The Human Operating Manual

The Breathing Cheat Sheet

Assume (unless otherwise stated) that each breath is to be through the nose and executed diaphragmatically.

Some of the exercises mentioned stimulate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), so we recommend being careful if you have high blood pressure, a weak heart, epilepsy, or reduced liver function. If you are uncertain, find a gentle breathing exercise to start with and consult your doctor first.

For further information on any of these exercises provided, refer to the Breathing Resources page and the corresponding summaries here.

Contents

Testing
  • Control Pause
Health Recovery
  • Nasal Breathing: Mouth Taping at Night
  • Better Symmetry and Airway Development
  • For Children
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Nose Songs
  • Decongest the Nose
  • Therapeutic Breathing (Movement + Breath for Mobility and Strength Rehabilitation)
  • General Program Based on improving BOLT/Control Pause Score (See Performance->Buteyko Breathing for Exercises)
  • Program for Weight Loss or Obesity (Suitable for All Scores)
  • Cooling Breath (Sitali Pranayama, Kundalini)
  • Decompression Breathing (Dr. Eric Goodman)
  • Holotropic Breathwork (Mental Health Recovery)
Deregulation/Calm
  • Respiratory Sinus Arrythmia (Physiological Sigh)
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)
  • Yogic Breathing (Pranayama Basics)
  • Sustained Breathing
  • Vagal Breathing (Pulse Decrease)
  • Box Breathing (Calm)
  • The Relaxing Breath (Visama Vrtti)/4-7-8 Breathing (Dr. Andrew Weil)
  • Breathing for Mood Regulation
  • Breathing for Stress Control
  • Crocodile Breathing (Diaphragm Training)
Pain Relief
  • Soothing Breathing
  • Breathing for Pain Regulation
Upregulation/Energy
  • Sudarshan Kriya (Stress reduction, Calming, and Energizing)
  • Victorious Breath (Ujjayi)
  • Brain Purification (Kapalabhati) 
  • Bellows Breath/Breath of Fire (Bhastrika)
  • Wim Hof Method (WHM)/Tummo/Cyclic Hyperventilation
Performance
  • Breathing Coordination
  • Breathing Coordination
  • Resonant (Coherent) Breathing
  • Buteyko Breathing
    • Breathe Light to Breathe Right
    • Breathe Light to Breathe Right – Jogging, running, or other activities
    • Breathing Recovery, Improved Concentration
    • Simulate High-Altitude Training – Walking (only if CP/BOLT score is over 20s)
    • Simulate High-Altitude Training – Running, cycling, swimming
    • Advanced Simulation of High-Altitude Training
    • Breathe Light to Breathe Right (Advanced Method)
  • Static Apnea Tables
  • Breath-Hold Walks
  • Intermittent Hypoxia Training (Kumbhaka Pranayama)
  • Powerful Breathing
  • Personal Training Program
  • Free diving
  • Climbing
    • In Case of Altitude Headaches
    • Breathing Exercise While Walking at High Altitude
    • Resting Breathing Exercise to Adjust to an Altitude Greater Than Thirteen Thousand Feet
Creativity
  • One-Minute Breath (Kundalini Yoga technique)
  • Alternate Nostril Breathing – Single Nostril (Nadi Shodhana)

Testing

Control Pause (BOLT & Involuntary Breath Movement)

A diagnostic tool to gauge general respiratory health and breathing progress. See General Program Based on improving BOLT for more instructions, after a result is recorded.

The control pause is a breath-hold, after a normal exhalation of air, until you experience the tiniest desire to breathe in. The control pause (CP) provides excellent feedback about your ability to efficiently raise your carbon dioxide levels and engage in nasal breathing. A 40s+ score is good indicator of VO2 max and aerobic fitness. A CP score lower than 30s suggests room for improvement. Less than 15s is indicative of respiratory issues, disordered sleep breathing, anxiety, and stress.

  • Rest for 10 minutes to allow your breathing to stabilize.
  • Place a watch or a mobile phone with a stopwatch nearby.
  • Sit up with a straight back.
  • Pinch both nostrils closed with the thumb and forefinger of either hand, then exhale softly out your mouth to the natural conclusion.
  • Start the stopwatch and hold your breath.
  • When you feel the first desire to breathe, note the time, and take a soft inhale.
  • Make sure that your first breath, after the control pause, is controlled and relaxed. If you are gasping, you probably held your breath for too long. You should only measure while relaxed and breathing normally. Never after exercise or during stressed states. This is a not a willpower test, so be sure to stop the timer once the desire to breathe occurs to gauge an accurate result.

Holding the breath at the top of an inhalation, before gasping (Involuntary Breath Movement), is your static apnea score (average is 30-90sec).

Health Recovery

Nasal Breathing: Mouth Taping at Night

Use a 3M Micropore tape or a pre-cut mouth shaped piece of tape that is non-allergenic. You can use any type of tape, as long as it seals your mouth and doesn’t leave glue residue on your face. You can also apply a small amount of edible oil, like coconut or olive oil to your lips and the edges of your mouth to make it easier to roll back the tape at night. Go to sleep after you are comfortable with its positioning. If it is too uncomfortable to have on all night, you can take it off and try to go for longer the following night. It may also be useful to get used to it by wearing it during the day.

The benefits of night time mouth taping and nasal breathing are:

  • Lowering catecholamines and stress related hormones.
  • Reducing sinus infections. Nasal breathing removes a significant number of germs and bacteria from the air.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Increasing heart rate variability.
  • Redeveloping collapsed soft tissue in the throat.
  • Reducing snoring.
  • Reduced sleep apnea and therefore, less chances of ADHD, diabetes, bed-wetting, high blood pressure, cancer, insomnia, etc. Reducing sleep apnea also prevents night time oxygen deprivation, which leads to depression, heart failure, memory problems, and early death.
  • Increased cognition.
  • Reduce fatigue, irritation, bad breath, and anxiety.
  • Increased vasopressin and thus, reduced night time bathroom stops (less deep sleep interruptions).
  • Approximately 50% more resistance to the airstream in normal individuals, resulting in 10-20% more O2 uptake.
  • Warms and humidifies incoming air (air coming in at 42.8F/6C will be warmed to 86F/30C by the time it reaches the back of the throat, and 98.6F/37C when it is in the lungs).
  • Improved physical exercise performance. You should be able to achieve a greater work intensity based on a lower heart rate and greater VO2 max score.
  • Greater production of nitric oxide.
  • Facilitates proper craniofacial development, temporomandibular joint function, head posture, and overall facial symmetry.
Better Symmetry and Airway Development

High-level athletic ability seems to be correlated with having an open, well-formed airway, which is also related to a symmetrical facial structure. The best way to breathe is through the nose, although many children with autoimmune issues such as asthma, heavy mucus, or nasal congestion, tend to breathe through their mouths.

Young children who breathe through their mouths tend to develop asymmetrical faces and poor jaw and tooth alignment. Mouth breathing can cause the face to grow long and narrow, and it also inhibits the full development of the jaw, which shifts slightly back from their ideal positions, reducing the openness of the airway. Mouth breathers tend to have poor definition of their cheekbones, asymmetrical noses, and upper back and neck postural changes that result in decreased muscle strength, less chest expansion, impaired breathing, disrupted sleep, and even subpar athletic performance. Potentially creating the need for braces.

During stressful/sick events, we may develop mouth-breathing with shallow chest-breathing habits, which forces the body into prioritizing oxygenation of our blood. Increasing the risk of sleep-disordered breathing.

When the jaw and face are not symmetrical, the airway is compromised by the tongue during sleep. The combination of mouth breathing, prolonged bottle feeding, sippy cups, consumption of soft and processed foods, poor intake of fat-soluble vitamins, autoimmune disorders and allergies, and poor oxygenation narrows breathing and restricts oxygen intake and sleep quality. Each time the brain has to deal with these breathing interruptions, it halts entry into deep sleep, and your body is never able to get a full restorative sleep. You toss and turn, grind your teeth, or snore in the attempt to get more air. A contributing factor to ADHD, Alzheimer’s, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mood disorders such as depression, and cognitive learning disorders.

For Children:

  • Discourage thumb sucking, extended bottle feeding, sippy cups, and mouth breathing.
  • Avoid orthodontics, since getting braces can significantly compromise your airway.
  • Use a holistic dentist.
  • Consume foods rich in vitamin K2, such as egg yolks, liver, butter, and natto, or consider a K2 supplement.
  • Chew each bite of food 25-40 times and avoid pureed foods. Keep head upright to activate the mastication muscles better.
  • Oil pulling.
  • http://buteykoforkids.org/

The forces exerted by the lips and tongue can influence facial development. As you breathe in, the lips and cheeks exert a slight inward, sucking pressure as the tongue exerts an opposite force. When you breathe through the nose, the tongue should sit on the roof of your mouth, pressing against it and causing it to grow wide and U-shaped. Creating more room for the teeth.

Sleep Apnea

To test for sleep apnea, you can use a continuous pulse oximeter to monitor oxygenation levels during a night of sleep. If levels drop dramatically at several points throughout the night, it is highly likely you have sleep apnea. You can also get a sleep study polysomnography.

Do the following to reduce sleep apnea:

  • Mouth taping at night.
  • Perform regular postural exercises.
  • Jaw alignment therapy or massage work on the jaw, face, and neck muscles.
  • Pay attention to sleeping position and consider sleeping on your side.
  • If you must sleep on your back, consider a back-sleeping sleep-apnea pillow or a zero-gravity mattress.
  • Address your diet and eliminate foods that promote congestion and phlegm.
Nose Songs

Nitric oxide widens capillaries, increases oxygenation, and relaxes the smooth muscles. Humming increases the release 15-fold by vibrating the nasal cavity. Possibly the cause of the induced calm state of ohm chanting.

  • Breathe normally through the nose and hum, any song or sound.
  • Practice for at least 5 minutes a day, more if possible.
Decongest the Nose

Breath hold walks:

  • Take a small, silent breath in through the nose and a small, silent breath out through your nose.
  • Pinch your nose with your fingers to hold your breath.
  • Walk as many paces as possible with your breath held. Try to build up a medium to strong air shortage, without overdoing it.
  • When you resume breathing, do so through your nose. Try to calm your breathing immediately.
  • After resuming your breathing, your first breath will probably be bigger than usual. Make sure that you calm your breathing as soon as possible by suppressing the second and third breaths.
  • You should be able to recover normal breathing within 2-3. If your breathing is erratic or heavy, you held it too long.
  • Wait 1-2 minutes before repeating the breath hold.
  • Go easy for the first few repetitions, increasing your pace each time.
  • Repeat 6 times, creating a fairly strong need for air.
Therapeutic Breathing (Movement + Breath for Mobility and Strength Rehabilitation)

Mobility exercises found in Breathology.

  • Cat stretch: Breathe in with an arched back and with the chin down, 5-10s hold, breathe out with a sagged back and looking up. Perform 20 reps and practice reverse breathing (activating the perineum and lower abdominals while inhaling and relaxing the muscles while exhaling).
  • Wag you tail: Hold each side for 5-10s, breathe out and go to other side. Repeat 10 times and then using more dynamic movement.
  • Right angle: Lie on back with the legs at 90 degrees. Breathe quietly for 1-2min.
  • Plough pose: Let the right angle pose fall towards you, let legs touch the floor above your head. Keep neck safety in mind.
  • Child’s pose. Breathe slowly and deeply while maintaining this position.
  • Maximum exhalation: Full nasal inhalation, while lying on the back, hold for a few seconds, and exhale as slowly as possible.
  • The Three Locks: Performed after a warm up, stretch, and supple lungs, chest, and spine. In a sitting position, while performing pranayama (Victorious Breath and Alternate Nostril Breathing).
    • Root lock: Pull muscles in the rectum and perineum together, hold for 1-2s.
    • Abdominal lock (uddiyana): With a full or half breath, suck stomach and diaphragm in and up. Hold for 5s. Once your diaphragm is stronger and more flexible you should be able to hold for 1-4min.
    • Throat lock: Close throat, push chin down a little, chest up. While holding breath and keeping air in the lungs. Unlock quietly before breathing out.
    • Great lock (maha bhanda): All the previous locks at once.
General Program Based on improving BOLT/Control Pause Score (See Performance->Buteyko Breathing for Exercises)

Score under 10s (asthmatics/mouth breathers)

  • Measure your score each morning after waking.
  • Breathe through the nose, day and night (mouth tape).
  • Practice the Breathing Recovery Exercise throughout the day, ideally spending 10 minutes, 6 times per day doing small breath holds of between 2-5s.
  • Another option is to exhale through the nose, pinch the nose, walk while holding the breath for 5-10 paces, rest for 1 minute, and repeat 10 times.
  • 10-15 minutes of slow walking each day with the mouth closed. If you need to breathe through the mouth, stop walking to recover.
  • If below 15s, don’t try Breathe Light to Breathe Right (BL to BR) because the air hunger may destabilize your breathing. If you do breath holds, you will be limited to 10s. When your score is above 15s, you will find it easier to bring relaxation to your body with BL to BR. The minimum time for practicing BL to BR is 1 hour total (6 sets of 10 minutes).
  • As your score increases, it will be easier to engage in physical exercise. Your expected progress is 25s within 6-8 weeks.

Score of 10-20s (usually high stress individuals)

  • Measure every morning after waking.
  • Breathe through the nose at all times.
  • Regularly observe your breathing throughout the day to ensure it stays calm and soft. Swallow or hold your breath if you feel a sigh coming. If you miss a sigh, gently hold your breath for 5-10s to compensate.
  • Practice BL to BR or Breathing Recovery for 10 minutes, 3 times a day. Once in the morning, once in the afternoon, and once before bed.
  • Practice BL to BR – Walking for between 30-60 minutes per day. You can slow jog if your score is greater than 15s.

Score of 20-30s (maybe frequent exerciser who mouth breathes and gets fatigued easily)

  • Measure scores every morning.
  • Breathe through the nose.
  • Reduce breathing by BL to BR for 10 minutes, 3 times per day, morning, afternoon, and night.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes by walking and performing a breath hold to achieve a medium to strong air hunger every minute or so to Simulate High-Altitude Training.
  • BL to BR during a fast walk or jog for 30-60 minutes daily with a relaxed body abdominal breathing, and nasal breathing to create an air shortage.
  • Simulate High-Altitude Training during walking or jogging by practicing 8-10 breath holds.
  • After physical exercise, practice the Breathing Recovery Exercise.

Score of 30s+

  • Measure every morning after waking.
  • Breathe through the nose.
  • Warm up for 10 minutes by walking and performing a breath hold every minute or so to Simulate High-Altitude Training.
  • BL to BR during the run by increasing the intensity of the exercise while maintaining nasal breathing to develop a reasonably strong air shortage.
  • Continue with running and nasal breathing for 20 minutes to 1 hour.
  • Midway through the run, practice breath holds to Simulate High-Altitude Training. Exhale and hold the breath for 10-40 steps while running at a good pace.
  • After the breath hold, resume nasal breathing while simultaneously relaxing the body. Continue to intersperse breath holds every few minutes throughout the run.
  • After physical exercise, practice the Breathing Recovery Exercise.
  • Practice one session of Advanced Simulation of High Altitude every other day.
  • Reduce breathing using the BL to BR exercise for 15 minutes last thing before sleep.
Program for Weight Loss or Obesity (Suitable for All Scores)
  • Nasal breathe.
  • Wear tape across the mouth at night.
  • Become conscious of breathing during everyday tasks, allowing it to become calm, relaxed, and quiet.
  • Practice BL to BR for 10-15 minutes, 5 times a day.
  • BL to BR during walking for 30-60 minutes per day.
  • For those with a score over 20s, and who are suited to performing breath holds, Simulate High-Altitude Training by incorporating 8-10 breath holds to achieve a medium air hunger throughout the walk.
  • Pay attention to hunger sensations, asking yourself whether you really need to eat at that time and stopping when satisfied.
Cooling Breath (Sitali Pranayama, Kundalini)

If you are feeling hot or burnt out, use this exercise to cool down. Brings you into a centered, focused state of calmness.

  • Sit cross legged or on a chair, with your chin slightly lowered, and back straight.
  • Open your mouth, extend your tongue out slightly. Curl the sides of your tongue so it looks like straw.
  • Breathe in slowly through the mouth. Hold your breath for a few seconds at the top of the inhalation.
  • Exhale slowly through the nostrils.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.
Decompression Breathing (Dr. Eric Goodman)

Good for bad posture, enhancing circulation, better breathing, standing taller with better digestion, and eliminating back pain. It shifts your weight back to the posterior chain muscle groups (shoulders, back, butt, and legs). It helped Dr. Goodman to decompress his spine and restore nerve function. Good for after a long flight or during a computer/work break.

  • Inhale and expand your ribcage up and out to the sides of your chest.
  • You then focus on keeping the rib cage expanded while you exhale, using your stomach muscles to expel the air.
Holotropic Breathwork (Mental Health Recovery)

Dr. Stanislav Grov. Requires a 2–3-hour group session and under supervision. Usually, intense evocative and rhythmic music during the intense breathing part and meditative trance afterwards.

Deregulation/Calm

Respiratory Sinus Arrythmia (Physiological Sigh)

When you inhale, the diaphragm moves down, the heart gets bigger within the expanded chest cavity space, blood then moves slower due to the larger volume, and the sinoatrial (SA) node pays attention to the rate of flow which tells the brain that the blood pressure is slower. The brain then responds by telling the heart rate to speed up. This means, if the inhales are longer than your exhales, you’re speeding up your overall heart rate.

When you exhale, the diaphragm moves up, heart volume gets smaller, blood flows more quickly, the SA node notices and tells brain, and the parasympathetic nervous system sends a signal to slow the heart down.

The physiological sigh is what people and animals tend to do before going to sleep. Humans do it while crying in order to calm down as well. It’s a powerful way of bringing physiological arousal and stress levels down.

  • In order to execute a physiological sigh, you take a double inhale followed by a long exhale.
  • The double inhale re-inflates the alveoli so that the long exhale is more effective at ridding the body of CO2.
  • Do it 2-3 times during times of stress to reduce heightened arousal.
Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana)

Improves the lung function and lowers the heart rate, blood pressure, and sympathetic stress. As well as improving heart rate variability (HRV) and balancing the function of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) by boosting the activity of the vagus nerve. Use before meetings, events, or sleep. Alternate nostril breathing is the “purification of channels” and cleans energy channels (nadis). Left nostril breathing for calming (parasympathetic nervous system) and right for excitement (sympathetic nervous system).

  • (Optional) Hand positioning: Place thumb of your right hand over your right nostril and the ring finger of that same hand on the left nostril. The forefinger and middle finger should rest between the eyebrows.
  • Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril very slowly.
  • At the top of the breath, pause briefly, holding both nostrils closed, then lift the thumb to exhale through the right nostril.
  • At the natural conclusion of the exhale, hold both nostrils closed for a moment, then inhale through the right nostril.
  • Continue alternating breaths through the nostrils for 5-10 cycles.
Yogic Breathing (Pranayama Basics)

An excellent exercise for bringing awareness to the different parts of the breath. Used to improve stress tolerance and operational control, parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) function, and respiratory capacity, as well as to reduce blood pressure and oxygen consumption. Useful for circulating oxygen throughout the body.

Phase 1:

  • Sit in a chair or cross-legged, upright, and relax the shoulders
  • Place one hand over the navel and slowly breathe into the belly. You should feel it expand with each breath in, deflate on the way out. Practice a few times.
  • Move hand up a few inches to cover the bottom of the rib cage. Focus the breath into this location, expand ribs with each inhale and retract with exhale. Practice 3-5 times.
  • Move hand below collarbone. Bring the inhalation up into the collarbone region.

Phase 2:

  • Connect all these motions into one breath, inhale into stomach, lower rib cage, and chest.
  • Exhale in the opposite direction.
  • Continue for a dozen rounds.

Extra Phase:

  • Yoga breathing with abdominal tension: Hand on naval, try to inhale into the belly without moving the hand. This engages the abdomen.
  • Training the diaphragm: Yoga breathing with forced belly exhales.

Pranayama also stimulates the sympathetic nervous system (SNS), so one must be careful if you have high blood pressure, weak heart, epilepsy, or reduced liver function. The exercises help to cleanse the blood, develop the respiratory and circulatory systems, and strengthen the diaphragm. They also cleanse the nose and sinuses and are therefore useful for preventing colds and other illnesses.

Sustained Breathing

Start with a 1:1 ratio (e.g. 5s inhalation and 5s exhalation) breathing until the breaths appear continuous. Then extend the exhale (1:2). It may take a few weeks to learn, but once you’ve accomplished this you can add a breath hold (1:1:1). Then, you can add variations like 1:4:2: e.g. inhale 10sec, hold for 40sec, and exhale for 20sec. The most important part is getting the nonstop and smooth harmonious breath confidently mastered first. The change from inhale and exhale should be curved rather than sharp.

Vagal Breathing (Pulse Decrease)

When we double the length of our exhales to our inhales, it signals to our bodies that all is right with our world and engages our parasympathetic system. Ten second exhales, followed by two-second holds, followed by four second inhales work well. Andrew Huberman, has discovered that if you soften your gaze to the edge of your vision (letting your eyes drift to two and ten) and breathe through your nose while humming, you can get an even deeper relaxation response. And if you vigorously sniff in additional air on the final inhale, it can pop open your alveoli for more oxygenation. Practice this for 5 minutes and gently check your pulse. It should be 10-30% lower than your resting rate.

Box Breathing (Calm)

Navy SEALs use this to stay calm and focused in tense situations.

  • Inhale to a count of 4; hold 4; exhale 4; hold 2. Repeat.

Longer exhalations elicit a stronger PNS response. Good for sleep.

  • Inhale to a count of 4; hold 4; exhale 6; hold 2. Repeat.
  • Six rounds.
The Relaxing Breath (Visama Vrtti)/4-7-8 Breathing (Dr. Andrew Weil)

Calms the nervous system to facilitate sleep, alleviate stress, and remove CO2.

Follow these steps:

  • Take a breath in.
  • Exhale through your mouth with a whoosh sound.
  • Close the mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 4.
  • Hold for 7.
  • Exhale completely through the mouth, with whoosh, to the count of 8.
  • Repeat for at least 4 breaths.
Breathing for Mood Regulation
  • Sit or lie in a safe, comfortable place.
  • Feel and try to relax every part of your body. Observe and be aware of what you’re feeling, seeing, and hearing, without judgement. Just be present.
  • Take 20 deep breaths. Fully in and letting go.
  • On the last breath, breathe in deeply, hold it, press your chin toward your chest, tense your pelvic floor, and direct that tension up your core towards your head.
  • If you’re experiencing any physical discomfort, focus your attention there and observe. Tense the muscles in that area. Hold the breath for a maximum of 10s.
  • Release the breath and all the related tension.
  • Repeat two or three times until you feel better.
Breathing for Stress Control
  • Set a timer for 1 minute.
  • Settle yourself somewhere comfortable.
  • Breathe in deeply.
  • Breathe out with a sound like “Hum,” “Ah,” or “Om.” Make whatever sound makes you happy. This will vibrate the nasal cavity, releasing more nitric oxide.
  • When you run out of air, breathe in deeply and let it out with another “Hum.”
  • Continue until the timer stops.
Crocodile Breathing (Diaphragm Training)

Trains the diaphragm. Reduces stress by activating the PNS with deep breathing. Abdominal breathing may reduce post-workout oxidative stress and accelerate recovery.

  • Lie prone on the floor with hands under your forehead, backs of the hands facing up.
  • Using your diaphragm, breathe deeply through your nose into your abdomen.
  • You are breathing correctly when your lower back rises up and your sides expand.
  • Start with 20 breaths and increase until you reach 100.
  • 1:2 for breathing (inhale : exhale).

Extended exhalation activates the PNS, which is linked to increased relaxation and recovery as well as lowered heart rate and blood pressure.

Pain Relief

Soothing Breathing
  • Gently breathe out and focus on the sore or painful area, while one hand touches it. Maximal awareness can loosen cramped muscles in neck and shoulders. Letting go.
  • Gently breathe out and focus your consciousness on your breath. Press the lips together and create pressure, making a “pssss” sound. Visualize the place of pain, and imagine it healing from each exhalation. Feel the heat spreading in precisely the areas that you focus on for 5-10min.
  • Hyperventilate for 10-20 breaths (see Wim Hof Method). Create an audible sound and concentrate on the breathing muscles and process. Blood pressure increases, heart works faster, blood acidity will become more alkaline, and you will secrete adrenaline.
  • 10 Hook Breaths by pushing the diaphragm and chest down after a full inhalation. This involves increasing pressure by tightening the diaphragm and abdominals and keeping the epiglottis closed. It elevates oxygen tension in the lungs and allows the release of more into the blood.
  • Walk in nature or lie under a blanket. Scream at the top of your lungs. 5-10 times. This will loosen tension, frustration, and pain. By stimulating your lungs, diaphragm, solar plexus, and nervous system, you create a soothing and refreshing sensation.
  • Victorious Breath: When you inhale, make a little constriction in your throat to produce a hissing sound. 1:2 ratio breathing. Try to enter the pain, examine it, and accept it.
  • By sticking with the Victorious Breath, try take as much time as you can exhaling. Use the mouth instead of the nose, and hum. It destresses the body.
  • Use all of your senses to imagine being somewhere peaceful, as vividly as possible. Observe yourself moving through paradise, light as a feather without tension or pain. Breathe smoothly and effortlessly. In time, you’ll be able to lower the intensity of the pain.
Breathing for Pain Regulation
  • Sit or lie down in a comfortable position.
  • Once you are relaxed, direct your attention to the spot where you feel the pain. Take 5 calm, deep breaths.
  • Now take 20 more breaths. Fully in, and letting go. Do not force your breath.
  • Exhale the last breath fully out, then inhale fully in once more, and hold it for 10s.
  • While holding your breath, focus your attention on the point of pain, and press your held breath toward it. Tense the muscles around the pain area as well.
  • Release your breath and all related tension.

Upregulation/Energy

Sudarshan Kriya (Stress reduction, Calming, and Energizing)

Each step increases in intensity. Taking you from a state of regulated calm to an upregulated energizing state.

First Stage:

  • Find a comfortable seated position.
  • Begin to inhale gently and slowly.
  • Hold your breath for a few seconds at the top of the inhalation and then release it slowly.
  • Exhale slowly.
  • Repeat this 20 times.

Second Stage:

  • Inhaling and exhaling at a faster rate than you did in the first phase.
  • Still holding the breath at the top of the inhalation.
  • Complete 30 cycles.

Third Stage:

  • Inhaling completely and exhaling fully at a much faster rate.
  • Complete 40 cycles of breathing.
Victorious Breath (Ujjayi)

Victorious Breath refers to conquering restlessness and stress. Helps to energize you if you’re tired and calm you down if you’re feeling overwhelmed.

  • Inhale through the nose calmly and slowly, listening to the hum of your breathing. Fill your lungs completely.
  • Exhale through the nose very calmly, listening to the hum of your breathing. If you wish, you can contract the epiglottis muscle slightly to increase the hum of the breathing even calmer, deeper and longer.
  • The longer and calmer your breaths are the better. However, do not try too hard, you should not get winded.
  • If you get winded, stop the exercise. Next time lighten the exercise.
  • Start with 10 cycles. You may increase the number of cycles as you become more advanced.

Alternatively:

  • Sit comfortably. With your lips closed, breathe in deeply through your nose.
  • Then, exhale with an open mouth, constricting your breath slightly, and make a “hah” sound. This should similar to hissing.
  • Repeat 5-10 times.
Brain Purification (Kapalabhati)

Kapala = bowl, shell or skull & bhati = shining. Thus shining, clean, and clear head.

  • Sit down, empty the lungs and draw in as much air as possible with a long, deep inhalation.
  • Then exhale in one fast blow using your stomach (in and upwards).
  • Releasing the abdominal tension, allow air to come back in passively.
  • Start with 10-15reps and increase to 60-120, per minute, over time.
Bellows Breath/Breath of Fire (Bhastrika)

The movements of the diaphragm are used to breathe in and out through the nose (10-100 times), then drawing in a full inhalation, and holding the breath for as long as possible. Followed by an exhalation through the mouth, as slow as possible. Increases oxygen saturation in the blood and improves the function of the respiratory system (particularly the diaphragm). Used to invigorate the body and the SNS. Avoid this one if you are in a stressed-out state.

10s version for stress relief:

  • Bring your hands in front of your chest and push palms together.
  • Breathe vigorously in and out through the mouth for 10s utilizing your diaphragm.
  • Visualize stress leaving your body.
  • Take a deep breath in and exhale completely after a 10s breath of fire.
  • Eventually you should be able to achieve 60 breaths per minute. To make it more forceful, you can use your arms and hands. Stretching the arms above the head, move them down quickly while bending elbows on the exhalation, and clenching fists. During the inhale, bring them up again. A powerful hyperventilation exercise that brings CO2 levels down (prickly and dizzy feeling).
Wim Hof Method (WHM)/Tummo/Cyclic Hyperventilation

This breathing exercise can initiate acute focus, which can be used to improve cognition and improve performance in the short-term. It does this by releasing adrenaline, which can also liberate the killer cells to combat infection. As well as lowering pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-a, IL-6, IL-8) and increasing the anti-inflammatory cytokine, IL-10. Rapid deliberate hyperventilation for 25-40 cycles will make you will feel more alert. However, this means that anxious people may feel more anxious.

Cold water is another form of stressor that releases adrenaline (another exercise integrated in the Wim Hof Method).  The WHM also dramatically stimulates hypoxia and simulates altitude training.

Controlled hypoxia may result in the following:

  • An increase in red blood cells
  • The production of growth factors that lead to the development of new blood vessels.
  • The induction of nitric oxide synthase, which has a positive effect on cell tissues and can assist with vasodilation problems.
  • The induction of tumor protein p53, the “guardian of the genome,” which protects your cells’ DNA and prevents cells from becoming cancerous.
  • A few minutes of hypoxia per day may stimulate stem cells to migrate from bone marrow to the rest of your body, where they can stimulate the repair and growth of new cells (good for Alzheimer’s & Parkinson’s). Hypoxia may even help memory and cognitive function and exert antidepressant effects.

The Method:

  • Sit in a meditation posture or lie down in a quiet and safe environment. Make sure you can expand your lungs freely without feeling any constriction.
  • Close your eyes and try to clear your mind. Be conscious about your breath and try to fully connect with it.
  • Take thirty to forty deep breaths in through the nose or mouth. Fill up your belly and your chest, all the way up to your head. Don’t force the exhale. Just relax and let the air out. Fully in, letting go.
  • At the end of the last breath, draw the breath in once more and fill the lungs to maximum capacity, without using any force. Then relax to let the air out.
  • Hold the breath until you feel the urge to breathe again. This is called the retention phase. Timing the breath hold if you would like to measure your progress.
  • When you feel the urge to breathe, take one deep breath in and hold it for ten to fifteen seconds. This is called the recovery breath.
  • Let your breath go and start with a new round. Fully in, letting go. Repeat the full cycle three to four times.

Performance

Breathing Coordination

Helps to engage more movement from the diaphragm and increase respiratory efficiency. Each breath should feel soft and enriching.

  • Sit up so that the spine is straight and chin is perpendicular to the body.
  • Take a gentle breath in through the nose. At the top of the breath begin counting softly aloud from 1-10 over and over, while exhaling.
  • As you reach the natural conclusion of the exhale, keep counting, but do so in a whisper, letting the voice softly trail out. Then keep going until only the lips are moving and the lungs feel completely empty.
  • Take in another large and soft breath and repeat.
  • Continue for anywhere between 10-30 cycles.

Can also be done while walking, jogging, or light exercise.

Resonant (Coherent) Breathing

Places the heart, lungs, and circulation into a state of coherence, where the systems of the body are working at peak efficiency.

  • Sit up straight, relax shoulders and belly, and exhale.
  • Inhale softly for 5 seconds, expanding the belly as air fills the bottom of the lungs.
  • Without pausing, exhale softly for 5 seconds, bringing the belly in as the lungs empty. Each breath should feel like a circle.
  • Repeat at least 10 times, more if possible.
Buteyko Breathing

A lack of CO2 levels in your lungs constricts blood vessels and may detrimentally affect heart function, tissue oxygenation, and blood pH. Buteyko breathing keeps you from excessive O2 consumption and excessive CO2 blow-off. Buteyko nasal breathing transports nitric oxide (NO) more readily into your lungs because nasal cavities produce and contain high levels. NO dilates blood vessels and bronchial tubes, along with neutralizing germs and bacteria. Trains the body to breathe in line with its metabolic needs. Improving CO2 tolerance and simulating high altitude training. See Control Pause/BOLT score under Test.

Breathe Light to Breathe Right

  • One hand on the chest and the other above the naval to help follow your breathing.
  • Breathe in and gently guide the abdomen outward.
  • Breathe out and gently guide the abdomen inward.
  • Observe your breathing pattern, noting the size and depth of each breath.
  • Apply gentle pressure with your hands to slightly reduce your breathing movements. It should feel as if you are breathing against your hands.
  • Encourage the depth of each breath to reduce.
  • Take in a smaller or shorter breath than you would like.
  • Allow a relaxed breath out, exhaling gently, slowly, and easily.
  • Bring a feeling of relaxation to your breathing.
  • Do not tense your body, hold your breath, or pause your breathing. Continue to breathe smoothly but take in less air than before.
  • The objective is to create a tolerable air hunger. Try to sustain this for 3-5 minutes at a time. If your breathing rhythm becomes chaotic or if your breathing muscles contract, then the air shortage is too much. If this happens, stop and return when breathing is back to normal.

Breathe Light to Breathe Right – Jogging, running, or other activities

  • Repeat the previous exercise, but while exercising lightly.
  • Focus on relaxing the body and being aware of your movements and bodily sensations.

Breathing Recovery, Improved Concentration

  • Exhale as normal through the nose.
  • Pinch your nose with your fingers to hold the breath for 2-5s.
  • Breathe normally through the nose for 10s.
  • Repeat.

Simulate High-Altitude Training – Walking (only if CP/BOLT score is over 20s)

  • Walk for 1 minute or so while breathing through the nose.
  • Gently exhale and hold your breath until a medium-strong hunger for air,
  • Count the number of paces you take before feeling the air-hunger.
  • When you need to breathe, do so minimally for 15s.
  • Breathe normally for 30s then gently exhale and hold the breath again.
  • Repeat breath holds 8-10 times.
  • A typical pace increase may look like this: 20, 20, 30, 35, 42, 47, 53, 60, 60, 55.

Simulate High-Altitude Training – Running, cycling, swimming

  • 10-15min into the run, gently exhale and hold your breath until a strong air shortage is reached. The length may range from 10-40 paces and will depend on your running speed and CP/BOLT score.
  • Following the breath hold, continue to jog with nose breathing for about 1 minute, until your breathing has partially recovered.
  • Repeat the breath hold 8-10 times for the duration of your run. It should be a challenge, but breathing should be able to recover to normal within a couple a breaths.
  • Complete the same process for cycling and swimming, except by measuring pedal and arm strokes.

Advanced Simulation of High-Altitude Training

***Blood oxygen saturation must be monitored and kept above 80%***

  • Walk for a minute or so. Exhale and hold your breath for approximately 40 paces, then take a sip of air into the lungs. Hold the breath for a further 10 paces.
  • Now take a sip of air in or out. Hold for 10 paces.
  • Continue taking sips of air and repeating short breath holds until you feel a fairly strong air shortage.
  • If it is too strong, reduce the hold to 5 paces. With each hold, oxygen saturation will decrease.
  • Challenge but don’t stress yourself.
  • Perform for 1-2 minutes.

Breathe Light to Breathe Right (Advanced Method)

Stage 1: Relaxing and Activating the Diaphragm

  • Sit up straight, not forced upright as this will add to tension. Try to lengthen the distance between your navel and sternum. Imagine a piece of string gently lifting you from the back of your head, making the space between your ribs feel wider.
  • Place one hand on your chest and one hand above your navel.
  • Gently guide your lower hand outwards by pushing your abdomen outward, just enough to feel the movement. No need to change your breathing yet.
  • Now draw in your abdomen, paying attention to the hand moving inward.
  • Perform this exercise for a few minutes to activate a “stiff” diaphragm.
  • Alternatively, you can perform this while lying on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.

Stage 2: Merging Abdominal Movements with Breathing

  • Sit up straight.
  • Place on hand on the chest and the other on the abdomen.
  • Gently encourage chest movements to reduce as you breathe, using the guidance of your mind and your hand.
  • Try to coordinate your abdominal movements with your breathing.
  • As you breathe in, gently guide your abdomen outward. As you breathe out, guide it inward. Keeping breathing silent and calm.

Stage 3: Reducing Breathing Volume Using Abdominal Breathing

  • Sit up straight (imagine a string guiding the back of your head upward and rib space widening) and place hands on chest and abdomen.
  • Breathe in, gently guiding the abdomen out, with small chest movements. Breathe out, gently guiding the abdomen in. Always remembering to breathe through the nose.
  • Pay attention to the size and frequency of each breath.
  • Exert gentle pressure with your hands against your abdomen and chest to create extra resistance.
  • With each breath, take in less air than you would like. Make the in-breath smaller or shorter.
  • Breathe out with a relaxed exhalation. Allow the natural elasticity of your lungs and diaphragm to play their role. Imagine a balloon inflating and gently deflating of its own accord.
  • Breathing movements should be reduced once the in-breath movements are smaller and the out-breath is more relaxed.
  • If you find your breathing is becoming erratic, or you are tensing your chest or abdomen muscles, take a 15s break and try again once you are relaxed.
  • Aim to maintain an air hunger for 3-5 minutes at a time. 2 sets of 5 minutes are enough to help to reset your breathing center and improve your body’s CO2 tolerance. Most of the exercises require 10 minutes of practice at a time. Can be broken up or done straight if well practiced.
Static Apnea Tables

Sequences of timed breath-holds that are good for accustoming the body to extreme lack of oxygen or excess CO2. They can train the inspiratory and expiratory muscles, increasing breath hold time, and even as a mini workout on a recovery day. A CO2 tolerance table is designed to accustom the body to high CO2, by reducing the duration of resting time between breath holds (use an apnea app to prevent math distraction while holding the breath.):

  • Hold breath for 1:30min, rest 2:15, hold 1:30, rest 2, hold 1:30, rest 1:45, hold 1:30, rest 1:30, hold 1:30, rest 1:15, hold 1:30, rest 1, hold 1:30, rest 1, hold 1:30

An O2 tolerance table is designed to accustom the body to extremely low levels of oxygen by prolonging the duration of breath holds between resting periods.

  • Hold 1min, rest 2, hold 1:15, rest 2, hold 1:30, rest 2, hold 1:45, rest 2, hold 2, rest 2, hold 2:15, rest 2, hold 2:30, rest 2, hold 2:30
Breath-Hold Walks
  • While out walking, hold a deep belly breath inhalation for as long as possible and instead of gasping for air, inhale through the nose.
  • Another interesting technique is matching your steps to the heart rate (e.g. 120HR and 120 steps per minute). By keeping them identical you can train the leg muscles to squeeze blood flow towards the heart exactly when it is relaxing and ready to receive it. Conversely, vice versa.
Intermittent Hypoxia Training (Kumbhaka Pranayama)

Holding the breath using interval sequences. IHT increases the plasticity of the respiratory system as well as strength by increasing the number of growth factors in the respiratory tract motor neurons. May also increase endurance during athletic performance. Improving oxygen uptake and boosting the production of antioxidants. Don’t practice hypoxia training if you suffer from asthma, COPD, cardiovascular disease or other chronic diseases without consulting your doctor first.

  • Practice holding your breath while keeping your face submerged in cold water for as long as possible. Repeat 5 times with 3 stabilizing breaths between the exercises.
  • Hyperventilate and then hold your breath for as long as possible.
  • Repeat 5 times.
  • Hyperventilating increases the time you can spend holding your breath, removing CO2.
  • Do swimming exercises in cool water. Hold your breath while swimming a length of 25m; stabilize your breathing and then repeat the swimming interval for 10 minutes.
Powerful Breathing

Warm ups:

  • Chest and shoulder stretch, breathing in deep and exhaling on the stretch.
  • Albatross: inhale deep, arms up, exhale, lower arms x 10-15. Can also do front and back.
  • Sky stretches: One arm stretched up high while slowly breathing in. Maintain full stretch for 5-10 sec with full inhale then exhale slowly. Ten times on each arm.
  • Rag doll: Bend over and angle knees a bit. Dangle arms and exhale while going “aahhhhh”.
  • Natural chest press (Tarzan): Press hard against the sides of the rib cage with palms during inhalation and exhalation. See if you can squeeze more air out and hold for 5-10s each breath hold.
  • Artificial chest press (Snake): Tie a bicycle tube or elastic around your chest and breathe slowly and controlled.
Personal Training Program (Breathology)

Phase 1: Mental and Physical warm up:

  • Start in a relaxed position for a few minutes, using imagery exercises to calm the ANS.
  • Chest and shoulder stretch.
  • Albatross.
  • Sky stretch.
  • Rag doll.
  • Cat stretch.
  • Wag you tail.
  • Right angle.
  • Plough pose.
  • Child’s pose.
  • Maximum exhalation.

Phase 2: Breathing exercises:

  • General breathing exercises:
    • Neutral: Breathe through the nose.
    • Attention: Observe the breath. Is it dry? Where does it travel? Do the hairs move? What does it sound like? Where do the sounds come from? Are the exhale and inhale different? Just try to notice every little detail.
    • Rhythm and pulse: Measure your breath (1min) and test it is influenced each when you change breathing styles.
    • Natural rhythm: Measure the amount of time you spend doing 10 natural breaths and divide by ten to get the average time of one cycle. A 3-4 sec cycle is the average. Less time indicates you are stressed and more indicates you are more relaxed.
  • Yogic breathing: yoga breathing, yoga breathing with abdominal tension, training the diaphragm.
  • Soothing pranayama: with breath holding. Victorious breath and Alternate Nostril Breathing.
  • Start with a 1:1 breathing ratio, then 1:2, add a breath hold eventually, 1:1:1:1. After a few weeks or months, you can change the ratio or do a breath hold on full lungs in the classic Alternate Nostril Breathing ratio 1:4:2. Avoid gasping for air.
  • Power training of the respiratory muscles: Brain purification, bellows breathing, natural chest press, artificial chest press.
  • Practice the body locks during training: Root lock, abdominal lock, throat lock. Maha Bandha.

Phase 3: Meditation and relaxation:

  • Meditate with a straight back. Mindfulness and imagery.

Phase 4: Prayer and gratitude:

  • Omm chants, gratitude session, or prayer if you’re that way inclined.

Free diving

Free diving involves deep embodiment, high consequences, and a rich environment. These are all major components of the flow state.

  • Before a competitive dive, Stig Severinsen spends about four minutes sitting with his eyes closed and breathing quietly. Kneeling in shallow water in a neutral spinal position, chest open, and listens to his harmonious and slow breath. Maintaining an inner smile and feeling light. Three minutes before the dive, he breathes deeper through the nose. Two minutes before, he begins breathing more heavily and exhaling through the mouth, which is shaped like a funnel (purge breathing). This funnel creates a higher pressure in the lungs, making alveoli open up to allow the blood to absorb more oxygen. The last 30 seconds, he breathes even heavier and has a single big yawn. He does all this using the yoga breathing with diaphragmatic + chest breaths. The last exhalation is deeper and longer than usual. With a smile he fills up the lungs from the bottom until no more can enter. Pressing his fingers into his thighs, the pressure in his lungs drops because his diaphragm position changes, and inhales more into the throat. Then packs more air (12x) in using the tongue as a piston.
  • While in the water the diving reflex kicks in and his pulse drops. He relaxes the tongue and neck and creates a weak pressure between the throat and underside of the tongue to make it press against the back of the mouth. This creates an airtight “lock” alongside a weak throat lock to keeps air in the lungs. He visualizes calming images.
  • After 5min, the first signs of weakness appear, but he defers contractions to the diaphragm. Contractions come over the next few minutes but he stays calm, maintains a relaxed neck and tongue, and keeps the contractions low. Around 8min the contractions strengthen, so he pushes them to one side, goes deeper into relaxation by experiencing the contractions. Gently surfacing while exhaling.
  • The first inhalation is a “hook-breathe”. This involves increasing pressure by tightening the diaphragm and abdominals and keeping the epiglottis closed. It elevates oxygen tension in the lungs and allows the release of more into the blood. It was used by fighter pilots in WW2 to oxygenate the blood during extreme gravitational pull.
  • When freediving, it is a good practice to breathe three times longer at the surface than the dive. Decreasing freediving compression sickness. The sickness can make you ill, from multiple dives in a row. Gas tension of nitrogen rises and blocks blood vessels. Creating narcosis. You might end up experiencing a “samba”, where the body convulses, you may not be able to react, and possibly blackout. The lack of consciousness saves energy and oxygen before damage actually occurs. So, the blackout isn’t a result of lack of oxygen.
Climbing (WHM)

In Case of Altitude Headaches

  • Slow down your pace.
  • Breathe in fully and relax to exhale 10 times.
  • Stand still or sit. Make sure you are in a secure position.
  • Breathe in fully, hold your breath for 5s, and try squeezing or redirecting the breath to the head.
  • Let go.
  • Repeat the steps until you sense that the headache has disappeared.

Breathing Exercise While Walking at High Altitude

  • Consciously breathe more than you feel you need to.
  • Focus on your breath. Feel yourself breathing as you move.
  • Synchronize your breath and your pace so you can get into a cadence. Find your own rhythm without forcing it.

Resting Breathing Exercise to Adjust to an Altitude Greater Than Thirteen Thousand Feet

  • You can forestall the dangerous symptoms of low O2. It is best to have a saturation meter to measure blood oxygen levels when doing it.
  • Wake up 4-4.5 hours after you went to sleep.
  • Do the basic breathing exercise until your saturation meter reads a minimum of 95-100% saturation.
  • Practice the breathing exercises for at least half an hour.
  • Go back to sleep.

Creativity

One-Minute Breath (Kundalini Yoga technique)

Exercise the mind and develop intuition. It may also have a hemisphere-integrating effect (corpus callosum and medial gyrus strengthening).

  • Stand up straight or sit in a chair with back straight and chest out.
  • Practice deep breathing by inhaling for 5s in and 5s for a few minutes.
  • Inhale for 20s, first drawing air into the lowest part of the lungs, then the middle, and finally the top.
  • Hold your breath for 20s.
  • Exhale for 20s, first releasing air form the top part of the lungs, middle, then lower.
  • Repeat 3 times, working up to 30 times.
  • If 20s is too long, start with 5s, then 10s, then 20s.
Alternate Nostril Breathing – Single Nostril (Nadi Shodhana)

Adjust the exercise to purely left nostril breathing if you would like to focus on creativity, by providing more blood flow to the right hemisphere of the brain.

  • (Optional) Hand positioning: Place thumb of your right hand over your right nostril and the ring finger of that same hand on the left nostril. The forefinger and middle finger should rest between the eyebrows.
  • Close the right nostril with the thumb and inhale through the left nostril very slowly.
  • At the top of the breath, pause briefly with both nostrils closed.
  • Release the left nostril again and exhale while still holding the right nostril.
  • At the natural conclusion of the exhale, hold both nostrils closed for a moment, then inhale through the left nostril again.
  • Continue for 5-10 cycles.
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