January 8, 2024

Episode 18: Breathing - Science and Tradition

Hazel Findlay

Photo by Hazel Findlay.

In this episode, we talk a lot about breath!

We look at the physical and mental benefits from 2 different perspectives with 2 experts in the field.

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Dr. Michael Melnychuk is a neuroscientist and climber who has conducted seminal research on brain plasticity and how the breath and brain activity are interrelated. He has engaged in meditation and breathing techniques since he was a child, and his scientific work is heavily influenced by his practice. He has also been a rock climber for 30 years and suffered a near-fatal fall while free soloing, and because of this has a keen personal interest in Hazel’s methods which leverage the breath and mind control to overcome fear while climbing.

Dr. Sundar Balasubramanian is a cell biology researcher from the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Medical University of South Carolina, USA, and is a renowned yoga researcher specializing in breathing exercises. He is the Founder & CEO of PranaScience Institute and the Yoga Specialist at the MUSC Health & Wellness Institute. Sundar’s Yoga research provided evidence linking salivary biomarkers and Yogic breathing (also called Pranayama). He studies how breathing practices could promote well-being in health and disease. His current studies include testing a Yogic breathing app for cancer survivorship funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He has developed several tools to improve the practice of Yogic breathing for employee wellness, cancer survivorship, ageing, and scleroderma.  Sundar is the author of four books and several book chapters and his popular TEDx talk has over 1 million views.

Listen to the full episode here:




Jiri Balas' fascinating study on hormonal response to potential fall distance (adrenaline, catecholamines, skipping bolts):

Kox's study of Wim Hof Technique on e-coli toxemia challenge; examines many of the same markers as Balas (above) and also cytokines (pro/anti-inflammatory markers):

Decreased blood lactate following respiratory training

Increased lactate (anaerobic) capacity with pranayama

Stuart Sandeman

Sundar's new app called Humma, for improving breathing with humming.

DISCLAIMER: Strong Mind content may not be appropriate for someone suffering from a mental health disorder. If you are unsure whether you should try some of the techniques or advice referred to on this site or in this text, please consult your doctor or therapist first.

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