Kohl Christensen

The Transformational Power of Breathwork

A conversation with surfer Kohl Christensen about the benefits of breathwork on athletic performance

Header Photo Credit: Daniel Russo

Discovering Breathwork

Legendary surf pioneer Kohl Christensen grew up in the ocean. Diving, surfing, swimming and playing underwater are activities he’s pursued since a young age. Prolonged breath holds were a natural requirement of this kind of exploration, and became an integral part of Kohl’s athletic life. However, it wasn’t until recently that  Kohl began to understand the value and importance of something he’d always done naturally.

In 2020, the big wave surfer caught a massive swell at Pipeline, on Oahu’s North Shore. After slipping off his board in the barrel, he was slammed into the reef below and knocked unconscious. Rescuers quickly sprung into action and rushed him to the hospital, where he underwent brain surgery after doctors confirmed a skull fracture.

Kohl made a full recovery and has since returned to the ocean, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the breathwork practice he developed along the way.

Kohl leading morning breathwork at the 2021 Hawaii Athlete Summit.

A New Chapter

“The breathwork and having a strong family support [system] is what allowed me to push through and heal after my head and brain injury,” Kohl told Samsara. 

In addition to implementing a daily practice, Kohl studied under other breathwork and free dive specialists, went through Hatha Yoga training and certification, and became a certified meditation instructor through the Chopra Center. 

“I’m here to share all of the things I’ve learned along the way and my hope is that some of it resonates with you so that you can unlock your potential and personal growth.” 

breathwork in hawaii
Attendees of the 2021 Hawaii Athlete Summit doing breathwork.

The Hawaii Athlete Summit

Kohl will lead attendees of the Hawaii Athlete Summit in daily guided breathwork sessions. During this time, he will help you explore your lung capacity and share techniques that will help optimize your physiology and mindset. 

He explains how breathing directly correlates with athletic performance and uses surfing as a prime example. “Breath holds are part of the surfing experience. As you ride bigger and bigger waves, those breath holds need to increase in length. Exploring techniques to lengthen those times opens doors to the importance of relaxation.”

Because breathwork is the gateway to relaxation and visualization, it is in this space that you can begin to transform your outcomes. “The mind follows the breath. This translates over to all aspects of life, but for me it began with surfing and the ocean.”