Welcome to ON BEAUTY, a monthly feature highlighting creative, like-minded people who inspire us.
While meditation is a great tool to alleviate stress and calm the mind, Scott Mackley and Tyler Forbes had a vision to take meditation to the next level. All you have to do is breathe.
Due to COVID-19, the duo (Scott comes from Silicon Valley, while Tyler owns a successful physical rehabilitation facility and is a certified Wim Hof instructor), had to delay the opening of the Solana Beach-based Breathe Degrees, a music, science, and community inspired wellness experience. So they took their courses on-demand, where they launched online classes that guide you through an array of breathing modalities.
Tyler first conjured up this type of breath after meditating one evening and ultimately lost focus. He thought to himself, “Why don’t I just breathe the way that I do when I run.” When he leaned into his new practice, he began feeling like he was able to get out of his brain, similar to when he was exercising.
Here, Tyler shares how Breathe Degrees shares commonalities with a high-intensity workout, the importance of cold water immersion, and why communal breathing is empowering.
Your breath is this grounding agent that allows you to see the world in which you live in a totally different way.
Tell us more about Breathe Degrees and how is it different from attending a traditional meditation class?
We recognize and understand that regular, consistent breath doesn’t just nourish your body from an oxygen standpoint; it also affects your nervous system. Instead of bringing you into fight or flight, which is the area of your nervous system that feels overwhelmed with stress, at Breathe Degrees, we tone the nervous system with breath to make you feel calm or happy.
Every single element of what we’re doing is backed by science. That’s probably the biggest thing that separates us from meditation, all the while making your journey super experiential.
All of our breathwork is instructor-guided. It’s not like traditional meditation. We take it round by round and the instructor is there with you each and every single breath. It’s kind of like HIIT training. It’s not subtle. It’s that assertive love, really guiding you through, like come on guys, you got this. Then with every breath, we throw in words of aspiration. It’s as if you’ve done Soulcycle with a really good teacher that you gravitate towards. It’s the electronic ambient music that we play, the words spoken, and the tempo. It’s self-love, it’s encouraging, it’s driving you.
Also, we believe this is a form of exercise. It’s not just a form of meditation. Most of us don’t really breathe. We breathe to survive; we don’t breathe to thrive. So how you breathe determines how you feel emotionally.
Take us through a class. What does that look like?
There are classes geared towards energy, ones that uplift you, and ones that stimulate that excite and delight area. Each class is devoted to what you want to accomplish. For example, our class for power and resiliency has a more assertive breathing tempo. You’re breathing in through the mouth and then out through the mouth and the music is a lot more high paced.
Then we have classes that are geared more towards a restorative style of breathwork. These are for sleep. The music is very experiential, but now the breathing style is significantly slower, along with inhalations and exhalations. We have 20 and 50-minute versions and if you’re taking a session in-studio, we do a cold water immersion post-class.
How long do you sit in the cold water immersion?
The target is 3 minutes in 40-degree water. The key component to the cold water is so much more than just being anti-inflammatory. The way that you breathe determines how you feel. When you get into the cold, you’re going to breathe like you saw a bear or a great white shark. But what we teach people is you’re going to breathe long and slow through your nose. If you stay with your breath and surrender to the cold and let everything go, it’s just going to be a sensation.
Our key objective is to give people an understanding of how powerful breath is and what it can do. Your breath is this grounding agent that allows you to see the world in which you live in a totally different way. Then you go into the heat, and the heat is the complete opposite. That’s where the group celebrates together.
Who would you say are your clients?
When I started Breathe Degrees, I thought this would be geared to a lot of professional athletes. What I realized when we started doing beta classes, its the CEO, the grandmother, its the housewife, the corporate executive, the software engineer, the weekend warrior, and even kids with anxiety, its everybody. There’s not one person or one age group.
Our target is not just peak performers. Our target is anyone who wants to get out of their brain, anyone who wants to learn to breathe. It’s about enhancing physical performance and getting rid of pain. As your body becomes alkaline, the pain pathways break apart.
Do you have any at-home tips? How should clients continue their practice post-class?
The most beautiful thing about this practice is the sensation that clients get when class is over. There are no added drugs. I didn’t put anything into the air. The only thing they did was breathe. It’s this realization of how powerful the breath can actually be.
The biggest thing I want people to leave with is the importance and understanding of knowing that you’re in control of the style and what you breathe. During the course of the day, everything is about breathing through the nose. So when you’re working, you’re driving in your car, you’re just sitting, reading a book, you should be breathing slowly and consistently through the nose with a longer exhale. When you start to feel yourself become elevated go back to your breath.
The other takeaway is recognizing that we’re not victims, that we’re in control. Everything is about leaning in, not believing these ridiculous things that have been taught to us. Aging happens, but we have control over it. We’ve also been taught that easy is good. Easy is bad. Easy is what makes us weak. What makes you strong and what keeps longevity is adaptation.
What Breathe Degrees is doing is this communal initiative of making you healthier and happier and stronger and showing you what your body potential is, which is enormously powerful.
Most of us don’t really breathe. We breathe to survive; we don’t breathe to thrive.
The first thing I do when I come home every night is give my wife and kids a hug and a kiss and then go into the cold immersion. I have a cold tub in the back of my house and a hot tub. What the cold does is it forces this state of my mind where the only thing I can think of is my breath and slowing down. My other rituals are surfing and running and obviously breathing. I breathe every single morning before I go to work to get clarity and have focus.
Vanilla. I’m drawn to the smell of vanilla. We also use aromatherapy with a range of scents at Breathe Degrees to heighten the experience. I like citrus, too.
Tips for long haul flights?
Get up and move regularly. After long haul trips, people feel horrible and that’s because your body is designed to move. By the way, this pertains not just to flying, but to sitting at home or work. Getting up frequently and consistently is important. You need to reset your muscles. Your muscles shorten when you sit and contract.
Also, drink tons of water. Bring a water bottle with you and move. The more you move, the longer you’re going to live. It reduces stress on your heart and allows your body to function properly.
Favorite beauty food?
For the last 20 years, I’ve been taking Vibrant Health Green Vibrance Powder. It’s a dried green powder that you have to refrigerate. I put it in water and take it every single day. It’s the only supplement that I can physically feel. It’s a blend of every single green vegetable, fruit, and sea kelp. It’s also got a blend of probiotics.
What’s your vice?
I really like ice cream. I’m a fan of Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby or Häagen-Dazs Peanut Butter and Chocolate. My other vice, a healthy one, is watermelon. After I go for a run, I have an ice-cold watermelon from the fridge.
Do you have any charms or talismans?
My wedding ring never comes off my finger.
For a custom class guided by Kelli Russell for In Fiore devotees visit, https://online.breathedegrees.com/in-fiore/. Make sure you watch the tutorial first!
Learn more about breathwork, the science behind it, and additional classes at @breathdegrees, and if you are interested in online classes for "Reset," "Anxiety," and "Sleep" to go to online.breathedegrees.com.