Johanna Lehmann, the powerhouse woman behind Tiger & Turtle breathwork

In this interview, we get candid with Johanna Lehmann and ask her a few questions about breathwork, empowerment and whether she prefers coffee or tea. 

How has breathwork changed your approach to life?

“Since my masterclass with one of the Wim Hof instructors where we were able to blow up pig lungs and dissect pig hearts, I got this amazing view into the inner workings of our organs. It’s mind-blowing how a breath consisting of an inhale and exhale has an effect on the whole body – down to the cell level. Since the training, I consider my body and mind much more of a system and I now know how one inhale and exhale has an effect on so many biochemical processes in the body, impacting everything from  hormones to the digestive system to emotional processes. 

How can we use breathwork to help the state of the world right now? 

“With breathwork, we can help people shift from autonomic nervous states of fight and flight to states of rest / digest which, according to the polyvagal theory, are also related to states where we are able to feel safe and connect with others, and be able to relax and live in the moment. If we continue making decisions from states of fight or flight, often related to emotional states of high stress and fear or anger I feel the world is a mirror or our internal states. 

With depression on the rise around the world, how have you adapted your course work? “Breathwork, especially intermittent hypoxic training which consists of controlled hyperventilation in combination with breath holds, is proven to lower depression. I am very happy that Wim Hof, the Ice Man is also leading a lot of scientific research in that field to show that tools like breathwork and cold therapy can be as, or even more, successful for the treatment of depression than medication.”

You are a passionate yogi. What is the link between breathwork and yoga?  

“I taught yoga for many years and always was quite interested in pranayama. Every pose, every asana is combined with an inhale , usually moving upwards and an exhaling coming back down to the mat. Yoga teaches us to work with the breath but it is, at least for most of the Western classes, rather focused on the physical movement of the body. Breathwork is the healing modality of the breath – where the body comes to rest and the breath takes over.”

How can we use breathwork to empower ourselves and the people around us? 

“This is why I am so passionate about breathwork. It has so many applications: from being able to tap into your intuition as we activate  brain regions and brain waves that we otherwise rarely do to being able to access deep states of meditation fast to heal trauma to just improve your sleep.”

Now, for a fun question.. What is your favourite place you have visited and why? 

“In my previous career I was lucky to be able to travel the world and I was always looking for ways to bring all those impressions to people all around the world. One of my highlights was working for a turtle conservation project on a remote island of Costa Rica at night and exploring the Salt Deserts of Uyuni.”

Beyond breathwork, what’s next?

I feel that breathwork is next 😉 And there is soooooo much to do! I would love to offer more breathwork for kids and teenagers. I had various requests for using breathwork for school stress, eating disorders or even panic attacks. I would love to bring breathwork into corporations to show that it’s a super efficient tool to not only calm down and relax but through that be able to increase the performance of employees. 

Quick-fire questions:

Coffee or tea? Coffee 

Bush or beach? Bush 

Chocolate or vanilla? Chocolate 

Morning person or night owl? Morning 

Sandals or sneakers? Sandals 

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