We had the good fortune of connecting with Elsa Unenge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elsa, is your business focused on helping the community? If so, how?
My business helps people by teaching them how to breathe again. Breathing is something most of us have forgotten how to do and by teaching people how to breathe right, I help improve their mental and physical health.
When we are born, we all know how to breathe. But as we grow older, we gradually forget. We start mimicking our parents breathing habits (who are likely doing it poorly as 80% of the adult population suffer from dysfunctional breathing patterns).
Breathing is the most fundamental thing we do. We do it around 25,000 times every day. But just because we do it automatically doesn’t mean we do it right. Stress causes stressful breathing which in turn adds even more stress. And chronic stress is related to our most common diseases these days.
The good news is that we can re-learn how to breathe again, making us healthier and happier. Everyone can benefit from learning the science behind breathing and how it actually works. With Andetag (Swedish for ‘breath’), I want to spread this knowledge and make people aware of how powerful their breath really is.
I have helped people ease their anxiety, cure their sleeping problems, and manage their stress. I hope I can help you by sparking an interest in the way you breathe.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I have a background in Behavioural Science and social media working with companies like Adidas, Netflix, and Land Rover. However, in 2020 I switched careers completely to become a full-time breath coach focusing on functional everyday breathing for mental and physical health.
Right now, I’m very excited because I’m working on my digital breathing course that Andetag is about to launch. The course is a great introduction and kick-start for anyone who wants to breathe better. It’s filled with simple tips and tricks on how to tweak your breath during exercise, when you feel anxious, or when you can’t fall asleep.
Usually, I see a client for 40 minutes via Zoom or in person, once a week for 1-2 months. This course is a great option for people who can’t meet in a one-on-one setting or those who prefer to do the program at their own pace.
My journey to becoming a full-time breathing coach and launching Andetag began when I came across an interview with James Nestor (Author of ‘Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art’ and Journalist for The New York Times). That interview made me realize how little we actually know about the most essential thing we do, breathe. How breathing wrong can affect my health, both short-term and long-term. My first thought was “how can we not learn this in school? People need to hear this!”. After that, I went all in. I took a Breath Coach certification, read every book and research study I came across and I got my first client. I told someone at an event that I’d just received my Breath Coach Certificate when another person overheard our conversation. A few minutes later that other person became my first client. From that day on, I was in business. My first client told her friends and they kept spreading the word.
To test my program and get feedback, I did free sessions with my friends and family. They then spread the word to their friends and in their workplaces. That’s how I started working with businesses. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and people in your community for help, that can literally be how your business kicks off. To date, my business is still primarily word of mouth, so don’t underestimate it.
During the majority of days, I’m convinced that what I’m doing is the right path for me. But there are days when I’m not sure or I just feel like I don’t get anything done. To snap out of that feeling, I drop everything, go out for a walk and listen to a podcast with someone who’s been on a similar journey. It works every time. I’m not alone, there are thousands of people who’ve been exactly where I am right now and it’s nice to hear them share their stories. It gives me so much energy, motivation, and confidence. I highly recommend it.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Breathing is the missing pillar of health. Think about it, we obsess over what we eat, how much we exercise, and sleep but we have forgotten our breath. Research has shown correlations between breathing patterns and our most common diseases such as cardiovascular disease and anxiety. By just tweaking our breath, we can become better breathers again. It all starts with becoming aware of your breath. How do you breathe on a day-to-day basis? In fact, how do you breathe right now? Take a second and notice if it’s your belly or your chest that is moving with every breath. Do you breathe through your nose or mouth? If you are breathing with your mouth open and your chest, and maybe shoulders, you are signaling ‘stress’ to your brain. On the other hand, if you are breathing through your nose and your belly is moving in and out then you are signaling ‘calm’ to the brain.
Re-learning how to breathe can reduce stress, anxiety, help us sleep better, and improve our digestion.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d start with a sunrise hike in Runyon Canyon. No worries if it’s a hazy morning, it will just make the experience better. As you start your hike thinking “this was a fail” (due to the haze) and that you won’t be able to see the sunrise, all of a sudden you’ve hiked through the clouds and ended up above as you see the sun rise – it’s magical.
After your hike, head to Joan’s on Third for breakfast followed by strolling on West 3rd street. Walk down to LACMA for a visit. If you are on a budget wait until 3 PM as it’s free entrance for LA residents (Mon–Fri). Finish with dinner at Gracias Madre (in West Hollywood) great for vegans and non-vegans.
The next day I’d spend the whole day in Venice. Go for a morning walk along Venice Canals when it’s still quiet and calm. Have breakfast at Great White, rent a surfboard by the boardwalk and try to stand up for a couple of hours. Be amazed by the courage of the skaters in the skate park by the beach, and suck in the typical Venice Beach vibe. Stroll up to Abbot Kinney, have a coffee from one of all the coffee bars for example Blue Bottle, Intelligentsia, or Alfred Coffee. Have a pizza slice from GTA. Sit on one of their benches in the sun and just people watch. Later, hit Scopa for dinner and maybe a nightcap at Gran Blanco.
Another morning hike: Hike up to Griffith Observatory, go in, check it out and enjoy the outside view of L.A. Start and finish your hike from The Trail (café) where you can have breakfast or a coffee before or after your hike. Have lunch and scout some celebs at Little Dom’s, just a 5 min drive from the hike.
A day in Downtown: Have breakfast at ilCaffè and check out the shops in the area. Walk around in Arts District and make sure you don’t type in Art District (without the s on the end) then you will end up in the wrong place. Walk around at ROW DTLA, have lunch, grab a coffee and enjoy some shopping.
Enjoy a drive along Highway 1 by the ocean, hike Los Leones, and get amazed by another view of L.A. including the beach and the ocean. Have breakfast or lunch at Farmshop (Santa Monica), enjoy the beaches in Malibu, and watch the surfers catch some waves.
There are endless things to do in L.A. but those are some of my favorites.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My husband Arvid Harnqvist, is a rock! He has supported me in all different ways acting as a mentor, coach, graphic designer, video-maker, you name it. He pushes and supports me when I need it the most and truly believes in me and what I do!
Sign up for a free introduction session here: https://lu.ma/u8i2qpy7