Learn To Hold Your Breath For More Than 2 Minutes in 5 Easy Steps
Step 1: Forget everything you know about holding your breath
Seriously. If you have never got longer than 1 minute, then you didn't have the proper knowledge to do so. And that's perfectly normal. I was there, too.
My general assumption for most of the people is, that they take a full breath, hold it and then give up after about a minute or so. Then they think it is impossible to do longer. And you are right, it is if you are doing it that way. Just imagine the following scenario: If you want to run a marathon, are you going out there and start running without any kind of preparation or warm up? I don't think so! The same is true for this.
There is no single breath hold technique which really gives you outstanding results
The body is able to store oxygen inside the blood cells. Oxygen is the stuff that keeps you alive and your body is longing for. So if you fill up your storage with enough oxygen before you hold your breath, it is much easier for you, to remain without additional air. It is simple as that. That's the real "secret".
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Step 2: Get into a relaxed position
Remain without breathing for a longer period of time is primary depending on how relaxed you are. Every distraction, every discomfort burns precious oxygen. And remember. Your body has a limited amount of oxygen stored in your body when you are holding your breath. Wasting that by being unnecessarily tensed or distracted by the neighbours dog or something like that, doesn't help you at all.
Lay down in your bed and relax
Find a nice and comfortable place to relax. Reduce all possible distractions to a minimum. Shut down your mobile phone and make sure nothing else disturbs you. Lay down and feel your muscles. Relax every bit of them. Continue normal breathing while doing so.
Get into a calm state of mind
Focus on your normal breath and on nothing else. If other thoughts appear, gently push them away and focus on your breathing again. This is important. Every time your brain tries to find another topic to think of, you are losing not just concentrations but also burn additional oxygen.
Step 3: Start the Yogic Breathe Up
What is the Yogic Breathe Up?
When you are inhaling, focus on your stomach and fill the air into it. After 2 seconds of inhaling shift the air into your chest for about 3 seconds. You can feel the movement if you place on hand each parts of your body. Feel the air filling your lungs. After that you release the air slowly. This has to take at least the double amount of time as for the inhale. It doesn't matter if you get the figures exactly. The important thing is, to control your breath, fill your lungs and empty them in a slow manner. To control the inhale and exhale you can put your tongue onto your lower teeth. That creates a valve, which makes it easier to manage the amount of air you inhale and release.
For easier understanding:
- Inhale 2 seconds to stomach
- Shift to chest and inhale for another 3 seconds
- Exhale slowly for about 5 seconds
- Total Cycle time should be around 10 seconds
Continue that procedure for at least 3 minutes. Don't think about exact figures. This procedure is necessary to fill your oxygen levels up and make the whole exercise easier for you. Your body supports you with a whole bunch of additional features while not breathing. This is called the Mammalian Dive Reflex, which I will cover in another hub. Simply put, it modifies your body's behaviour to support the condition of holding your breath. Don't worry about it, it happens automatically.
Step 4: Take your final Breathe and Relax
After you have followed the breathing rhythm for about 3 minutes it is time to increase the amount of air you inhale. Take 2 more deep inhales, which may take you a little bit longer than the ones before.
Take the final breath
After doing that you take another really deep breath and shut your mouth. Fill your lungs completely. You should feel the pressure in your chest. Let no air getting out or in. Stay calm and relaxed.
Scanning your body for tension and release it
The next important thing is to scan your body and release any tension you might have. People usually tend to put force into their muscles because they fight against the urge to breathe. Remember the body isn't used to that new sensation and tries to avoid it at all costs. But it is just because of not knowing how it is, that your body reacts like this.
Start with your toes and work your way up to your legs. See if there's any unnecessary tension you might release. You don't need your legs to burn oxygen for no reason which you can use better right now.
Continue with your arms and stomach as well as your chest. Finally you will reach the neck and shoulders as well as your face muscles. Focus on that, because usually there's the most tension. Try to release it and calm down. Hold the breath and feel the relaxation getting into your body and mind.
Ease into the uncomfortable situation
You may have reached a point where the breath hold doesn't feel comfortable anymore. Your brain is telling you to breathe but honestly, that's far away from the real end of the road. Try to calm your mind down and relax even more. Even if your body starts doing crazy manoeuvres, like stomach contractions, stick to it. If you really can't go any further, release everything.
You may come to a point where your stomach is starting to move involuntarily. This is nothing bad. In fact your body is starting to breathe internally. What's happening is that the unused air in your lungs gets in movement again, because your diaphragm is going up and down. That way oxygen can be brought into the blood circles again. This leads to more oxygenated blood cells in your body and therefore you can stay longer without taking another breath. Yes, it is exactly as awesome as it sounds.
Highly recommended blog
- The Art of Freediving - Philosophy and Lifestyle of Freediving
Philosophy and Lifestyle of Freediving
Step 5: Recovery Breath and back to normal
Finally if you decided you can't stand any longer, exhale and release all the CO2. Inhale deeply and exhale again. Do that a couple of times. That way you'll fill up your body with oxygen again and you'll feel comfortable again. Don't forget this last step as you may be very low on oxygen which may lead to black out or loss of motion control. To be on the safe side have another person on your side, who can watch your behaviour and progress as well as taking the time.
How was it?
If you followed until here you have probably tried it, too. I'd be really interested how it was and if the explanations have been helpful to you. Any suggestions for improvement are highly appreciated, so don't be shy.
Anyway I really appreciate that you have read so far. If I could do anything to improve my explanation here for everyone, please let me know. Holding and controlling the breath is advantageous for many standard live situations, e.g. stress management. If you are able to control your breath, you are able to control your state of mind. Think about it the next time you start getting angry again.
Major concerns and lack of clarity regarding safe breath holding
Disclaimer right up front
Some concerned readers started a lively discussion about the risk of performing the breath holding technique described in this hub. I state the major ones and hopefully can address everything to a whole extent.
My intention for writing this hub:
- showing and telling people about the capabilities of the human body and mind
- introducing a way one is able to reach his mental limits
- sharing my fascination about freediving, the sport this techniques are used for.
NOT my intention for writing this hub:
- using a highly targeted keyword like "hold your breath" to gain additional traffic
- showing youngsters to black out
- introducing a way to get high (which isn't really an effective way to do. I am sure youngsters these days know better ways"
Holding the breath and related techniques should only be performed under supervision with an experienced person.
Basically there are several concerns that will appear for someone who is new to the topic and wants to learn more about it:
Why would I hold my breath for such a long time? Is this even healthy or beneficial?
I understand that the mere topic of holding one's breath for an unusual time like 2 minutes seems to be crazy, careless or even irresponsible.I know that, because I thought the same about it before I learned freediving.
Holding the breath, performed according to the instructions give, isn't stupid and dangerous at all. In fact the human body is designed to perform those kinds of activities. For more information on that I kindly refer to
And yes, I believe that every youngster or whoever is self dependent enough to make his or her own decisions regarding what to do or not to do. I am not diminishing the responsibility from them nor do I force anyone to perform the techniques I have explained in this hub.
I agree that there are probably many people who put themselves into dangerous and stupid situations but seriously that's not the topic here.
I didn't put a specific application in this hub, because there are so many different ways you can apply that knowledge.
It is used in
- Vocal Coaching (as I know now)
- Relaxation techniques
- Will Power Training
I wanted to keep it universal. It's a built-in feature of the human body if you would like to say so. The body is able to maintain a health state even while holding the breath for a longer period of time. (For your information: The world record is beyond 10 minutes without ANY subsequent damage)
Why is holding your breath beneficial?
- it lets you relax any time at any place immediately (referring back to the Human Dive Reflex)
- it lets you control your state of mind by putting things back to order. If you don't believe me then focus on your breathing the next time you are anxious, stressed or in any other uncomfortable situation
- it lets you face and extend the mental borders and shows you new capabilities of your body and mind
- you will find a dozen other applications you can implement in your daily life
- The Art of Freediving
Learn more about holding your breath and what you can actually do with it, besides the incredible feeling of achieving outstanding results.
How successful have you been?
How long did you hold your breath?See results without voting
Inspiring and impressing video about the opportunities of holding the breath and freediving
Is holding my breath dangerous and can it cause brain damage?
Later on in the thread the consumption of oxygen because of the brain was put in question. As a matter of fact the brain is responsible for 20% of total body oxygen consumption. I kindly refer to
At another passage in this thread the term Shallow Water Blackout appears. I confirm that this is a really dangerous situation but has nothing to do with the technique described in the hub.
Shallow Water Blackout, as described in the Wikipedia article, is the issue of blacking out while freediving near the surface. Because of the relative pressure changes of gases, like oxygen, are significantly higher near oxygen, the amount of oxygen may fall below a necessary level which then leads to a blackout. This only happens BECAUSE of the diving (and the according changes of pressure). In dry training as described in my hub this is not the case. Because of the Shallow Water Blackout Issue Freediving is furthermore never done alone.
I also conceived that the topic of brain damage appears several times. It is necessary to define a clear distinction about what causes brain damage and what doesn't. After 3 minutes of NO OXYGEN supply at all the brain is at risk of getting damage.
While holding your breath your body is PERMANENTLY supplied with oxygen. Only the amount of it gets less and less after time. And that's exactly what you are training for:
Getting used to less amount of oxygen in your body and use it more effectively.
By no means you are interrupting the oxygen supply and causing some kind of brain damage.
Is holding the breath potentially dangerous? Of course it is. Walking on the sidewalk and eating plums is potentially dangerous, too. Either a car can kill you or you may choke on the plums and die because of suffocation. In the latter my hub on holding your breath for 2 minutes may help you increasing your chance of survival.
Consulting a doctor before doing that exercise is definitely a great idea. Having your body checked regularly isn't just beneficial for practices like that.
Feel free to contact me directly, via this forum, by comments or whatever.