they could and that's real. I want everybody to know that. When I talk about my mom and dad, I'm respecting them at the same time.
Now they didn't have the tools to give me, so then I didn't have the tools to give to myself. So without those tools, I ended up ballooning to like 280 pounds. I was really big and I was doing a lot of drugs and I was in a bad place.
Josh's Health Journey
And so by about 21, I was like, I don't know what I'm supposed to do in this world, but I know it's not this.
And I was like drinking at a party. You remember a beer pong where you'd play beer pong? And I was drinking. I looked down, I had this belly hanging over and I was like, so sad, so depressed in my body and how felt that I thought, ‘I don't know if I wanna be here anymore.' Like not suicidal, but just like this isn't life.
And it was the first time I had ever had a connection with some higher power, some, some form of God. And I don't mean a bearded dude in the sky. I mean like, like the intelligence that runs and cares for all things. And I slammed the party cup down and I just like ran home drunk…ran home drunk for three miles by San Diego State, came into my place and typed in the computer, ‘How do I become healthy?'
And the next 18 months was like losing a hundred pounds, gaining 60 pounds. And then becoming really like so frustrated with my lack of intelligence that I just sold everything I owned and I moved to Hawaii.
In Hawaii I found the ocean, I found the feminine energy of the ocean and I found fitness and I was like, ‘Wow, you can be healthy and help other people do the same and get paid? That sounds pretty cool.'
And, and that lit me up, you know, but it wasn't until I left the fitness industry, went back to corporate America, committed spiritual suicide that I really hit the bottom of the well, and I'll never forget this. I was in Carlsbad, overlooking the golf course at the Omni. And I was just crying.
I had, I had broken up with a woman I thought I was gonna be with, this is 2014.
Also, I had gotten fired from a corporate job because I wanted safety.
I didn't believe in myself yet.
Discovering Physical & Emotional Intelligence
I didn't think I could run Wellness Force and be a podcast host. And I didn't really give myself the, the love that I didn't know how to give myself. And so I just was crying. I'm on my knees and I just like, God, I don't know what you want me to do, but I'm not going back. Not gonna work for someone else. I'm never going back. So if you want me to go back, just take me out. I don't wanna live. I don't wanna be here anymore.
And that was the moment where things shifted. A couple of months later, I did a breathwork session with Mark Divine from Unbeatable Mind – the Navy SEAL commander, Mark Divine. And that just cracked my heart wide open. Then from that place, I just became fully vested in physical and emotional intelligence. That was like everything that I ever wanted, but I didn't know how to access it. So, I've spent all the time since then interviewing all these people on my show so that I can really gather that information. But most importantly, like apply it and do it.
Catharsis, Meditative & Acute Breathing
What did that look like when you had your first experience with the Navy SEALs course with breath? Like, were you, was it an epiphany right away or was it slow? Did you feel better right away? What were of benefits that you saw immediately?
Well, I was laying on my back and crying. I didn't know what catharsis was at the time. And we can dive into this because like there's meditative breathing, which is phase two. There's the acute breathing, which is like phase one where it's like ‘Relationship we're gonna fight,' and then there's catharsis breathing.
So the three phases of breathwork, I just jumped right into number two. I didn't even do, I didn't even do the first one at all. And when I found the breath, it actually found me because I had had a long string of failures with women with my own health and really just with loving myself.
That's what started to come out when I was with Mark Divine and the Unbreakable Mind retreat. And I look around and there's all these like huge Navy SEAL guys. There's all these like special operations people and they're crying too. And I'm like, huh, there's something to this. Breathwork. There's gotta be something here.
Learning About Breathwork from the Masters
And then that sparked me to journey to Thailand. I spent 30 days in Thailand doing some pretty intensive breathwork with Soma with Niraj Naik and then I learned from Gwen Payne of Breath is Prayer in Sedona, Arizona. And then I also took some training and some sessions with Anahata Ananda in Sedona.
So, saying it out loud, I've really traveled the globe here. I've put in the work, I've traveled the globe, learning from the masters: Dan Brulé and Breath is Mastery at the Treehouse – the BelAir Treehouse in LA and just really piecing together, like what are all these esoteric arts actually gonna do to help the average person?
Because it's one thing to go to a yoga studio and like where the jewels and have the cape and do all these things. But for the everyday person, we just need the fundamentals. And then from the fundamentals, then we can get into the catharsis, and then you can really have some pretty profound healing.