Believe it or not, healing through breathing is possible. In this exciting episode, Adam Markel talks to The Renegade Pharmacist Niraj Naik, an ex-pharmacist turned holistic health expert and Founder of SOMA Breath. After a hard day’s work as a community pharmacist, Niraj would often visit a wellness center to find peace and solace. That is where he first discovered the power of breath. Sharing his breathwork routine, he believes that you can achieve healing through proper breathing and changing your inner world for the better. He also shares how he is able to change people’s lives by helping them change their lifestyle and eat healthy.
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Healing Through Breathing with The Renegade Pharmacist, Niraj Naik
I feel so extraordinary this day. I have just woken up in a good way. Not every day that I wake up do I feel physically and mentally the same. I would love to be able to feel the same great way I feel this day every single morning I wake up and I think that’s a challenge for a lot of us. What’s the first step of the day look like? My grandmother would always say, “If you leave the house, leave and lead with your right foot.” A way to consciously go, “I want to lead with my best attitude,” or whatever it is for you, that’s the right thinking. As sometimes it’s described in the Bible, righteousness is right thinking. It’s curious and we’ll get back to that later as to how it is that you start the day on the right foot. For me, it’s gratitude. Always, when I can lead with gratitude, if there’s anything that would be written as a part of my ending statement, the eulogy as it’s called, the epitaph, it would be, “Lead with gratitude.” That’s the best advice I can ever give myself. It’s probably the best advice I can give anybody else. I feel grateful in this moment to be sitting here. I have a great guest that I am so jazzed up to talk to share with all of you.
You’re going to dig this guy, both his story, his energy and his experience. We’re going to dive into some great stuff as well, and on the side of health but not just the physical health. The health that emanates from within. That is not always physical. More often than not, it originates or starts somewhere else, some other place. His name is Niraj Naik. Niraj is an ex-pharmacist. I’m an ex-lawyer. He’s an ex-pharmacist turned holistic health expert and Founder of SOMA Breath. After working for several years as a community pharmacist, Niraj saw firsthand just how ineffective and damaging pharmaceutical drugs can be. I’m underscoring that because I certainly believe that to be true. When he found himself as a patient of stress-related depression and ulcerative colitis, he embarked on a journey of profound healing and now lives totally symptom-free.
Known around the world as the renegade pharmacist, Niraj is dedicated to educating others on topics of health, breathwork, meditation and more. I feel lucky, Niraj, that we get to have this conversation and other people get the benefit from it. When I was maybe seventeen or eighteen years old, a friend of my dad’s, a young man in his late twenties had to have a colostomy, had his colitis removed and had a bag. It was, for a young man, very difficult. I just remember that and feeling, “That’s a tough thing. It’s a tough thing to deal with.” It started as an ulcer or in some way, and you had a similar thing that started for you, but it didn’t end in you having to have your colitis removed thankfully. I would love to know a little bit more about you. My first question is, our community always knows this, what’s not written in this bio here that you would love for people to know about you?
I don’t know if I’ve written much about my big ambition at the moment. I like to set myself with big challenges and actually one of my big passions has always been making music. I used to run big raves years ago, like 2,000 massive raves, but it also takes its toll on you after a while, running events like that. When I lost everything, I got very sick and ended up going through this healing journey when I became a community pharmacist, I became very disillusioned. My thing right now is I’ve got back into music, especially dancing and I’m attracting some of the top DJs in the world into the movement I’ve created. It’s this new form of music where we combine breathing with music, with beats and rhythms to get into hypnotic states without the drugs and alcohol and all that stuff.
I did a big gig at Envision Festival, which was this amazing festival in Costa Rica where I showcased it for the first time. There were 500 people going nuts. It’s one of the best workshops I’ve ever been through. This is the thing I’m pushing my now. This is my big passion. I love it. It’s what I’m about. I can envision leading these, almost the same I used to have these big thousand-plus people raves and I’m getting everyone breathing in the rhythm and connecting to the highest self and spirit through music and passion.
I’m so glad you said that. Let’s go down that path for a couple of minutes. I want to follow those breadcrumbs. We were in the big events space for many years, thousands and thousands of people. If anything could give you an ulcer, I thought that being a lawyer was a direct path to a heart attack. If the path of the law was seemingly that path for me and I pivoted off of that, the path of doing large events was a path to an ulcer. We pivoted off of that a couple of years back as well because as you know, from back in the day, it’s a lot to get so many people to not only say yes to something but show up in a particular place, especially if you’re going to show up to see U2. There’s a lot to doing that for sure, but you know what you’re getting.
Something like a rave that includes breathwork and it’s a non-pharmaceutical event or a non-drug event because of not all drugs are pharmaceutical drugs. There are recreational drugs and things like that. Breathwork can bring you into an altered state without drugs. In fact, my wife and I were in Costa Rica at a place called Rythmia. We used to do as part of these events we put on, we used to do trance dances, but just didn’t involve the breathwork. I am fascinated by the concept that you would put breathwork into the music and dance scene and see what’s possible in that.
I think you’d make a good breathwork facilitator because you have that voice. You’ve got to such a deep voice for meditation that would be nice. You should give it a go sometimes. I don’t know if you do any guided meditations, but you definitely got the voice for it. It hits the heart. It hits the soul.
Are you in Barcelona now?
Yes. This is a beautiful city. If anyone ever wants to go and explore some of Europe, this is definitely one of the best cultural cities. It still retains a lot of the culture of Europe and Spain.
How long have you been there?
On and off for the last couple of years. We love living here. It’s a beautiful city.
We haven’t been and we’ve been all over Europe, but never been to Spain. We had friends that were living in Madrid for a while and knew someone in Barcelona. Are you planning to be there for some time?
It’s very close to Ibiza. I’m going to be an Ibiza for June and Ibiza is pretty much the dance electronic music capsule of the world. My ambitions are coming to fruition slowly. We’re running a big retreat there actually for SOMA. It is the online school that I’ve created for breathwork and meditation and music therapy and we’re running a retreat and instructor training retreat there.The pharmaceutical companies are the black magicians, the black alchemists of old. Click To Tweet
Tell us a little bit more about SOMA. We used to do something called rebirthing. It was a breathwork process that helped people to go backwards and then come forward from a place where they had let go of stuff that maybe started in utero, started when they were being born. When I was a rebirth, I had a very vivid recollection of being brought into the world by forceps. Forceps babies, there are specific things, study, research around issues with anger, issues with authority. I was always still am not keen on authority. Part of my journey over the last ten years out of the practice of law and into the work of running a large personal development company where we did retreats and all that thing was that me letting go of anger. When I did that breathwork, that particular process and went back to birth, my own birth, which was bizarre, just even think that’s possible.
Many people reading this would be like, “Come on, seriously? That’s a little too woo-woo for people who think that way.” You’d be wrong. You can go to a lot of places with the right breathing. In just a moment, I’d love for you to share a little bit about what is it about breathwork that can transport you without the plant medicine, the MDMA or any of the other things that people sometimes take. The hallucinogens take you to get an out of body experience. You don’t need to do that to be able to find these other planes. Please share a little bit about that.
I have nothing against those recreational substances. There’s a time and place for one of them. It takes me back to a story which I discovered from the ancient manuscript called the Rigveda, which is the oldest religious manuscript that’s known. Nobody knows the age of it. It’s thousands of years old. However, in that is this legend of Soma. Imagine there was a golden age on the planet, which again, nobody knows the time of day, but similar to the Garden of Eden where humans lived in harmony with nature. They lived for long periods of time and everyone was peaceful. However, what you do when you are living like that is you dabble with psychedelics. They used to all revel in this psychedelic called Soma, which is a catchall name for all the psychedelics that you can imagine like mushrooms, Ayahuasca, San Pedro, all of those things, cannabis, everything that is a substance that gets you ecstatic.
What happened was as the Rishis, which was these ancient Yogis, started to move across the land to explore new territories, Soma starts to run out. This is the metaphor that is so important. They were so dependent on the Soma for their bliss that they all freaked out when the Soma starts running out. The head of the time, the God Indra, orders everyone to go inwards to discover how to create a Soma within. It’s through that journey that they evoked Tantra. Tantra means body. Tantra is like all of the things that you do, the methods to move energy around the body to manipulate and create the most peak human state that you can then you can experience. Yoga was the philosophy, Tantra’s the doing the action that you do.
You imagine these were ancient biohackers and they discovered that the breath is the mechanism for controlling the physiological functions of the body. Through the breath, you can tap into the autonomic nervous system. Through that they realized that we actually have every single substance that exists in nature already contained within us and it’s through the breath that we can tap into it. We can create more natural, safer, less side effects, endogenous drugs, if you want to call it drugs or medicines, whatever you want to call it. For many years, we’ve been educated out of this innate ability to control the autonomic nervous system. We’ve been told that it’s impossible and then the only way to do is through drugs, through machines and surgery.
We’ve been handing over to the realm, people like the drug companies and doctors and other scientists and things like that. However, there have been times where Yogis have gone over from India to America and gone on to scientific investigation showing they had the ability to tap into the autonomic nervous system. One of them in the ‘70s was a guy called Swami Rama. He preserved this very ancient form of Himalayan Yoga. He’s from the Himalayas, from Rishikesh area, and he showed on the science of investigation, you can stop your heart rate. He stopped his heart rate for twelve seconds. All kinds of crazy stuff. He raised his body temperature up by several degrees, down by several degrees and had shown complete control over his physiology, which totally baffled scientists.
In more recent times, Wim Hof, you may have heard of him, he is a very good friend of mine. He did a similar thing with a bacterial infection, using E. Coli and showed that you could suppress the symptoms of the infection. I personally have anecdotal evidence because I cured myself of chronic illness using a combination of breathing techniques from Pranayama and other lifestyle changes. I learned all of this because what happened was I actually was a pharmacist. I was very good at getting people off drugs. It’s a whole other long story. I’ll go into that. Actually, I bring this all up because your whole thing’s about pivoting. I had a massive pivot. Imagine I used to run these huge raves when I was younger, when I was at uni. I did a pharmacy degree, which I didn’t really understand. I didn’t really want to do it. I breezed through it quite easily actually, but my passion was being a DJ.
Was this in the UK?
Yes. I was doing really well, however, the hedonism took its toll and I ended up as a pharmacist, I went into the corporate world. I got so disillusioned, so disheartened with the whole entire system. I couldn’t believe it. I was baffled at how the system works where people are like on a conveyor belt of like a factory of drugs. People got shopping bags full of drugs. I thought in this profession, I’m going to heal people but it was doing the opposite.
This is the opioid crisis.
Not just opioids but all kinds of drugs. Blood pressure drugs, heart meds, steroids, painkillers and everything you can imagine. People were on a plethora of drugs. I was so disheartened with the whole system. I couldn’t believe it. I could see through the BS. I think the artistic people have the ability to see the BS that’s been projected by the media, the mainstream and corporations. I just saw the industry, how it works. Just by put putting yourself at the top. Imagine you’re the CMO, the chief marketing officer of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world, all they’re interested in is increasing their bottom line.
Don’t they have to think like a heroin dealer?
What do you do? You’ve got to create a customer for life. You need to repeat customers. That’s like that Business Economics 101 if you want to make a profit. How do you do that as a pharmacist? You don’t want to kill people because it would suck. That would kill the business. Once you kill people, they won’t need any more of your drugs. What you need is a customer for life. You want consumers for life and the way you do that is to treat symptoms. Because that gives you the illusion that you are well but you’re not, the side effects take their toll and eventually you ended up taking more drugs to counter mitigate the side effects of the first drug you took.
Meaning the drugs you’re taking spawn other drugs you have to take to manage the symptoms of the drug you are taking?Health checkups is the way to get people on drugs. Innocent people come in for a checkup and they go away with a prescription. Click To Tweet
That’s how it works. It’s incredible.
I know we’re playing ping pong here with each other, but it sure sounds like a racket.
It’s the biggest racket in the world. Everything is controlled by pharmaceutical companies. If you follow the money, you’ll see a massive influence in the world. This was when I had a big pivot because I was really depressed. I was going out every weekend drowning my sorrows. I was raving, taking all kinds of drugs and it took its toll on my body and I had a burnout. One of my best friends at the time dragged me kicking and screaming to Tony Robbins’ event and I couldn’t believe it. Firstly, I thought it was all a bunch of BS. Tony Robbins was all this rah-rah guru stuff. Anyway, I went with an open mind eventually and it was amazing. It totally blew my mind. The last day, he talked all about health and diet. There were a lot of things that he said that I’ve now, over time, realized that he was a little bit also misinformed, but what he did say was that with diets and the Hippocratic Oath, that food could be medicine. You can actually help a lot of chronic conditions. Basically, the drug companies have educated doctors and everyone to believe that diet, nutrition and all these things don’t make an impact on the health. For many years, this has been going on.
I thought, what I want to do is if this is true, I want to test this out in the pharmacy. The best way I thought was to write a healthy shopping list for the patient. You only have like two minutes with the patients. I had to deliver the information to them in a way that they understand. What I would do is I would take them into a corner and I say, “You’re on a lot of medications. Do you really want to be taking that?” Most times would be like, “No, I feel like side effects are coming on.” “Let me give you an analogy. Imagine you are like a car, like a super-efficient bio engine. Just like your normal car, imagine what happens if you put the wrong fuel into your car. Put diesel into petrol, petrol to diesel. Have you done that before?” They’d be like, “I’ve done that before. My car chugs along and almost breaks down. I may have to go to a mechanic.” I’ll be like, “Imagine this, you’ve been putting the wrong fuel into your super-efficient bio engine all these years.”
You’ll be surprised at how many people live on microwave meals and processed foods. It’s incredible. I said to them like, “Imagine if you just put the right fuel into your body, you won’t have to take all these drugs.” I’ll give them little swaps to go to and write them healthy shopping lists. Quite a few people took action because this little analogy put the fear into them a little bit and they really wanted to get better. Those who took action, within a couple of weeks even, I was getting people off drugs. Off blood pressure medications, cholesterol drugs and diabetes. Diabetes was the easiest fixed through diet. That actually got the attention of doctors and they were like saying, “Keep it up. You’re doing great. I love the coaching you’re giving.” However, it got me fired from my first job because I was deemed to be mismanaging the pharmacy.
People going over to Tesco’s and buying ingredients that allow them to make their own cough remedies, flu remedies and their own lifestyle plans without needing to the keep going back to the doctor or the pharmacy. Believe it or not, I ended up getting promoted to the biggest corporation in the world. I’m not going to put any names out there, but they have a supermarket and the pharmacy in one place. I came up with this amazing concept or a healthy shopping list given out on their website to patients who are suffering from things like diabetes, heart disease and things like that. They loved the idea, but six months into it they realized this was to renegade because most people consume a lot of processed foods. I was very controversial saying, “Don’t eat sugar and processed foods.” This is the first primary thing you can do to your health. The no factory diet. That’s my rule.
You don’t need those are supplements and all that. Just the no factory diet will do wonders for you. Those who took action on that had amazing results. However, eventually they called a meeting and they disbanded the project for various reasons. This is when I just lost my hope for humanity. I was like, “This could have helped millions of people. This is amazing knowledge. It works. I’ve proven it, but they don’t want to do it.” I just lost faith in humanity, faith in God. My spiritual connection is gone. It was so weird at this time with all this hatred and anger that was stored up, but it wasn’t weird now. Now I can understand exactly why. I got the symptoms of ulcerative colitis and I was literally housebound then for a year. I was in a very desperate state. It was another pivot moment where I got told by the doctor that diet has no influence. Actually, here’s a funny thing. I was trying to be healthy.
Back then there was this craze of vegan raw food diets and I was trying to do that and it was making me feel so bad. I thought, “The doctor’s right, I’m just going to listen to the doctor,” and I took all their drugs and everything. I got loads of side effects. They said stress doesn’t make any difference so I got more stressed out and the symptoms got worse. It got to a point where the doctor said, “You have two choices. Either you have your colon removed or you can be a guinea pig for a drug that hasn’t been tested before.” This was the lowest point in my life and this is when luckily when they say God sends the gift of desperation. I literally got a gift in the most desperate moment, which was this amazing lady called Swami Ambikananda who came to the rescue. She runs with a very popular yoga school in the UK. She works with me now very closely with SOMA.
She said to me, “You’ve got a gift. If you can heal yourself, you’ll be an amazing role model for people out there. We can give this a go. I can’t promise anything. If you learn the foundations of Pranayama Yoga and Ayurveda, you will be able to get well.” Within a few months, I realized what was the right diet for me. I realized the breath and it’s a relationship with the body. I discovered this whole story of Soma and how we can use breathing techniques to influence the nervous system. I changed my diet according to Ayurveda. I did this lifestyle guide. It’s a system engineered in India that gives you your lifestyle according to who you are in terms of your energy type, your body type, your mindset, these things and you can customize food.
There’s no one size fits all in Ayurveda. I use Ayurvedic principles and healed myself within a few months. One of the things I really discovered was the reason, the real reason why cows are considered holy in India, that’s because cows produce two types of milk. One of them is the colostrum, the first milk. We all consume colostrum. The first milk you consume when you’re born that your mother gives you is called colostrum and it’s super rich in antibodies, growth factors, immune factors, nutrition. It’s the perfect food. It comes in and gives you your immune system, your mother’s antibodies come over and it actually gives you the ability to digest adult food.
If you weren’t breastfed properly or if your mom’s colostrum was weak, you’re going to be more prone to childhood problems and that’s something that happened to me. You’ve got to be also careful because the colostrum that you consume from your mother, it can also pass over emotion. If your mother has been in a very stressful time, that can also pass on. That can again lead to other issues because your immune system is largely in your gut. Your gut microbiome, it has been shown now in various studies to be super important to your gut health. In Ayurveda, all diseases start with the gut. Gut health is my primary focus. I’m helping people get their gut get better.
The root cause is people are walking around with all kinds of things. Some are physical and other nonphysical. The gut is the place you would recommend that people look to first to find out and have their gut health tested. Give us a sense of somebody comes to you and says, “I’ve got these things that are presenting, these symptoms, etc.” They’re either on meds or they’re considering taking them because they’re frustrated and they don’t know what else to do. Perhaps, as you said, rely on a doctor that has been trained to prescribe medicine because that’s the formal training in medical school. They’re not trying to do anything wrong. I think the Hippocratic Oath is clear, “Do no harm.” In addition to food, let food be the medicine, the principle is to do no harm. I don’t think doctors are trying to do any harm. I think they just let’s say missing some information potentially. What would you say to somebody that walks in and has some symptoms? You’re going to say, “Let’s start by examining your gut health.”
I’m actually not into a lot of testing like health checkups and all that stuff. I think they are the biggest crime against humanity. I’ll tell you why. At any given time, there are only a few million people in the world who are genuinely really sick in a country. Here’s another reason why the pharmaceutical industry is a bit of a racket because the health checkup is the best way to give you more prescriptions. What’s happened is we live in a reductionist, scientific world where our science is based on averages and a linear representation of how the human body works, which is not true. We are not linear creatures. We are very irrational and very different. Every person’s unique. Here’s a thing.
One of the problems is that if your blood pressure is slightly elevated or if your blood sugar is slightly elevated, because you may be higher than the average, the moment is when they’ve got you. They’ll give you a drug at a routine check. They’ll say, “You have high cholesterol, you better get on the statin.” Once you get on the statin, you’ve got a 50% chance the following year of taking statins of getting diabetes. We’re producing diabetics on a massive rate around the world. Health checkups are the way to get people on drugs. Very innocent people go in for a checkup and they go away with a prescription, then a year later they’re on more drugs and more drugs and their health deteriorates. Here’s the thing, a classic example of why averages don’t work with humans. Gandhi, guess what is blood pressure was most of his life?If you're feeling unhappy, it's usually because of your environment and you need to do something in your environment. Click To Tweet
I’m guessing it was high.
It was 200/100 most of his life.
That’s because he was a lawyer. What was it when he died?
He died of bullets in his head. He died when he was 80 years old. He lived a long life. You need to start to get back into touch with your own feelings.
Where I wanted to take this, at least for the moment, is let’s say there’s somebody reading this thinking, “I’ve got these symptoms or I’ve been living with chronic something, chronic disease, chronic pain of some kind. Either I’m on medicine or not on medicine, but I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling this way. I want to do something about it. Don’t really care what that is, as long as it’s not going to cause me more harm by creating more symptoms that I’ve got to treat or deal with in some way.” I started to see a naturopathic physician some years ago and got tested, got a number of different tests done to determine whether or not I was deficient in certain areas. Primarily food is the way to go. This is what I’ve come to understand from myself. Supplements are fine I suppose, but the food is the way to go. If you’re sitting there thinking, “What do I do? What’s my next step? Should I just go to see my doctor? Should I go get that annual checkup? Should I go get a battery of tests?” I hear you saying no because tests only produce more prescriptions of finding more things to prescribe. Is there an alternative to that and if so, what is it?
This is like where we go into an area which is controversial. I actually put symptoms into certain categories. There are some alarming symptoms you want to actually find an expert to help you with. Those would be where you’re bleeding when you go to the toilet or where you’re puking up blood and things like that.
These are acute symptoms.
These are things that there is some problem. Doctors are amazing in emergency situations. They can help you stop the bleeding and stop you from internally bleeding.
You have a bullet wound, you break a bone or you fall off the roof. These are good reasons to go to the doctor, go to the hospital, go to the emergency room. No debates, yes?
I’m glad we’re clear about that.
Actually, they’re amazing in emergency situations. However, chronic conditions, not so much. Symptoms like heartburn, indigestion, things like that for example, which a lot of people suffer from is the first sign that there’s something not right. When you start getting like a regurgitation of food or nauseous feeling. If you get a lot of nausea and a lot of pain, that’s another warning symptom or maybe that you’re pregnant if you’re a woman. That’s another thing. There were a lot of symptoms that actually you can treat yourself like where you may have a lot of gas, bloating, things like that. Almost all, either emotional or a combination of emotional and diet. Quite often we choose the wrong foods, either out of ignorance or comfort eating. That’s usually because of some emotional trigger or you’re under stress. One of the first things you can do right when you start getting the symptoms, and I believe in gut instincts and the gut is like your brain. I don’t say any brain is more important and the other, but this is a part of your brain and you need to pay attention.
This is the, “Trust your gut or check in with your gut.” Those clichés are there because primarily they’re true.
Here’s the thing. This is the most important question you can ask yourself every single day. That is when you wake up, do you wake up feeling like you have to do what you have to do to survive or are you doing it because you really love it and you want to do it because it’s your passion? If you wake up every day feeling like you have to do something or your having to be compassionate, feel like you’re having to be compassionate rather than wanting to be genuinely with enthusiasm, then that’s where the problem starts.What affects your physiology is diet and food. You become what you eat. Click To Tweet
It’s an obligation. If you’re waking up feeling obliged to do something versus something you’re called to do or it’s your blessing, it’s your honor to do, there’s a difference between those two states energetically and otherwise.
Your gut and your heart will start to respond to that. Basically, this is the way I treat things. I know that people who are always in survival mode will start getting gut issues and then may even have heart problems. Some people they’re going to get more prone to heart issues. Almost everyone, the first line is usually some gut problems. It could be like heartburn, indigestion or more intestinal issues like constipation, diarrhea and these things and there is almost always some emotional component to it. The first thing is I would recommend to people if you feel like you have to do something and your guts feeling funny is first, have a look at your environment. Your inner world is a reflection of your outer world and your outer world is often a reflection of your inner world.
If you’re feeling unhappy, it’s usually because of your environment and you need to do something in your environment. I was in a very desperate situation. I was initially in the pharmacy where I went to work and I felt like I had to do this job to survive to pay the bills. I just felt like I was just passing the time a lot in my day. That obviously led to a lot of suppressed emotions that affected my gut. There are other emotions that affect you, which are like anger, envy, jealousy, rage, fear. These affect the gut health big time. These low-level emotions, we have to work with it. If we hold onto them, it will take its toll on us. Certain techniques really help you to get there. Some people, some coaches, they would like to work on the actions that you take and the strategies.
I like to go a layer deeper and go to the level of physiology because the physiology is where thoughts come from, where decisions come from and that’s what influences your actions. I like to work on the quality of physiology because that will impact the quality of your thinking and your decision making. You start to make decisions more than your failures. Very simple things that affect your physiology is diet and food. You become what you eat. The first thing you can do if you have gut problems is to find out what is the right food for your body, who you are. That’s what Ayurveda presents a very beautiful solution for. You can go and do these tests called Dosha tests. I’m going to come out with one soon, but there are many online for free. I’ll give you medication with the foods that you should be in. You may find that raw food diets are bad for you.
What we’re saying is that not everybody is the same and therefore you can’t have one size fits all even when it comes to something that you would call good like vegan diet or raw food diet. That’s not going to be fitting for every person.
It’s the same as the carnivore diet. The other extreme, which is a whole load of people going on about just eat meat. It’s BS. Humans have been eating a plethora of different foods for thousands of years. Meat is not the be-all end-all of everything. It is not right for everyone. You’ve got to find out who you are.
I’d love for you to share because this may be part one of a two-part or a three-part interview. I get that feeling right now. What are some of the rituals that you’ve got? Give us a sense of how is it you begin the day. Because for me anyway, as my grandmother would say, that first step forward out of bed is really important. I call it the first domino in this long line of dominoes that is our life day-to-day. What is that like for you?
My energy type and which I find is very similar to people like us, we probably have the same, which is Vata and pitta. It’s air and fire. We have a combination of air and fire. People with air and fire are more prone to colon issues than other energy types. I make my lifestyle around balancing Vata and pitta or kapha. We get in alignment. Kapha is the other, which is Earth. Vata people and pitta people tend to be creative entrepreneurs like us. What balances it very well, firstly when you wake up is to drink water to rehydrate because when you are asleep, you’re dehydrated. You first replenish lots of water and you don’t need to eat straight away. I usually give a bit of time like 30 minutes to 45 minutes a break where I rehydrate. I have a smoothie, which is grounding for Vata people, which is rich in ghee. Ghee is one of the staples. It’s good for all the energy types. Ghee is very grounding, very nurturing and it helps strip out toxins from the gut.
It also gives you a very good source of energy for the day. It’s very grounding for air energies like myself. I also add in other ingredients like cacao. I love chocolate, like real pure cacao. It’s a superfood. It’s one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can see. I have a mixture of different things in my smoothie and then I usually, not always, but at the moment I’m very much in creative mode but I try and do a little bit of low to moderate exercise. I don’t do very intensive long cardio workouts or anything like that because that’s not very good for energy sites. They actually strip away the muscle. We need that muscle. Maybe I’m right with you, but you lose weight quite easily if you don’t eat and stuff. You basically eat anything and you maintain like a pretty standard weight.
I used to be able to. I don’t lose weight easily but I don’t gain weight at all. Almost not at all. What I’m thinking is where it will be great because I want to summarize for a moment that part of your morning ritual for your body type and your makeup. Makeup is everything, it’s not just physical. Drink water to begin. That’s definitely how I start because we get dehydrated when we’re sleeping. Water at the start of the day. Coffee is dehydrating for folks that don’t know that already, that’s just the way it is. I do drink coffee, but I don’t drink coffee before I’ve had at least eight ounces and sometimes more water to begin with. I don’t eat typically at the start of the day, it’s usually 30 minutes to an hour, just like you described.
I start with a green smoothie, a smoothie that includes things like ghee, spinach, kale and other things that are very good for me. Some light exercise, which can be walking, twenty minutes of brisk walking or something like that. I’m sure they’d love to know what your smoothie is. The good news there is that you create your own. My recipe is not going to be the work all for you, neither would Niraj’s, his is for him. Maybe there are other people with his makeup that would work for, but you’ve got to try it out for yourself. For example, some of you may want to have sriracha, you might want to put ginger or something else in a smoothie. You might want to put fruit in. I typically don’t. I like mine more bitter. If we do put much fruit, it’s maybe one banana and that’s it. It’s very much personal preference. Niraj, I want to first of all, thank you so much for having you on.
I missed that one important thing. It’s the breathing, the breathwork. I always try and start the morning with a breathing practice. I’ve got a daily routine. It is this amazing rhythmic breathing that balances the body followed by breath retention techniques Kumbhaka, which is the most revered technique of all. It creates a very powerful positive stress response in the body. Another component that I want to share is the sauna. I love using a combination of sauna and cold immersion techniques.
We’ll talk more about the Soma, the breathwork. Maybe we’ll even put something in there and people know a little bit about somatic intelligence, but we won’t have time to get into that at the moment. The idea of how it is that you manage and move energy. I want to close a loop. The closing loop would be that when I did do breathwork long ago, returned to my birth and to the forceps entry into the world, I was able to do something remarkable. Just to have that knowledge was one thing to know that there was this aggressive, let’s say, beginning to things. What I was able to do at the moment that I realized that was to forgive. Forgiveness is a very powerful experience when it’s coming from a place of greater understanding. I was able to forgive everything surrounding that moment in time when I was brought out into the world with metal tongs. A lot of the anger that I think I did feel, other emotions and reactions toward authority was shifted. It’s never been the same.
That’s what we do is we use the breathing. You can get into these deep meditative states where you can reprogram the cell consciousness with love, with forgiveness, with gratitude. This is how I actually start my day with this meditation. It makes you feel so amazing. It makes me feel so good. This is what I did when I healed myself with the illness. Because of all that anger, all that fear is what manifests into the disease. If you leave it for too long, then that’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to end up like I did, hands down. What I believe is this practice of faith, forgiveness, gratitude, I think it’s the most healing thing you can do for yourself.Practicing forgiveness and gratitude is the most healing thing you can do for yourself. Click To Tweet
That’s where we’ll end things. I have a practice that our folks know of really well as the waking ritual. The waking ritual for me and the waking ritual that I want to not only share again and repeat, but also recommend at this moment that we all experiment with waking up first of all. How many of you are willing to wake up tomorrow? Niraj, I’ll ask you the same question you woke up now, yes?
It was a gift, not a guarantee. Are you willing to wake up again tomorrow?
It’s not a guarantee. When it happens, not if, but when that happens, it will be a gift. It will be something even in the midst of whatever the morning feels like. As we said at the very start, we don’t always feel great at the start of the day for whatever reason. There might be stuff that was just being processed in the time that we were sleeping, but when we wake up, it doesn’t always feel great. In that moment when we’re waking up, regardless of how we feel or what our minds go to, whether it’s the problems that we have or the challenges we face in the day or how we’re feeling physically or any other thing that might be happening at that moment.
As we take that first breath of the day, the first conscious breath, we can have the understanding and it’s truthful, understanding that people in that very moment will be taking their last breath. As you are taking your first breath tomorrow morning and realizing there are people taking their last breath at that same moment, you can be grateful. It doesn’t have to be contrived. It’s not something made up. It’s not something that you have to feign because there is gratitude at that moment for the fact that you have been given another day and given another breath.
In fact, we can be grateful for every breath. We can forgive every moment, forgive as we breathe for the same reason that we are just not guaranteed the next one. Everyone is truly a blessing. However it is that you put your own arms around that concept that we take a breath. In fact, even at this moment, just breathe together. We’re virtually breathing together, all of us. We’ll breathe together, feel gratitude and the next morning when you are taking that breath from the bed, from your bed or from the floor as you’re putting your feet on the floor, and this is the ritual. This is the practice. Just take ten seconds if you would and feel appreciation and feel gratitude and even unconditional love. Feel that for yourself and say these words out loud if you will, “I love my life. I love my life.” Niraj, what are the words?
I love my life.
Thank you so much for being here. I appreciate the time.
The funny thing is the new song that I’m coming out, which is a lot of people are raving about it’s called I Love My Life. We’ve even made a music video for it. You’re going to help me create this new genre of positive music with positive lyrics. We love it.
I love to get your thoughts on the podcast. Leave a comment or leave a review on iTunes and we’ll respond to all those as well.
- SOMA Breath
- Envision Festival
- Wim Hof
- Swami Ambikananda
- The Conscious PIVOT Podcast on iTunes
About Niraj Naik
Niraj Naik is an ex-pharmacist turned holistic health expert and founder of SOMA Breath.
After working for several years as a community pharmacist, Niraj saw firsthand just how ineffective and even damaging pharmaceutical drugs can be. When he found himself a patient of stress-related depression and ulcerative colitis, he embarked on a journey of profound healing and now lives totally symptom-free.
Known around the world as The Renegade Pharmacist, Niraj is dedicated to educating others on topics of health, breathwork, meditation, and more.