Postponing the Inhale
(Lengthening the Pause after the Exhale)
Today we are going to experiment with “Breath Holding”
We all remember as children having contests to see how long we could hold our breath. This game has certain intuitive wisdom.
Breath holding has a number of physical, psychological and emotional benefits. And being able to hold our breath for a time can come in very handy, for example when swimming (or when visiting certain public toilets!)
The natural physiological breathing pattern at rest is: inhale, exhale, pause… inhale, exhale, pause… inhale, exhale, pause…
When most people hold their breath, they hold it after the inhale and before the exhale. In other words, they postpone the exhale.
But since a natural physiological pause already exists after the exhale, we are going to hold the breath at that point: in other words, we are going to postpone the inhale.
When you hold your breath, one of the things that happens is that carbon dioxide (CO2) begins to build up in your system. This triggers many thoughts, feelings and sensations, and emotions.
The longer you hold your breath, the stronger these triggers become. The urge to breathe becomes stronger and stronger, until finally it borders on panic, and you simply MUST breathe.
A healthy person at rest should be able to manage a controlled pause of thirty seconds or more after the exhale, with no discomfort. However many people begin to experience “air hunger” and the feeling that they “must” breathe after a pause of only five to ten seconds!
The practice of lengthening the natural pause after the exhale is a very healthy and revealing exercise.
You can use the second hand on your watch or clock, or you can count your heartbeats. The point is to see where your comfort level is, and gradually increase the length of the comfortable pause after the exhale.
The idea is to practice postponing the inhale… longer and longer… without experiencing any stress or strain or discomfort of any kind.
This is not about forcing yourself to turn blue, or trying to break the world record! This is about gently training your system to tolerate higher levels of carbon dioxide.
This has profound physiological, emotional, and psychological benefits because carbon dioxide is a volatile acid, and therefore it affects the pH balance in your body.
Carbon dioxide also acts as a vasodilator, affecting the smooth muscles that form the walls of blood vessels, bronchial vessels, and your intestinal passages.
As CO2 increases in your system, it causes micro-vessels to dilate (to open and expand). This sets the stage for oxygen delivery and transfer of nutrients and metabolic wastes to and from the organs, tissues, and cells.
For more understanding of breathing chemistry, see the article included here:
For Further Study: “CO2: Good for You And Tasty Too!”
This exercise is best done sitting.
Enjoy a normal inhale, and let the breath out naturally. Them without tensing any muscles… simply wait… don’t breathe in.
During this pause, notice the feelings and sensations arising in your body… And notice your REACTIONS to these feelings and sensations. Relax into them.
Look, listen and feel inwardly as the urge to breathe get stronger… Remain relaxed during this growing sense of urgency… And when the feelings begin to get too strong… simply let a natural inhale happen.
If you have to recover, that is if you find yourself gasping for air… or if you need to take several big breaths after the pause… it means that you have held your breath too long. After a few moments, try again, this time back off on the length of your pause… not holding the breath out as long.
Practicing this method several times per day (increasing the length of the pause by only 1 or 2 seconds every day or two), over the next several weeks, you can increase your controlled pause to a comfortable 30 to 45 seconds.
Many people around the world have healed their asthma using this method, and they have overcome anxiety attacks and panic disorders, as well as many other conditions…
It is a very powerful Breath Therapy Exercise/Technique!
Good luck with your practice! Remember to be gentle and patient with your system. Absolutely no forcing or straining!