“You might be able to see a color. If you focus on your third eye, a certain shade might appear.”
I did not believe (or proactively disbelieve) in things like third eyes, but I saw a shade of violet. My eyes were closed. I was laying in bright green grass on the fields just outside Pepperdine in Malibu on a swath of land that overlooks the ocean. I was half-exhausted, half-at-peace.
Gabrielle Reece had just run a small group of us through a bodyweight, interval workout that included squats, burpees, jumping jacks and the like. And now Laird Hamilton and fitness expert Bryan Mackenzie were guiding us through a breath workout.
I had never done a breath workout. Even as Wim Hof’s methods have captivated Kelly Slater and influenced Laird, a breath workout was still a foreign idea to me.
On the surface, it sounds simple and easy. Lay down. Breathe. Sleep is a breath workout. But this was very different, and honestly, somewhat transformative.
We were instructed to breathe in deeply for certain intervals and then to expel all of the air in our system for separate intervals. Deep breath in. Deep breath in. Breathe out until there is no air in your stomach. Hold. To some extent, we were instructed to hyperventilate. Lots of air in. Lots of air out.
“It was basically oxygenation of the system,” Laird Hamilton told The Inertia. “It’s a drill on breath awareness. You have a conscious awareness that you might not have had before you started. Breathing is ultimately the essence of life. No breath, no life. No oxygen, no life. It’s something that we overlook, because we do it unconsciously.”
It might sound a little Zoolander, but over the course of a twenty-minute breath workout, it became abundantly apparent that I don’t think about my breath at all. Obviously, it’s an involuntary action. We don’t think about seeing very much either. Unless we lose our vision. Then we notice. Ironically, when we stop breathing, I don’t think we notice.
Laying in the grass, I was a bit lightheaded. I saw a hue of violet. Maybe that’s because Laird told me I’d see a color, and I wanted to believe. Or maybe I was really on the verge of passing out. I don’t know. But I did see a color, and I certainly hadn’t planned on it. I had runner’s high, but I didn’t run. Quite the opposite. According to Chakra Anatomy, violet is the crown chakra. “It’s the color of cosmic awareness and consciousness,” says Chakra Anatomy. “It is a unifying color, the color of oneness and spirituality. The energy of this color is very healing and can soothe away pain.”
In Bob Marley fashion, the breathing hit, and I felt no pain.
And for Laird, a man hellbent on innovating his fitness regimen defying the convention of age to perform superhuman feats when the earth calls, he views breath exercise as part of the long game.
“If I become a more efficient organism, then I’m going to surf better,” says Laird. “Me surfing another wave isn’t going to have as big of an effect on my surfing performance as me becoming more flexible or just having a more conscious awareness of my body. At the end, I think a relationship with your breath is definitely going to enhance your athletic performance.”