393: Heart Rate Variability

Forrest Knutson And Ashley James


  • What heart rate variability is
  • Benefits of heart rate variability
  • How to induce the right side of the brain
  • What spatial perception is
  • What hakalau is
  • Four proofs that you are experiencing heart rate variability

In this episode, Forrest Knutson teaches us how to achieve heart rate variability in five to ten minutes. He also shares with us the benefits of heart rate variability and the proofs that you are experiencing heart rate variability resonant breathing.

[0:00] Intro: Hello true health seekers and welcome to another exciting episode of Learn True Health podcast. You’re going to love today’s episode with Forrest Knutson. He teaches some really awesome things about decreasing the stress response and that is something 100% of us need especially after some of the interviews that I’ve done recently that I’m going to be publishing soon. So many experts are talking about the leading cause of illness, chronic illness, being either caused by or exacerbated by stress. So if we do this simple breathing exercise every day we can all lower our stress levels and prevent disease. That is very exciting.

Now please, go to Learn True Health/Group and go to Learn True Health Facebook group. Thanksgiving is just around the corner here in the United States. That means there’s going to be some awesome deals that all these health companies end up releasing there, Cyber Monday or Black Friday specials. I make sure I go around collecting my favorite ones and I announce them all in the Facebook group. So if you want to make sure you’re getting the best deals on some of the coolest gadgets and supplements and all those fun holistic things that are great gifts for you because you should treat yourself and pamper yourself and take care of yourself because if you’re not around for your family then who will be? So we should take care of ourselves. Self-care is a gift we give to our family. So, now more guilt when you take care of yourself. You take care of yourself and it makes sure that you’re around for your family.

So treat yourself, join the Facebook group Learn True Health Facebook group so you can get those announcements that are going to come out next week. Make sure you stock up on some of the really awesome deals. I know there’s going to be the best deal ever on the magnesium soak, which my absolute favorite treat that I give myself. It is so therapeutic to soak in magnesium and make sure that I’m filling up my magnesium stores. When we are deficient in magnesium, there’s 1800 processes that cannot function correctly and everything seems to break down without magnesium. So join the Facebook group so you can learn about the best deal I’ve ever heard on this magnesium soak. I know there’s going to be some other great specials also. All my favorite gadgets and goodies. I’ll be snatching them up along with you come Cyber Monday. Awesome.

I look forward to seeing you there in the Facebook group Learn True Health. Please also, go to my website learntruehealth.com. When little pop-up comes, put your email in. I promise not to spam you. I don’t sell your information to anyone. I just send a few emails .a month. I definitely will make sure I send out an email about all of my favorite Black Friday specials that are happening just in case you’re not on Facebook then you can join the email list. Awesome. Thank you so much for being a listener and for sharing my episodes with your friends and family to help us spread this information and help as many people as possible to learn true health.

Welcome to the Learn true health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 393.


Image Source: Mobile Health News

[0:03:17] Ashley James: I am so excited to have back on the show with us, Forrest Knutson. Forrest, you were here on the show back all the way at the beginning, episode 25 and episode 32. So much has happened since you were on the show. Welcome back.

[0:03:32] Forrest Knutson: Thank you. Thank you for having me. Yeah. I think there might have been one more in there somewhere.

[0:03:40] Ashley James: I’ve had you on a few times. But it feels like years.

[0:03:44] Forrest Knutson: It feels forever.

[0:03:46] Ashley James: It’s been hundreds of episodes.

[0:03:48] Forrest Knutson: Every time I come back you’ve got a million more people listening.

[0:03:53] Ashley James: Millions. Millions of people.

[0:03:55] Forrest Knutson: Maniacal laugh in there in the middle.

[0:04:01] Ashley James: Millions.

[0:04:02] Forrest Knutson: Perfect, perfect. Well done. Hard work.

[0:04:05] Ashley James: It’s all hard work. Blood, sweat, and tears. I love what you teach and I love that you started your YouTube channel since we’ve had you on the show. You are a machine. You pump out videos each week teaching people different aspects of meditation from the medical standpoint, from the yogic standpoint, from the neuroscience standpoint, from the neuro-linguistic programming standpoint. You are coming at it from many different angles. I love that you love focusing on heart rate variability. Actually learns heart rate variability from a handful of naturopathic physicians as I was interviewing them over the course of the last three and a half years. It kept coming up. I was like, “What is this? What is this heart rate variability that sounds so weird?” Yet they were saying that it was one of the most important things we need to focus on when reversing chronic disease because it was this marker that allowed us to see whether the body was in stress mode or in healing mode. If we are having healthy heart rate variability we could turn on the body’s magnificent healing response.

Then, here you are teaching a technique that within minutes people are turning on the heart rate variability response. So you’re teaching this on your YouTube channel, ThatYogiGuy.com. Of course, links to everything that Forrest does is going to be in the show notes of today’s podcast at LearnTrueHealth.com.

Welcome back to the show. I’ve just got many things I want you to teach us. Teach us how to turn on this healing response in the body.

[0:05:46] Forrest Knutson: Beautiful. Yeah. I’d love to. So the way that I teach it is very organic because I want you to be able to do it at any time, in any place. So if you’re at home, that’s the perfect place, right? You can close the door. You can turn off your phone for a minute or five minutes or ten minutes even better. Really sink into it while you’re at home, while you’re free from distraction. Then maybe you’re at work and you want to take a break and get into heart rate variability or let’s say you’re a professional athlete and you’re about to tee off at the golf course or get ready for your set to whatever it is. You want to get in the zone before you do that. Well, the very best thing that you can do is get yourself into heart rate variability resonance and you do that through your breath. So it’s resonant breathing. The way that I teach it is the holy trinity of breath.

So there are three rules that we follow as we breathe that will basically guarantee that you’re going to put yourself into heart rate variability if you will do it for about five to ten minutes. It should probably take about five minutes but we say ten just to make sure that you really get yourself into it. So what I teach after that is there are four proofs where you can begin to notice that you are accomplishing this. That it is making a physiological shift in your body. So then you know, “Oh my God. I’m doing it.” Nobody had to tell you. You can tell yourself because you have this internal perceived proofs which are not made up in your mind but they’re actually in your body. So there’s a cycle physiological shift that has taken place. So that’s how I teach it.

So the first rule is that we want to lower our breath rate under seven breaths per minute. That’s the very first thing. So that breath would be four seconds in and five seconds out.

[0:07:59] Ashley James: Could people do this by accident or do you have to really be conscientious of your breathing to lower it to seven breaths a minute?

[0:08:09] Forrest Knutson: You possibly could do it by accident. Absolutely. If you’re concentrated on something very deeply. So that’s the traditional meditation guidance is to concentrate very deeply on thing. While you do that, your breath rate will automatically reduce. You can see that when you’re at work or when you are really into something or you’re concentrating very very deeply on one subject, you’ll notice that your breath rate drops automatically. If you’re in a very loving state, not an excited loving state but a very very our loving state then same thing can happen. Your breath rate can drop when you’re in a very safe loving atmosphere then your breath rate will automatically drop as well. To make sure that you can actually do it on purpose, that’s the holy trinity. So it gives you a real self-reliance that you can do this thing, you can accomplish it and you can do it anytime that you want.

[0:09:16] Ashley James: Before we go on to the rest of the steps I feel like we should understand a bit more what heart rate variability is and why we want to do it? What is it? What benefits do we get from creating a more distinct heart rate variability? Who benefits from it? Can you just walk us through for those who have never heard of heart rate variability?

[0:09:40] Forrest Knutson: There’s a thing called sinus arrhythmia. So that was understood first and then building on that understanding was this idea of heart rate variability. What that is is that when you breathe in there’s more work going on in the lungs so the heart needs to pump, it needs to do more work at that point.

[0:10:06] Ashley James: Is that because the pressure? Because the heart is basically in this chest cavity is creating more pressure on the heart so the heart has to beat harder?

[0:10:16] Forrest Knutson: There’s a lot of complicated things going on at the same time but the simple reason is that you’ve got gases in your lungs. They have to be processed and that’s the work of the heart. So the heart does that work and it has to pump more during that time when there is breath in the lungs. Then, when the air is out of the lungs, there’s less work to do. So the heart rate has a chance. If we’re not in a stress state it has a chance to lower the heart rate. It does that because your diaphragm goes up and that puts more pressure on the entire thoracic cavity. All that pressure translates backwards toward the spine. Right along the spine is the dorsal vagal nerve. This is the parasympathetic nerve. It’s one of the aspects of the parasympathetic nerve and it goes straight up into your medulla. So all that pressure goes on the dorsal vagal nerve. That nerve sends a signal to the medulla which is the breath center. It sends a signal down to the heart that, “Hey. There’s more pressure, therefore, lower the heart rate.” So the heart rate comes down a little bit. Now you’ve got a variance. So the in-breath the heart rate will go up. The out-breath the heart rate will go down if we’re not in a stress state. That’s heart rate variability in a nutshell.

[0:11:55] Ashley James: So it’s the ratio between the beats happening during the in-breath and the beats happening during an out-breath or when we’ve exhaled and we haven’t inhaled. There’s a pause after exhaling and we haven’t inhaled yet. So that time. Basically, the time of the inhale and the time of the exhale and the pause. You want the ratio to be great?

[0:12:26] Forrest Knutson: It’s not so much the pause as it is the actual out-breath. The pause is there as well but when you’re trying to induce heart rate variability, the pause can mess you up. So if you pause too long while you’re trying to induce it – so once it’s been induced, that’s a whole another story. But when you’re trying to get out of a semi-stress state and into more resonance, that resonance what does that mean? That just means that your heart rate and your breath are working together as one system. There’s a resonance between them. That means your breath goes in. You feel it filling up your lungs and at the same time, your heart rate is going to go up a little bit. Then you breathe out and you feel the breath going out of your lungs going down. Sorry, your diaphragm goes up actually. But you feel the breath coming out of you. At the same time, your heart rate is going down slightly. So there is that resonance. It’s coming up and down, both of them, simultaneously. That’s why we call it resonance, heart rate variability resonant breathing.

[0:13:46] Ashley James: So when this happens, and what’s really interesting is I like listening to my son’s heartbeat. When he’s sleeping I’ll put my ear to his chest and it kind of freaked me out the first few times until I realized. Because I took him to the doctor and I was like, “I think there’s something wrong with him.” They’re like, “No, he’s fine.” He has a very large difference between the heart rate during an inhale and the heart rate during an exhale. I was worried that he had like AFib because I’m listening to his heart and it’ll be like bum-bum-bum-bum-bum and then he’d exhale will be like bum-bum bum-bum. I’m like, “Whoa. What is going on?” So there was a really big difference. So that is heart rate variability? So it’s beating faster when you’re inhaling and slower when you’re exhaling?

[0:14:35] Forrest Knutson: Correct. That’s exactly right. You’re not the only one to ever be freaked out by that. So the story, I think I told you guys this last time but since it’s been so long maybe it’s okay to retell you the story.

[0:14:48] Ashley James: Yeah. We have millions, millions of listeners. Millions.

[0:14:54] Forrest Knutson: Ok, great. Perfect. So the story, I love this story, the story that I like to tell is that so the Russian Cosmonauts were up in space. They had a whole team monitoring them. This was before some of the real-time satellite information was able to pass through and you had video and all that. This was just simple radio at the time. But they had them, their Cosmonauts, hooked up and were monitoring their signals including their heart rate. While they were doing this one of their Cosmonauts were up their meditation but they didn’t know that. They saw, the team that was there the head guy was monitoring this, he saw that his Cosmonauts heart rate was going up really high and then it was going way down. It was going up really high and then go way down. Then he thought, “Oh my God. This guy’s having a heart attack in space.” So they got them on the line. He said, “What’s happening? What’s happening? What’s going on?” The Cosmonaut you know, “What? I’m meditating.”

[0:16:05] Ashley James: “How to shoo. Duh.”

[0:16:07] Forrest Knutson: “Leave me alone. I’m meditating.” Funny story. From there, they actually began to study it. So very, very interesting. A lot of that research is the basis of some of the research that was done here in the United States. They confirmed a lot of the things that some of the researchers were finding here.

[0:16:36] Ashley James: What I’ve heard is that people who are sick don’t have heart rate variability.

[0:16:42] Forrest Knutson: When you’re in a stress state, the heart rate and the breath disjoin. So they’re not going up and down in this resonance that I’m talking about. Your heart rate, when you’re very very sick, your heart rate will stay steady beat to beat. A way to think about that is that you’re like a plate of glass. Any pressure on the glass is liable to break it. That’s not a good thing. Nature loves flexibility. That’s why this variance in the heart rate is such an indicator of health. This is really an emerging field.

So when I came on to YouTube I said, “Heart rate variability, breathing.” People are like, “I don’t think that’s the correct term.” I was like, “Okay the sign is arrhythmia and there’s heart rate variability resonant breathing. We can draw it out into a longer name but sometimes when I’m talking I just shorten it a bit.” So this heart rate variability breathing was not on YouTube when I started but now you can look it up and it’s a search term.


Photo by Christian Erfurt on Unsplash

[0:17:56] Ashley James: So you were like the first person on YouTube to create a video on how to successfully achieve heart rate variability through breathing?

[0:18:04] Forrest Knutson: In terms of defining it purely as a set of rules that you can follow and get success with. You don’t have to hook yourself up to a monitor or anything like that. I think some of the instructions that I saw at the time were like develop a pleasant feeling and just concentrate on that. So it was very –

[0:18:25] Ashley James: Obtuse.

[0:18:26] Forrest Knutson: Yeah. It was a little bit hard to follow and make sure that you can do it. I like things that you can follow and have success every single time. That’s what I love. So yeah. It’s really a developing field. You’re going to see it, I predict, explode.

[0:18:45] Ashley James: Well you were telling me that life insurance companies use this as an indicator whether they’re going to cover people or not. Can you tell us a bit about that?

[0:18:55] Forrest Knutson: They’re researching it now. I don’t know how far ahead. If one of your listeners knows maybe they can leak it and tell us but I would love to know more. My understanding is that the insurance field is looking at this as an indicator of health and mortality so that they will look at it and decide how long you’re going to live based on how much heart rate variability resonance you have in any moment so they can predict whether to insure you or how long they’re going to insure you or what they’re going to charge you in order to insure you for life insurance. They’re finding this probably one of the most effective indicators that they’ve ever found. These are people with lots of lots of money to throw this kind of research. So it’s really exciting. Sounds a bit morbid but that’s actually really exciting.

[0:19:54] Ashley James: Well, it’s really exciting if we can use it to our advantage to live to be 120 years old. Healthfully.

[0:20:00] Forrest Knutson: Exactly. You look at that and you hear that and you’re like, “Oh my God. This is so exciting.” But I look at it in terms of yogis and what the old yogis said was that we have a set amount of breaths to breathe in one life. If you breathe less, what I said that first rule you’ve got to lower your breath rate right? So if we breathe less we will automatically breathe longer. So they understood it was an indicator a couple of thousand years ago at least.

[0:20:35] Ashley James: It’s interesting because we’re thought that aerobic exercise is something that’s very healthy for us. You do a lot of breaths during aerobic exercise. Do we get into heart rate variability if we’re exercising or is that too stressful?

[0:20:54] Forrest Knutson: Yes. Well, it will a little bit will take you a long way. So if you raise your heart rate and then you relax, it’s that relaxation which benefits you the most. So you get benefit from pumping it up but it’s the relaxation phase which is most beneficial to your body long term. So, work then rest, work then rest. That’s the cycle that’s going to benefit you the most in terms of health.

[0:21:25] Ashley James: So cut out the middleman. Just rest a bunch.

[0:21:27] Forrest Knutson: That’s right. Exactly. But don’t let the couch swallow you. It’s the balance, the middle way that’s going to benefit you the very most.

[0:21:41] Ashley James: What health benefits have you personally noticed? Now, Forrest, you and I have personally known each other since 2006. You’ve always been fairly healthy but I know you’re also very conscientious and very present to your body. I know you’ve been meditating and studying this subject and studying neuroscience and meditation for many years. You started when you were in high school. When did you start focusing on heart rate variability? Has it only been the last two years or three years?

[0:22:20] Forrest Knutson: It’s been recent. So I was monastic for about five and a half years. I went very deeply into the study of meditation at that time. I found this obscure reference to the breath that it would shift as it goes in and out of your nose. I thought this was fascinating. In the process of studying this, this physiological shift in the body that happens in meditation, I thought that, “Well, that you can turn this into a whole biofeedback device.” I didn’t have that terminology but I understood it. That’s exactly what I did.

So I developed it for myself. I call it the five breath states. There’s a bunch of other information. There’s a bunch of other shifts like tastes in the mouth and length of the breath as it exits the nose. So there’s a whole bunch of other information. I threw all that out and I just concentrated on the one thing which was the easiest to feel in the body. What I believe is actually happening is that we have these little things inside the nose called the turbinates. As the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system come into balance through meditation, they affect the turbinates in the nose and that affects the breath. So you’ll actually feel these shifts take place in the nose. So I became – how can I explain?

I started playing with this and it affected my meditation so profoundly that I went crazy with it. I was doing it every day all the time. I didn’t have any language to explain why this was such a big deal. I tried telling the people I lived with, the yogis that I lived with and other people, my family and my friends. “Hey. This is a big deal. You have to try this out.” Their response was always, “Okay.” I’m like, “No. You don’t get it. This is a really big deal.” I couldn’t translate it. When I saw, let’s see I’m going to slaughter his name, his name is professor [Getherts]. When I saw him explaining heart rate variability, my brain exploded. This is it. This is what I was doing a different way in a very very deep into heart rate variability resonance through this five breath state process.

So if you really want to know about the five breath sates I’ve got a video on that on YouTube. It’s called the five breath states. So you would see that on my channel. I go through that and I explain what they are. They’re also in my book Hacking the Universe, there’s a little plug. But anyway. So I was doing it – what was that? That must have been 2001? So I was doing it on my way but I didn’t have a language to explain it. What got me so excited was there was no more hit and miss in my meditations. It was consistent. I can go deep every single time. It was experiential. I knew it. It was just a huge milestone. It was a watershed moment. So, when I saw the heart rate variability resonant breathing language I thought, “Oh my God. This is amazing.” So it’s just a glorious framework to talk about meditation.

So if you’re a Buddhist, if you’re a Christian and you pray, if you are doing anything which is of that interior interoceptive world, you have to begin with heart rate variability. Either you’re doing unconsciously or you’re doing it consciously but either way, all interoception begins with this reset point, this balance point of heart rate variability resonance.

[0:26:48] Ashley James: So when you started to focus on heart rate variability and breathing specifically for shifting heart rate variability, were you then achieving new heart rate variability or had you already been achieving it for years because you meditate?

[0:27:05] Forrest Knutson: Because of the five breath states, I’ve already been achieving it for like 15 years at that point. But I didn’t have the language to explain it. Really cool with the people on my channel they try it out and they report back. Their experiences it’s like, “I’m just doing your heart rate variability and this happened.” It’s just explosive.

[0:27:34] Ashley James: Like what? Can you give some examples?

[0:27:36] Forrest Knutson: So, a lot of times they will suddenly shift and fall into a very shallow breath naturally. In the meditative world, one of the names for this is tranquil breath. Your whole system gets so relaxed and so centered and so balanced that you automatically shift into a very shallow breath. You probably go into a trance momentarily, a trance-like state. You’d be watching your breath and then suddenly you’ll just kind of go into kind of float off mentally for a moment and then you’ll come back and you’ll notice that your breath is very very shallow. So it’s a whole different system of breath that your body has entered into naturally. Then your whole system is working so quietly that you can actually begin the true process of meditation because none of that body machinery is getting in the way of your mind.

So let’s say you’re a researcher, right? This would be the perfect time to begin your thoughts on your research. Well, let’s say you’re going to pray. This would be the perfect time to begin your prayer. Or if you’re meditating, this would be the perfect time to pick your one idea. Let’s say you’re going to practice, you’re a Buddhist and you’re going to practice metta, which is to take one thought like gratitude or love and just put yourself on that one thought. Now is the perfect time because the body machinery is out of the way. It’s not making a ton of noise and distracting you and drawing you back to the outward world. So you’re able to interocept much more easily.

[0:29:22] Ashley James: I know we could go into your YouTube channel ThatYogiGuy.com. We could go there and we could read the comments of people sharing their experiences. Has anyone had any stories of success in terms of noticing shifts in their health?

[0:29:43] Forrest Knutson: Yes. They say that they feel more alive and more centered, calm, things don’t disturb you that much because you have this balance. This interior centered stated.

[0:30:05] Ashley James: Obviously, 15 years ago you said, can you think back to before you had really figured out this type of breathing that triggered heart rate variability? Can you go back in your mind and think about sort of your health before and after? Did you have any noticeable health changes from – because you’ve been meditating for so long but your meditation wasn’t really centered around creating heart rate variability? So people can meditate and not necessarily create great heart rate variability. Then you do these specific things either in meditation or you don’t have to be meditating you just breathe this way and create heart rate variability. What I’m saying is, you don’t have to meditate in order to create it but you are doing it within meditation. So can you look back 15 years ago and see, is there a difference in your health or vitality that you could tell the before and after when you started creating heart rate variability?

[0:31:09] Forrest Knutson: Yeah. Absolutely. You have a lot less energy when you’re not in heart rate variability resonance. So, your concentration is going to lack. Your stamina is going to lack. Your ease, just being in your own skin is going to be less because you’re in a stress state. I mean your cortisol is up. All of that is going to affect the entire system. So with heart rate variability, your serotonin goes up. Everything goes up. Your rest. It’s like you’re in your car and you come to the stop sign. You don’t go sit there and go [revving sound] and rev your engine while you’re at the stop sign, right? You let the car go down into an idle.

So imagine that you go through life revving your engine constantly when you don’t need to. What’s that going to do to your car? It’s going to put stress on your car which is not necessary. That’s the majority of our life, right? Where you’re at work, your boss comes up and you freak out. Your adrenaline goes up, your whole system goes out of whack. If you’re in the jungle and the jungle cat comes up, you get up and you run for your life. Now you’re putting carbon in your muscles. When you’re at work and you don’t jump up when your boss come, maybe you should but we don’t. We sit there and the adrenaline goes up but there’s no carbon in the muscles because we’re just sitting there. So there’s no carbon-oxygen exchange in the body. So you’re hyperventilating because you’re in stress but you’re not exchanging that oxygen. It just stays in your blood. It doesn’t transfer to the muscles because there’s no carbon in the muscles. It’s a marketplace and they have to be able to exchange one for the other.

So that’s how the whole system falls apart, how it gets out of whack.

[0:33:23] Ashley James: Can you go deeper into that? I know you’ve explained it to me off-air before with a bit more detail. I don’t want to glaze over this. I remember I think you called me up one day you were like, “I figured something really cool out about carbon.” So take us back to when you first figured this out. What had you figure this out?

[0:33:45] Forrest Knutson: So the breath and the body are like a marketplace. So when you breathe in a lot, you oxygenate the blood. That oxygen flows through your blood. It comes up against your muscles. It says, “Hey. I’ve got oxygen. I want to buy some carbon.” But if there’s no carbon in your muscles, then the marketplace doesn’t work. There’s nothing to exchange. So the muscle says, “Hey. I don’t have any carbon so I can’t buy your oxygen.” So the blood just keeps going, just cycling that oxygen and then it gets rid of it for nothing. It was all for nothing.

So when you either workout a little bit and you get carbon in your muscles, now you’ve got the ability to create the exchange. So you’re breathing a lot. You get oxygen in the blood. The blood shows up to the muscle and it exchanges the oxygen for carbon. So the carbon goes into the blood to be recycled and the oxygen goes into the muscle to revamp the muscle, so oxygenate the muscle. That’s what you want. That’s the carbon-oxygen exchange when it’s working properly.

So, the way the body was designed, the jungle cat comes up to eat us and we jump up. We’re full of adrenaline, we’re full of oxygen because we’re breathing like crazy. We’re running for our lives. So there’s carbon in our muscles and everything is working right. The carbon and the oxygen exchange takes place. Then we fast forward to today, we don’t jump up. We sit there. There’s no carbon-oxygen exchange. So as a yogi, how do you fix this? Or as a heart rate variability resonant breather, how do you fix this?

Well, you lower the breath rate and by lowering the breath rate, you introduce more carbon into the cycle of the breath. That carbon and oxygen floats through the blood and essentially you’re kickstarting your own body economy. The blood gives the carbon to the muscles and the muscles exchange the carbon back for oxygen. Now you’ve kick-started the economy in your body and you have carbon-oxygen exchange because you have a lowered breath rate.

So automatically you’re going to feel if you do it very well and very deeply, you’ll feel your whole body tingle like it has come alive for the first time in 20 years. It’s kind of insane. You’ll get used to it. But it’s really kind of crazy.

[0:36:48] Ashley James: Cool. I like it. So what’s the downside to not producing a lot of carbon?

[0:36:56] Forrest Knutson: The downside to not producing a lot of carbon.

[0:37:03] Ashley James: Well, besides being lazy or not moving. I mean, is there really a downside to – we’re doing a lot of breathing. We’re in stress response, the boss is coming. We were just sitting there. The adrenaline’s going and we’re not really moving. We’re not making carbon. What’s the downside to just breathing in a bunch of oxygen but not having a lot of carbon being produced?

[0:37:24] Forrest Knutson: Right. There’s no exchange. There’s no exchange that takes place. The body and the muscles, which form a huge part of the body and all of the tissues which are in proximity to the muscles they don’t get oxygenated. You don’t come alive, right?

[0:37:45] Ashley James: You’re not really giving the mitochondria everything it needs and giving every cell everything it needs because we need to basically move the body in order to kick start economy is what you’re saying?

[0:37:58] Forrest Knutson: Yes. So you need to either move the body or introduce a lower breath rate to introduce carbon into the mix. So, when we think of breath we usually think of oxygen but there’s actually a host of gases which are in the mix. If you take those out you begin to destroy the rest of the balance. So it’s not just oxygen. A huge part of our breath is actually carbon. We’re often told that we need to breathe more. This is kind of a wrong idea because it can lead to the idea that hyperventilation is a good. It could be a short-term at some positive effects but long-term it’s not going to benefit you. So what we actually need is less breathing, a lower breath rate.

[0:38:49] Ashley James: I was recently reading an article in I think it was a bunch of British scientists, a British medical journal, that had measured weight loss and determined that most weight loss – where does the fat go? That’s always been my question when someone loses 25 pounds. Where did it go? You didn’t pee it out or poop it out. Where did it go, right? Most fat we exhale. Isn’t that crazy that they actually measured the carbon? They figured out that the fat is broken down, obviously, energy and the body uses energy but that it’s broken down and leaves the body as carbon and other byproducts. So most weight loss – and also heat. The body uses that fat to metabolic energy. They could measure in heat and in carbon leaving breath, measure 25 pounds basically of fat loss by measuring the carbon leaving the breath and proving that that was your fat. So, we’re breathing out our fat. In that way, wouldn’t hyperventilation be good? Let’s breathe more lose weight.

[0:40:19] Forrest Knutson: Right. It’s possible. It’s definitely going to work the body a lot to hyperventilate but your long-term benefit has to be the resonance between the heart and the breath. So there’s the Wim Hof method, which is a lot of hyperventilation in the beginning. It’s an easy way to get into a state where you momentarily don’t need to breathe. It’s much easier to practice breath holds after you’ve hyperventilated. But the problem that I see, it’s going to work a little bit but it’s also going to make you very tired sometimes. If you’re not up on your game if you’re not on top of your game and you do a lot of hyperventilation you’re going to feel very tired. So it’s going to adversely affect your body if you’re doing that day after day and you’re not doing it when you’re at your peak.

I have a lot of worries about people who really get into the Wim Hof method. I think it could be better explained exactly what his end goal is and what the breathing is for. You can basically do three kinds of breathing, four. You can be in a normal state. You can do heart rate variability resonant breathing. You can do hyperventilation or a purging breath. You can do a breath-hold. Those are the basic four things that you can do with your breath. They all have their place. The one that’s really the most beneficial physically and spiritually so to speak is the heart rate variability resonant breathing.

[0:42:32] Ashley James: Well, it’s triggering within minutes. You said within ten minutes it’s triggering the autonomic nervous systems parasympathetic response of rest and digest, lowering cortisol levels, lowering the stress levels in the body, stress hormones in the body, shunting blood away from the limbs into the digestion and bating all the organs in oxygen-rich blood. It’s allowing the blood flow open up to all the logic centers of the brain and turning on digestion. Turning on, even epigenetically, turning on enzymatic processes of digestion and enzymes for healing. So it is the perfect state to be in for healing. If something happens, like the boss calls us and we need to jump up or there’s a rock in the road and we need to drive around it really quick we need our stress response. We can turn back on for a moment and then come back into the parasympathetic response of healing.

Some people feel like they need stress in order to be better at their job, like a high-stress job. I’ve heard that before in many different ways but it’s actually this state of the parasympathetic state where we have full access to the brain because in stress response, it shunts blood away from logic centers to the brain. So, if we’re trying to meet a deadline or studying or trying to finish the project, if we don’t have access to our full brain, it makes it very difficult to be efficient. But when we’re in the parasympathetic nervous response of rest and digest, we are able to really concentrate. You said even focused in on one task and not have the voice chatter and the sort of the ADD brain going on. Have you ever had anyone share with you any results about reducing ADD or ADHD as a result of this type of breathing?


[0:44:42] Forrest Knutson: No I haven’t. But I absolutely think it would work exceptionally well for that purpose. So I haven’t heard that specifically but I think it would be a fantastic recipe for reversal of that. That’s a perfect point what you talked about. You would know that instantly if you spoke with a professional athlete and you say, “Hey. You want to come into a game being all stressed out or would you rather be in kind of the zone where you’re in it but not stressed out about it?” Of course, they’re going to tell you, “I’d rather be in the zone.” That’s exactly the best state to be in. That’s a state of HRV resonance.

[0:45:30] Ashley James: Cool. So listeners who have ADD or ADHD, please do this what Forrest is going to teach us today. Then come into the Facebook group, Learn True Health Facebook group and let us know your results because I want to know if this helps people with ADD and ADHD. I want to know real stories of success. I think that would be really cool. Because ADHD is partially from neurochemical, I don’t want to say imbalance because that makes it sound like I’m calling them broken. I think that there’s a place for us who have ADD-like there’s a place in this world. It can be cumbersome to be distracted by racing thoughts. So I think part of it is maybe an imbalance of certain neurochemicals because I’ve seen people with ADD or ADHD find peace mentally when they come back into health even more. Then partly it’s strategy, partly it’s unconscious programing.

So there’s lots of NLP for example, neuro-linguistic programming techniques for changing young conscious programming to allow us not to have ADD or ADHD limit us, right? If we can do something like as simple as consciously changing our breath and that then has a cascade effect and changes the neurological state of our brain and the state of our endocrine system and just kind of cascades down and affects our whole body and our circulation and our energy levels and our vitality. It’s affecting every system. That sounds wonderful. If we can do something as simple as breathe and make it so that we are able to quiet our mind, focus more. I mean can see that people might even be able to no longer want to use a medication or use over the counter sometimes people self-medicate with drugs, alcohol, sugar what have you that they might find that they’re coming into balance and they don’t need that.

Photo by Thomas Kinto on Unsplash


[0:47:59] Forrest Knutson: I think it would be great. The whole premise of yogic meditation is that I’m going to use toe body to affect the mind. So if you’ve ever tried to meditate and you’re like, “I can’t do this. This is my brain. It’s just all over the place.” Well, that’s very normal. It’s just a misconception because you’re not meant to wrestle with your own mind in mediation because if your mind fights your mind and one mind wins, you still got your original problem. You still have your mind, right? So the body follows this amazing rule, it’s called the 80-20 rule that for everyone single that your brain sends out so your brain is like the general. It sends out one signal to the body, “Hey. Do this.” The body send five signals back of messages giving this well we did this and we felt this and this happened. It’s feedback, right? So there’s much more signals. Your neurology is setup, your nervous system is set up to give much more signals back to the brain than is being sent out by the brain.

So it’s easier to control the brain from the body than it is to try and control the brain itself. So when you quiet the body, you will instantly quiet the mind. It’s just the biggest lever in the room to make change.

[0:49:29] Ashley James: I never thought of it that way.

[0:49:31] Forrest Knutson: Yeah. It’s amazing, isn’t it?

[0:49:33] Ashley James: I’m sure you’ve said it to me that way before but just the way you said it. So quieting the body helps to quiet the mind because, for every one message the brain is sending out, it’s receiving five signals back which makes sense. If you think of just walking down a hallway your brain is saying, “All right. Move this leg, move that leg,” but you’re hearing things, seeing things, feeling things, tasting things. There’s so much more input going on.

[0:50:02] Forrest Knutson: Exactly. So the yogi takes that rule and applies it to meditation in order to quiet the body, quiet the mind. Then you’ve already, instead of wrestling with your mind and trying to stick it in a corner that it doesn’t want to go into, you just affect the body and then the mind follows suit automatically. That cascade of events, that’s how it works.

Another thing that you might want to think about with ADHD is that we have a left brain which is kind of like a predator. So for example, the bird will – well it’s going to peck a seed. It will look down at the seed with its right eye because the right eye is connected to the left brain. So that predator brain, that predator part of the brain which will focus on one thing like the seed is in activation as it’s looking at that seed. So it’s going to peck at that one seed and while that’s happening, nature knows that the bird is very vulnerable because it’s caught in that one thing, right? So nature designed us with a whole other side of the brain which is very very disassociated from what’s going on in the left brain. That’s the right brain. The right brain has this spherical kind of perception of everything that’s going on around us simultaneously and that’s the brain that warns us that something’s not quite right when we don’t actually know why it’s warning us, right?

[0:51:35] Ashley James: Like when we have a gut feeling that something’s not okay?

[0:51:38] Forrest Knutson: That’s right. That’s right. That is very possibly the right side of the brain trying to tell us something. It might not make logical sense but it’s an instinctual understanding that’s coming from the right side of the brain which is really, I like to call it the parent brain. If you want to use older terminology you could say it’s the guardian angel in us. So it’s looking out for us constantly and it has to do that because you’re vulnerable while you’re concentrating on one thing. In our western society, we developed that law and it’s very very good for us. We have to be able to concentrate on one thing. We have to get a task done. We have to have our list and go down our list and make the list done. That’s just part of our life. But we also should develop this other side where we can benefit from everything we just completed so we can go out and look at the sunset and enjoy it. We can watch the waves crash on the beach and enjoy it. So we can enjoy music, we can enjoy poetry.

One of the people I love to follow is Iain McGilchrist. He’s very very great at describing the left and the right side of the brain. Some of the science that came out originally they said, “Oh my God. There’s this huge difference between the left and the right side of the brain.” Then they did more research and they said, “Well, actually there are signals going to the left and the right all the time. We were incorrect.” What Iain McGilchrist says is that well, we weren’t in that middle space. We were not asking the correct questions. So the most up to date research is showing they are more correct the first time that there is a big difference between the left and the right side of the brain but it’s not what. It’s how, how does the brain respond to different things?

It responds as if we are two personalities. So the way to think about that is perhaps one is the child and one is the parent brain. So the left is the child, it’s the predator. The right is the parental, it’s the watcher. So we have in mediation circles where you’re allowed to be the watcher. They’re trying to induce that right side of the brain to induce that very calm state. So when you’re in a state where you’re very manic or very hyper, well that’s going to be a left-brain process.

So there’s few tricks you can do to induce the right brain very very quickly and easily. One of those is spatial perception. This is my favorite. So if you will think of two points either it’s outside of yourself or inside of yourself. So you could think of your right big toe and your left ear. If you will hold those in your brain, try and feel your right toe and your left toe at the same time. While you do that you’ll realize there’s no thoughts when you’re really trying to feel both of those simultaneously. There’s just no thoughts, right? There’s no words chattering in your brain. So you could play with that or you could go into what the kahuna would call hakalau. Pick one point in front of you. Go into your left spatial perception on the left, that peripheral vision and then go into your right peripheral vision. Hold all three of those points. The point in front of you, and the left peripheral vision and the right peripheral vision. Hold all of that at the same time.

[0:55:25] Ashley James: I just want to break that down.

[0:55:28] Forrest Knutson: Was that too fast?

[0:55:29] Ashley James: Yeah. That was too fast for hakalau.

[0:55:31] Forrest Knutson: Okay.

[0:55:32] Ashley James: No. No. It’s okay because you’re on a roll so hold that thought. I want to continue on that roll. But for hakalau is so so important. I love teaching it to my clients. You can even do this if you’re driving because you’re keeping your eyes open. But basically, you look in front of you at a point. If you’re in a room look at the wall, look at something in front of you. If you’re driving just look at the road. Keep looking where you should be going but notice your peripheral. Notice as far as you can to the left and to the right as you’re staring forward. Your eyes aren’t moving but notice if you can see. If you’re driving, notice if you can see the mirrors the side view mirrors, both of the side view mirrors. Open up your peripherals so that you could see as much as possible and observe as much as possible in the room or in the car, wherever you are. If you’re not driving you can actually stretch your arms out to each side and wiggle your fingers so that you can see them in the corner of your vision on either side while you’re staring forward.

So you’re opening up because most people walk around in life in tunnel vision. I remember doing this for the first time and I freaked out because I’d never experienced my peripheral vision. I just was living life in tunnel vision. That it neurologically changes us. The Hunas, the ancient Polynesian tradition of Huna, the Hawaiians knew that when we shift our perception to be aware of our periphery that we’re shifting our neurological state. We cannot stay in a state of anger or stress while doing it. So that’s hakalau. When we do that when we’re studying we memorize things much better. It brings us to a calm stage. If we’re on stage and we notice we’re on tunnel vision we’re on stage, when you’re giving a presentation and we do this and it calms us down. Makes us to become aware of the whole room. But yeah. I love teaching this to my clients because it makes a big difference to them in relieving anxiety as well. I’m glad you brought that up. Okay. Continue.

[0:57:39] Forrest Knutson: Yeah. Well, it’s really fun because when you play around with that spatial perception you’re inducing the right hippocampus of the brain. That’s spatial perception. It really induces a very calm state very quickly. So it’s very very cool. That would be a good thing to play around with. If you had any kind of ADHD symptoms that would be really really fun to play around with and see how well it affects you. Then if you were to put that together with heart rate variability resonant breathing then you really really be playing with fire. You really really have something.

[0:58:29] Ashley James: Maybe not fire. Maybe cooking with fire, cooking with gas. Playing with fire sounds dangerous. You mean like now you are cooking?

[0:58:38] Forrest Knutson: I mean that now it’s going to make you very dangerous when it comes to your own ADHD. You’re going to have power that you didn’t have before. When you walk into the room you’re nervous. It’s going to give you power. It’s going to give you tools in your toolbox that you didn’t have before. So it’s going to make you just a little bit dangerous.

[0:59:00] Ashley James: In a good way. In a productive way.

[0:59:04] Forrest Knutson: In a very beautiful productive way. Absolutely.

[0:59:08] Ashley James: Not in like dangerous like you’re going to implode or something?

[0:59:14] Forrest Knutson: Right.

[0:59:15] Ashley James: Dangerous like you’re going to kick butt.

[0:59:17] Forrest Knutson: That’s right. Take names while you’re at it.

[0:59:20] Ashley James: Kick butt and take names.

[0:59:23] Forrest Knutson: But in a very peaceful way.

[0:59:25] Ashley James: Yes. We’re pacifists in a way that we not harm anyone. We’re just going to kick proverbial butt and take home the gold.

[0:59:37] Forrest Knutson: Exactly. That’s what it is. We have to be successful in whatever we do. There’s room for lots of success for everybody.

[0:59:45] Ashley James: Do you see that because you love studying the neuroscience of this. I know we’ve geeked out for hours on the phone. You telling me about left brain and right brain and being able to access from one to the other and the benefits of that. My question is, let’s say complete newbies are listening, not everyone I know some of you are experience. But let’s say some of us are complete newbies and we for the first time ever start doing this breathwork you’re going to teach us to get heart rate variability for the many benefits such as longevity and energy and vitality and peace, tranquility and the ability to kick proverbial butt. All of that. So we’re changing our breath. Let’s say we didn’t meditate, we didn’t pray, we just kept our eyes open and took in the room like took in our peripheral, kept our eyes open and slowed down our breath and did the things that you’re going to teach us to do to increase our heart rate variability. Would that alone cause a shift to go into the right brain?


Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash                                      

[1:00:56] Forrest Knutson: It’s going to put you in the arena of that. It’s going to put you much much closer. It’s the entry point. So there’s some yogic jargon I can throw into you. There’s a state that yogis know about which is called pratyahara. That just means interiorization but it’s a really really big deal when you’re trying to get into a deep meditative state. Heart rate variability resonance is the beginning of that state. Absolutely. If you want to get into that kind of depth this is where you have to be to do that. So the results that come back, that’s what you’re asking, it’s just phenomenal. It really is amazing. So people are trying to meditate. They’re trying to get into a calm state. They’re trying to feel better. It’s okay. It’s hit and miss. “Yeah. I had this good session once upon a time and then I did your heart rate variability resonant breathing and it works every single – what the hell? It’s a game-changer. It’s a huge shift.” I get that kind of feedback a lot. Makes it all worthwhile. It’s really fun.

[1:02:21] Ashley James: So it sounds like it’s an easy win formula for getting some results.

[1:02:28] Forrest Knutson: Yes. Every time.

[1:02:29] Ashley James: Cool. Every time. All right. Teach us. We are ready.

[1:02:32] Forrest Knutson: Okay. Great. So this is the holy trinity of breath. A good way to think about it is that we’re boxing ourselves into the dorsal vagal nerves. We’re going to make sure that we hit the parasympathetic nervous system every single time at work. You can do this standing as well if you’re going to go on stage or you’re going to present something or you’re going to talk to your boss you can stand and you can do this for a minute or two or five. You’re going to induce a much more calm state. You’re going to get into the zone and then you’re ready to do whatever you’re going to do. What we’re doing is we’re just kind of making sure that we’re going to get into that parasympathetic system, the dorsal vagal nerve. So we’re trying to box ourselves in. So that’s what all the rules are for.

So the first rule is put the breath rate under seven breaths per minute. You got to kind of play with it. Play with it a little bit and see which one of the breaths feels the most comfortable for you. So a lot of people on my channel they get really excited and they want to go to the lowest breath rate. But that’s not it. It’s not a competition. It’s just the one that fits for you.

[1:03:53] Ashley James: One breath a minute. Let’s go.

[1:03:56] Forrest Knutson: Exactly. You can work up to that kind of thing but in the beginning, it’s just about what fits and what is correct for you. So you want to try out all of the breaths, all of the breath rates and see which one feels really comfortable and seems to bring you into the centered, balanced state really quickly.

So the first breath is going to be four seconds in and five seconds out. Then from there you can try five seconds in and six seconds out. Then you can try six seconds in and seven seconds out. Anywhere between those three breaths. So first one was four seconds in and five seconds out. Anywhere under that is going to put you into heart rate variability.

The second rule is that as we’re breathing we want to accentuate that parasympathetic because we’re maybe in a slight stressed state. So we want to accentuate the parasympathetic and make sure that we really get into it. So we’re going to make the outbreaths slightly longer. So that’s why the different numbers four seconds in and at least five seconds out. So that’s going to accentuate the parasympathetic because the breath is going out, the diaphragm is going up, there’s more pressure on the thoracic cavity. That pressure translate to the dorsal vagal nerve. That sends a signal to the medulla. The medulla sends a signal to the heart rate, “Go ahead and lower down all the tool bits.” So that’s how it works.

The third rule is want to take out the pauses. So the pause at the bottom of the breath and the pause at the top of the breath. While we’re inducing this, we don’t want those pauses because it can just mess up the cycle that we’re trying to get into. So we just don’t have to hurry but we don’t want to pause for a long time. We want this nice, rhythmic in and out-breath to really get into that heart rate variability resonance. That’s the holy trinity. That’s how you do it.

So, do you want me to guide it for a second?

[1:06:24] Ashley James: Yeah. Guide us for like a minute? Should we breathing in through our mouth or our nose? Does it matter?

[1:06:34] Forrest Knutson: Definitely through the nose.

[1:06:37] Ashley James: And out through the nose or out through the mouth?

[1:06:39] Forrest Knutson: Out through the nose as well. It’s the most economical for the body. It’s going to put more carbon into the mix. That’s one of the reasons why you have a sinus passage is to introduce carbon into the blood mix.

[1:06:55] Ashley James: If someone has a stuffy nose it’s okay to do this through the mouth?

[1:06:59] Forrest Knutson: It is. Absolutely.

[1:07:01] Ashley James: It’s still effective. It’s just more effective through the nose?

[1:07:03] Forrest Knutson: Correct.

[1:07:06] Ashley James: Okay. Do you want to count when you do the seconds?

[1:07:10] Forrest Knutson: Sure. Yeah. I can count. Absolutely.

[1:07:16] Ashley James: All right. Okay. Guide us.

[1:07:19] Forrest Knutson: All right. Here we go. So we’re going to start breathing in one, two, three four. Breathe out five one, two, three, four, five. Breathe in one, two, three four. Breathe out one, two, three, four, five. Breathe in one, two, three four. Breathe out one, two, three, four, five. Breathe in one, two, three four. Breathe out one, two, three, four, five. Breathe in one, two, three four. Breathe out one, two, three, four, five. That was a minute.

[1:08:22] Ashley James: I totally went into parasympathetic. My hands started the shift because I know how it feels. Because you know, being a massage therapist in my past you know when you’re in parasympathetic. My hands shifted. I always feel it first in my hands. There’s a little bit of a tingle and a shift in blood flow in my hands.

[1:08:44] Forrest Knutson: That’s actually perfect. That’s the very first sign. So I have a video called clinical mindfulness and I teach this four proofs that your hands being hot and heavy. I call it HHH. That’s the HHH symptom that you are in heart rate variability.

[1:09:04] Ashley James: Hands hot and heavy?

[1:09:05] Forrest Knutson: That’s right. Hilarious right? But it sticks in your brain

[1:09:07] Ashley James: What are the other symptoms? If I kept doing it what else would I have noticed?

[1:09:14] Forrest Knutson: So you have to sit still to notice these things. That helps you into the free state in the body. A very good, positive kind of free state. So the next thing that you might notice is we bring your mind to your lips and you might notice that the blood kind of tingles in and tingles out of your lip especially the bottom lip. Then if you go and put your mind on your spine, right along your thoracic cavity, right along your rib cage, right? Your spine. Put your mind there and you might notice actually start to feel the pressure on the dorsal vagal nerve and it will feel really good. It can be maybe tingly, maybe pleasurable, maybe a cool feeling. So that’s the third one. Then the fourth one is to put your attention in your whole skin. Your whole skin may begin to tingle. It might feel a little bit crawly like a crawling sensation. It’s extremely pleasurable. So I call these meditative mellows because they feel really good. It’s a great sign that you are doing everything correctly and the parasympathetic system is working for the first time, maybe in a long time, very very well.

So that breath rate that we just did, it may be fast for some people but it is the entry point. That’s the entry breath rate that we need to get into heart rate variability. We have to be under that breath rate. So from there you can just take it whatever is comfortable for you.

[1:11:02] Ashley James: I know you just published three videos on your YouTube channel just this week showing the different breath rates. I don’t remember the exact titles.

[1:11:17] Forrest Knutson: So the music has to be steady. So you have to kind of cheat to make the in-breath shorter and the out-breath longer.

[1:11:25] Ashley James: What was the title?

[1:11:27] Forrest Knutson: Heart rate variability resonant breathing with music.

[1:11:31] Ashley James: Okay. A very straightforward title. It was like you had three different ones, the different breath rates, right?

[1:11:39] Forrest Knutson: Yes. So it’s four:four, five:five and six:six. Like I said, you try and make that out-breath a little just a tiny bit longer. The music is beautiful. Doug Gemmell gave that music to me so that could help me out to produce those videos. Really really beautiful music. Very relaxing and it teaches you something which is so deep. This heart rate variability resonance it’s just so profound. Every deep state that you have in meditation is built on top of that, guaranteed. You can’t skip it. It’s in there somewhere.

[1:12:24] Ashley James: When I asked, this was I don’t know 300 episodes ago, I asked a naturopath right at the end of the interview. So the interview wasn’t really about this but it’s near the end of this interview and I said, “What’s the one thing that you tell all your clients to have? Is there a gadget?” I’ve asked this a few times. So I’ve gotten really cool answers like one naturopath said, “100% of my clients I tell them to get a grounding mat.” That was my first time ever hearing about grounding mats and now while we’re talking I’m on my grounding mat because I love it so much. I have some great interviews about grounding mats. An entire documentary is pinned in the Learn True Health Facebook group about grounding and earthing and the scientific benefits of it. That it actually decreases inflation in the body and explains how by giving up excess electrons the body shouldn’t be storing that it significantly decreases the imbalance in the body to the point where people are going into remission who have MS. So really, grounding and earthing really makes a huge difference.

So this question has gotten me a lot of mileage. I asked this one naturopath sort of along the lines of what’s really important for 100% of your clients or what’s really important for all of us to know. She said, “We should all be aware of our heart rate variability.” She told me about this machine that you wear like a heart monitor that’s over $200.00 and that you put it on every morning and it reads out your heart rate variability. I was confused because I’m thinking is this just a heart rate monitor? I said, “Wouldn’t it change throughout the day?” She goes, “No. You wake up first thing in the morning. You put it on.” Again, I’m thinking this is not really accessible for all the listeners to spend a few hundred dollars on a little machine that you’re just wearing a minute a day and it’s going to tell you what your heart rate variability is. Her thing is, she was not teaching us how to affect heart rate variability necessarily. She was teaching to use it like a diabetic would use a glucometer.

You get up first thing in the morning and you read out your heart rate variability with this machine to determine if the last 24 hours were good for you or not good for you. She said, for example, and I’ve heard this from other experts, one glass of wine or beer one basically alcoholic beverage throws us into the stress response for 24 hours. Throws us out of heart rate variability for 24 hours. She said with her clients, because she gets her clients to buy this machine and report back to her, that if they ate something they’re allergic to let’s say they're allergic to dairy or eggs or gluten or whatever or they ate a lot of sugar, a lot of highly processed foods the day before or they had a fight with their spouse or they hate their job and they had a fight with their boss, whatever. Something stressful happened or they drink alcohol. The next day, even though they just woke up and they were sleeping for let’s say seven-eight hours they should be in a state of rest. But their heart rate variability will prove otherwise, will prove that they’re still in a stress response and their endocrine system, their digestive system, their whole body is not in healing mode. They’re either in stress mode or healing mode. That even though they slept, they were sleeping in a state of stress and not in a state of relaxation.

So she uses this device to go see look, whatever you did yesterday isn’t working for you. The next day or a few days later you take your reading and you’re like, “Wow. I have really good heart rate variability.” She goes, “Okay. Whatever you ate yesterday keep eating it. Whatever you did yesterday keep doing it because it’s working.” So she used the machine as a way of proving that what they’re doing is working or not working because she can tell her clients don’t drink alcohol but they’re not going to listen. But if they see that they’re in a state of stress they’re like, “Wow. She’s right.” People drink alcohol to calm down because they feel stressed out and they want to relax. It’s acceptable in today’s society to use alcohol just like also use sugar, it’s sort of a meme. Women are stressed or they broke up with their boyfriend they’re going to eat a pint of ice cream. It’s a dangerous meme to continue to push on us. This idea that we need to self-medicate with sugar or alcohol in order to manage our emotion. When it actually doesn’t, it doesn’t decrease our stress levels. It will temporarily give us a dopamine high and make us feel good but it sends the body in a state of stress and not healing.

Then when we’re in that state of stressor that happens pushes us over the edge and makes us feel overwhelmed. So then we have to manage ourselves more with sugar or alcohol. Then we’re closer to our breaking point again. So then some little stressor happens like someone honks at us and then our nervous system, our endocrine system and nervous system freak out again. It’s like our fuse for our ability to handle crap in our life become shorter and shorter and shorter and shorter.

When we stop and we stop drinking alcohol and stop using sugar and highly processed foods as a way of self-medicating, because all those things make our fuse shorter and shorter or our ability to handle crap before we hit breaking point. If we stop using that and we decrease the inflammation in our body then our nervous system can kind of actually take on more stimulants before we reach our breaking point, before we feel overwhelmed and stress and we increase our heart rate variability. Now we have a long fuse. I know you Forrest, I mean I’ve known you. We’ve been really good friends for a long time. You have a really long fuse for handling stress and handling BS.

So I think that on an emotional mental health level this is very helpful as well. So that’s my first exposure to heart rate variability was this idea that we could use this like measuring our blood sugar or our blood sugar as a means of seeing if what we’re doing is working or not. You’re saying that we don’t need to spend a few hundred dollars on a machine. We can just do the breathing anyway and also clean up other areas of our life to better serve our health. But by doing the breathing we’re increasing heart rate variability and thus making that fuse longer. Our threshold wider for being able to handle stress in our life.

[1:19:25] Forrest Knutson: Absolutely. All of that was perfect. Everything you said was perfect. Yes, you can actually affect these things. It’s kind of amazing. So, yeah. You just do the breathing and it’s going to reset your system, recalibrate your parasympathetic nervous system to start working properly again if it’s been out of whack. Maybe you’re very peaceful already but this is going to make you more peaceful and more profoundly relaxed.


[1:20:06] Ashley James: Even more. That’s right.

[1:20:07] Forrest Knutson: Down the rabbit hole we go. It’s a very very cool thing.

[1:20:16] Ashley James: Awesome. I love it, Forrest. I love having you on the show. You’re so great. You’re one of my favorite people in the whole world. It’s an honor. It’s an honor to have you here. I really encourage to go to ThatYogiGuy.com which will take them straight to your YouTube channel. You’ve produced a lot of fantastic YouTube videos. Listeners, if you have more questions for Forrest, please check out his YouTube channel and comment in any of the videos asking him questions or requesting topics for him to cover because he will do it. He’s very active on his YouTube channel. He will reply to his comments. He will take video requests because he loves teaching. Ever since I’ve known you, you just love teaching and love helping people. You have this equal love of helping people and teaching. So you’re just this perfect person to learn from and you’re very humble.

[1:21:19] Forrest Knutson: I am. I am very humble. I’m actually writing a book about it

[1:21:25] Ashley James: You’re writing a book about how humble and great you are?

[1:21:28] Forrest Knutson: Yes. It’s call Humility and How I Attained it. I have to say, that’s not my joke. I stole that joke from what was his name?

[1:21:37] Ashley James: You know, if you weren’t humble you would’ve owned the joke. You can just own the joke, Forrest. It’s okay. You don’t need to give credit. Stop being so humble.

[1:21:48] Forrest Knutson: You’re right. I really should. It’s a horrible thing.

[1:21:51] Ashley James: Stop it. Americans don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense to us. You have a great amount of information for people. The way in which you package your information comes across so that we can all understand it. So I just love how you teach. This is where I’m complimenting you and thanking you. So thank you.

[1:22:15] Forrest Knutson: Thank you.

[1:22:17] Ashley James: Now, your website ThatYogiGuy.com, you have a book Hacking the Universe. Is there anything else that we should know?

[1:22:25] Forrest Knutson: I’m going to come out with a training very very shortly.

[1:22:29] Ashley James: Yeah. Sweet. Tell us about your training.

[1:22:31] Forrest Knutson: So I’m working on it now. I’m actually editing it. I have a couple more clips to finish. It’s going to be on heart rate variability and how to take that very very deep into a very deep meditation.

[1:22:49] Ashley James: Into the right brain?

[1:22:50] Forrest Knutson: Not all the way into the right brain. We can’t do that at one training. That’s going to take four trainings. So I actually have four trainings in my brain. I’ve never seen anything like them. So it’s really exciting for that reason that it’s going to be – if you’re in the meditation world or you have meditative interest they’re going to be extremely powerful. It’s combining a lot of information in a way which is very palatable like you say very easy to access. So it’s going to be off the hook. Very exciting.

[1:23:29] Ashley James: I know you have a Facebook group for your students. Those who follow you on YouTube and learn from all your videos. You have a Facebook group. We’ll make sure to link that. It’s also on the show notes. What’s the name of the Facebook group?

[1:23:44] Forrest Knutson: It’s Meditate with Forrest. So very easy to remember.

[1:23:48] Ashley James: Meditate with Forrest.

[1:23:50] Forrest Knutson: Forrest Gump.

[1:23:52] Ashley James: No.

[1:23:53] Forrest Knutson: I do that. Sometimes people don’t hear my name because it’s a strange to them so they don’t actually hear it. So I started – every time I ask for something at a diner or something like that I’ll always say, “You know, like Forrest Gump.”

[1:24:12] Ashley James: And they love that? People like that joke?

[1:24:15] Forrest Knutson: They always laugh so.

[1:24:17] Ashley James: You’re the only Forrest I know that like Forrest Gump. I interviewed another Forrest and he said that he doesn’t like that movie. That it was like people teased him in school. I’m like, “No. My friend Forrest loved it and he got so much mileage out of it.” It sounds like you’re still getting mileage out of it.

[1:24:34] Forrest Knutson: Well, you know, you turn the joke around and you use it and then it’s fun. Yeah. People will be like, “Run, Forrest,” and I’d call back, “I’m a running fool.” “That boy is a running fool.” So, yeah. I loved it. It was great.

[1:24:48] Ashley James: I like that you disarmed – that’s another thing we didn’t get to talk about is aikido. You disarm people, the bullies. You’ve never let the bullies get you down because you just disarm them.

[1:25:00] Forrest Knutson: Right. Well, I kind of had to. There’s a very famous book called Giving in to Get Your Way. It’s a beautiful principle that you can see in a lot of different martial arts. If somebody’s joking at you and you run with the joke, you’ve completely diffused the entire situation. It’s very powerful.

[1:25:22] Ashley James: Yes. Yes. Yes. That is a great tool. That’s so great. So I had this one-star review. I have well over 700, almost 800 five star reviews on iTunes. I have like 41 one stars. Which one do you think I focus on? Do you think I focus on the 800 people who took the time to give me a five-star review and tell me how much they love the show? Do you think I focus on the 41 people that hate me, that wish that I would just die or something? Of course, this part of my brain is like, “There’s 41 people in the world that don’t like me.” I have to tell myself to suck it up because I’m not doing it, I’m not doing the podcast for 41 people that hate me. I’m doing it for the people I want to help. I want to help people. Those are the people I’m doing it for. The people who appreciate it not the people who don’t appreciate it.

There’s one person once left me a one-star review that said that I sound like I’m a cow because when I go, “Hmm,” I sound like I’m mooing. At first, I was like, “How dare. Oh crap, they’re right. They’re right.” Then I started laughing because I’m editing. As I’m editing the show I’m listening. Every time I go, “Hmm,” I’m like, “Oh my gosh I really do sound like…” Is that bad? I love cows. They’re really beautiful creatures. They’re amazing animals. They’re so much fun to visit when I take, we take our son to this sanctuary farm. Oh my gosh. If I could cuddle a cow I would. They’re the coolest things, right? So why am I upset about this? This guy is trying to insult me.

Then I realize he could have said, and I’m assuming his gender is male-only because I don’t think a female would’ve said that about me but that’s just my bias. So I’m assuming that he’s a guy and he has nothing better to do than rip on the fact that once in a while I go, “Hmm,” to a guest’s really cool whatever they said is really cool and I moo, apparently. I’m like, “That’s the only thing he could come up with?” He couldn’t find anything to make fun of the show. That’s the only thing. That’s kind of a compliment in it of itself that there’s nothing wrong with the show. He couldn’t find anything wrong with it but that I sound like I’m mooing when I hum praise to someone’s comment.

So I just kind of laughed it off and laughed it off. It could’ve eaten me for days but I laughed about it. Then he deleted the comment. A few days later I looked back and he retracted his one-star. That’s really cool. In other one-star, I would’ve obsessed about what they said because there’s no way to write back to them and try to explain myself. Sometimes someone gives me a one-star for something a guest said. I have no control over that. It’s just kind of silly.

The fact that you can take bullying and laugh at it and not take it personally but laugh at it, then you’ve won. You’ve gained control of the situation.

[1:28:44] Forrest Knutson: You know, you really turn it around mentally. That’s so amazing. That’s so fantastic. It’s so easy to fall in that. I’ve listened to a number of YouTubers comment about how you deal with really grumpy trolling.

[1:29:05] Ashley James: They’re brutal on YouTube. Oh my gosh. My husband, I’m so thankful. He just deletes the comments. The really brutal, he won’t let me see them and that’s good because he know I’ll go into a tailspin. I care so much. The thing is I’ve worked on this for so long like my ability to kind of fluff it off but people on YouTube are brutal. We post all the episodes of the show on YouTube. There’s a level of trolling on YouTube that I understand why children are committing suicide. It’s the second leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24.

Suicide’s gone up 52% in the last 10 years for children ages 10 through 24, I understand. They’re being bullied just so brutally. If there’s a way to, obviously we need to shelter our children from that because when someone is 10, that level of bullying is devastating but when we’re 30, yeah it’s harmful but we can go, “Okay. Let’s use our logic brain. Let’s not end our life over it.” So I love that you brought up this book. What was the book again?

[1:30:18] Forrest Knutson: Giving In To Get Your Way. It’s a great great old aikido book.

[1:30:24] Ashley James: I saw a video on Facebook and it was a presenter in front of a middle school I think it was. He had a girl; come up, I’ve seen this video kind of circulate through. It has millions and millions of views. So if you ever see it on Facebook, watch it. It’s so good.

It’s like how to end bullying immediately. He says to this girl, “Okay. Just bully me. Just say really mean things.” She’s a bit nervous.

[1:30:51] Forrest Knutson: I saw this.

[1:30:52] Ashley James: She’s like, “You really suck,” and he’s like, “You’re right. You’re right. When you’re right you’re so right.” She’s like, “Yeah. I’m right and you’re wrong and you’re dumb.” He’s like, “You know what? I just love how right you are. You’re so pretty.” She couldn’t keep a straight face. She kept trying to bully him. He just kept owning it and smiling and being her friend. She was totally disarmed. She was nowhere to go. The whole audience, all the kids just freaked out and cheered and they thought it was great that it was – if we cannot let it land in our psyche and use our ego. But if we can slough it off, that is really helpful. I love it.

[1:31:44] Forrest Knutson: Absolutely. That’s a very good recipe. You can build on top of that recipe and have a more complex way to deal with it so that you don’t have to own the negative. You could just let it bypass you completely but that’s a great way to start is just take it all in and then say, “Hey. Whatever.” It’s a great great way. It’s hard. It’s tough. I get comments then I go meditate.

[1:32:16] Ashley James: Nice. In meditation do you ever had this insights which are like, “Oh. That’s why the probably said that?”

[1:32:25] Forrest Knutson: Oh yeah.

[1:32:26] Ashley James: I mean, do you find such clarity with your thoughts when you meditate?

[1:32:30] Forrest Knutson: Yes. It will diffuse to the point where I disassociate from the body. The body just kind of disappears. So then you’re just left with your perception itself. Then it becomes very simple but then you have to get to that point. If you’re in a stress state you won’t be able to get to that point you’ll be stuck with it. So that’s where the word attachment comes from. You’re attached to the problem. That’s where we usually begins. That something happens and we get overly attached to that negative happening and then we can’t release our self from it. We can’t even begin to think logically because we’re so wrapped up in it.

[1:33:14] Ashley James: So when’s your course coming up?

[1:33:17] Forrest Knutson: Very very soon. I think maybe a week?

[1:33:22] Ashley James: Awesome. Very cool. So listeners, by the time this gets published and their listening to it it’ll just be days away if not already released. It’s very exciting. They can find you in their Facebook group Meditate with Forrest. Forrest Knutson not Forrest Gump but just Meditate with Forrest. Do you think if they typed in Meditate with Forrest Gump that would show up too or is there a different? You have to check. You never know.

[1:33:46] Forrest Knutson: There might be Meditate with Forrest Gump. That would be a pretty – it might probably run a lot.

[1:33:53] Ashley James: To eat chocolate or something. So mow a lawn. Make some shrimp.

[1:33:57] Forrest Knutson: Very good things.

[1:33:59] Ashley James: I love that movie.

[1:33:60] Forrest Knutson: That’s great. I love it.

[1:34:03] Ashley James: I wonder how many listens haven’t seen that movie because it’s kind of old but it’s such a classic.

[1:34:08] Forrest Knutson: It’s so classic. It just has this simple purity which is what the whole movie is about. It’s that simple purity. Win in the end.

[1:34:19] Ashley James: I love it. Awesome. It does make you feel like – you walk away with that movie feeling like you can win. I love that. It does lift you up. So that’s good. “If you can do it I could do it.” So Meditate with Forrest Facebook group. Go to ThatYogiGuy.com to gain access to the YouTube videos. Buy the book Hacking the Universe if you want to go deeper with Forrest or just wait for the course. Have you come up with a name, a title for your course? A final title or are you still working on a working title?

[1:34:59] Forrest Knutson: Let me think about this. What am I calling this? Yes. It’s going to be called the fourth phase of breath also the tranquil breath. Those will both be in the title. The fourth phase of breath.

[1:35:13] Ashley James: That will be part one of four to get into the right brain?

[1:35:17] Forrest Knutson: Yeah. So when I say get into the right brain I mean Samadhi so that’s a very deep state. I think another name for that is satori. It’s the merging. To merge with one thought but that’s a very very deep state.

[1:35:41] Ashley James: Cool. So basically if you want to go deep we keep following you?

[1:35:45] Forrest Knutson: Perfect.

[1:35:46] Ashley James: Down the rabbit hole.

[1:35:47] Forrest Knutson: That’s right. Down the rabbit hole we go.

[1:35:50] Ashley James: Awesome. Thank you so much Forrest for coming on the show. It’s been such a pleasure having you here today. Anything you want to say to wrap up today’s interview? Anything left unsaid that you want to make sure we cover?

[1:36:02] Forrest Knutson: Well, you are one of my favorite people. You are a genius. I love everything that you do. Thank you so much for having me.

[1:36:13] Ashley James: You’re so welcome. Compliments always welcome. It helps to displace those 41 one-star reviews on iTunes. If you’re all, “You’re beautiful,” comments. Awesome. Thank you so much Forrest. I really hope that this episode makes a difference for all my fantastic listeners. We’ll just have to stay in touch and let us know how your course go. You’re launching your courses and all your students and their results. I know you’re in the Learn True Health Facebook group so we’ll just continue the conversation there. Listeners, if you have any question for Forrest you could also post them on the Learn True Health Facebook group as well. It’s Forrest Knutson, ThatYogiGuy.com Thank you so much.

[1:36:55] Forrest Knutson: Thank you.

[1:36:56] Ashley James: Yeah. We’ll have to have you back on again at some point because I want you to teach more about getting into the right brain. Samadhi sounds so neat especially from the neuroscience perspective. What happens to the brain and the different brain waves? Because I know you’re really into that.

[1:37:14] Forrest Knutson: Yeah. There’s a lot that still needs to be uncovered about brain waves. It’s really really amazing.

[1:37:23] Ashley James: So we’ll just get into that in another interview.

[1:37:26] Forrest Knutson: Absolutely.

[1:37:27] Ashley James: All right. Sounds good. Okay. Thank you so much.

[1:37:29] Forrest Knutson: All right. Take care.

[1:37:31] Outro: Hello, true health seeker. Have you ever thought about becoming a health coach? Do you love learning about nutrition? And how we can shift our lifestyle and our diet so that we can gain optimal health and happiness and longevity. Do you love helping your friends and family to solve their health problems and to figure out what they can do to eat healthier? Are you interested in becoming someone who can grow their own business and support people in their success? Do you love helping people?

You might be the perfect candidate to become a health coach. I highly recommend checking out the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I just spent the last year in their health coaching certification program. And it really blew me away. It was so amazing. I learned over a hundred dietary theories. I learned all about nutrition. But from a standpoint of how we can help people to shift their life and shift their lifestyle to gain true holistic health. I definitely recommend you check them out. You can Google Institute for Integrative Nutrition or IIN and give them a call. Or you can go to learntruehealth.com/coach and you can receive a free module of their training to check it out and see if it’s something that you’d be interested in. Be sure to mention my name Ashley James and the Learn True Health podcast because I made a deal with them that they will give you the best price possible. I highly recommend checking it out. It really changed my life to be in their program. And I’m such a big advocate that I wanted to spread this information.

We need more health coaches. In fact, health coaching is the largest growing career right now in the health field. So many health coaches are getting in and helping people because you can work in chiropractic offices, doctors’ offices, you can work in hospitals. You can work online through Skype and help people around the world. You can become an author. You can go into the school system and help your local schools shift their programs to help children be healthier. You can go into senior centers and help them to shift their diet and lifestyle to best support them in their success and their health goals. There are so many different available options for you when you become a certified health coach.

So check out IIN. Check out the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Mention my name, get the best deal. Give them a call and they’ll give you lots of free information and help you to see if this is the right move for you. Classes are starting soon. The next round of classes are starting at the end of the month. So you’re going to want to call them now and check it out. And if you know anyone in your life who would be an amazing coach, please tell them about it. Being a health coach is so rewarding and you get to help so many people.

Are you looking to get the best supplements at the lowest price? For high-quality supplements and to talk to someone about what supplements are best for you, go to takeyoursupplements.com and one of our fantastic true health coaches will help you pick out the right supplements for you that are the highest quality and the best price. That’s takeyoursupplements.comTakeyoursupplements.com. Be sure to ask about free shipping and our awesome program.

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Ashley James

Health Coach, Podcast Creator, Homeschooling Mom, Passionate About God & Healing

Ashley James is a Holistic Health Coach, Podcaster, Rapid Anxiety Cessation Expert, and avid Whole Food Plant-Based Home Chef. Since 2005 Ashley has worked with clients to transform their lives as a Master Practitioner and Trainer of Neuro-linguistic Programming.

Her health struggles led her to study under the world’s top holistic doctors, where she reversed her type 2 diabetes, PCOS, infertility, chronic infections, and debilitating adrenal fatigue.

In 2016, Ashley launched her podcast Learn True Health with Ashley James to spread the TRUTH about health and healing. You no longer need to suffer; your body CAN and WILL heal itself when we give it what it needs and stop what is harming it!

The Learn True Health Podcast has been celebrated as one of the top holistic health shows today because of Ashley’s passion for extracting the right information from leading experts and doctors of holistic health and Naturopathic medicine


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