The Renegade Breathing Mastermind Behind The Crazy Holotropic Breathing Protocol I Do In My Sauna (& Biohacking Breathwork, Best Foods For Breathhold Time & Much More!).

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I met my friend Niraj Naik (the same guy who invented the crazy holotropic-style breathwork protocol I do in my sauna) inside a sauna in Estonia, Finland, where he led me and one of my buddies through an “omming” breathwork protocol, and I've been hooked on him as my “go-to guy” for breathwork ever since.

He joined me first on the podcast “The Renegade Pharmacist: How To Increase The Effects Of Psilocybin, The Secrets Of Colostrum, Fixing Constipation With Breathwork & More” and also invented the breathwork routine that I took my boys and I through and detailed in the article “How To Blast You (And Your Child's!) Physical, Mental, & Spiritual Resilience Through The Roof With Breathwork.” He also recently designed an extraordinary 11-day breathwork course called “SOMA BreathFit” that my boys and I also just dida course that combines fitness, sleep protocols, meditation protocols, and much more in a simple-to-implement, done-for-you short daily program. (BGF listeners get 10% off the new SOMA BreathFit course we discuss with this link.)

Niraj comes from a background of working long hours for several years as a community pharmacist. Becoming a certified “legal drug dealer” at the ripe age of 24, he got to witness first-hand many clients going home with shopping bags full of drugs each month, rarely getting better and usually going on to suffer from other diseases. He also learned of the debilitating side effects of the prescription medications which drove many of the patients to have to take more and more drugs to ease the side effects.

Curious to find ways to improve his own health, Niraj attended several health seminars and discovered an in-depth approach on how to reach optimum health and vitality by understanding the true origin of disease and how to prevent it. After experiencing great benefits with his own health, Niraj was motivated to devise a scheme to see if he could also help his suffering patients. He incorporates a lifestyle plan called his “healthy shopping lists” that includes simple food swaps, tools, and websites to support their specific conditions.

Within two weeks he received testimonials from patients who were starting to get better and within a few months some being able to lower their dosages or completely come off their medications. After an arduous battle trying to get his novel approach accepted into the mainstream that resulted in a lot of stress and disillusionment, in 2010 Niraj was diagnosed with a stress-related illness, ulcerative colitis, that left him housebound for over 10 months. He was told by doctors and nurses that there existed no cure and that he would need to be on medication for the rest of his life.

Like his patients, Niraj suffered from side effects of his medication to the point that he felt completely hopeless and even suicidal. He was then left with a choice that would be a major turning point in his life: test out a new drug or have his colon removed. He decided to choose option 3, a path not yet known by conventional medicine.

So began Niraj's search to learn from people who had great success with either curing themselves or others from chronic illness. He learned a combination of natural treatments including Ayurvedic practices and dietary recommendations from Paleo and Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). He studied healing methods through meditation, yoga, and mind power techniques like self-hypnosis and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). He even discovered the powerful techniques of sound and music therapy as tools for reducing stress and promoting self-healing. Niraj finally broke free from the burdens of his illness, without medication.

The experience of illness has allowed him to completely reinvent his life and discover a new passion for helping others to do the same. Niraj's specialty is helping people recover, prevent, or reduce the dependency on long-term medication for the metabolic diseases of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity as well as autoimmune disease when stress is an underlining factor in the cause.

Niraj is now a professional musician, holistic health expert, and entrepreneur. As the founder of SOMA Breath, Niraj is dedicated to educating people on a complete holistic system of Pranayama techniques through programs like his 21-Day Awakening Journey (use code: BEN to save $200) and SOMA BreathFit (BGF listeners get 10% off the new SOMA BreathFit course we discuss with this link.). He also runs several successful websites that help others who suffer from stress-related, chronic diseases through his self-composed, captivating meditation music, and online courses. Niraj has composed music for healing centers, spas, and therapists worldwide.

During this discussion, you'll discover:

-Niraj's personal history and what makes his programs unique…06:50

  • Previous podcast with Niraj:
  • Niraj has a history as a music producer and event organizer in the UK
  • Had a spiritual mindset in a hedonistic lifestyle
  • Became a reluctant pharmacist, but looks back at it as the best move of his life
  • Took the spiritual mindset into the pharmacy business; saw a real lack of mindfulness, conscientiousness in the industry
  • Attended a Tony Robbins event, was introduced to some of the concepts he uses today
  • Was challenged by a yogi to find a way to heal his colon, which led to many of the practices he uses today
  • The Power Of Your Subconscious Mind by Dr. Joseph Murphy
  • Disease arises from the subconscious mind—autonomic nervous system
  • Current work combines a passion for making music with knowledge of the human body and spirituality
  • Became enamored with sauna combined with breathwork
  • Raw vegan diet was the worst thing for Niraj
  • Lots of “undogmatizing” in understanding the mind, body, spirit connection
  • Produced music tracks for Wim Hof's programs
  • Saw a need in the market for his SOMA breathwork programs (use code BEN to save $200 off the 21-Day Awakening Journey)
  • Niraj and Ben are both Vata-Pitta Ayurveda type, which is more drawn to warmer climates, less extreme temps

-What mainstream yoga practices get wrong…21:45

-How CO2 has been thrown under the bus…33:15

-A different take on Wim Hof's method…36:10

  • Niraj takes issue with Wim Hof's mantra to simply breathe more
  • It's not about breathing more, it's about breathing less
  • No one-size-fits-all approaches to breathing
  • High energy individuals don't always do well with things like Wim Hof techniques

-Breathwork combined with hyperbaric treatment?…45:45

-Combining modern science with ancient wisdom when it comes to breathwork…50:35

-Why humming is an important part of Niraj's training…55:30

-The importance of the control pause tactic…59:55

  • Buteyko developed this method
  • CO2 tolerance
  • Low body tissue oxygenation the cause of most diseases
  • Length of time between exhaling and feeling the first urge to breathe
  • Average is 20-40 seconds
  • Time will increase rapidly with proper training

-What happens at Niraj's live clinics…1:04:05

  • Train students to become instructors of his methods at their own clinics
  • SOMA BreathFit course Niraj teaches (BGF listeners get 10% off here)
  • Advanced yoga techniques require proper breath control
  • Be mindful and respectful of the importance of oxygen
  • Wisdom of Pranayama is developed by studying animals in nature
  • Mammals with slow breath rates get sick less and live longer
  • Humans can control the rate of our breath; improves body tissue oxygenation
  • Teach fun ways to enjoy wisdom from the past; music is a huge part of this
  • Holding breath after exhale is like pressing “pause” on your life for a moment
  • Expanding the pause takes you to profound meditative states

-How diet affects your breath…1:12:45

-And much more!

Click here for the full written transcript of this podcast episode.

Resources from this episode:

Niraj Naik:

– Breathwork Podcasts And Articles:

– Podcasts:

– Books:

– Gear:

– Other Resources:

-Episode Sponsors

Kion Lean: Support for normal blood sugar levels and healthy energy metabolism, even after large, carb-rich meals. Ben Greenfield Fitness listeners, receive a 10% discount off your entire order when you use discount code BEN10.

JOOVV: After using the Joovv for close to 2 years, it's the only light therapy device I'd ever recommend. Give it a try: you won't be disappointed. For a limited time, Joovv wants to hook you up with an exclusive discount on your first order. Just apply code BEN to your qualifying order. 

Thrive Market: Organic brands you love, for less. Your favorite organic food and products. Fast and free shipping to your doorstep. Receive a gift card worth up to $20 when you begin a new membership.

Clearlight Saunas: You can be sure that I researched all the saunas before I bought mine and Clearlight was the one that stood out from all the rest because of their EMF and ELF Shielding and their Lifetime Warranty. Mention BEN GREENFIELD and you’ll receive an extra discount on your purchase.

Do you have questions, thoughts, or feedback for Niraj or me? Leave your comments below and one of us will reply!

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15 thoughts on “The Renegade Breathing Mastermind Behind The Crazy Holotropic Breathing Protocol I Do In My Sauna (& Biohacking Breathwork, Best Foods For Breathhold Time & Much More!).

  1. Mixed up, this guy has no training in Holotropic Breathwork and even did not understand. Just Business without education or understand. very sad. Unethical.

  2. Josh Markham says:

    I don’t understand when he says WIM has it wrong . What specifically does he have wrong? From what I can understand he is just saying we don’t need to breath deep all the time

  3. Thomas says:

    Hi I’m thinking about purchasing the 21 day protocol, but I’m wondering how we get the guided videos. Do you need an internet connection to stream it every time or can you download the mp3s? I want to take this with me on my travels and won’t have internet while in thailand.

  4. christopher aspinall says:

    Amother fantastic listen.

    Last time Niraj was on, he mentioned that in yoga there are really essentially three yoga postions that one must do . But the conversation went in a different direction without them being mentioned.

    I would love to know if anyone knows whhich three he meant.


    1. Kevin says:

      I think he was mentioning physical hatha yoga, breathwork, and meditation.

  5. Mike says:

    Hi Ben! Really great content!
    There is one thing that I am not sure about and I would appreciate if you could explain it. Niraj mentions kaki mudra technique, swallowing air or even using ozone in order to restore beneficial microbiome in your gut. All of that because the bad bacteria in your gut are mostly anaerobic and oxygen in your gut would get rid of them.

    This sounds like something completely opposite to what Lucy Maling explains in one of your podpcasts ( that hypoxia state in your gut is actually beneficial for developing good bacteria and is achieved by aerobic activity of the gut lining cells that use up all the available oxygen leaving nothing for the microbiome.

    I am sure there is an explanation that would make both ideas complement one another.


  6. Gary says:

    Great Podcast. As a Track and Cross Country coach how could I encorporate some of this to benefit my runners….Or can this help them aerobically or just in relaxation?

  7. Ben, Truly life changing information, thank you for always bringing in the best and most up-to-date science, knowledge and experience out there.

    Niraj, As a fellow pharmacist gone into functional medicine, our stories are along the same path. I have developed a holistic program for women and in its core, I have added a pranayama and mantra practice, along with a modified ketogenic lifestyle and the outcomes have been unmatched with anything I’ve done before. Let’s connect 😊


  8. Excellent episode!
    Niraj is the real deal. I have been doing Vase breathing for a long time. It involves holding the breath in belly for long periods. I’m wondering what Niraj thinks of the benefits of that.


  9. Flo says:

    Great POdcast, thanks for that. One thing that caught my attention is that you both agreed that doing breathing exercises, i.e. CO2 retention, the 20-40s breath old time from beginners will quite quickly improve. Now I like to say that this is not true in my experience. I’ve been doing these exercises for a year now and I’ve hardly improved my time which is around 15-25s. I’m a slim, fit 35 year old . I’m puzzled as to why I’m not improving.

  10. Marina Ivanov says:

    Ben, thank you so much for this episode and the $200 discount on the course, makes it much more manageable and I literally just signed up for the 21 day course.
    I too am a huge fan of Wim Hoff and it was interesting to learn more about it…just proves to show you that not all things are for everyone (except love, love is for all ;) Gotta keep looking until you find what works for you! I am really excited to do the SOMAR 21 day journey.

  11. Janis says:

    Hey, Ben! Great interview. I just wanted to add that Estonian and Finland are two different countries ;)

  12. Chad D. Cooper says:

    I read once on mark sisson’s site that black seed oil will increase red blood cell count and help with breath holding. Do you know anything about this?

  13. Chad D. Cooper says:

    I can hold my breath twice as long than normal when I am on the second day of a fast. Thanks for the awesome podcast!

  14. Julio says:

    One of my favorite podcasts, huge fan of Wim Hof and since march I’m a huge fan of Niraj after completing the 21 day program

    Which methods do you personally prefer(question open for everybody) ? I do WHM daily and on sundays I do the 60 minute SOMA session, love the trip I get from it

    another question, do you guys monitor your Heart rate while doing breathwork? I’ve been doing that this week and found some interesting stuff


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