Today’s guest is Emma Ferris from The Breath Effect. Emma is a trained physiotherapist, acupuncturist, and Pilates, trauma and breathing coach who has made it her life’s mission to help others learn to thrive and reach their full potential. She has had the opportunity to work with thousands of clients over the years, helping them heal their discomfort, chronic pain, injury, illness, and disease and continues to heal many who don’t respond to traditional or conventional methods.

In this episode, Emma talks about the stress-breath connection and the results people can achieve when they reset their body and rewire their brain with improved breathing techniques. Emma speaks candidly about her relationship with a con man and the lessons she leant across her own crazy journey of trauma, recovery and survival and how that has inspired her to help others overcome their own adversities. From the emotions, body, mind, and heart, she believes that you can recalibrate those habits that may be stopping you from reaching your full potential or are keeping you stuck in fight, flight or freeze mode.

Emma states that our emotions are connected to our breathing and that breathing is the main driver for our level of stress. Beyond just a few slow breaths, it is about teaching your body to feel safe and recover from trauma. And there is so much more in this episode and I am sure you will be inspired by Emma Ferris.

In this episode

1:08 – Introduction

5:07 – Emma’s inspiration for breath work

9:26 – Early career & big life adjustments

14:39 – What is working on breath?

20:25 – Breathing’s influence on our heart rate

28:55 – Myths & misconceptions around breathing

35:37 – The breathing process. Nose or mouth?

47:02 – Exercises for breathing muscles

57:14 – Emma’s experience with a con man

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Find Emma Ferris online

60min Free Thrive Masterclass – What makes you THRIVE

Cultivating Calm – For women wanting to find their healthiest version

Breathe Right – Discover how simply breathing right can help you stress less and thrive more

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Episode Transcription

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  00:10

Hey, it’s Dr. Marisa Lee Naismith here and I’m so honoured to be sharing today’s interview round episode with you. Listen and you will be inspired by amazing healthcare practitioners, voice teachers and music industry professionals who will share their stories, knowledge and experiences within their specialised fields to help you live your best life every day. As singers, our whole body is our instrument and our instrument echoes how we feel physically, mentally and emotionally. So don’t wait any longer, take charge and optimise your instrument now. Remember that to sing is more than just learning about how to use the voice, It’s about A Voice and Beyond. So without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  01:08

Today’s guest is Emma Ferris from The Breath Effect. Emma is a trained physiotherapist, acupuncturist and Pilates trauma and breathing coach who has made it her life’s mission to help others learn to thrive and to reach their full potential. She has had the opportunity to work with 1000s of clients over the years, helping them heal their discomfort, chronic pain, injury, illness and disease and she continues to heal many who don’t respond to traditional or conventional methods. In this episode, Emma talks about the stress breath connection and the results people can achieve when they reset their body and rewire their brain with improved breathing techniques. Emma speaks candidly about her relationship with a con man and the lesson she learned across her own crazy journey of trauma, recovery and survival and how that has inspired her to help others overcome their own adversities. From the emotions, body, mind and heart she believes that you can recalibrate those habits that may be stopping you from reaching your full potential or keeping you stuck in fight flight or freeze mode. She shares with us that our emotions are connected to our breathing. And that breathing is the main driver to keeping our bodies in a stressed or not stressed mode. Beyond just a few slow breaths it is about teaching your body how to feel safe and how to recover from trauma. And there is so much more in this episode that I’m sure you will be inspired by Emma Faris. And without further ado, let’s go to today’s episode.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:13

Hi, Emma, and welcome to the show and thank you so much for being on the show today. I’m really looking forward to speaking with you and you’re in New Zealand, how is life there for you?

Emma Ferris  03:27

Well New Zealand at the moment is cold. But it’s an amazing place to be we’re very lucky to be moving around and enjoying culture and country as many parts of the world are able to write down. So New Zealand is just fabulous. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  03:41

Yes, it is. And and luckily, we can travel to New Zealand and vice versa. We’re one of the few places that you can go to and we can go to New Zealand as well. So it’s awesome. And look, I’m really excited to talk to you today about a number of topics. And we’re going to cover off on breathing on stress on trauma and learning to thrive. And they’re all things that we all need at the moment, especially through COVID-19 and what everyone has been through. I found you on social media. And it was your work in breathing that first caught my eye because there’s an explosion of focus on breathing at the moment. It’s sort of like a new trendy thing that everyone’s sort of looking into. And yet we’ve always breathed. And yeah, and you are a physiotherapist, a breathing coach and a trauma coach. And you have a website called The Breath Effect, which was absolutely fascinating. So let’s talk about you and your journey. First, you are a physio therapist. What motivated you to start specialising in breathing?

Emma Ferris  05:07

My journey really came actually very early on. So I was 13 when I first had my first experience with learning how to change my breathing, obviously, we’re all breathing anyway, so that, you know, that was okay. But I was actually struggling then to to speak in public, I had a stutter and a speech impediment, something that’s in my family. Yeah, that’s quite a strong connection with my father, one of my brothers had it as well. And for me, it was such a barrier to being able to step into school into life and into friendships. And I felt very scared in many ways. And that was also part of the barrier. So my first experiences when I was 13, and the first step of learning, Speech and Drama training was to learn to breathe, learn to move your voice in the right way and to be able to project and so that was a really life changing experience to start there at young age. Yeah, and then breathing kept coming up, but kept coming up in my physio career, not necessarily in my undergraduate, but actually more in my postgraduate and when I did my masters in physiotherapy, I started to look really at the why the why behind the conditions that we see clinically, and the frustration that I had between the link with both the research that was being done and both the around the world really, but in physio therapy in the medical professions, and then the things I was saying clinically, it didn’t add up. And it was very frustrating. And so for me, I want to go well, why people get to this place in their life anyway, this place of pain and dysfunction and not moving well, feeling stressed and feeling overwhelmed. And in my training, those dots were not being joined that connection between the story, a patient stories about why they may have ended up being the way or why why the body has been impacted the way it has. And it wasn’t probably to I did my acupuncture training, as well, I’m very much engaged with all the things that I’ve learned, and started to assimilate the connection between the nervous system, particularly your autonomic nervous system, which is your hidden ninja system that really is about regulating your blood pressure, your heart rate, your gut, your hormones, all these things that are working behind the scenes. And when I realised how much we are actually hijacking that, and we’re not listening to our body, so I came up with that and then came up in my own life. 

Emma Ferris  07:32

Every few years, I had this kind of slap in the face or with a handbrake moment, which reminded me what I was doing with my body and my nervous system wasn’t good enough. And was this reminder to keep coming back to looking at what holistic wellness would actually be. So often, I was the ambulance at the bottom of the hill helping people when they were already in pain or struggling to sleep or feeling really unwell. But I actually was like, there’s a better way of doing this. And so when it came down to it, and I looked at the bigger picture, it came down to understanding stress, the button that we’re not joining between the the medical fission, the things that we’re doing and the wellness fields, actually, we’re not having enough conversations around how stress is impacting our lives. And it flows into so many areas. And this is when I went down this absolute Alison Wonderland rabbit hole of going okay, what does this even mean? How does stress impact so many areas of our body, and when it came down to it breath was one of the key elements that we both don’t do very well, but as the main driver for keeping our body stressed, or been able to de stress. And so that was like an aha moment. And I realised that this is a tool that people just were unaware of. And that’s why I guess yeah, it’s very much on trend. But breathing and breathing. Education has been around for a long time because it flows over into so many things like asthma and to performance with singing and in Speech and Drama all these years. I know you know a lot about as well. So there’s a there’s connections being made. But I just don’t think we had this umbrella overview of how it can really work. And when it came down to it, it was understanding our physiological, our physical and our psychological reaction to stress and how that’s manipulating our nervous system and body. Yeah, that’s it for real.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  09:18

Well, Yes. And I know that you’ve had a number of handbrake moments in your life. There was something that you described that happened to you in 2010. And then we moved into the con men story, do you want to tell us a little bit about that, and how you felt in those moments of time, and how stress was impacting your body and how you manage that in those moments? 

Emma Ferris  09:51

Absolutely. So if I rewind to where I was in 2010. I had started my own physio practice from a very early age. I think I was 24 when I started in this beautiful town in New Zealand called Monica Mountains and legs, and it was just glorious, a fabulous place to live. And so I started this busy practice that started with me. And then over within one year, I had three physios working. And then the Pilates studio came on board when I brought into that, and it was just everything was on the go. And I was faking it till I made it because I had no business background. But there was a lot of things that were working really well, I did my Master’s in physiotherapy earlier than that. And that made a big difference to how I how I was able to be successful in that area. And so I realised then that when it became 2010, I’d already been in my physio practice for several years. And I’d done the white picket fence of being married the guy that I’d been with since I was 22. And we were moving along. And that’s kind of, you know, let’s look at things like children and houses and all this sort of stuff. And for me, that was a kind of a natural progression with the upbringing that I had. Yeah, it also felt quite full on at that stage. And I’d already been doing so much because I’m very well a type personality, but very driven as well for things that I do. So then when it came down to becoming pregnant, which was actually very easy, where we thought we were going to have issues with that, because of my, my hormone balance. And I got really unwell with my pregnancies, both my pregnancies, my kids are now the stage. They’re 10 and seven. So it’s over a decade ago since that happened. And what I was really sick with a condition called hyperemesis gravidarum, or gravidarum, depending on which country you’re in. And that condition meant I had extreme morning sickness. So just not just the little, little bit of sickness, nausea here and there, I was sick for over 20 something weeks each pregnancy lost a lot of weight. And that baby was growing. And what I realised was the baby was taking all the things that needed from me, but I was the one being depleted. 

Emma Ferris  11:56

So the end of the pregnancies, I was postnatally. depleted, not depressed, but post only depleted. But I’d already put myself in that state, before the pregnancy because of being on go mode and stress and loving, because I love being busy. I love achieving and doing Yes, but actually, the the way that my body had been pushed, wasn’t ideal. And I ate well, I exercised, but that’s not what Holistic Health is. It isn’t the big picture, it’s actually we’ll go look at the hidden system behind that, you know, under the hood of the car anyways. And we don’t do that very well in a medical system. So I would go back to the doctor back then. And I think the my Baxter, my boy was about four or five months old, I was like, I’m, like really tired. Like, I don’t I just like super tired. And he was like, well, you got you baby. That’s part of it to you. I was like, No, no, no, no, no, this is not good enough. Like, everybody’s not. Yeah, and so I was like, I’m gonna search for answers. And again, went down this rabbit hole of going, What does holistic wellness look like? And there was so much learning in that from the nutrition from the the building blocks in our body and what it’s doing, and it streets pathway again, and the lifestyle choices I was making with, with work and life and overall, even mindset, there were so many elements that were dictating how I was going to come out of that moment. 

Emma Ferris  13:17

So that was probably my big moment of going, it’s not good enough, I need to change the way that I do things. And that was powerful. So I did. And from then onwards, I was really again, seeing how much the breath in the body. So what I mean by changing things was going, Okay, I’m going to work on my nervous system and listening to us. And it did, and I felt so much better. And then over the years, there were other moments of life change, as we should call it. Yeah, including divorce, which was a really big experience. And even though my, my now ex husband and I are super ethnically divorced, we live on the same street, we co parent beautifully. That’s a huge experience of grief. And we we did it really well. But there’s so this journey. And you know, it’s about two years, we often see people that are going through divorce. And there’s so many different types of grief out there. But again, the emotions, the psychology, the pain, the heartbreak of just, you know, losing that family unit, these things that were not part of my experience. And so when it came down to it again, I had to deal with my body being hijacked. And that was really powerful to be able to get my breath in my body back into alignment. So every time I can feel it being hijacked and stressed or overwhelmed, like right, I gotta bring it back. I’ve got to work on me. I’ve gotta do this self help toes that will make all the difference. And it did. It really did. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  14:38

Yes. So when you say that you worked on breath, what were you doing? Because I mean, what does that mean?

Emma Ferris  14:47

Such a good point. And I think that there are so many versions out there. There’s the Wim Hof is the faster breathing. There’s Toma tropic like I can throw words at you. Yes, but when it comes down to breathing as a physio out there as a as a as a breathing coach really well, it’s about understanding breath pattern. And so when I look at train a nervous system and the breath, it’s about learning to find calm First of all, before you start to manipulate and, and change that breathing, which is kind of more than other tools like the faster breath and the holotropic. Those are great tools. But you’ve actually got to know how to get your body into a calm state, before you start to overload it. And that’s sometimes the misconceptions or the under misunderstanding about how breathwork can work in the body. You know the physio, for me, it’s about understanding muscles that you need to strengthen them, which muscles to use to make sure you’re breathing 360 degrees down into your belly and into your back, not just into your chest or into your belly only. And so it’s understanding the anatomy, the ones that our muscles have too tight, that restricted. And things like the way you breathe through the nose versus mouth. And these are things that have been really talked about a lot more, which is super helpful for me, that guys like James nistor, who’s a journalist.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:01

LOVE. Yeah, he’s great.

Emma Ferris  16:05

Yeah, and he’s so good at just like highlighting it and going, Okay, so here, think about it this way. I’m like, Yes, James, you’re putting like a magnifying glass on breathing. So most people go, not good enough. The way that I’m looking after myself, and maybe mouth breathing for the last 50 plus years, isn’t serving me long term, and I need to change it. So really, what I’m looking at as people’s habits, and how they get driven to change their body’s reaction, including the breath, including the mind, including the posture, and then going right, what tools are you going to put in place? because really what it’s about as behavioural change? And yeah, isn’t just about take five minutes to breathe and slow down, and then for the rest of the day, you’re going to be okay, because that’s like putting a bandaid on a volcano, you know, you’re not really fixing things. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  16:50

Yes. So you you said way back, because I would love to break down the whole breathing process as well. But just a comment that you made was that you need to calm the mind down first, before you look at breathing, and we are going to look at that. So what do we do? How do we calm the mind down? What tools can we use?

Emma Ferris  17:19

So I’m going to start the correct there. Because I i do i probably do I focus more on the body first two, then trying to quiet Okay. Yes, yes. So the the mind is what I found for me when I was going through that full on stage of business and everything that when I did meditation, or mindfulness or yoga, I hated it, like everybody was like, Oh, my God, painful, I want to keep moving. And it’s because my body and my breathing was staying stuck. And this faster breathing pattern as if I was like running and sprinting. So unless my body is calm, it won’t feel safe, and then my mind won’t go into that safe place. So really, the physic physical aspects of our body and that hijacking need to come first before we’re gonna feel safe, both in our posture, and even with the way that we think. So for me, changing my breathing was what made the mind then be able to quiet and, and to be able to tune in. And that’s because when you slow the breathing down the body down and learn other ways to relax the nervous system, whether it’s body scanning, whether it’s muscle, contract, relax, whatever, where you get their body let go. what that entails the brain is we can get it out of the survival brain, this primitive brain that likes to take over, depending on what we’re seeing as our stressor in our life. And then our thinking brain can come back on and we can start to use different areas of the brain to allow us to quiet and then it makes it easier versus staying stuck in this place of fear and anxiety and overwhelm.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  18:49

That’s probably why I’m not very successful at meditation. I do meditate every morning. But it takes me a long time to get into that quieting of the mind phase. And sometimes it’s not till the last minute, I only have a minute left to go, Oh, well, that was a good minute.

Emma Ferris  19:10

That’s success, like please take that as succeed. Because often we come to go, I should be going right straightaway. It’s like nobody’s got there. And it’s about does the more that you try, that’s training that that muscle of the body and the brain to learn to quiet and and and I can be like that still. Now my brain can be busy overloading and I do you know, 10 minutes of the breath practice, which the mind will then follow. I mean, we have so many labels for meditation and mindfulness. There’s so many avenues Yeah, to get that body of fire and calm. And I think that’s a bit that’s I like to encourage people to do is to explore those because it’s not a one size fits all model. Yeah, there’s many ways that you can try and get that nervous system to drop down and to calm. And so I’m like, Yes, you did success by lists, taking time to slow down. And if you work on the breath first in the in the patterns that can help slow it down, that can then shift the body to be like, Oh, that’s easy, I can do that. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  20:05

So let’s let’s go into some of these discussions that are being had, and some of the questions that are being raised about breathing at the moment. And some, I mean, for some people, they may think these are no brainer questions, but there are a lot of people that don’t understand the breathing process. So how does the breathing process affect heart rate? Because I always thought, you slow the breathing down by taking a slow inhale. And it’s the other way around. I was shocked to find that out that it’s the exhalation that slows the breathing down. So do you want to talk about the that process? 

Emma Ferris  20:51

Absolutely. So this is all connected with this autonomic nervous system. And the the autonomic nervous system is part of that broad body’s way of surviving. And so it’s working behind the scenes to find homeostasis, or body balance, and all these aspects, including our heart rate, our blood pressure, and the nerves that deal with our autonomic nervous system come out from the base of your spine, all the way down to your tailbone, and they’re feeding our organs and our balancing our hormones and our and our logistic system. And I’ve got so they’re working all the time to find that balance. Now, what’s important, like you said, is like, how does the breathing connect with that? Well, that system has two sides to it. So it has this Think of it like an accelerator like the on the go, busy. That’s what I normally am running, and yeah, type A personality. And it can also be looked at as flight fight or freeze, as you may have heard of before, particularly like a fight there on the go. And we call that the sympathetic nervous system. And that’s what the brief that’s usually when we’re working on the inhale, expanding and moving, that gets the body to actually activate the more into the sympathetic nervous system, and get us on the go reactive and ready for action. You think about that, do you know you take an inhale, take a breath in their their body is already like expanded ready for for action. 

Emma Ferris  22:12

The problem is people get stuck in that inhale. And that’s why it’s really important to learn to get that rhythm and Right, right. So the opposite side to that is the parasympathetic nervous system, which is still part of the autonomic nervous system. And so it’s like a scale is balancing itself out. And so this is the risk digested, recover. And the way that that links in with our breathing and with a heart rate is, the more that we work on lengthening your exhale, that tells the body that it has gained safe and to slow the heart rate down as well. And that connects with actually one of our major cranial nerves called the vagal nerve. You may have heard the bagel, no, but yes, and that’s what we’re training when we’re looking at heart rate variability is the tone of the vagal nerve, we’re trying to get that more smooth. And the thing with the way the autonomic nervous system works while it’s working automatically, the one thing and this is the deal breaker that you should be going, Okay, I get why breathing is important. It is the only thing on that autonomic loop that is both under conscious. And unconscious control is the way that you breathe. So that’s how you tell your nervous system that you’re safe. 

Emma Ferris  23:19

So anything that exhale is how you turn that breath with a brake pedal on it tells the body, right I’m allowed to let go, things are safe. And I keep coming back to safety because there’s a big part of trauma and the way that our body responds both from our muscles, but also from our mind, as well as you know, where we see safety and how that accumulates over our lifetime. Yeah, depending on the trauma and experiences, stresses, belief systems that have impacted the way that we see that so we can slow the heart rate down. So how does that work then for athletes? So you have high level athletes, and their heart rates are going a million miles an hour? Can they actually slow their heart rate down by doing things like this like but doing longer? exhalations? Yeah, absolutely. It’s such a good question. And I work with lots of athletes around the world but also in New Zealand. And I’ve had some really joyous experiences, I guess to say working with athletes one on one when they’re actually in the field. So I had a few before COVID. And when we could fly and travel, I travelled with a New Zealand pro golfer. So it was on the top golf tour in Europe and then also around China, so in Europe with them and then China for several weeks. And I got to watch and observe really and put into practice the breathing toes in that moment. And the reason I was there was because of that body reaction because it was being hijacked. And so like anybody, the more we get better at tuning into that nervous system and learn to control it, the easier it’s going to be to be able to to not be as triggered. So to help keep you in what we call that focus state, so we’re looking at performance of athletes, we’ve got that kind of bell shaped curve, we’ve got two ends of it, you’ve got that hyper arousal, and you’ve got the high power arousal. So you’re being like to alert and you’re being too relaxed. So really, when people go do is train themselves to be able to work in the optimum performance stage. And that’s all about learning how you get you the volume up of your stress system and how you turn it down. And again, it’s not a one size fits all model, I worked with an athlete just the last few weeks, who’s a top mountain biker in New Zealand, and they were really struggling with their gut, gut health, as well as their breathing, and then how they would lead into anxiety and performance and the hormones. And within a very short timeframe, this is why it’s all connected. So these Yeah, athletes with the hormones are being influenced. And that was why they couldn’t perform and actually compete was because the stress responses being searched for good from both the mind and in the body reaction, that they weren’t able to have this nice hormone regulation. And that will make the body without you breaking down muscle wasn’t able to dry as effectively. And with just doing two or three weeks of breathing training, first of all, the hormones began to go back to normal so they can start training again. And then they were able to eat and breathe better. So feeling better about that connection, as well. And then looking at that from a like a long term. 

Emma Ferris  26:23

Okay, so I’ve got past those dysfunctions, these are things that are making me not feel good. And those are like warning lights that we don’t listen. Great. My fatigue is, you know, that’s not normal. But we also go, but isn’t it you know, I’ve just always got the headache, or I’ve just got a little bit of this going on. So even at the athlete athletic stage, we’re trying to go, but what does it look like to thrive and perform at that top level. And if you get your breathing better, so you’re performing at that top level, and you’re still breathing with a pattern that has this advantage, it’s not just giving giving you that top advantage, then that’s going to impact your performance. So to go and let’s thrive, then we have to work with all the things that I do with Joe Bloggs, no people you know, that aren’t working at that top level, get your passion, right, improve your strengthening, and make sure you’ve got the different tools and this invisible toolbox that we all have. That helps us to deal with stress. Because Yeah, there’s so many different things. breedings, a piece of the puzzle, mindsets piece of the puzzle, muscle releases, body scanning, there’s so many elements here. And we’re not taught these our way like this is not a wake up, go to school. And it’s like, Here you go, here’s these things that are going to help me survive through life. I’m like, oh, my goodness, I wish I’d learned this at a younger age. But my journey is in to share it with people at all ages and stages, because it doesn’t come through all different levels. Only a few weeks ago, I was working in primary schools in New Zealand teaching this. And the beauty of seeing these little weekends like little five year olds sitting their eyes closed and complete stillness, and just zoning out and the minute they open their eyes, the light, there was delicious. And I’m like, wasn’t it you know, they carry that through. And then these schools that are going we want to make sure we create time for these kids to learn to regulate the nervous system, because they’re going to learn better, you know, dang it fly by a phrase, you can’t focus, you can’t get that performance. And it just, it changes everything. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  28:22

Yes, say in how singing voice community we are all aware of breathing, obviously. Because if we don’t breathe, we have no sound. We need breath to create sound. And so we do a lot of work on breathing. We have different breathing techniques that we can use. But it was the work of James Nestor. That really made me aware of all the other factors and the impact of breath in our day to day lives. And we don’t focus on those things. Is it important how often we breathe, as opposed to the quality of breath? I mean, are we supposed to breathe so many times per second? Are we all different? is breathing deeply different to breathing slowly? So what are some of those little myths that are out there around? That type of thing? 

Emma Ferris  29:18

I love that question. Because those misconceptions are actually what can keep people in a state of stress. You know, we used to be told Take a big breath and you know, to actually get you to calm down. And actually when you do that, that can actually again activate that sympathetic nervous system. And key is can that freeze mode? Yes. So again, that’s one piece of the puzzle. My biggest one for beginning people to learn to get them out of that mode is to actually work on the breath out. Like we said, the exhale is key. So without fail, exhale is the big one there. So learning to breathe in, breathe out. And again, it’s like how do I breathe out? How do I deflate and but letting that chase drop down because even as singers and I work with singers A few years ago, particularly this lovely group, and several have them had different patterns. And so they could still be using the diaphragm but be hyper inflated with the ribcage. So I mean by that is the kind of inflating the ribs and staying. I cannot expand the position. And actually, if you keep breathing in, you can’t breathe out. And it seems really simple. But if you don’t let all the air out, you can’t get the ribs to expand. And the diaphragm, which is the main breathing, muscle can’t do its job. So we can see singers performance that you might be using part of the diaphragm, but they’re not using all of it always, you know, it’s a 360 degree muscle. What I found fascinating was some research done. So my mom will go she’s going with years ago, but my masters were looking at how breathing was breathing and back. So back pain and opera singers looked at different subgroups. And they found that opera singers had much less back pain, then your normal population, wow, because they strengthen their diaphragm. So that’s one of the other powerful things, they’re using that to create a core control, and therefore they have better posture, they have better regulation with their nervous system. It’s why singing in the first place is one of the most amazing tools to help relieve stress. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  31:07

Yes, definitely. And I mean singing and the benefits of even humming has has been around for such a long time. And if you look at singing, and if you look at even the singing of hymns, and the Buddhist monks in their chanting, a lot of those things were, were exhaling for longer patterns of time to what we do, inhaling. So even hymns are written so that you exhale for about six, six or seven seconds, you take a breath, and then you’re singing for that length of time again. And so this idea of breathing has been around for a long time. But why have we forgotten to breathe as a society what is going on in our lives that we truly get to breathe?

Emma Ferris  32:03

Yeah, I think it’s three things that you made really good points with, for us the fact that our spiritual practices, whatever we were going to call them that we’ve been going around for so many 1000s of years, have both ways to practice longer breaths, and then we go, I feel better after that experience. And so there’s a physical physical response and a physiological response when you’re breathing in that way. So it’s kind of we don’t always connect it the fact that it’s actually to do with the practice of breathing and the way they were lengthening exhale. But that is one of the elements that while we feel good, it shifts our nervous system and our energy, and that impacts others around us. So even practising singing, going in communities, and even gargling as a way that you can actually activate that body’s response. And that’s that vagal nerve, that nerve that is connecting with that rest, digest and recovery. So there are so many things that we can do to do that. And then that second question is about how and our modern day lives. How are we so lost in this way? Yes. And I think that it comes around to so many factors, there’s not just a one size, there are so many things in regards to our society. The way that you know, even in our culture at the moment, there is pressure for you know, for both people and partners ratios to be working there is changes in our roles and expectations. Women were supposed to be you know, stepping into so many roles that we you know, we may be the breadwinner, we might be the parent, we might be the teaching or other all these elements that we put on these hats that we wear. 

Emma Ferris  33:30

But actually, we’re not taking some of those things off. So there’s more overwhelm. There’s more technology that’s changing there, a diet that all changes and impacts that as well. So food and the way that it’s been processed over so many years has impacted our gut health. And that will impact the way that we breathe because 80% of serotonin has actually created an app that has a heavy hormone. So if we’re not again, nurturing it from the inside, and they’ll impact our nervous system, which keeps it breathing faster, as well. So a lot of it can be passed to generations, then we go okay, so there’s been years and years of trauma that’s come through families, and that can be from war, it can be from famines, and you probably got one that seems a bit far fetched. But what we do is we mirror the patterns that have been in a body language and that comes down from family to family. We don’t necessarily process our emotions very well still. So maybe we we’ve still always been stressed. But then we may be talking about it more and we may be seeing things a bit clearer. So there’s always been that element of stress. But I think now we’re going to go on right we need to change things and particularly what the mental health crisis that’s happening around the world I’m not going to say it’s just New Zealand that we have a very high suicide rate in our country. And it comes down to my own two cents is this connection with our emotions and been able to share it we have very much this concrete pill culture. So we you know, we get on with that we don’t share. We don’t move on our goal and yeah, does to our nervous system as it doesn’t get a chance to expel and express in our nervous system stays stressed and protective, and doesn’t feel safe. And that influences our hormones and our mind and our emotions. So we have so many elements that is triggering our nervous system. But the real key thing is here is we’re not we haven’t been taught how to bring it back into a state of calm. And that’s really what I’m all about is creating a report of calm around the world and whichever way we can, whether it’s singing, whether it’s in the sport that you play, whether it’s in schools, whether it’s in your work, it all influences your life, your relationships, and how you feel at the end of the day. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  35:37

Absolutely. And in terms of the breathing process itself. There is the nasal breathing, and then there’s mouth breathing, for singing, we inhale through our mouth, when it comes time to stop donating because that’s more efficient for us and for the job that we have at hand. But in our day to day lives, we should be breathing in through our noses shouldn’t we? 

Emma Ferris  36:08

Yeah, I like that you’re bringing singing into that as well, because what I often find is that people that may be singers, they still stay stuck in that passion of either mouth breathing, or because when we do breathe through our mouth, the tendency as we inhale is to start recruiting our backup breathing muscles. Obviously, if you guys are listening to the podcast, you can’t see that I’m pointing towards my chest and my neck area, right. And these muscles are used when we need to breathe in a higher volume, to be able to perform and sing and also to exercise if we’re doing a higher volume. And when we’re stressed, but they’re not meant to be used all the time. So part of it as when your mouth breathe, you end up recruiting, if you do it, now I’ve been at home, take a breath in the mouth, you’ll notice that you’ll start to naturally breathe into your chest a little bit more. And so learning to deflate and set yourself back into a campaign and maybe learn to change after you’ve been in that mode of singing or performance. And that can be even things like for me, I do a lot of public speaking. And so I am therefore mouth, well, talking through my mouth, obviously, then breathing through my mouth. And what that does then is that can then shift my physiology because I might be breathing too much through or too much carbon dioxide out. And that is kind of a very geeky thing to get into. But carbon dioxide balance is actually what’s more important than our oxygen. And people think it’s all about the oxygen. It’s like no, no, no, it’s actually co2. That is the trigger for our body’s response to breathing. And that gets altered over time. And that is all to do with our stress response and our trauma in the past. And can be the reason why if the internal wiring and our amygdala, which is our fear centre and our primitive brain, and then in our arteries and our neck where images that co2, if we overtime, change that threshold, then our physiology has been altered. And so then we don’t know what normal is. And so it takes a bit of time to then reset that. This is why I also say it’s not a one size fits all model yet somebody has been stuck in a stress state for a long period of time. And then we go Okay, let’s do some, like faster breaths, and then we’re going to do holds. They’ll be like, Oh, no, no, no, like their body will be like, first of all, that’s not how we do it. This is what my brain is gonna tell you to do. And it will make you feel short of breath, it’ll feel gas, you’ll feel like you’re got your hunger and it’s harder to receive. 

Emma Ferris  38:18

So again, it’s why it’s figuring out where your body is, and that breathing continuum. And there’s 20% of the world that don’t have a breathing dysfunction, quite limited numbers, you know, two out of 10, they’re breathing fine. But from the research, eight out of 10 people are not breathing in a way that is advantageous for the body. And that shows up in different things because it can be that the chemistry changes the blood chemistry changes can be the muscles that are using are overworked can be the gut health gets impacted. And so we see it play out in different ways the body, and then that top team, but in the people that are being stuck in that stressed out for a long time. And again, you can move in that continuum, you can sometimes be doing really well and then sometimes just gets tipped over the edge. And that’s when we get moved into this top 10% which is more likely to have symptoms of hyperventilation syndrome. Yes. So that’s not just breathing too fast, or having a panic attack, but actually breathing beyond the body’s needs. So you asked before about, you know, should we breathing more, should we breathing less, we’re actually often breathing more than we need to. But beyond that, we need to slow down to have like cloud breathing. When you think about the way that you breathe, I want you to learn to actually every time you breathe, you breathe a little bit less volume. And so you start to make the cloud a little bit smaller. And so it’s not been over expanded, instead of kind of really working on expanding and bring taking big breaths, because that’ll keep you in that hyper vigilant fight flight or freeze state. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  39:45

Yes. And what are some of the things that we can use to help us do that? I know that box breathing is really popular, and he want to maybe explain what that is. I know it’s something that a lot of psychologists are using with people who are in stress mode. Then there’s things like Wim Hof. And apparently, the Wim Hof Method is something that has been around for a long, long time prior to that we have actually coming up with it. So I do want to explain those two, because they’re the ones that are probably the ones that you hear about the most. 

Emma Ferris  40:24

Yep. So we’ll start with the box breathing. And this is something that I do teach people. But again, it depends on where you are, if we use this one or not. So box breathing is that you breathe, they imagine you’ve got a box, and it’s got four sides. So it gets pretty simple. And then you’re breathing in for four seconds. And then you hold for four seconds, you breathe out for four seconds, and then you hold for four seconds, you start breathing in that pattern. Now what’s great about box breathing is when you’ve been in that state of anxiety and overwhelm, it focuses your brain, it gets you out of that survival mode and into more of focus breathing, it’s not quite calm definitely isn’t the calm breathing pattern that we’d like to get you to. But sometimes it’s the building block or the bridge to getting towards. And that’s why we use that. And that was a cold just use it a lot. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  41:11

and is it too, Sorry to interrupt that in that process of doing box breathing, we’re only in the inhalation cycle for a quarter of the time. And that is

Emma Ferris  41:25

Yeah, but that breath hold, I mean, it’s really about getting a rhythm and a ride, it begins to get a bit more smooth as well. So cover off Wi Fi, erratic with their breathing. And so it gives them something to be consistent with. And then that flows into their heart rate variability, which people can see on the Fitbit, some fancy, fancy watches these days, we can start to slow that down and see their connection with that. And that’s one way we can measure that change. So yes, it is to do with, you’ve got only a shorter inhalation. And then when you’re holding their breath for seconds, you’re actually getting that diaphragm to learn to be able to stabilise for that time. But one of the key things with that is that and this is probably what makes it made. The big difference for me is when you understand the anatomy of it, your diaphragm breathing muscle is actually only a one way muscle. So it’s working on the inhale, yes, should be relaxed on the way out. And that’s often what we find is people just they’re either over breathing, because they’re using these external oblique muscles to work like a pump and push the air out. And what that does to the nervous system as it keeps it in that overwhelmed state. And actually, that impacts our emotions, our emotions connect with our breathing, too. Now, I’ll come back to that in a second. But Wim Hof style was actually so the thing for women is that he’s connecting two kinds of things is, well, he says three, so it’s really like mindfulness, you know, being in your mind, mindfulness connection, and then faster breath, which is more tomo breathing, which again, has been around for 1000s and 1000s of years. And it’s bringing a faster rate really more one to one ratio, kind of more of a that kind of speed. And for anybody that has anxiety or panic attacks that can actually really trigger them. So it should actually really kind of been more rewarding table with that one. Wow, try it and they feel Wow, this is talked about. So again, I feel really careful people people that I actually get them to turn the volume up with that, cuz you gotta know how to do it, then turn it down. So then some people have anxiety as you feel better because they’ve actually got themselves out of freeze mode, they’re actually breathing. And so that can feel better. So it’s really about try it in a safe controlled way. And then what they add in the end is the ice immersion. So that’s really where it’s kind of combine these two things. And with when it comes to stress. There is great research the lady called Dr. Rhonda, Patrick or Fitzpatrick I think Dr. Rhonda Patrick. She’s fabulous at looking at the benefits of either cold stress or heat stress and other things that help your nervous system really thrive through stress in some ways. And so what cold does is it actually creates that heavy hormone release as well. And for me, I think it really depends on your body type. So yes, I personally hate hate hate hate cold stress.

Emma Ferris  44:08

Yeah, exactly. And I think what I found is that a lot of people, woman, we don’t respond as well to that. And particularly our nervous systems already been in this flight fight or freeze, you add that cold stress and it’s a little bit lot harder. So for me, heat stress is much more comfortable. And it depends on where you’re at with my thyroid hormones and other hormones in the body. And again, that’s why it’s not a one size fits all model. Me and I love it and I think that’s a big part of the cold shower like jumping into like the like, wow, I felt amazing. Like I’m manly and it’s like yeah, cuz it’s triggering that response of survival in many ways. What women how women deal with stress is a little bit different. You know, we have this thing called tinned Ember friend. We need other women around us to actually make us feel safer to bring our stress hormones down. Wow, going for a sauna with girlfriends, it’s probably a much better beneficial way. Then doing the cold immersion for some people. So there’s, there’s again, there’s different different things Different vote, folks. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  45:01

Yes. Do you have a favourite method that you use for yourself?

Emma Ferris  45:08

Yeah, and I, it’s real simple. It’s actually about just learning to August for me, there’s a few different things I would do, I would do a body scan. So I’d work through my body, and I’ll see where I’m holding tension. And it’s almost like a Hello, body. What are you doing? What are you been up to? Because most of us are walking around, hidden by disconnected, you know, we’re oblivious to what the emotions are doing. So maybe that was chicken, okay, Head, shoulders, knees and toes, almost like where’s my body, and then I’m tuned into my body and make sure I’m breathing 360 degrees, which is what I teach when I’m doing my courses quite hard to show on podcast. Yeah, I’m making sure I’m breathing in the right area in the first place. And then I’m deflating because often we can be holding tension and these muscles without even knowing it. So it’s like, okay, even though I am a breathing coach, and I’m a growth coach and stress coach, I’m like, you know what, I can still be hijacked just like anybody else. So it’s about just self regulation, then for me, it’s always about lengthening the exhale. And there’s lots of different ways of doing it different rhythms and rates, but as long as I can kind of slow my breathing down into my body down and link mid exhale, and, and take all this year, and in the first place, I know my nervous system is gonna feel good. But then other people, I was gonna said, that’s, that’s what works for me. Other people actually find they focus on breath, particularly they’ve been through major trauma in their life major stress, that that’s not going to feel good. That’s actually going to make them feel more anxious. And so that’s things like body scanning. Yeah. So Wow, some people go, I feel better with that if you’ve had a huge amount of trauma or a huge amount of trauma as your nervous system regulations have been so out of whack and that your co2 levels are set at a certain level, that when you start to slow your breathing down, it goes No, no, no, no, no, no, no, I don’t like that. And it could be because the muscles are gripping too much like our tension that we’re holding there. Because you’re trying to get enough Aaron to run away from that line, or whatever that stressor is that’s coming after you.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  46:59

Right, it’s not a one size. Okay, so what about then exercises, we talked about building some of those breathing muscles? Are there do you do work to help build and strengthen those breathing muscles as well? 

Emma Ferris  47:17

Yep. So the first step for me is to get the summons pattern, right? And then there’s lots of different ways we can do the strengthening, so then you are focusing on the inhale mostly on that because you’re wanting to get the diaphragm to strengthen making sure that all that muscles working, there’s a few different devices that you can use people that want to actually learn about the by how you can strengthen them further. There’s a great device called the power breathe. If you hear that before. No, the power breathes. So what’s that? Our brains? Yeah, so it’s based. I actually went and visited the guys in the UK that have developed it. And it’s, it’s like dumbbells for your diaphragm. Okay, so it’s a, it’s dumbbells for your diaphragm, I have my ones hiding around somewhere around here. I have never heard that. Yeah, so it’s, it’s a resistance training for your diaphragm. So you work on your, but you can also do it badly. That’s the other provides, that’s why you should. So it is about you focus on the inhale. So you put it in your mouth, and then you actually focus on it hard, fast and low breathe in to that belly. So you’re going to, and you’re actually using that diaphragm to get that power. And there’s a lot of amazing, amazing research around the power braid. And what I love for this is over six to eight weeks, you can actually strengthen your diaphragm, which is amazing. There’s muscle, which is why it’s important, yes, strengthen it by 13%, as one of the research articles that we looked at, wow, using the power breeze. And what we know for people that have back pain, anxiety, that had migraine headaches, that have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, like COPD, lung diseases, the diaphragm is thinner than other people. But here on ultrasounds and the research. So actually, what we’re doing is we’re we’re getting the pattern right first, but we’ve actually got to strengthen that diaphragm after that. And what that does the other research around that because the geek have made good delving into it is yeah, you strengthen that diaphragm, you actually reduce the, the reaction in the body for the blood can then stay in your limbs for longer when you’re in times of stress. So many times the stress the body goes right and to get that blood to the area that needed the most so organs, heart rate, heart area, and doesn’t need to worry about things like the digestive system. That’s not as important. But if you can keep the blood and limbs for longer, that’s why when you’re in times of stress, people get cold fingers and cold toes. If you Oh, that’s a road sign for me. It’s like okay, your body doesn’t know to keep the blood and your limbs for longer. Wow. It’s dilating through the through the arteries. So what’s really important as you strengthen the diaphragm, you then have a bit of tolerance to it. 

Emma Ferris  50:00

So your reaction to stress isn’t like, like straightaway into panic and anxiety mode, you can tolerate longer. And they found that your blood stays in your limbs for longer. So great for athletes really good for athletes, particularly, but actually singers, performers, you just have training your response. Yeah, that’s one thing that I love to use. And then a lot of it’s about patenting, then we can do faster breaths, some of the time I braids, but there’s crier, okay, I weigh a, I think as the way set so skin, faster breath pattern, use more in yoga. And that’s a really nice way of getting the power behind it. And you get the happy hormone hertz, like someone’s a time over breathing, really, and is another way of getting the diaphragm stronger and powerful. But again, I only use it for people that can get their breathing back to down to calm, yes, because quite emotional release. So because your diaphragm, we’ve never been in that freeze mode for a long time, I saw it just the other day, because I do work clinically with people still is, when you get into that freeze mode, a lot of it’s about not wanting to feel emotions, like just don’t want to feel it. And so a grip and Bryce around external obliques around our stomach muscles. And then when we start to soften and slow it down, breathe into that belly, all those emotions, that feelings can actually come up. And then the tears come, sometimes anything can be released the frustration, the anger. And so it’s really healthy to make sure we’re getting people to be able to breathe and work with emotions at the same time. And I think that’s also one of the downfalls in the way that sometimes psychology is used as used in a silo, like just dealing with the heat, and not the physiology of it. So bringing that people both work on heads, belief systems, psychology and trauma, but also work on the physiology and the safety in the body. That’s going to have a bit of longer lasting result than just going, Okay, let’s only work on top down or bottom up. It’s like, let’s find those people. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  51:50

Yes. And that’s so important, that whole holistic approach to everything, because people do only focus on one area. And we are a whole body like we are the we are body, mind, spirit, emotion, were all of those things. And so what are some of the amazing benefits that you know of, and that you’ve seen for yourself that come about from great, like having excellent breathing techniques? or How can breathing help us in? I’ve heard that it can help with pain management, with migraine with asthma, what are some of the things you’ve seen 

Emma Ferris  52:38

This is such good question. And this is why when I look at who we’re talking about who I actually can work with, like avatars, the people that I impact, basically, I’m from five to 100 years old, because I can help anybody at any stage. And there’s just like, it’s such a wide thing, because breathing impact, yes, yeah, I guess when we’re breathing in that optimum way, really what it does, there’s, there’s some key things, first of all, you’re going to sleep better, and the world has got an epidemic of sleep disorders. Yeah. And again, we’re not returning it with pills and medication and not looking at the reason why our body isn’t wanting to lie down and rest and recover, doesn’t feel safe, again, back to safety. And so that’s a big one anxiety and panic attacks, huge one, is there a way that you regulate your nervous system, and often your body is telling you something, and you’re not listening. And so it comes in the form of an anxiety or a panic attack. And if we can make it again, feel safe, it feels better with that neck and back pain has been a big part of my journey with people then learning that the way the breathing pattern, the muscles that you know, crossover into different roles. So a diaphragm breathing muscle isn’t just about breathing, it is about speech as well and performance, but it’s also about stability to the diaphragm of the roof of your core. So it comes into pelvic floor dysfunction. So for women that have had babies, but men have a tube, they’re not breathing in the right way, then that also impacts the whole core cylinder. And that’s really powerful one, it also impacts our voice so vocal cord dysfunction, which people singers can have performers can have children can have athletes. And it’s that again, that projection through the with our breath and how that can be impacting it from the top which is like the the top roof roof roof that kind of ripping apart with their vocal cords. Fatigue is a huge one. And I say that every day with patients we work with, and it was my part of my story. You know, I’ve had so many elements of the awareness of how much this impacts my body. So fatigue was definitely a big one and it’s also my way of going I can’t I can’t keep pushing. I must listen and my body will show me in different ways now so we all have these little things that show up as I’m doing too much overloading my body my will show up on my skin in different ways. It’s just become more of that that we don’t get like a rash. It sounds like I’ve got contagious rash. But like something that’s like irritated or I’m just not doesn’t look as fresh or might have like a breakout of skin and your face and stuff, and it’s like, Okay, my hormones unhappy, I’m not managing that very well. Plus, if I stop and less than I go, oh, I’ve had the foot on the accelerator too much. So that’s one of my areas. And they’ve been digestive system in the past. But I worked on that pace. And so I know that when my gut health of things I need to do to make that feel better. But that’s definitely a big part too. So gut health, and the diestive system is going to work more optimally, when we’re in that rest digest recovery part of our nervous system.

Emma Ferris  55:31

There is so many areas, one of the other things for me is our relationships. And this is a bit that I don’t think is kind of clarified or discussed or really opened up. But it’s because comes down to our primitive response with survival. So with stress our body is it needs to be supported by other people. And that’ll show up in our body language, it’ll show up in our facial expressions. So when we’re not happy, we end up impacting the people around us both by our heart energy, which sounds very woowoo. But we have electromagnetic field from our heart, look at heartmath if you want to understand more about that, and that will impact other people around us. But also with our body language, we will mirror articles, movements and patterns, so they’re not breathing in the right way, then we breathe in that right way. And then we feel stressed and anxious. And that plays into our emotions that will influence our communication. And the way that we will be able to build relationships or destroy them, depending on the way that we were. Yes. So it’s really about human connection. To that’s really good. Okay, yeah. breathing. Yes. fatigue, like now, it’s about human connection. Yeah, there’s the big pace because we won’t feel safe around people, if they’re breathing in a stress state, and their body language is off. And so for work environments for relationships, this has been my big one. I’ve even talked about the comments that I went through that it will give a deadline to that next. That’s been a big part of me understanding, you know, how I have the power to manipulate my body language for good not for evil, but to help me get through those moments of absolute chaos and drama. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  57:05

Yes, I did want to talk to you about that earlier on, and we kind of segwayed into other things. But do you mind sharing that story? And because that has led to you creating a whole programme for women, and a podcast about thriving, surviving and thriving? So do you mind sharing that with our listeners? 

Emma Ferris  57:30

Yeah, I’m absolutely happy to do that. That’s great. Knowing that, the more that we share, and be vulnerable, because my stuff that I’ve shared about this experience is super vulnerable, you know, crying on podcast, thank you. First thing you want to do when you got to come out from these traumas. But the more that I realise that that you you are, that you share and be vulnerable, it creates courage and others. And then connection comes. So again, that’s how that humaneness human connection comes in. The kind of short story, you want to hear about more about the podcast that my sister and I created my sister who’s based in London, the other side of the world. And she was like my, my private investigator sidekick videos. The podcast is called conning the con, it’s been number one in New Zealand and definitely climbing the ranks in Australia and around the world since January 2021, when we released it, so in a story about how I ended up dating a con man, and so post divorce, I started to go out and meet people. And unfortunately, I met somebody that was a complete lie. The minute I meet him, he was lying from his name to the jobs he did. And you just don’t expect those people to be in around but unfortunately, they were. So about six months, I was getting to know him. And it was really more of a friendship. And then there was this kind of roll into a business arrangement. And I was at that point, trying to work on like how I bring my life ahead with family and kids. And I’d been in a really good position before divorce. And then like, right, this is my chance to get back into property and developing things. And unfortunately, he preyed on a pregnant quite a few things. And as a woman, that’s a really hard place to come from. And the more that I’ve shared my story, I realise, gosh, I’m not the only one but how scary it is for women out there and many ways and all aspects of our lives. We’re very vulnerable. Yes, so the crux of it was I found out five and a half months into it that he was a comment from friends that dug dug deeper into it. I don’t want to give away too much of the story….

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  57:36

We will definitely everyone go listen to conning the con man. 

Emma Ferris  59:40

Yeah, Conning the Con it’s been a journey to share it because the reality was when that day I found out who he was, I went into survival mode. And so the lessons for me where I had these tools, I’m so lucky that I do because I wouldn’t be the woman and the person that I am today. Been able to share the story if I didn’t have the tools to bring my nervous system back in and go, Okay, I’m literally my life has been threatened, which is what was the feeling? It was and right, yeah, there was moments where? Yeah. Well, it’s, it’s interesting looking back at it there, I always felt that I was going to be okay. But you never know how someone’s gonna react. And so until he left the country, I was very fearful for my life and for my safety of my family. And I was very lucky that he wasn’t a violent psychopath, but more of a sociopath. And that’s it. And that sense of how people behave, is more about empathy and manipulation. So there’s the long layers, and then we actually have a psychologist come on to the podcast to share those little insights, which is great. This is not a witch hunt, this is not about revenge. This is about education, how you go from survival. And I got out of that, and then you got to return there’s always other elements along and then then there’s recovery and recovery is, you know, you can kind of get into that you can give a lot, right? I’m just getting things back into life back to normal. But I was like, No, there’s got to be a different way of doing things. I understand the stress on it in the body, there’s got to be a way of getting back to that next level and beyond. And so that’s where I was like, how do we thrive? 

Emma Ferris  1:01:05

That’s been my next journey and many ways. And the reason why I created my online course cultivating calm was women only sorry, men, I want women to be able to have these tools to build that toolbox up to make the have the tools to help you deal with these moments of life crisis, which we’re all going to go through. Like, I feel like I’m doom and gloom sometimes. But actually, this is life. We don’t have a smooth roller coaster. We have the highs and the lows. And actually, it’s how we deal with the lows. That is the most powerful pace. And so when I was at that low, and on the bottom of the on the floor, I had to come back to Okay, I must notice what’s happening my body and mass expresses emotions. I must not hide away from this, I must dip into it. And and I had to work harder at having raced and having recovery in that time because I was exhausted like being Yeah, it was an exhausting process. But I know also that it was a way of Yeah, from trauma you actually can be grow and the wisdom that comes from it was a really good movie to come out and good books by a guy called Dr. Gabor Mattei. You’ve heard of him. He’s super fascinating with his doctor a GP background, and really worked a lot on diction and understanding trauma, the wisdom of trauma as his book. And again, this is what I do, I bring all these different tozan to help share this knowledge. Because, again, it’s not just about breathing, it’s not just about I’m gonna go meditate for 20 minutes, and my mind is going to be clear. It’s like actually, the crux of it is learning to tune in learning to tune into our body, our emotions, our mind, and having conversations with ourselves so that we understand where we are at. And that’s what I wasn’t doing. 

Emma Ferris  1:02:42

That’s the reason why I got conned as I wasn’t taken time for me to listen and tune in. And even though my, my gut was like screaming at me at certain times, and I would go and research things. And I thought I found the information but because it changed his name legally. I couldn’t find that. So then my heart would go, oh, and what my thinking brain, he would go, Oh, no, he’s told me this, I can’t put that information out. So it must be true. You know, nobody would lie about that sort of stuff. Well, actually, they can. So it’s kind of a crazy story with that. But what it really helped me to know and this is probably this next pace of learning for me and sharing of wisdom is that thoughts and decision making, particularly leaders, what we need to be doing is coming from this embodied cognition place, which is actually where we come from our gut understanding, listening to our gut and our body and our heart, and then our body feels safe. And then our thinking brain can actually make a choice from a place of grounded, grounded reaction, you know, it’s not from this reactivity. So that’s there’s so many lessons. And it’s really for me, I’m I try and go I’m like my physio, I’m a stress coach. I’m like, I’m a growth coach. That is who I am. I help people go through moments of challenge and trauma and thrive at the end of it, whatever tool you need along the way. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:03:54

Yes. And it’s, that’s a really good point you made, because our intuition is way smarter than our brain. And yet, we’re not taught to trust our intuition. And yet, for me, I know every time I don’t trust, my intuition is when I get into trouble. So I always listen to what my gut is telling me, how am I feeling or even when you get a feeling around a person as well, it’s not just okay, I’m feeling this in my gosh, but I’m feeling this person is taking all my energy away, or there’s something weird about this person, and you may not even be able to identify what it is in that. Is that is that what was happening with you?

Emma Ferris  1:04:43

 It was no both. You know, like, I think I mean, it’s kind of weird. When someone manipulates that label when they were working from he wasn’t in my community, they’re a little bit further away. So it was kind of removed and there’s all these elements of in regards to dating people and all the things that go along with that and how know how that works in a modern day life and figuring these things out as you go through what’s important and what’s not. So people put their best foot forward in the first place. And so when I was testing things out, you know, you test these things, it would come back, and it would be like, Oh, no, that’s, that’s, that doesn’t make sense. But okay, I’ve checked in. And what we know is from from science and research that I got, as you’re working faster than our brain is coming in quick. Yes. So yeah, just really good at like, not listening to her energy, I think we’ve been programmed not to listen to it, but in our lives. So that’s been a very big thing from our culture. I think, particularly as an end for woman, as you know, it’s like just, you know, come along, in some ways, like, obey it, which sounds really derogatory to say, but there are so many things about being the good girl in my life that has made that I have not been the girl that has fought and not been able to step up and not going, this is not okay. And so as long knowing in different stages of life, when you can do that, yes, now that I’m really clear and listening, I’m like, this is the path I’m going to take. And clearer every every day.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:06:02

I can totally relate to that, because I come from an Italian culture. And, yeah, women are meant to be subservient. And, and as a child, you’re not allowed to speak up, you’re not allowed to have an opinion, children are seen and not heard. And then you marry that, you know. So it is definitely, and then as you start to find your voice, the, the older you become, the more you get to a stage where you go, Well, I really don’t care anymore and that is such a great place. And I know we’re starting to really run out of time here. But I just wanted to, for you just to share really quickly, the programmes that you’re working on at the moment with your patients, your clients, what because I know you have three fabulous programmes.

Emma Ferris  1:06:59

Absolutely. So often. One of my favourite things is to run my thrive master classes of people and come on and, you know, connect with all this industry is about today. So understanding how you can move from that trauma to thriving. So it’s one of my favourite things, if you go to the breath effects, calm the breath effect, then that’s where you’ll find all the information about different courses that I have. But the thrive masterclass is free. It’s a way of connecting and signed to get that little bit of a, hopefully a seed planted for you about maybe how you can do things differently. And that’s really how I work It’s about taking power and ownership over what’s happening in your relationships. The second thing that I have is, in the last few years, I have been working on my online courses, which for me work beautifully because it has live training that I work with these people all around the world. And so each month I alternate, which cause I’m running. So this month has been breathe right and reduce your stress, which is the my signature course for men and women to learn how to change their reaction to the stress. And while breathing is a key element of that, like I said, there’s so many elements that come along with that. And that’s a 30 day course that then people can then do over 12 months so that they’ve got time to come back and nibble at it which where they want to and implement into their life. And really, I’m holding up a mirror of people then about their habits and what they’re doing. And so it’s definitely something that I’m passionate about. I know it makes a huge difference in people’s lives. In my final course, which really came out of the combat experience was the cultivating calm, the busy ones guide, cultivating calm. And it’s because we don’t get these taught these tools. 

Emma Ferris  1:08:34

A lot of it’s evolved out of working with this amazing woman, Sasha hope, who I do retreats in person woman’s retreats with a New Zealand so if you can come to New Zealand, please come and join us and New Zealand near Queenstown where we run these women’s retreats. And it’s it’s learning to delve into this body connection, but the mind as well. So it’s it’s building that toolbox, even more of woman and getting them to learn to listen into their body into their gut and change things from a deeper level. So it’s over 30 days again, so four weeks, live training with me every week. So you get that import, you get this passion that I love about it. And you can start to see how maybe you need to do things differently from somebody else. And then that’s done, again, 12 months, you can come back and access it. So it’s this intense period of going if I’m going to make change, I’ve got to be supportive. And so that’s where as a coach, it can’t be done. I can see for two hours and then hopefully you’ve changed your life. It’s like no, no, no, no. And that one really digs deeper into the emotions and mindset and the things that we’re saying to ourselves and so for women that are feeling brave enough to join them for that I’d love to have them on cultivating calm is probably my my favourite wound mainly because I I love seeing that growth and woman. We have a very short time frame and you don’t have to be going through a major crisis to be doing that by any means any of the courses. It’s about choosing your health and wellness. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:09:54

So when’s the next one? The next cultivating calm when you’re holding that

Emma Ferris  1:10:00

So it’s starting July the 12th. And so that depending on where this is going out, but then the next month that’d be the breathe right the month. So if you always check on the breath effect website, this is what the Evergreen podcast, then you’ll see which month is coming up and you can start the course straightaway. And the live trainings will come in later on so that you don’t feel like you can like waiting to get going on them. You can get the information, the knowledge and start early, and then enjoy them with the lives when they’re going to be coming up. So no, no reason why you can’t start today. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:10:29

Excellent. Last two questions. Emma, what is the greatest thing you’ve learned about yourself over the past year? through COVID.

Emma Ferris  1:10:41

I’m stronger than I ever knew I was.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:10:44

Beautiful. Love it, love it. And what is the best piece of advice you want to share with our voice teaching community.

Emma Ferris  1:10:56

Your Your voice is much more than just your lungs and your diaphragm it is your head in your heart. It has everything that connects with it. So to have embodied singing is what I probably encourage. 

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:11:10

Ah, girl, you’re speaking my language. Well Emma you’ve been amazing. We could talk for hours literally, there’s so much more. There is so much more I wanted to ask you. And I think we need to have you back sometime. If you would be happy to join us again. But you’ve been amazing. We’re going to share all your information in the show notes. So people will know where to find you. And we might cover off on some other topics in the future because there’s just a whole Kenyan stuff there. But thank you so much. You’ve been really generous with your time and we appreciate you and best wishes for the future. Thank you. Thank you, Marissa and to you. Okay, bye.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:12:11

Hey, I hope you enjoyed this episode have a voice and beyond. Now is an important time for all of us to spread positivity and empowerment in our singing voice community. It’s time for you to invest in your own self care, personal growth and education. use every day as an opportunity to learn and to grow. So you can show up for your students feeling energised, empowered, and ready to deliver your best.

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:12:46

Be the best role model and mentor you can possibly be and watch your students thrive as you do. Thank you so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please make sure to share it with a friend or a colleague who you think will be inspired by this. Copy and paste the link and share it with the people you think will enjoy listening to this show. Please share it on social media and use the hashtag a voice and beyond. If you would like to help me please rate and review this podcast and cheer me on by clicking the subscribe button on Apple podcast right now. I would love to know what it is you enjoyed the most about this episode. And what was the biggest takeaway for you?

Dr Marisa Lee Naismith  1:13:35

I promise you there are many episodes to follow as I’m committed to bringing you more inspiration and conversations just like this one. I’d like to finish up with my final thoughts. Remember that to sing is more than just learning how to use the voice as singers, our whole bodies instrument and our bodies echo what we feel physically mentally and emotionally. So singing is not just about the voice. It’s about a voice and beyond. Please take care of yourself and I look forward to your company next time.

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