MuadDib

Question about breath retention

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After calming down and settling in, if I retain the breath, I immediately feel chi moving. Without breath retention, it takes me much longer to get to the same level of sensitivity. Why is this so? Is breath retention an efficient shortcut or is it some kind of cheating?

 

If I hold out for too long, I have to gasp for air and I am no longer in the relaxed, blissful state. So it is important to know when to breathe again, but that's besides the point. I've done yogic breathing exercises regularly for some years, without really thinking about the underlying mechanism.

 

There are some possible explanations here: https://medium.com/forbidden-realms

I'm interested in what knowledgeable people have to say about the underlying mechanism of breath retention. Thanks.

 

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, MuadDib said:

If I hold out for too long, I have to gasp for air and I am no longer in the relaxed, blissful state. So it is important to know when to breathe again, but that's besides the point. I've done yogic breathing exercises regularly for some years, without really thinking about the underlying mechanism.

 

I'm not too knowledgeable, but my understanding is that when breath is retained properly, it's because it happens inadvertently so to speak from any perspective of observation. For me, the mechanism for most practice boils down to how one has the capacity to become the object of one's attention. I imagine any limits imposed upon that capacity to fully express itself, depend only upon perceived self-limitation of the subject.

 

Since mind and breath are one, when mind becomes sufficiently and intensely one-pointed, the breath easily suspends. But it's quite imperciptible, naturally, and can be a bit of a shocker coming to and seeing how long the breath was actually being "held".. and still be "alive." 

 

When there's no one there to realize they were holding on too long, there's no one there to gasp for air or worry about when to breathe again. This kind of breath retention is accomplished quite mindlessly, in every sense of the word, because in becoming that which a pure mind merely reflects, suspending functions of the physical body becomes quite trivial.

 

Just speaking from experience, and intuition, thus all the above could be completely contrary to what knowledgeable persons may contribute.

 

And there goes the village idiot again, prancing off into the sunset happily talking to himself.

 

 

Edited by neti neti
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Posted (edited)

According to most authentic yoga systems, there are preparatory stages to familiarise with prior to mastery of breath retention. If you had adapted properly to these preliminary exercises, the fluctuations between mundanity and bliss ought to have been pacified by now, but the admission of having to gasp for breath and the irregularities that brought this about somewhat indicates you may not have attended to a proper grounding in pranayoga aka pranayama. 

 

I'd recommend reading up on Vase Breathing, specifically tutorials and videos by Dr. Nida Chenagtsang. 

Edited by C T
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Yeah deep slow and long breaths in and out.

Guess it's also got a similar effect of soothing your physical awareness. Thus also more conducive of the high frequency bodily feeling of high frequency, light or enlightened feeling of bliss. 

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Posted (edited)

We can think of the breath as having four parts: the inhale, the pause at the top of the inhale, the exhale, and the pause at the bottom of the exhale.  Although it´s possible (and a practice in it´s own right) to completely eliminate the pauses, most people will naturally have slight pauses at the end of an inhale and exhale.  Already this is breath retention, albeit in a very minor form.  

 

The pauses are powerful because they are moments of neutrality, of balance, of silence.  They are analogous to the solstices.  The days get longer and longer (inhale) until finally there´s a moment of pause as we get to maximum yang at the summer solstice (pause of top of inhale).  Then the days get shorter and shorter (exhale) until finally there´s a moment of pause as we get to to maximum yin at the winter solstice (pause at bottom of exhale).  

Edited by liminal_luke
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On 7/5/2019 at 5:34 PM, MuadDib said:

After calming down and settling in, if I retain the breath, I immediately feel chi moving. Without breath retention, it takes me much longer to get to the same level of sensitivity. Why is this so? Is breath retention an efficient shortcut or is it some kind of cheating?

 

If I hold out for too long, I have to gasp for air and I am no longer in the relaxed, blissful state. So it is important to know when to breathe again, but that's besides the point. I've done yogic breathing exercises regularly for some years, without really thinking about the underlying mechanism.

 

There are some possible explanations here: https://medium.com/forbidden-realms

I'm interested in what knowledgeable people have to say about the underlying mechanism of breath retention. Thanks.

 

if you do breath retention you want to do it AFTER exhale. That activates your vagus nerve (parasympathetic nervous system).

So for example Master Nan, Huai-chin makes this same point and also Wim Hof. I have details in my free training manual linked in my profile below, thanks.

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1 hour ago, voidisyinyang said:

if you do breath retention you want to do it AFTER exhale.

 

Yes.

 

Generally, this is safer and in some techniques is required, or technique is not effective.

 

Retention of breath increases internal pressure otherwise.

 

There are techniques to use this pressure to facilitate various internal movements (Qi in a human).

 

In other instances, you want to reduce this pressure - also facilitating different internal movements (Qi), or even reversing some, etc.

 

This is working with polarities (YinYang) in the body (Jing) to cause changes or movements (Qi)

 

 

 

 

 

-VonKrankenhaus

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I'm not particularly knowledgeable but I have experience.  In that I do Wim Hof breathing which has 30 fast breaths and a long retention after the final exhale.   I like the feeling of relaxation, stress and back to relaxation breathing in after a long empty exhalation.  There's much written about the physiology happening during the technique.

 

My yogic breathing comes from a CD from Silent Grounds.  It has 3 part breathing, you follow the tones to signal in-hold-exhale.  The tones move on to longer and longer holds.  For example I can sustain 8in 24hold 16exhale, normally but after doing Wim Hof I can do 10in 40hold 20exhale.  The programs starts at 8 8 8, you keep the player on repeat til you can do it comfortably, then move on to 8 10 10 etc.,  

 

Nice peaceful feeling, especially when you dial your longest setting back a bit.  Wim Hof has some health benefits and improved my sense of breathing big.  Yogic breathing gives a nice sense of calm.  Both practices leak into my meditation, making the breath cycle longer without conscious doing. 

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Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

 

I checked out vase breathing and will definitely give it a try.

 

I tried the Wim Hof method of breathing a couple of years ago, for a month or so. I did not like the initial phase where you are breathing very fast, the heart pounding. It yielded the promised results; I was able to hold the breath after the final exhale for much longer. I gave it up in the end though as it didn't feel very natural to me. I did embrace the cold as Wim Hof advises; %80 of the time I take cold showers whole year long. I actually grew kind of addicted to it, it became an entrenched habit since then.

 

I find that I can enter the blissful state quickly utilizing breath retention. I will keep experimenting techniques until I manage to stay in that state for a few minutes at least, through many breathing cycles. :ninja:

 

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On 7/5/2019 at 6:34 PM, MuadDib said:

After calming down and settling in, if I retain the breath, I immediately feel chi moving. Without breath retention, it takes me much longer to get to the same level of sensitivity. Why is this so? Is breath retention an efficient shortcut or is it some kind of cheating?

 

If I hold out for too long, I have to gasp for air and I am no longer in the relaxed, blissful state. So it is important to know when to breathe again, but that's besides the point. I've done yogic breathing exercises regularly for some years, without really thinking about the underlying mechanism.

 

There are some possible explanations here: https://medium.com/forbidden-realms

I'm interested in what knowledgeable people have to say about the underlying mechanism of breath retention. Thanks.

 

The calm-quiet-high signal:noise produced during a breath hold can be reproduced by continuous breathing, but it requires training.

 

Attenuate the signal produced by the olfactory nerves as air rushes across.  (Dont use the nose or sinuses to facilitate the air's movement...anywhere air touches should remain passive, its all gut & diaphragm.)  Roll inhales and exhales seamlessly together.

 

Breath holds can have their uses, but for that quiescence and enhanced signal to noise ratio, the real way to get that is to do it in a continuous and sustainable fashion.  (It will also make breath holds safer (gung) and longer/more meaningful.)

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Manipulating the breath is a sign of ignorance.

The breath is one of greatest teachers, it is a very low level channel to the core of existence.

Pushing it pulling it, stopping it, and so on .... perhaps it might be meaningful for beginners.

But it is teaching, why don't you just listen, why don't you respect it as being ten times as smart as you, why don't you treat it like the opening of a great inner universe and flow with it, merge with it, and let it take you in.

 

Or you can push it and pull it, hold it and gasp for air ... so you have some experience.

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everything has its time and purpose

 

but the calm soft "one breath" is just a base prerequisite safety valve and gung enhancer for all the other goodies at the candy store B)  best learn that first then go on your travels a little more safely

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Breath retention is a common practice in hatha yoga, however it is considered an advanced technique, maybe due to the real -physical or energetic- risks associated.

If you still want to do it, bandha are to be maintained to "lock" the body and prevent prana loss. When doing breath retention in a sitting position, common bandha are jalandhara bandha (for the throat, also blocks air passage to prevent forceful retention) and mula bandha (for the base, also helps to focus). Uddhiyana bandha (for the abdomen) can be maintained during breath retention with empty lungs.

 

But as neti neti said, breath retention should never be forced but be the consequence of a still mind.

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7 hours ago, MuadDib said:

Thank you all for taking the time to reply.

 

I checked out vase breathing and will definitely give it a try.

 

I tried the Wim Hof method of breathing a couple of years ago, for a month or so. I did not like the initial phase where you are breathing very fast, the heart pounding. It yielded the promised results; I was able to hold the breath after the final exhale for much longer. I gave it up in the end though as it didn't feel very natural to me. I did embrace the cold as Wim Hof advises; %80 of the time I take cold showers whole year long. I actually grew kind of addicted to it, it became an entrenched habit since then.

 

I find that I can enter the blissful state quickly utilizing breath retention. I will keep experimenting techniques until I manage to stay in that state for a few minutes at least, through many breathing cycles. :ninja:

 

 

I don't think the Wim Hof technique requires fast breathing initially - I think it just became "fast" breathing because people didn't really understand the reasoning or principles involved. I just saw a vid of a breatharian doing the Wim Hof technique in Israel and it was way too fast. DEEP breathing is the key - it doesn't have to be fast. The idea is to try to feel your kidneys with your stomach. This physically activates the adrenal medulla which then doubles your adrenaline levels.

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Posted (edited)

Before you get to breath retention, work your way up from 1:2 and 1:4 inhale:exhale ratio.

When end you get to 1:4, you must have long smooth breaths, with no sobbing, gasping, or sound. Breath through nostrils only. 

 

Start wih a 4 second inhale and work your way  up to 8 second inhale.

 

lmk if you want more details after you can comfortably do 8:32 second inhale and exhale. 

 

Edited by dwai
more context.
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Posted (edited)

Neti Neti gave a great experiential answer. It all depends on the practice and the tradition.

 

I also think allot of instruction has been misinterpreted as holding the breath.

 

Here are some examples.

 

In Kriya which is a Vedic and Tantric  system of techniques and technologies of light and energy combined we take brief pauses but that is not the same as holding the breath eventually when the mind gets still enough as it were, then the energy flows and takes over then there is no need to breathe for whatever period of time it lasts.

 

Even in the Tibetan practices of Tummo there is one thing that holds sway above all else.

 

The mind must become of a certain quality of stillness for the energies to flow then the breathe suspension required for it to be effective does so on its own.

 

One of the simplest most effective means of stilling the mind is zazen sitting Zen.

 

Overall though you are coming to it in your way which is more mechanical and is a great realization on its own.

 

My advice is to follow the more mechanical way that DWAI has generously given.

 

I also seriously advice you to practice the 9 breaths of purification otherwise the energetics that will develop one day might harm you.

 

What you are experiencing now is the tip of an iceberg.

 

You can still the mind by stilling the breath but when the energy stills the mind a whole new reservoir of energy opens and floods in And is the time when more advanced techniques become alive not mere exercises.

Edited by Pilgrim
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51 minutes ago, Pilgrim said:

I also seriously advice you to practice the 9 breaths of purification otherwise the energetics that will develop will one day might harm you.

 

What you are experiencing now is the tip of an iceberg.

 

You can still the mind by stilling the breath but when the energy stills the mind a whole new reservoir of energy opens and floods in And is the time when more advanced techniques become alive not mere exercises.

 

There are lot of preparatory steps before one can do kumbhaka (breath retention) in Pranayama. I had to spend 6 months just working on my spinal column before my teacher advanced me to other asana practices. I had to spend 1+ year doing basic asanas before he introduced pranayama to me.

 

Preparatory to pranayama was developing glottis control. And then another 6 months before he introduced breath retention (inner retention). Another few months before added a short outer retention. 

 

Without the preparatory work, if someone actually manages to activate the energies, they will most likely "blow a gasket" (usually in their head, causing psychological/psychotic issues). 

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Posted (edited)
On 7/5/2019 at 6:58 PM, neti neti said:

 

I'm not too knowledgeable, but my understanding is that when breath is retained properly, it's because it happens inadvertently so to speak from any perspective of observation. For me, the mechanism for most practice boils down to how one has the capacity to become the object of one's attention. I imagine any limits imposed upon that capacity to fully express itself, depend only upon perceived self-limitation of the subject.

 

Since mind and breath are one, when mind becomes sufficiently and intensely one-pointed, the breath easily suspends. But it's quite imperciptible, naturally, and can be a bit of a shocker coming to and seeing how long the breath was actually being "held".. and still be "alive." 

This is the correct and natural breath retention  cessation. My Master talked about it last weekend during our workshop. He said that when our breath becomes relaxed and naturally elongated (mind slows down and stills), the breath will naturally stop. 

 

I experienced this during yoga nidra after doing the long version of sudarshan kriya (as taught by Sri Sri Ravishankar) many years ago. The breath just stopped. I spent minutes like that, lying in the dark with no thoughts and no need to breath. 

Quote

When there's no one there to realize they were holding on too long, there's no one there to gasp for air or worry about when to breathe again. This kind of breath retention is accomplished quite mindlessly, in every sense of the word, because in becoming that which a pure mind merely reflects, suspending functions of the physical body becomes quite trivial.

 

Just speaking from experience, and intuition, thus all the above could be completely contrary to what knowledgeable persons may contribute.

 

And there goes the village idiot again, prancing off into the sunset happily talking to himself.

 

 

Thank you for sharing :) 

Edited by dwai
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Thank you very much for your kind suggestions. I will try to fit these practices into my daily schedule. If some progress is made, I will share them here. 

 

Looking over some earlier replies, I sense that I might have conveyed the idea that I draw in a big breath, empty the lungs and try to hold it for as long as possible to get the *high* feeling. 

 

The process is more like I sit/lie down for relaxation/meditation, after a while the breath and mind calms down, I pause for a few seconds with empty lungs and experience energy moving around the body for a few seconds - until I have to breathe again. I like how it feels so I wish to stay in that state, however this results in a less calm breath next time so upsets the process. I share this just as a clarification, those who kindly gave advices do not need to repeat them 😊

 

As a side note, I find that it is much easier to enter this happy, blissful state when I am (water) fasting. Sitting for meditation, doing some basic yoga or zhan zhuang feels much more powerful and effective if I am fasting.

 

So if the body is more hollow (empty stomach/gut, empty lungs) it becomes easier to feel and work with energy?

 

Thanks.

 

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56 minutes ago, MuadDib said:

The process is more like I sit/lie down for relaxation/meditation, after a while the breath and mind calms down, I pause for a few seconds with empty lungs and experience energy moving around the body for a few seconds - until I have to breathe again. I like how it feels so I wish to stay in that state, however this results in a less calm breath next time so upsets the process. I share this just as a clarification, those who kindly gave advices do not need to repeat them 😊

This is good. If the breath slows down or stops naturally, you're okay, imho. 

56 minutes ago, MuadDib said:

As a side note, I find that it is much easier to enter this happy, blissful state when I am (water) fasting. Sitting for meditation, doing some basic yoga or zhan zhuang feels much more powerful and effective if I am fasting.

 

So if the body is more hollow (empty stomach/gut, empty lungs) it becomes easier to feel and work with energy?

 

Thanks.

 

I found that having the internal organs properly hanging down, helps with the breath becoming elongated and slowing down. 

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1 hour ago, MuadDib said:

If the body is more hollow (empty stomach/gut, empty lungs) it becomes easier to feel and work with energy?

 

 

My experiences with water fasting were always powerful. Perhaps your suggestion above is true. Indeed, the influx of power in practice may have much to do with the release of energies otherwise engaged in the arduous process of digesting.

 

It should be carefully advanced in stages with regard to its prolongment, so as to not bring too great of a shock upon oneself too soon... most especially when combined with other practices, no matter how deeply blissful one may seem to feel.

 

There can even come a point where one arrives at a sense of dis-embodiment. Yet, the body knows best, and one would do well to make full use of the mind's subtilty/clarity to keenly identify and act upon the body's promptings.

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6 hours ago, MuadDib said:

Thank you very much for your kind suggestions. I will try to fit these practices into my daily schedule. If some progress is made, I will share them here. 

 

Looking over some earlier replies, I sense that I might have conveyed the idea that I draw in a big breath, empty the lungs and try to hold it for as long as possible to get the *high* feeling. 

 

The process is more like I sit/lie down for relaxation/meditation, after a while the breath and mind calms down, I pause for a few seconds with empty lungs and experience energy moving around the body for a few seconds - until I have to breathe again. I like how it feels so I wish to stay in that state, however this results in a less calm breath next time so upsets the process. I share this just as a clarification, those who kindly gave advices do not need to repeat them 😊

 

As a side note, I find that it is much easier to enter this happy, blissful state when I am (water) fasting. Sitting for meditation, doing some basic yoga or zhan zhuang feels much more powerful and effective if I am fasting.

 

So if the body is more hollow (empty stomach/gut, empty lungs) it becomes easier to feel and work with energy?

 

Thanks.

 

 

Keep in mind that working with energy requires familiarisation with the subtle channels, meaning it requires skillful knowledge of the subtle body. 

 

While fasting and conditioning internal organs are helpful to a point, the primary consideration will always remain focussed on the subtle body (as visualised to be ethereal, with chakras, channels and so on, each lighted accordingly). The purpose of conditioning the physical body is to discipline the arising of acute concentration facilitating prolonged clarity in maintaining said visualisation. Once this concentration is habituated, the routines involving physical manipulations take on a secondary role. Yet, there are many (loosely termed as yogis) who find it challenging to let go of the concentration on the physical because of the addiction to the "highs" generated. But these highs, being temporal, create a cycle of dependency. Therefore, its good to be aware the bliss generated thru conditioning this gross physical body is rather limited, ie shallow, effortful, and ultimately unsatisfactory. 

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