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In this podcast for parents facing anxiety and sometimes delayed trauma like symptoms, Dana Frost leads us through

  • the 4 qualities of a healthy breath.
  • heart rate variability
  • heart-centered breathing
  • how to change your default trigger state.

All of these techniques can be used also by children that have some control over their breathing.

Listen on…

 

Audio Transcription: 

Vaish:

Hi, everyone, welcome to function in nutrition for kids. It has been a while since my last podcast as I tried to get the YouTube channel rolling. I’m really looking forward to talking about fight and flight response today, and generalized anxiety. This is more of a parent-focused podcast speaking as it does about breath and more. But in truth, you could always use some of these techniques for your children. Wishing you much health and peace as you listen on. If you have specific nutrition advice that you would like to consult on, and physiological ways to address the fight or flight mechanism, I am now accepting online clients at functionalnutritionforkids.com/contact.

I hope you enjoyed this podcast with Dana frost really excited to invite my friend Dana to the podcast today. Dana is a fellow functional nutrition practitioner. She is also a wellness expert. A body, mind, and spirit all commit to educating coaches women towards optimal health so that they can enjoy vibrant lives with the people they love, and fulfill their mission in life. Dana has a lifelong commitment to continuing education including certifications as a master life coach and aromatherapist, a Heart Math facilitator, Myers Briggs facilitator, light therapist, and functional nutrition and lifestyle practitioner. Dana has rich life experiences, including navigating the challenges and joys as a mom for 28 years to five children after 31 years of marriage and living abroad for 10 years, and powers her coaching practice.

Welcome, welcome, Dana. I love your resume love the many, many things you’ve done. I always enjoy your wisdom. I love your IG lives. You just love everything that you do. So thanks for coming.

Dana Frost:

Well, it’s such a pleasure to be here with you by age because the admiration is definitely mutual.

Vaish:

I am particularly excited because talking about the fight and flight response, especially as it relates to the children population that I work with autistic children, children with Down syndrome, and children with disability that face a disproportionate amount of this particular response. This is a topic that’s really dear to my heart. Because anxiety, well, it’s strife in society now everybody’s anxious. But I mean, often we can get a sense of the amount of daily constant chronic anxiety that children face. So I know you’re an expert on this topic. What is the first thing that you do when you’re working with someone that’s under chronic fight or flight?

Dana Frost:

Yeah, so really, the very first thing I do, it’s just foundational by Eesh is I bring in the from the work of Dr. Andrew Weil, it’s the four qualities of a healthy breath. So this is, you know, you’re working, you’re playing, you’re meeting, you know, you’re cooking dinner, you’re engaging with your family. And these are your breaths should have these four qualities so deep. So we know that the fight and flight breathing pattern is in the chest.

The breath goes, it’s very shallow, it’s in the chest, and it just dissipates. So you’re not when it’s shallow, you’re the low your organs are not getting the rich oxygen to support the system. So the first quality is that the breath is deep, so it enters and we may need to coax it to go deep, and inflate the stomach. And then when we exhale, the stomach pulls to the spine. And we take you to know, we exhale fully, so it’s deep, which means we’re getting that rich oxygen in the lower parts of our body, the lungs are getting completely full, it’s slow. So we know that the fight and flight breath is rapid. And it’s in out it’s rapid, it’s quick. And when you know when the breath is slow. We’re all ready. That feeling of slow moves us out of fight and flight.

We know that fast feels like you’re in hurry, and slow it feels like I have some time for transition. So it’s deep. It’s slow. It’s quiet. So an interesting thing about the breath is that unless there’s an obstruction and for some people, there is a structural obstruction you may have a cold and there’s an obstruction the breath your breathing should not be heard by people around you so you will find with people who have nervous system challenges that other people can hear their breath and that can you know unconsciously or consciously we read that a stressful when we can hear another person breathing. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced that.

Vaish:

I feel like I can think about when you say that I think about someone just sighing deeply. I this is really interesting because when I see this and a lot of friends who are mothers of children with disabilities and they’re not obviously stressed in the sense that I wouldn’t say normally that they were stressed. But I’ve actually noticed this when being with them, I can hear that outward sigh very audibly I can, I can hear that many times. And I’ve, you know, internally, you, it comes across as somebody that is, has bottled up a lot of stress. They’re releasing, it’s a very, so that’s the nervous system discharging a very natural way to discharge some of that pent up,

Dana Frost:

Whatever, I don’t want to classify what it is, but whatever is, is being held, the right nervous system is discharging it. Yeah, so the inhale and exhale are roughly the same. Uh-huh. If you look at the research, what the research says is five in five counts in five counts in five counts out, that I have found for me when I started, that was not a possibility for me at all, and I, so I had to really work up to that being a possibility.

Vaish:

And I’m trying to call my own breath to see where that is spread five pounds.

Dana Frost:

It’s quite, it’s quite a lot for someone, you know, for me, I was coming off of probably a decade of the fight and flight breathing.

But the beauty is that the body really responds to these, the gentle movement towards a healthier pattern. And so I would I always coach my clients, you figure out what feels like an easy, regular count for someone, it might be two and two, and that might they, you know, we want it, we don’t want to, we want them to be able to be in parasympathetic mode when they’re retraining, which is a slowing down of the nervous system, when they’re retraining these four qualities of a healthy breath. So I just like to have my clients really pursue that count internally, how does it feel? Maybe it’s three counts feels, you know, at ease, and so it’s regular the inhale and exhale is regular. And what we find what the research shows is that when we regulate our breathing pattern, our heart rate regulates itself. So when we are thinking about fight and flight, if we are looking at an echocardiogram, we will see a very irregular heartbeat.

The heart rate is going to be very irregular. And that is an irregular nervous system. But we don’t want that we actually want the inhale and exhale to be roughly the same because that creates heartbeats that are roughly the same, which is what we want. Does that make sense? Yeah. So that, you know, that ties the breath into the nervous system. And that’s going to be regulating your heart rate variability.

Vaish:

You want a heart rate variability, or you don’t want heart rate variability,

Dana Frost:

you want your heart rate, so you want the variability to be regular. Okay, so God, if you can see me if you look at an echocardiogram, the uptick and the downtick are roughly the same. So there’s a nice pattern. This would be irregular, right? Right. So that it’s very the uptick. uptick and downtick are very varied in terms of go high, they go low, they go mid-range, and they just blow and it’s irregular.

What you want to be wide is the variability in terms of the length. So when babies have a wider heart rate variability, and as we age, it gets smaller. And so you can just think of this as your aging. When you’re old and you’re losing your lifeforce. Your echocardiogram goes flat, that’s flatlining. Right. And so a healthy heart rate variability, it’s regular, but there’s a great distance I see.

Vaish:

So from the lower amount to the higher amount, there’s your length, but it’s still in its nice pattern that keeps Yes, right. Yeah.

Dana Frost:

And, again, it’s demonstrative of your emotional state. It’s demonstrative of the nervous system, and how functional the nervous system is. Hmm.

Vaish:

I like that you’re coming back to the breath as a foundational practice, because, I mean, we’ve all been trained into coming back to the basics, and what can be more basic than the breath, right?

Dana Frost:

Yes. And it is. It was It blew me away when I started learning about it because it’s free. It’s non-harming. It’s the one we say you always have to breathe it’s with you everywhere you go. You don’t even need anything additional. On you. You’re you know, it’s always with you. And to me, I used to call it the original coaching tool. It’s like if you could do nothing more than, you know, moderate your breathing pattern to those four qualities. It’s amazing how you can shift things, physiologically and emotionally.

Vaish:

I’m going to ask a question about it because son, I struggled with this with my son a lot there, there’s a number of kids that don’t have complete volitional control over their breath. Because when you bring volition to the breath, it becomes a motor activity. And, and with children that are poor in motor planning, can’t necessarily take an inhaler, and exhale, and therefore structured breathing practices that I do, because I’m, I love my pranayama, I’m, I spend 20 to 30 minutes in the morning, I don’t get up without my Korean pranayama. But my son does not have access to these because I asked him to take a deep breath in and it’s, it’s really hard for him. So what can we do, then? What can our parents do them?

Dana Frost:

Yeah, I think that that is such a beautiful question, truly a very beautiful question. Because we really don’t need to have control over other people. And if I think about, you know, the ideas restore the true nature within and so if, for example, your son’s true nature within is this inability to have control over the breath.That’s actually his true nature. And we don’t really need to disturb another person’s true nature.

Vaish:

That’s a very interesting perspective. Yeah, yes.

Dana Frost:

So for, you know, and I find by Eesh, as well, children who have we’ve talked about this aces adverse childhood experiences, they also don’t necessarily have control, you know, as a child or as a teenager, maybe something they can learn later in life, control over their breath. And if you tried to force them to have control, it would be very disturbing to them. And so what I have discovered, in my own experience, in my own home as a mother is my real power is having dominion over my own breathing pattern because I do have that capability. And when I shifted that for myself, it is an energetic shift, because we are energy and that inner, our breath actually engages with the electrical conduction of the heart. And that is an energy system that radiates far from us, can be six feet from us, and impacts everybody around us. And so our real superpower as a mom, under those circumstances, is to really have dominion over our own self-body breath. And watch, because I can tell you it happens, watch how that impacts other people in your intimate circle, whether it is a child with aces or a child with, you know, with other disabilities.

Vaish:

Thank you for that, that is. That’s not just a unique perspective. But it’s also very needed because the fight or flight response is never, especially when there are two people that are in so much empathy with each other there. It’s never isolated to the child. Yes, yeah. What comes after, after the breath, I know you’re an expert in Heart Math, and I would love to hear about Heart Math. But then what is your next level of support? Once again, I tend to take to say once a person has mastered the bread because that’s not, it’s not. But once they’ve started working on their progress.

Dana Frost:

I like that it’s nothing because we’re because we always have new challenges, too, right? I mean, yeah, we’re always a work in progress. So the next thing I like to introduce people to and HeartMath came to me several years after I learned these four qualities, but it is a heart math tool, and Heart Math just so your listeners know, they might want to look it up. It is a research institute based out of Santa Jose or Santa Clara, California. And they’ve been researching the connection between the breath and the heart and the nervous system for decades. It’s run by scientists, and they have come up with these breathing techniques and devices, technology, and technological devices so that you can train and experience what’s when you are using their breathing techniques. And you can see on the device, how it’s impacting your coherence.

Vaish:

And they tell us about coherence is

Dana Frost:

Yeah, so the coherence really the way that it’s measured is your heart rate variability. If we come back to Two is the heart rate, is there a nice pattern to the heart rate the uptick, and the downtick are roughly the same. That’s what they’re measuring how fast is the heart rate, you know, the speed, the velocity, and the pattern of the heart rate. And so their research would say that they can actually a trained person can determine the emotional state of someone by looking at their echocardiogram.

I see. Yeah, so that is, you know, they can look Heart Math out, there’s a lot of information online about Heart Math. But the next thing I like to take people to is the very basic tool from Heart Math. And it’s called heart-centered breathing, it’s, again, it’s very easy, and it’s a visualization, you visualize the inhale and exhale to flow from the heart center. Very simple. And we are three-dimensional. So you know, it’s all-around your body. And you visualize these waves, the inhale and exhale flowing to and from the heart center. And when you do that, you are tapping into that heart energy field. So they’ve compared the energy that is that comes from the brain that comes from the body, and it barely leaves our physical body, the brain waves, the heat waves, as I mentioned earlier, they will leave the fist, you know, they’ll flow from the physical body up to six feet from the physical body. And so tapping into that visualization of the inhale and exhale to flow to and from the heart center, we are tapping into this incredible energy system of the heart.

We know that the heart is the center of love. So that’s just the very first one heart focus, breathing. So very simple. And they’ve shown it brings it can bring you to neutral. So let’s say you’re in, you know, you stumble into a situation with your child or your spouse or your co-worker, and you end up feeling anxious, or frustrated, and you can bring yours I always say start with deep, slow, quiet regular, just to get that because that’s the deep, so quiet, regular is physiology, right? We’re talking about the physiology of the breath.

The Heart Math is really the electrical conduction, the energy system of the breath. So you tap into your heart focus on breathing, and it’ll neutralize your system, it’ll neutralize the emotion. That’s the next thing that we that I,

Vaish:

I like to that’s very powerful. So I mean, I for a simple breathing technique, it is that that’s incredibly powerful, does it? So I mean it. Nobody likes this question, but it doesn’t even make sense. But how long does it take? Do you like people to continue the practice on a daily basis? For a certain amount of time? Is there a structure to the practice?

Dana Frost:

Yeah, so I think that’s a really good question by each because Heart Math, they are all about their research. And so based on their research, I believe it’s 20 seconds, that you need to be you know, if you’re in a triggering situation, you need to be practicing that heart focus, breathing, and there are we can talk about what comes after the heart focus, breathing because it’s also there techniques that are really amazing. But they say, hold that, you know, be practicing that for 20 seconds. So that’s my encouragement is to follow that. If you let’s say, like, when I was introduced to heart mouth, I had just had a pacemaker implanted. And I still had all the same symptoms.

My heart was pacing, okay, because of the pacemaker, but I was still tired, I still felt stressed. I still had the symptoms. And I just, I was introduced to Heart Math, and I would sit with my device on my laptop, and practice for like, I was really desperate. I mean, I think it was 30 minutes a day, I took myself away from my parenting mothering responsibilities and got on my setup on my bed with my laptop on my device, and practice for 30 minutes a day. I believe their research is five minutes a day. So if you’re in a situation where you really need to shift your default you’ve had a decade of stress, or you’ve had trauma that has really significantly compromised your nervous system. I believe it’s been a couple of years since I’ve looked at the research, but I think it was five minutes a day that you dedicate to, you know, sitting down with a device or just you don’t necessarily have to use the device, and you’re practicing for five minutes a day just to begin to retrain the breathing pattern.

Vaish:

I see. So to get Get back to how people can actually access the practice. So there’s, of course, there’s a practice with the device where you get some feedback to an app. Correct. And then there’s or you could do your own practice. But how can people learn how to do the practice?

Dana Frost:

Yeah, so HeartMath has a really effective website, they have a lot, they give a lot of free material away, and people will hire someone like me because I do Heart Math is coaching.

They may do videos online. There, I would say videos online, they have heart math books, they have the app. So the most the device I recommend is the inner balance, because the inner balance is really, um, it’s a newer technology that they didn’t have when I learned about Heart Math, and it connects to an app and it’s wireless. So it’s just, it’s for today is for the modern person, right? Yeah, so But the beauty is, let’s say you don’t have money and you know, you can invest in more things, you really don’t have to, you really could just start with what we’re going to talk about on the podcast deep, so quiet, regular heart focus, breathing. And then I would bring you to the heart lock-in, as you know, as there are many, many tools, but the heart lock-in is very simple. And you, you need to think about any emotion that is fueling. So it’s an emotion that is going to release chemicals that are supportive of your body. So would be let’s talk about emotions like that. Joy, contentment, courage, kindness, gratitude, appreciation, gratitude, same thing. Any of those emotions that we enjoy experiencing.

I would say, you need to recall a memory. So you know, something that really is an experience you’ve had, and that was the emotional response. So you draw that you recall the memory, you recall the feeling, and you feel it just you bring that memory up in every way that you can all of your senses. And you do your heart focus, breathing, inhaling, exhaling with that memory, flowing throughout your body flowing in, you know, inhaling and exhaling through the heart center. Without feeling maybe it’s I remember when my oldest daughter graduated from college. I was so proud. I still like I have goosebumps right now.

Every time I think it was my first daughter graduating from college, it just felt like a very big, you know, accomplishment, I was so proud of her. And I use that for at least a year, just when I needed to do my heart locking I thought about Abby, her graduation, and how proud I was as a parent. And it brought back so many wonderful feelings, you know, and they inhale and exhale from the heart center. And that’s the heart lock-in and that that that will change the default. So if you remember I said a heart focus breathing, bro, neutralize a triggering emotion.

Heart lock-in will actually move you into what we say is the fueling state it can change your default. So in the context of you know, in the context of this research on heart, math, and emotions fall in one of four quadrants, and this is relative to the nervous system. So you have your parasympathetic nervous system which is slowing down. You have your autonomic nervous, not no parasympathetic, sympathetic that it gets your sympathetic nervous system which is speeding up on the emotional landscape, we have emotions that are depleting that increase the heart rate and decrease the heart rate.

We have emotions that are fueling that increase the heart rate and decrease the heart rate. The emotions are what we really want to gear towards our emotions that are fueling. So they might increase their heart rate or they might decrease their heart rate. If we look at the emotional landscape, and we you know, we’re human and so we actually want to experience all those different emotions because that we’re human, you know, we’re going to have emotions all over the landscape because that’s what it is to be human. That means we’re healthy. That means, you know, we’re able to feel what we’re experiencing in life. If we go through a season, and we’re spending, you know, the majority of our emotions are depleting. That’s when you we know from functional nutrition.

The system really gets worn down. And, you know, this is where a heart locking can come in handy to help us lift us out of depleting emotions, and boost us into to neutral and then over so that we’re experiencing emotions that can, in essence, reset and fuel the system with hormones that are going to be supportive of a healthy internal environment. Does that make sense? By each?

Vaish:

Yes. So you’re saying that not only can be, you know, can we shift the mental landscape are also shifting? Because of the optimate landscape, you’re also shifting the biomechanical landscape? So we’re going outside in if at all, there is an outside and maybe it’s an inside out? I don’t know. But you’re going we were used to going from the body to the mind, but you’re going from the mind to the body?

Dana Frost:

Yes. Because that is in reality, how it works, right? I mean, we have our emotional experiences really stem from the way that we think about a situation. And then our emotional experiences. They’re the ones that call up the neurotransmitters, right? Our emotions, then the body starts responding and releasing the cascade of emotions.

Vaish:

Yes. And that is so incredibly powerful. Dana. So, you know, thank you for sharing that. And I can, I can. So you’re saying that yes, to repeat what we said. But also that you can actually shift perhaps to a state where the things that triggered you in the past, you’re actually free of those triggers. So you’re actually setting yourself free from a number of things that have emotionally might have chained you down in the past?

Dana Frost:

100%. And I know it because it happened to me. I mean, it and I see that it’s happened with clients as well. So it is really effective for shifting that the landscape, the physical landscape. But it does start with our thoughts and our feelings. It’s just it is inside so it is inside out. Yeah, yeah.

Vaish:

It’s inside out, isn’t it? Yeah. So when, in that model, yes. So if we had to distill this wisdom that you have brought, and if you wanted to, if you were talking to a parent, and you were talking to them about three, we could call them pearls of wisdom or non-negotiables, as you would but to that, they could start now do for doing right now? Yes, our goal is emotional health and the fight or flight help for the child, but it could be them as well. What would you say?

Dana Frost:

Well, I would seriously start with the four qualities of a healthy breath. I think it’s so easy. I think it’s essential, it is just very foundational. For qualities of a healthy breath. It’s easy to remember deep, slow, quiet regular, and I’ve had countless people tell me that has shifted things for them in a significant way.

Vaish:

And then I wouldn’t a good cue for kids, even if they don’t have control, just saying it sometimes. Help, right?

Dana Frost:

Yeah. And then I would add the heart focus breathing just to be able to tap into the deep well of insight that our hearts hold. You know, our hearts. Math always says Your heart is smart, and your heart is smart. And, you know, we’re as mentally we might get triggered at least I was triggered by different behaviors. But the heart actually really isn’t because the heart is pure love. So heart focuses, on breathing and visualizing the inhale and exhale to flow to and from the heart center.

Vaish:

Okay. Thank you so much, Dana. Thanks for being here today. And for all your wisdom. Where can people find you if they want to work with you?

Dana Frost:

So they can find me on my website, Danafrost.com. They can find me I’m most active on Instagram. So I have a lot of videos on Instagram. And again, I’m Dana frost on Instagram.

Vaish:

I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. If you did, be sure to drop a review at iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. If you have suggestions for further podcast episodes or questions, you can always drop me an email advice @Vaish at functionalnutritionforkids.com Signing off. I’m your host Vaish. And I hope to see you again in two weeks with more and more regularity. Today’s music was by Maitri gosh bye.