The Power of Breath with Matt Collings | Flow Golf Podcast TV | Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan | Best Golf Mental Game Training Tips

The Power of Breath with Matt Collings
Flow Golf Podcast TV Episode 16 – The power of breath with Matt Collings

Matt, welcome to the Flow Golf Podcast. I’m so excited to have you on as a special guest and opportunity to inform our viewers on best golf mental game training and golf mental game coaching tips. So just to give you a short introduction, for our listeners, you spent years working in the commercial side of sport and then more recently founded Collings Performance, a performance consultancy with a mission of Maximize Human Then Athletic Performance, which I love, and we’ll talk in more detail about.

And ultimately doing that through your knowledge gained from your advanced oxygen advantage, breathing accreditation. So, Matt, just to begin the conversation, what was your journey with breathing? Why did you get into breathing and how did this all begin?

Yeah, thanks for having. Thanks, Rick. Great to be on this podcast. Really excited to talk to you guys about it. Yeah, as you say, I have been in the commercial world of sports since I left university, got back in 26. You know, I’ve been very lucky to have, you know, done some amazing things in that career.

I was an IMG for nine years, you know, so that company is huge in terms of that area. You know, I used to go to the open and remember I used to run the Wimbledon account for what I was doing and things like that. You know, and met some amazing people and did some amazing things. So that’s always been my kind of background.

And the area I was in, there was always a nagging feeling in the back of my head that wasn’t really what I was made to do. I was here to do it, and I just didn’t know what that was. And I guess maybe I’m a bit of an old soul in the fact things like social media and things aren’t necessarily for me in that sense.

And, you know, also that the driver of what I was doing was important, obviously. But so this nagging sense that I wanted to do something different and I had a different kind of path as I said, I didn’t know what that meant. Which is a hard thing to think about, really. You know, you would be gone ten, ten, 15 years in that.

And that kind of area and you’re like, Is this for me? So it’s tough. And look, I’ve I was lucky enough to be part of the you know, the backroom team for the Ryder Cup in 20, 18 and in Paris. I think, Rick, you mentioned that to you at that time.

I was just at the last one, so I was not at the one in Paris. So I was at Whistling Straits.

So that was a business I was working for when we were helping the team make decisions by dates. And I wasn’t, that wasn’t my role and I was just, I was part of that business and helped out. I was involved in golf, but you know, to be part of that and to even be such a small part of helping that European team win.

So Eric was incredible. And, you know, it was the best week of my life. And you get that backseat. Pastor Rick, as you all know, is just sometimes just a pinch yourself. Oh, Doug. Yes. I drank champagne, right. A cup of coffee because I like it. And obviously I can blame guys, but I guess there was always that drive, as I said, to do something different.

And I didn’t know what that looked like, but I always knew I wanted to help people.

For me, it was always more about relationships than transactional. So think about, you know, the business side, very transactional in a sense. Obviously, relationships are huge in that, but things were going a bit more transactional. Again, social media was all about numbers and getting volume as opposed to that one person. That meant more I guess so through that journey, OK, I want to do sports, but it was always my life.

That performance side is always something I’d been interested in. I guess from my own interest in sport, I know a recreational level. I remember when I was a kid playing golf, you know, I’d have beans on tapes and play everything else. 

The next week could have been on taste, try and replicate that, you know, these silly things that I guess as a kid, but maybe that’s a precursor to OK, I want to perform better, so I want to do things to help me perform better.

Funnily enough, I was so I needed a new one to do something to help people, but I didn’t want to be a nutritionist. I didn’t want to be a strength and conditioning coach. I kind of felt I had enough people then that it was quite well established. The mental side of performance is always an interest for me.

Ever since I was younger, I think I guess I felt I missed the boat in terms of the degree in psychology or whatnot. I did do a qualification in psychodynamic therapy actually, which is really interesting about all about the unconscious so I found that really, really good. But it was really hard. 

And again, it wasn’t really that I wanted to go into as I said, I was still searching for this and then I played golf with a friend, this windy forest, which is a beautiful course near here, one of the best in the world.

And the way that on the journey in the car, he was telling me about this book called The Oxford Advantage, and this is about breathing and Steve Jobs are the ones that you’re going to join the dots backwards. 

He’s in a commencement speech at university, and I really like that quote. And then I was thinking about breathing because when I’m on the bike as a cyclist, I always used to take big gulps of air thinking that was helping me more get more in that that helps I’ve done scuba diving where with tank dry in like 15 minutes and I had to go up at it and leave everyone else on it.

So I’ve been to Kilimanjaro, you know, altitude. So at certain points in my life, breathing was a thing that came up. And I kind of probably dismissed it at the time. But, you know, why would you unless you had a specific interest. So anyway, I bought the book on that car and then arrived the next day as the model.

Well, this and I was instantly assessed to read this book and it just spoke to me that everything just made sense. Everything just so everything was just like, OK, this is great. This is fascinating. And I think I read the book in about three days, which is probably cricket. I’ve ever read any so.

Yeah. So yeah, no, I’m intrigued when we look at all these different performance factors. Hallam and I talk a lot about performance being a puzzle and there’s a lot of puzzle pieces and sometimes we go for what we think is the low hanging fruit. Like, OK, work out harder or think this way. And yet I’m guilty of this even though mental game training is to ignore something that happens every few seconds, which is breathing and undervaluing it as a performance skill.

And again, I know you’re going to help us understand that it’s actually a skill, even though we’re unclear breathing unconsciously most of the day by being it. It’s a skill we’re now consciously utilizing something that we all do, but in a more mindful way. And so that’s what I’m intrigued with is like you read a book, but what, what one or two pieces really got you going, OK, this is a difference maker.

Less is more. Mm. Yeah. So I would cycle a gun, bike ride and as I said, have this big gulp of air thinking that was helping me and feel like I wanted to get more air into my throat. And I always had this feeling like I wanted to open up my throat by taking a big gasp of air.

And I look, I’m a decent cyclist. And I’ve done triathlons and things in the past. It was just always something I was aware of. And then the effects are in the book. It’s not just enough. You need just enough air. You don’t want too much. Obviously, you don’t want to do that. So we shouldn’t be using our mouth breathing at all.

And now there’ll be people that will say the highest level of exercise intensity. People will use their mouth because they can’t get the air in fine. And that’s and that’s for a lot of people. That’ll be the case. Somehow I’m lucky that I do not have to use my mouth ever exercising so I can be on the bike for about I just use my nose and the and the performance benefits.

I have anecdotally felt it being huge, but some of the feelings I’ve had when I’ve been doing that on the bike, you know, I’ve felt I could be meditating. Well, I’m going as hard as you can possibly go. And I’m thinking, this is amazing. This is this design, this is flow. Right, right, right. And that doesn’t happen very often.

That’s, you know, a handful of times. It just felt different and it felt easier and more efficient and it just felt right. This was the most natural thing to do.

So I know that I’ve actually recently started this journey myself. So I will talk maybe a bit about this by typing in my mouth at night. I sleep with mouth type. 

Yeah. I also when I’ve been doing running recently, when I’ve been doing any form of exercise, I have been consciously trying to close my mouth, just breathe through my nose, not remember probably 12 months ago when I started to do that and it’s so difficult, I would run just up the road and I would be struggling to breathe bit.

I’m not sure I can keep this going. I’ve been amazed at how quickly I’ve been able to adapt to now, how easy I’ll find it. I ran a ten K on the weekend actually, and I was able to breathe through my nose almost the entire race, almost the entire run. Now I’d never believed I would be able to do.

I’ve also done some research on the rates Breath by James Nestor. I’ve spoken to Patrick McEwen as well. So I know enough about an expert and that’s what grabbed my interest again. I wanted to dove into it more. There’s something that Patrick said that really interested me is that we understand that if we overeat, we put on weight.

But also this concept that we also over breathe actually need to reduce the amount of oxygen that we’re taking on board because so many of us, when we do breathe through our mouth, we just take in too much oxygen, oxygen, and it’s just way too much.

Well, we can’t. We can’t.

And here I was, I was the same. I was like, well, yeah, but just always been told to take a deep breath, always been told not to breathe more, take a deep breath, take a deep breath. And actually why should it be the opposite, right? It should be. Hold the breath almost so.

Yeah, it is. I guess it’s something that runs through life. That is just enough. Is this right? You know, less is more when it comes to breathing. Yeah. And in terms of food, very easy to, I guess, eat too much and think that’s good. OK, good feeling from that. But in terms of breathing, we don’t want to do as much as we think we need to do.

And as you say, you got this in, as I said, with the cyclic I had this big gulp thinking I was getting more oxygen and we actually can’t breathe saturated with oxygen. You know, I’ve got this pulse oximeter here. A healthy healthy human at normal altitude will be about 95 to 99% saturated with oxygen. We cannot get more oxygen.

And so actually by breathing more, we’re not adding any more oxygen and we’re actually counterintuitively causing other issues on the delivery side of oxygen to our muscles. So breathing is very counterintuitive and as you say, it will take time for people to adapt. 

It’s not an instant thing because we’ve been so habitually ingrained into doing it a different way and we’ve seen everyone else do it a different way.

But when we actually take a step back and look at the science and, and how we’re meant to breathe it kind of makes sense. And that’s what fascinates me. So I read that. Yeah, the Oxygen Advantage book. And from that moment I was like, OK, this is it. I think I’ve found the area. 

Yeah. And then and then into the training course and the oxygen advantage, run this training course to become an instructor so that was, you know, lectures and case studies and an exam.

I just find myself fascinated by learning. Again, I was having my head in science papers against Google and just trying to find everything I could about breathing, anxiety, carbon dioxide, all these kinds of things. And I just found it amazing and, and off the back of the cycling like I did, I completely changed the way I breathe.

I think it took me about six weeks to adapt on the bike to fully nasal but I reckon it took me about six months of thinking about this every second of every waking moment, how I’m breathing. I was just fully conscious of how I was breathing every point I was suppressing, you know, if I, if you’re not suppressing the air and making sure I wasn’t exhaling out my mouth, I went to leg to great lengths.

I was blowing my food, my hot food and using my nose. I was asking, What are you doing? I was like, I can’t even do that.

So that’s a personal experience. Your partner may think you’re mad, but just stick with it.

One time I was fully immersed and I kind of felt I had to be, but it took me probably six months to completely change the way I used to breathe as a human. I guess that’s what it says. And it was kind of in a way stressful. So my body, I did feel my body was a little bit stressed by it.

That’s a good thing, right? If we want to create change, we have to go through a bit of torture. We go to the gym and lift weights. We’re going to have some resistance and some stress to the body. But once you recover that, then you move forward but then I took it to golf as well, and I just felt I felt calmer.

I integrated some breathing stuff into my free shot routine and suddenly I felt I had a routine that I would do every single shot. And I felt like it got me into the shot.

And, you know, there was one scenario I was playing golf and I’m an OK player, you know, quite, you know, single for a handicap. And I was playing well. I’d hit three or four bad shots that were just really badly punished, hits a tree loss or whatever. 

And I came off the 12th hole. I just double bogeyed it. I thought I was playing well, and I know in the past I have lost it in shot mid-eighties, but I was so much calmer than I’d ever have been keeping my mouth closed, just using my nose, using the technique which I never discussed.

And I match the Eagle 15 and come back. Those two under from that moment and came third in the competition OK. And I was like this felt different. I felt like I had it under control. Whereas I know before I didn’t do it right. And that was down to how I was breathing.

I love it. You know a lot of Hallam and I because we’re going to talk more about the person and then we’ll talk about the golfer and I love your curiosity, I love you wanting to learn. You know part of that as a fellow trigger is that you just get obsessed with something, right? 

And then the other part of when we make change, there is a certain form of stress and it’s kind of like a struggle phase with flow and yet you’re stuck with it.

And then part of the training was also building. I would just say mindfulness of I am very aware right now of this moment which we know can be another skill that we take on the golf course. 

So even breathing is what I’m mindful of. But as you’ll explain in a moment, breathing has a mechanism that could help certainly change the physical, physiological response.

But within that is the mindfulness to be aware of the breath. Right? So it’s kind of a good skill set, right? And so when you talk about calm and that’s a word that I’m using more than relaxed now, I used to use the word relaxed a lot when I sat. 

And I, you know, working with a lot of players, they didn’t always say they were relaxed, but they certainly almost everybody has said, oh, they were calm, OK?

And so I think that’s something I’d like to know from you. A differential is that even if I’m breathing, it doesn’t mean I’m super relaxed, but it does calm the entire system. Is that what I’m hearing from you?

Yeah. And everyone’s calm is very different, isn’t it? My comment: your calm is different from yours. And you look at OK, for the go, for example, you see the guys on tour and you can tell who’s calm versus who’s not, but how calm they are relative to each other. 

Does it matter how they are calm relative to the state they are in?

If they go over the edge and lose that sense of calm, then they’ve lost sense of control of their emotions.

So it was more about it being calm for me. And I like to play calm. And I think if I don’t, you tell me if you ask any top player, you say, how have you performed when you are at your best? I imagine they’ll say I was really calm.

Correct. Yet was there maybe a sense of intensity with the cognitive skills of focusing on that they were engaged? Right. But what I keep hearing is this word of a calmness of the mind and a calmness of the body and a calmness of emotion. So that word for us is a great word for state. Right. And because I can say what is your optimal state?

And I’ll hear all kinds of words, but calm tends to be a very common word that’s used to say I was calm, that could be cognitively, emotionally or physically. And I think breathing does look at all three of those.

It’s all three. I always say it’s the glue that brings everything together, certainly for you, for that mental state, the physical side. You know, golf is not a physically intense physical sport as cycling is. For example, I was chatting to an elite player playing there on that Ryder Cup team. I mentioned and he said, Suzanne, physical endurance sport is over four days.

Well, plus the day beforehand is not the Tour de France. Of course it’s not. But it has different demands in terms of that millimeter accuracy required in the swing and the mental fortitude of that longevity of the four days. So it’s his own unique physical endurance sport. And then actually, from a technical point of view, breathing is not just about mental.

It’s very technical because it controls our core stability. It controls our spinal stability. And effectively, the golf swing is based around that core and about movement. If we can’t breathe correctly, we can’t repeat the movement correctly, especially under pressure. Right. So as you say, it’s that glue that brings everything together.

You mentioned that breathing correctly. So we’ve kind of identified that the majority of people do not breathe correctly. And maybe listeners go, What do you mean? I know I’ve been breathing. I’m still alive.

They’re alive. What do you mean? So you explain what breathing correctly is and some of the key components that make that up. Because if I was if I hadn’t been introduced and previously I had a and when I was used to the oxygen advantage breath by James Nestor and smoked Patrick was like, wow, I realize it was not breathing correctly all my life.

It’s something I do every single day and I wasn’t doing it correctly. So can you explain what that looks like?

And again you mentioned breaths by James adds to that and I think that’s the second most fascinating book I’ve ever read. That was incredible. It is you know had the recognition it deserves the brain, the attention, the breathing to the good, the creative population. So that was another fantastic read, funnily enough. 

You know, I mentioned I called my nose down by breathing that my nose, as I recall my food down but now I, I look at people, I see how they breathe and I’m so aware of it that in the train I can tell people how they are breathing effectively what state they’re in.

And you can tell you can tell properly in two ways using the mouth. OK, so people who they say breathe incorrectly or dysfunctional breathing as we’re taught and the oxygen advantage we use the mouth. The mouth is used for talking, eating, and drinking. If you’re not doing any of those things or laughing, smiling, of course, you’re not doing any of those things that keep you closed.

If you’re for breathing, using those is the organ. The organ designed for breathing offers so many reasons why it is an all breathing organ. There’s so many uses for that. So the first thing is you have to have to use your nose. It’s a filter. So it’s the first best defense of the body. The incoming has a filter.

We got hairs on our nose for a reason. We have taste buds in our tongue for a reason. Right. It will stop any incoming dust, anything in the air. Our sinuses produce a gas called nitric oxide a is a potent vessel so it opens up our airways the source of sterilizer so anything coming into the body doesn’t like that nitric oxide is in there to sterilize those gas.

So I think the people that did some research into nitric oxide a few years ago won the Nobel Prize. You know it’s a potent gas which is you know, talking about and we talked before the show back over it. But there was some research done on stars years ago in that outbreak in Asia. And nitric oxide was used, you know, sitting the petri dish to kill the disease.

So it’s a really important part of it. And if we just use our mouth for breathing, we’re bypassing those guardians of our lungs effectively.

So say, you know what, I want to try and see people breathing dysfunctionally. I’ll see people use their mouths. But the vertical movement you’ll see a lot of people moving up and down with everything and very quickly. Whereas actually breathing the horizontal motion down around our belly and our mid section, not vertical motion with our chest and our shoulders.

You’re making me very conscious now. I know. I haven’t moved at all how I’m level now.

So for I want to talk about a couple that I want to get to golf in a moment yet what really intrigued me when when I had a talk with you is basically a lot about what your mission is right is first human then athlete and that’s something that Hallam and I we believe that yes golf is the greatest of sports yet we know what we’re coaching from a mental perspective can help people in life.

Of course breathing again it’s not the life of everything right but when you say first human then athlete, what does that mean to you?

A couple of different reasons. But I think first of all, it’s foundational and the thing we’re going to work on is foundational and if you can’t do it as a human, there’s no way under pressure you’re going to do it as an athlete. Right? Because under pressure you go to what you know, the instinct you go to the easiest possible.

So if you’re not trained first in the foundation, when it comes to that moment, things will go to their most comfortable the way you’ve always done it effectively. So that breathing has to start that foundation. So you know that analogy to golf, right? You’ve got to start with basics if you can’t get a grip and posture, right, you’re not going to get the rest.

Right. And there’s also an element of, I guess, athletes these days want to be thought of as human beings and not just athletes. They’re not just somebody you see on the TV. You know, they’re not just people you can shout out because they’re that athlete. 

You know, they are people, too. And I think that not everyone may be extraordinary at their sport, but at the end of the day, they’re just a person.

And I think that that certainly came into the thinking of that kind of psychodynamic therapy side that I kind of mentioned before is mainly the area of this has to be foundational. You have to start from the correct base before you can build up to. Yeah.

I love that. And again, I’m jumping around a little bit, but you mentioned something about being the foundation of that. If I can train this in life, I can wake up, maybe do some mindfulness breathing and really pay attention to inhale and, and things that we may talk about in a moment. But you mentioned that I call it default right under pressure.

We’re going to default to what’s our most common pattern, whether it’s a golf swing or something like that. What have you noticed with golfers that their common default pattern would be from a breathing perspective, under pressure.

As I said, I noticed breathing patterns on the tube and normal life. But I’ve become so aware of how the best players in the world breathe, and I’ve noticed how badly some of them do it. And they’re so successful because they’re extraordinary. 

They work incredibly hard. I kind of think it’s like the last separates them. All these guys and gals on all these top level players, they have their perfect equipment.

You know, they measure their swings in 3D. Now, technically, they’re there for a reason, OK? They have a nutritionist, they work on the food, they train. No one really thinks about breathing correctly. It seems to be completely forgotten. It’s the most fundamentally important thing we consciously do or unconsciously. But, you know, without that nothing happens. 

Right. And as I said, because it hits all those areas, it actually hits our technical ability to swing a club consistently under pressure. It hits our mental side because, you know, I remember that podcast you did about gratitude and emotions are actually physiological.

They’re not, you know, psychology right? But how we think is based on how our body internally sustains adrenalin, heart rate, all those kind of things. And from that physical endurance point, we just we just discuss. 

So it feels like it’s the last area that can separate these top players because they’re all at 96% anyway aren’t they. You know, what is the difference between winning a tournament and not one shot, one swing.

And I just see it, I see people, I see players using their mouths. I see that breathing right quick thing really quick. And we, you know, we want to slow that down. I see vertical movement of the chest and the shoulders, not expansion of the belly. And there’s a couple of reasons for that. I think one peacock posture, that idea of shoulders back, chest out, lock everything in.

But if you lock in your core and you look well, you look in your belly, you got no room to breathe into that. Essentially, you want to just relax and let it go. But there’s that I think that feeling of, you know, sit back in an old and brace yourself bracing stops your breathing correctly. So there’s that side which is, you know, and just under pressure.

I see it and I’ve seen many golfers hit bad shots under that pressure. And look, their technique obviously changes because they hit the bad shot. But what’s the cause of that? For me, it’s not technique. This is something that triggers that. And I think it’s very.

Interestingly, when a golfer becomes more aware, they’re aware they’re breathing through the mouth, they’re aware that the rate of breath is going higher. They’re they’re they’re getting very vertical. What would you say is and I hate to put it like one thing, but is there a certain ratio so inhale, exhale that would help a golfer when they’re feeling pressure?

It’s kind of the. So I will answer your question, but it’s kind of to like by that point in the sense, oh, OK. You know they say there’s a goldfish at 17 and they take a few breaths before every shot they’ve taken out like 200 breaths. That’s 1% of the rest taken in the day. I think the other 99% are more important.

Right. So this really is foundational. You don’t get out of jail free card if you don’t go to jail. Right. That adage this actually has to stay the first half the first you in an athlete analogy. Yeah. Has to come back to those foundations. But to answer your question if you can, it’s about slowing everything down.

We should only be taking five and a half breaths a minute. On average there’s a range between four and a half to six and a half, four to seven in that area. The average number of people taking it from me.

But if you, if you’re not trained for this and you haven’t practiced it, and then you take, you know, say your breath and just before a shot a shot, your body’s probably going to relax and be a bit stressed because it’s right. I’ve not done this before. What’s going on?

No, no. I was just going to say that that becomes a key thing when people do know enough about, oh, how am I supposed to breathe rec. And again, the very minimum that I know about it is the exhalation would be longer than the inhalation if we want to reduce the stress response. Right. 

Would go more into the parasympathetic yet as you just mentioned, which I’m in, I definitely have seen me doing one smooth breath, it’s like trying to stop that fire hose.

I mean, it’s over, right? Yeah. So you know how often I talk a lot about life in between short routines and walking and observing nature and maybe creating a breathing pattern along that that at least two, three, 4 minutes we got maybe a chance. Right. But like you said, which I love, love, love is the foundation behind all of that is that I want to show up to the first year that this is just my default.

I want to be on the 18th hole making the six footer to win the championship and that will be my default. And that’s what I love about the foundational work that you do. I just have so many people who and this is just golf in general in life if they want a quick fix. Well, Rick, I’m stressed up. What’s my inhale and exhale ratio other than that?

And I try to help them with some of what I think was legitimate stuff. But as you just mentioned, it’s probably too late.

That you can and it starts with that close your mouth, close your mouth and use your nose because the nose does a lot of it for us automatically. You take in less air, you exhale less air your you breathe deep into your I want to say belly. It’s not just your belly. It is the midriff into the bottom of your lungs using your nose.

Whereas if you I guess we test you both to do it. You breathe through your nose and you’ll probably feel it here. But suddenly I get you to breathe through your mouth. I bet you know, you’ll move. Yeah. There you go. Right? I mean, that’s you straight away. You see it? Yeah. Everyone does that. That’s a cool movement.

I’m I actually love this, and I love what you actually responded to Rick’s question, which is it’s probably too late because everything that we do inside a golf academy, we combine the breath, we understand the importance and the benefit of vital flow alignment, importance, breath work in helping you tap into a flow state. 

And that just when you’re on the golf course, that’s not just when you’re going through your pre shot routine, that we have strength exercises, we have stretching exercises that through all of that program on the physical side.

So then when you’re walking in between shots, it’s when you’re doing a meditation, it’s when you’re preparing yourself asleep. It’s all these different components and it’s not that. So I guess we have inside our platform all these different ways that people can train their breath, the way that they can actually train anything we say. And of course you can breathe inside our platform.

How do you recommend people train their ability to improve their breathing and also measure or track that progress that they make?

On the first day? I make a big dissent. You distinguish between breath work and breathing correctly, as I call it. I feel that breath work is really powerful and breathes things like hollow, tropic breathing, and hyperventilation, which have made me famous. 

That’s a breath away. That’s the cherry on the cake. I wouldn’t necessarily want to do that if I don’t know the basics and how to breathe correctly.

First, they are there to induce certain physical and mental feelings. You can have me talk about breathing correctly. This is the foundation of how we are meant to be breathing. 24, seven, or any sudden, any time we’re consciously awake we talk about the nose that starts with the nose and I’ve got this thing called for deep breathing.

So the four dimensions of breathing say nose so it should be light. We have to breathe light. So when you’re breathing, you should be able to hear the air going in and out of your nose. There’s a really nice story and it’s probably one of these mythical stories that Samurai Warriors would be allowed to go into battle unless their breath was completely silent beforehand.

And that’s on the nose. So you can imagine a feather just in front of your nose, and the air shouldn’t be moving that feather as it passes. So imagine a place on the last hole of the major. Yeah, you want to be that samurai warrior, you want to be totally under control.

We can imagine that quite well.

I have it. Got it. And I know somebody who has.

So it should be light and that plays to the balance with the reduction in carbon dioxide in the body, though, as we’ve talked about. So breathing shouldn’t be radical. We don’t want to use our chest or shoulder muscles for breathing. 

We’ve got a muscle desire for breathing called the diaphragm, and that is a main breathing muscle. And we want to use that diaphragm correctly because that diaphragm also helps control our stability and our spinal stability.

And we talked about this human aspect. 50% of those with lower back pain have dysfunction of breathing patterns. 

So that, I’ll tell you why, is if you’re breathing, using your mouth into your chest, you’re using muscles, the breathing you shouldn’t be using for breathing, the muscles you’re using for breathing you’re having to use to stabilize your body now they’re working doubly hard to have to stabilize because your core is not working correctly.

So it is interesting on the other side, in terms of the mental side, 70 to 80% of those who suffer anxiety have dysfunctional breathing, and they’re so inextricably linked breathing and emotions and anxiety is met.

We have something inside the platform called a body oxygen check. So essentially allows people to understand, again, how well they can or how well their breath works. And essentially so I know something similar called the boat school. When people find out about school, is that a good way for people to track their progress? With their breath training and with all that fun stuff?

Yeah, correct. So I guess I ask a question back to not just give the answer. What do you think drives our bodies’ breath?

You may know the answer after having read and read the books, but what do you think drives our body? To want to breathe.

Well, I think I had mentioned this when we talked before that we think we are out of oxygen or we have like a survival trigger that we think again, think we need more oxygen. Do I need to take a breath?

Correct. And that’s actually not true. It is true. If we are underwater for 5 minutes or altitude where the oxygen is less, we need more oxygen. We can’t actually get more oxygen in our body when we are fully saturated. But our drive to breathe is actually carbon dioxide so that gas that is loaded as a waste gas is the cause of global warming is actually the most fundamental.

There’s a scientist back in 1940 who said carbon dioxide is the most fundamental Coleman of the human body, much more so than oxygen. So carbon dioxide controls our breath.

I’ll drive to breathe. No one will really know that certainly the general population will not know that they’ll think I want to breathe because I want to get more oxygen in.

But you can’t. So our drive to breathe is actually how sensitive we are to carbon dioxide. So we’re very sensitive to it. The trigger points in our body will say, breathe now because I need you to get more. I need to get rid of the carbon dioxide that happens when you breathe out. So we’re triggered to breathe.

If you’re less sensitive, then your breathing can be slower because your body’s not going to breathe out, breathe out. So actually, carbon dioxide is the fundamental driver of respiration. It’s not a waste of gas. It’s a byproduct of metabolism. 

Obviously, as we use our muscles, carbon dioxide is a byproduct. But everyone says, oh, we need to get rid of it, we need to exhale it, we need to exhale it.

We don’t want to exhale to excess. We still need a huge amount of carbon dioxide in our body. And that’s effectively the critical driver of dysfunctional breathing, is those who exhale too much carbon dioxide and our body craves balanced carbon dioxide within our body, keeps our blood acidity then regulates a level. And as we move outside, we would want to move outside.

That’s our bodies. I know we need to come back to this balance and we will use in a compensatory manner other means to to correct that so the carbon dioxide is the fundamental. We’re actually 100 times more carbon dioxide in our body. This in this atmosphere, in time, in terms of percentage wow.

Could you explain a little bit more about what the bulk score is, what it means, and how people can obviously use that to track their progress? If they are doing some breath work, if they are learning to breathe through their nose? Yeah, we track that progress with measuring that school.

So the bulb score is sound for the body oxygen level test, which is slightly counterintuitive because it’s actually measuring how sensitive we are to carbon dioxide. So all we want to do is empty our lungs. So we will breathe normally for a couple of minutes. 

And on the exhale so effectively your lungs empty, pinch your nose and hold your breath and what you will not do, it counts in seconds to your first definitive desire to breathe.

That is a tricky one because there is no definitive desire. It’s a kind of feeling you get, but what effectively you’ll feel is the spasm of your diaphragm. You’ll feel your diaphragm move. 

And at that point that is your effectively minimum sensitivity to accommodate your maximum sensitivity to carbon dioxide. Counts in seconds. And that scoresheet for correct breathing should be above 25 seconds.

If it’s below 25 seconds, it means that the carbon dioxide in your body is built up and triggers you to breathe quicker than we’d want to.

If that makes them yeah.

And for listeners, we have that inside our platform. Obviously they can go through the body oxygen, check with visuals on, on the screen and stuff like that to support you in the counting and the measuring of your progress and stuff as well.

Right. So Matt, as we finish up, I definitely want you to share an article you did about Tiger Woods and which of course is related to breathing that I know our audience is going to be fascinated with. So without me telling you anything else, if you could please share that with us.

Sure. So I guess it’s well, well known that Tiger loved his free diving. He always said that we love diving anyway. He always said the fish don’t know who I am. So that is certainly a kind of escapist element. 

That’s and the title was it was by consequence or design so Tiger had it ability to free Dove so he could free dove to 30 meters around 100 feet and his static apnea where effectively you lie on the surface of the water and hold your breath was four and a half minutes.

Now that may seem a lot considering we maybe can’t hold our breath on land for that long. But actually there’s a thing called the mammalian reflex, which means if the temperature of the water our face is in is cooler than the outside that we can hold our breath for a lot longer because effectively we come from fish. Yes.

Hundreds, thousands of millions of years ago. And our body effectively regulates oxygen to areas that need it and shuts down other areas. So we actually then don’t need as much, you know, delivery of oxygen to our muscles because we’re not using them so send them to our vital organs so we can hold our breath underwater a lot longer than we can in the normal that he had this ability to hold his breath of four and a half minutes and dove 200, 100 feet.

Now, to some level, that suggests that he is less sensitive to carbon dioxide in his body than somebody who couldn’t do that. And as I mentioned, breathing and emotions are so inexorably inextricably linked. The fact he is less sensitive to carbon dioxide means his breathing. He can control his breathing a lot better than many others.

And by controlling his breathing, you control your emotions. Mm. So was he able to free Dove because he was less sensitive to carbon dioxide? And was so mentally and emotionally good anyway? Or did that free diving contribute to the fact that he was so mentally and emotionally strong I don’t think that link had been made before. So I read the article.

So if you ask me, that would be fantastic.

Yeah, I’ll see him next week.

Which way round do you believe, Matt, based on your knowledge, which way round do you believe.

I think he would. He was so calm anyway, and I think his dad brought him up in a way to face stress and to face challenges and to get through it as opposed to avoid it. I think he would have you know, he could free dove anyway because his breathing was so under control to a point. But I think probably then the freediving did help him get that extra few percent.

It’s a fascinating area. You know, there’s still research going on about this. And there’s a paper just published three weeks ago about the role of carbon dioxide in anxiety and how that body works. As you know, the best scientists in the world still don’t know how the whole mechanism works. But CO2 is certainly crucial to that in terms of anxiety and emotions.

Wonderful. So the last kind of question I have is, you know, in golf, we talk about routines all the time. We talk pre shot routine, post shot routine, pre round routine because we’re talking about fundamentals. 

I’m more fascinated about a pre round routine that would maybe set the tone or set our emotional state for the day. Do you have any advice, whether from a breathing perspective that would help set the foundation for the day?

I know there’s a lot of other training we have to do, but pre round routine, I wake up in the morning, what could I do that would really benefit me for the rest of those days? Round.

So I mentioned before about this four deep breathing technique because I think we really finished nose light low and slow at the four areas. So as I said, use the nose, breathe light. You can’t hear the air going in and out low horizontally into your midriff, not vertically using your chest and shoulders and slow breathing being five and a half, 2 minutes.

Now, that may not seem very much, but if we break it down, that effectively means five and a half seconds and and five and a half seconds out. So you can call that 5 seconds in 6 seconds. And, you know, the exact number isn’t isn’t hugely important. But I think get into that tuning yourself in to that number and that rate of breath.

And it’s something to practice a lot anyway. You know, even before that, I wouldn’t just go and do it before a big tournament as we’ve spoken about. But getting to that rhythm, I think, can make a big difference. And as I say, breathing is the foundation. But I do use a setting. I hold my breath during every shot I take.

So there are things that I’ve integrated into my game that help me. But whether somebody can do that off the bat without that foundation, those sure, it’s person dependent really. But I think just following those simple guidelines is, you know, it’s a very simple thing to say no, like low, so light, low, slow. I think it’s a lot more difficult and complicated to carry out consciously all the time.

But I think what’s the exciting thing about breathing is we do it already right so. Exactly.

Yeah, we don’t. And what you’re talking about here is, yes, of course, once you’ve got the foundational stuff correct, then we can look at different processes, different routines. Yeah. Take it a step further. And we do that breath work like you mentioned, whether it’s Jim Hall from various others. But actually the first place to start is just improving the breath.

You take every 4 seconds and 3 seconds already within that. So before, if you start with just your standard routine, you go through. 

Now it goes on the range, whether it’s a warm up routine, whether it’s on the putting green and all these different locations just actually become more conscious like you did, keeping the mouth shut, slowing the breathing down, all of the different for the four dimensions you mentioned they’re actually implementing those into your current program.

Routine is a really powerful place to start. If I’m correct.

Definitely. I guess an interesting point I like to bring up is that golf isn’t maybe ironically, instinctively thought of being instinctive, OK, but actually in flow, we actually want golf to be instinctive, don’t we? We don’t want to think about it. 

And that player I mentioned before, he said, I want to get out of my own way. OK? So I mean, there’s a guy at my golf club who said performance equals ability minus interference, OK?

If your interference is really high emotionally or whatnot, then your performance is going to suffer. If we can minimize that interference by being calm and under control and using breath is for me that gateway for that, then you let your ability come to the floor. 

And why do players practice as much as they do to make it instinctive if they can get out of their own way?

And in a sense, you know, people think meditation is actually not thinking about anything, but that’s impossible. You have to think about something. But I’ve certainly hit good shots. Having a bad thought about having a good thought. But breathing is constant throughout every moment of our life. 

So if we can anchor everything to how we breathe, we are hopefully minimizing that interference and letting our instincts take over and under pressure. I imagine that’s what they want, isn’t it?

No question. And you just said a word. I use a word a lot, which is anchor, right? We’re anchoring it to something that is definitely in our control. We can be conscious of it. It does have a direct cause and effect to our state, which then has a direct cause and effect to the performance, which is now the result.

All these golfers want to have better results, and I think they’re just scratching the surface of what they could do to minimize it, minimize interference, tap into their talent or their potential and kind of go from there. So I really, really appreciate that you’re coming about this in a simple way. 

But having everybody understand that this is something that can honestly obviously be traded every 5 seconds.

And once we become more aware of it and once we understand where our defaults are when we do get all we have that Mac, I was right, man. Look at me going up and down and all my chest. 

That to me is so powerful of this is the awareness to begin with. You’ve tapped into some key things that I had not thought about.

Again, it is how breathing’s going to affect the internal organs and the muscles and how that’s going to affect the spine then that to me is the cause and effect that I don’t think is even talked about enough. 

We talk about emotions. We talk about a little bit of anxiety, we talk about focus. But I appreciate that you even match the physiological stuff with this too.

And going like, well, I as a coach need to address this more. As when I play, I need to address this more too. I think back in the day and this is just my own biases back in the day, I just said I was too simple. Oh, it’s breathing. It’s too simple. How can it do all these things?

It’s got to be some other magical thing that I learn, right? Yeah. As we know, the most powerful things are usually the simplest things, right? But that doesn’t mean they’re always easy to implement.

Exactly. If breathing was a new technology and an app right now. Yeah. Woo hoo. Besides, it wouldn’t. It isn’t and I don’t think people think of it because it is so simple and because it’s so unconscious. 

But as we spoke about, breathing is fundamentally a skill or in other ways. It can certainly be done very wrong. And the cascade of negative effects are maybe obvious to someone like me.

You can spot them but not so obvious for that’s an everyday life. I used to say a lot. I stop sighing. Sighing is a sign of dysfunctional breathing. I used to snore a little bit, not too much. I don’t store anymore. 

And from a health point of view, it really changes how I felt during the day. In terms of mental health. Yeah.

A bad day was just a bad day then. It wasn’t something a lot worse so it’s so powerful and as you say it, so simple but harder to implement than just saying, you know what, breathe. Using this 4440 technique is very easy to say, a lot harder to do.

Love that. Thank you so much for joining us. I’m sure all the listeners or a lot of the listeners are here thinking mind blowing, like, wow.

How can something so simple change so many things for the positive in my life, in my performance, in all of these different places. So where can all of the listeners find out more about yourself? How can I find out more about breathing and some of the information that you put out there?

Well, as I said from the start, I’m not really a big social media person, but I do have my Instagram page to collect performances. I don’t post a lot on that. But if someone wants to contact me then that would be the best way to do it. I think as we’ve mentioned, the Oxygen Advantage book, but there they’re also fantastic on Instagram and The Breath by James Nestor.

He’s also got another book called Deep, which is about free diving, which I got off of that. So those three books really are a fantastic way to learn about this, certainly initially wonderful that the best areas I think.

Awesome, they thank you so much. I appreciate it because again it gives us more tools in our toolbox. But back to the original, the first human that is this is going to help everybody literally every second of their life. So I really appreciate you sharing all of this now.

I’ve made my pleasure really really cool to come and speak to you guys.

Matt, thanks so much.

Learn about golf mental game training & coaching with FlowCode Golf Academy / Flow Golf Podcast with Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan
Learn about golf mental game coaching with FlowCode Golf Academy / Flow Golf Podcast with Rick Sessinghaus & Hallam Morgan
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