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Box Breathing (quietkit.com)
625 points by mkempe on Jan 28, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 127 comments

It's been known for thousands of years in yoga as "samavritti pranayama", or "square breath". The advice is to count on the finger of one hand. Inhale while stepping 1 2 3 4, Hold 1 2 3 4, Exhale 1 2 3 4 and Hold 1 2 3 4. All of this without mentally counting, just use your fingers to do the steps. It is recommended before meditation for calming the agitated mind.

Another method is to count breaths in increasing cycles: 1; 1 2; 1 2 3; ...; 1 2 3 4 5 6 7;... Each number corresponds to one inhalation and exhalation. See how high you can count before making a mistake. This comes from Buddhism.

I had the good fortune of learning yoga from a teacher whose core focus was on the breath. He taught this technique and other breathing techniques first and foremost before any movements ever came into play. The difference in the relaxation, stress-relief, etc., between that and the way I see yoga taught at these chain studios is incredible. I wish that was the standard, but obviously much fewer people have the patience to learn this way.

That's because video of breathing exercises on Instagram/Facebook won't garner as many likes as impressive as a scorpion pose on the mountain top.

Let's be honest, a good number of yoga practitioners here in the West do it for superficial reasons instead of actual personal improvement.

But arent there two types of yoga? The spiritual one (yoga) and the 'fitness' one (hatha yoga)?

It's less that there are two types than it is that they're complementary aspects of a larger thing. You can avail yourself of one — to great (if incomplete) benefit, even — without availing yourself of any of the others.

The way Yoga is practiced in the US and most of the world is just a set of exercises. Without the spiritual & mindfulness it is not Yoga as it is meant to be. Yoga is designed to be the complete package, not just for your body, but also for your mind, your thoughtfulness & soul (atma).

Yeah, it's just about fitness for a lot of people.

'Bout dem yoga pants, too, bruh.

> All of this without mentally counting

Wait, some people can count on their fingers without in their head going "One, Two, Three, Four"?

I can't. Suggestions for how to gain this skill first?

Instead of 1, 2, 3, 4, in your head say "left, middle, middle, right." Repeat until natural, then change it to be "this one, this one, this one, this one." Repeat until natural, then repeat some more until you can do it by the pattern alone without verbalizing anything internally.

Or don't think of it as counting, just think of it as a drumbeat. Bah-bah-bah-BAH. Bah-bah-bah-BAH. Make sure to go slow enough that it's actually four seconds and not two (whole beats, not half-beats). But the end goal is to not have to think about it at all. It may require thousands of repetitions.

that's cheating! we want the power to instinctively tell how many seconds have elapsed. maybe even what time it is.

I dare say anyone who plays a musical instrument does exactly this. I for sure do not explicitly count the bars when playing (save for some longer pauses) as it would only get in the way. On the surface it seems to work fine via feedback from hearing myself/others playing, movement (fingers/arms/body) while playing etc. Not that much different to counting out loud to be honest (just another feedback channel).

I start with my fingers all closed into a fist. I simply open the next finger, starting from my little finger. When I reach my thumb, I know to do the next 'thing' (whatever it is), then repeat. Rather than using your brain to store your state, you use your fingers. You can forget about what you are doing and simply know your state based on the feel of your fingers. Its basically like a simple state machine.

That is why this visual is so great. The act of counting is a distraction.

This is also an exceptionally good technique for controlling your pace while you are running. At the beginning, 3 steps in, 3 steps hold, 3 steps out. As you run out of breath, decrease the hold by 1. Then decrease the out by one. Then decrease the in by one. Once you get down to 2,1,2 try to maintain that. You will only be able to do it my adjusting your pace.

This is also nice because it fights getting stomach cramps because you alternate your in/out breathing wrt to your feet landing (odd numbers are best because your liver takes up a lot of room and if you are at full inhale on a right foot downstroke, it compresses things).

I've also got this working for cycling, but it's a bit more difficult due to the faster cadence.

I used this to increase cardiovascular and lung efficiency and volume. Start at 3-1-3, then progressively train to go to 3-2-3, 4-1-4, then 5-2-5, etc, inserting shortened (say 3-1-4) but deeper inhales or skipping the hold when getting short on breath. Inhaling has a natural tendency to slightly increase your heart rate while exhaling does the opposite, so the trick helps a lot in getting in control of a racing heart.

>The advice is to count on the finger of one hand. [...] count breaths in increasing cycles: 1; 1 2; 1 2 3; ...; 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 //

Is this hand counted? Knowing BSL I can count to 0-19 with one hand using unique gestures. Is there an acknowledged way: knuckle counting, binary, other? I note one can get to 19 (from 1) by moving ones gaze from finger joint to joint if you include finger tips.

Always curious to see alternate modes of counting on the fingers.

You could count from 0 to 35 in base 10, by counting in base 6 by using each hand to count from 0 to 5.

I find binary the easiest. You can get to 2^10 = 1024 easily.

1023, if you're using the natural representation of zero.

If you raise and lower your arm, that's two more bits for total of 4096.

I can do it, but holding the middle finger down while the surrounding fingers are up is not comfortable.

cognitive load would be higher

I found that more often than not, instead of trying to impose rhythm on the breath, observing with genuine curiosity whatever the current rhythm is (deep or shallow? short or long?) and focusing on the feeling of the breath itself as well as assorted bodily sensations such as the chest raising and falling does wonder to calm down. A gentle letting-go of resistance fares better on the long run towards acceptance and relief than downright coercion, which can have a nasty swing-back boomerang effect.

There was an ashtanga teacher in SoCal who did pranayama practice with a few students prior to Mysore practice. It was really demanding, somebody counted 55 inhale-exhale cycles in an hour, something like that

Do you happen to remember the teacher? Looking for a good ashtanga class in socal

Tim Miller, now in Carlsbad. There's lots of good teachers in LA area.

Any recommendations?

Slapping "navy" on it is a prime example of cultural appropriation.

(Before someone claims that this technique is modern: there are hundreds of technique similar to this one in Yoga and Buddhism)

Here is the fun part. Everyone thinks Pranayama and Yoga are from Buddhism. But really it's from Hinduism (it is mentioned in Vedic scriptures). Buddhism adopted these techniques which invariably resulted in cultural appropriation.

However, it doesn't matter what the source is as long as the technique is useful for the end user.

And even more fun, Yoga share a lot of philosophical roots with Samkhya, a school of Hinduism that doesn't exist anymore. Samkhya came about at the same time as Buddhism and is also atheist, or at least doesn't concern itself with god, much like Buddhism.

Yoga, however, brought god back into the mix, and these days, when taught in India, it's mostly done in the tradition of Advaita Vedanta school, which is the vast majority of hindus.

Advaita means "indivisible", i.e. god, the world, and everything is one thing, but the very few texts of yoga that has survived, clearly show it was a dualist philosophy separating prakrti (matter) and purusha (consciousness).

It's not just taught in Advaita schools. It's also taught in Dvaita and Vishisht-Advaita Vedanta schools. I know because I belong to the Dvaita school of thought. Also, there is a big misconception that majority of Hindus are Advaitis. It's not so. Almost half of Hindus are Vaishnavas who either belong to Dvaita, Vishishtadvaita or Dvaita-Vishistadvaita Schools (a.k.a ISKON/Chaitanya Mahaprabhu).

Yoga itself however originated from Santana Dharma (or modern day Hinduism). To back up this statement, you can read this chapter of Mahabharata which talks about the birth of Ved Vyasa (the writer of the Vedas) wherein it mentions how the Sankhya, Yoga, Pancha-ratra, Vedas and Pasupati cults came into existence: http://sacred-texts.com/hin/m12/m12c049.htm

I'll quote the relevant text for your convenience:

"Vaisampayana continued, "I have thus narrated to thee, O monarch, the circumstances connected with the former birth of our revered preceptor, viz., Vyasa of unstained mind, as asked by thee. Listen to me once again. There are diverse kinds of cults, O royal sage, that go by diverse names such as Sankhya, Yoga, the Pancha-ratra, Vedas, and Pasupati. The promulgator of Sankhya cult is said to be the great Rishi Kapila. The primeval Hiranyagarbha, and none else, is the promulgator of the Yoga system. The Rishi Apantaratamas is said to be the preceptor of the Vedas, some call that Rishi by the name of Prachina-garbha. The cult known by the name of Pasupata was promulgated by the Lord of Uma, that master of all creatures, viz., the cheerful Siva, otherwise known by the name of Sreekantha, the son of Brahma. The illustrious Narayana is himself the promulgator of the cult, in its entirety, contained in the Pancharatra scriptures."

> Everyone thinks Pranayama and Yoga are from Buddhism

Not me, as written.

Anything to discredit Hinduism.

Hinduism eats other religion, it's the super set religion, which is cool except for the cast system and that it says we all are living in the downward spiral (Kali Yuga) where people are as far away from God as possible. I don't wanna live in a downfall...

The caste system is really not prevalent within Hinduism. Again another hit job by the British (& most Western media) to discredit Hinduism and paint it in a bad light. In fact the word "caste" is Portuguese in origin, there is nothing equivalent to caste in Hinduism.

Also, I'm wondering how you got the impression that Kali Yuga = downward spiral. It is a phase in the endless cycle of the universe, but not necessarily a downfall.

The more cultural appropriation, the better off we all are. I’m being serious.

I used the term "cultural appropriation" instead of more positive sounding "cross-fertilisation" thinking it implied oversemplification and misrepresentation.

According to Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cultural_appropriation is not always clearly negative.

What I was referring to is the existing trend to pick ideas from hundreds of years ago, relabeling them while "forgetting" to mention the sources, and selling them as new in some self-help section in a library. This happens to western philosophy as well, and butchering complex philosophies to make them more palatable is hardly beneficial.

Agree. That's how things spread and become "familiar" to people. It's amazing how mindfulness is slowly starting to spread in the US... thousands of years of evolution and only now is the value being seen. Better late than never!

Every time I read the phrase cultural appropriation I am reminded of the Kimono Try On protests in Boston and I cringe: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-trending-33450391

Back to the original topic: it's breathing. Nobody owns breathing. It can't be trademarked or patented. The technique can be renamed and passed on for free or for profit.

Those kimono protests are ridiculous, I'm surprised it's not an April Fool's joke. Thanks for the link.

As for 'nobody owns breathing', nobody fundamentally owns anything, ownership is just a social construct. Someone owns something if a majority agrees they own it. What's being discussed is a style of breathing rather than breathing as a whole. It's no different to attributing the history of styles of music, dance, food, etc... to certain groups.

It boggles my mind that anyone thinks cultural hybridity and cross-fertilisation are a bad thing, regardless of whether proper attribution is given. Which, as in this case, it never is and almost never can be.

It's one of the more stupid ideas from a cluster of stupid ideas.

I'm not saying cross-fertilisation is a bad thing, quite the opposite. Butchering ideas often prevents them from being taken seriously and turns them into fads - that's the bad thing.

Mostly agree – except maybe in cases where the practice devolves into a cliché. American Indians and feathers come to mind.

OK I got calmer, but then I got stressed out! the blue circle is not in the center of the black ring.

I'm just learning CSS animations and thought I'd do one that way.

    <body><style>.circle{border-radius:50%;width:30vw;height:30vw;margin: auto}.breathe{animation:8s linear 0s infinite alternate breathe;}.inner{background-color:teal;}.border{border:10px solid black;}@keyframes breathe{0%{transform:scale(1);}25%{transform:scale(1);}75%{transform:scale(0.5);}100%{transform:scale(0.5);}}</style><div class="circle border"><div class="inner circle breathe">
Or, as a data URI:

(Be sure to triple-click to select all.)

I would leave a slight gap between the outer edge, it just feels claustrophobic when the blue and black parts touch. Also it needs some fancy speed up/slow down parts at the end of the exhale/inhale parts, it stops and starts too abruptly.

Otherwise it's pretty bang on.

> <body><style>.circle{border-radius:50%;width:30vw;height:30vw;margin: auto}.breathe{animation:8s ease-in-out 0s infinite alternate breathe;}.inner{background-color:#07a;}.border{border:10px solid black;padding:10px;}@keyframes breathe{ 0%{transform:scale(1);} 25%{transform:scale(1);} 75%{transform:scale(0.25);} 100%{transform:scale(0.25);}}</style><div class="circle border"> <div class="inner circle breathe"></div></div></body>

haha every deep breath in I noticed that too... such a tiny thing but so distracting

I didn't notice, but now I cant stop noticing. Thanks :P

Haha! I didn't notice that yet

There's growing evidence that breathing is linked to brain activity in interesting ways [1]. There's also the "4-7-8" breathing technique that is supposed to help you fall asleep faster. [2]

On top of that, concentrating on breathing takes your focus away from other inner monologue and intrusive thoughts; meditation programs typically start you off on that path.

[1] https://news.northwestern.edu/stories/2016/12/rhythm-of-brea...

[2] http://www.medicaldaily.com/life-hack-sleep-4-7-8-breathing-...

Here are a couple relevant studies:

Resonant breathing biofeedback training for stress reduction among manufacturing operators https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23294659

Effect of Fast and Slow Pranayama Practice on Cognitive Functions In Healthy Volunteers https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3939514/

Both citations from https://www.reddit.com/r/Nootropics/comments/25kfkf/breath_o...

I remember reading a long walk technique from middle east, where they would hold their breath a few seconds on each cycle. Supposed to augment your range significantly.

I also found out while trying to hold my breath above 2 minutes, that slowly swinging my shoulders to massage my lungs would delay the feeling of syncopation. Maybe, mayyyybe, because it would help enforce more gaz movement thus exchange.

This is a pretty nice demonstration of how breathing affects focus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0xc3XdOiGGI

Did the 4-7-8 thing work for you?

Thank you for the 4-7-8, it seems worthwhile to try regularly!

Shameless plug:

I made an iOS app for 4-7-8.

Essence — Breathing Relaxation


Point of note: those of you who also have their animated gifs set to run once and not loop, you're only supposed to stay exhaled for 4 seconds.

Don't do what I did.

Hilarious! At which shift in face color did you realize the error of your ways?

Out of curiosity, why do you have them set to only run once?

I started doing this after encountering articles that abused this with annoying looping memes; very distracting.

Because advertisers.

Is this what "Breathe" on the Apple Watch tries to help doing?

I never bothered to measure the intervals, so does anyone know if there's more to it? (the watch has access to heart rate and shows a current rate result afterwards; maybe it's adjusting heart rate goals over time?)

I got a laugh out of this.

You used a circle to depict "box breathing"; when you could just as easily have utilized a box.

Here's a CSS animation version, then, with illustration of the "box" aspect: https://jsfiddle.net/6937jx4L/

Sooo much better in so many ways. OP's had me anxious not to miss the transitions. The dot navigating the square communicates timing. Could you make into a GIF?

This is such a hacker news response to a breathing and relaxation technique. Thanks for the laugh.

Any one interested in how changes in breathing affect their mood and physiology should check out Wim Hof: http://discover.wimhofmethod.com/sq/31699-welcome-to-the-wim...

A word of caution about him: I spent some time recently researching into his method, and there were too many red flags coming up.

These included not summiting and having to be evacuated in poor condition from mountains that he was claimed to have climbed (often the claims are not made by him directly, but also not contradicted by him). Having run a half-marathon distance while a full marathon is claimed. And acting evasive in interviews, while seemingly trying to hide it with excitement.

On the plus side he does hold documented world records in withstanding cold -- although his twin brother that has not trained is also reported to have higher than normal ability, but I didn't find details about it. He has also participated in a scientific study about his method, although the results of it are exaggerated by his followers.

The breathing method/trick itself is hyperventilation followed by long periods of holding the breath (a trick I suspect most kids will discover at some point). He claims that this somehow charges the body with oxygen and has various amazing health effects.

As far as I can tell (without medical training), the actual effect is to suppress the CO2 level in the blood. This disrupts the automatic breathing reflex which is driven by the blood CO2 levels, allowing you to hold your breath for extended periods. This is the same method used by free-divers, and many people have drowned after passing out due to lack of oxygen (including people specifically following the Wim Hof method).

I support skepticism about things like this, but I will say: Wim is not scamming people. He's showing them how to do something that works to lengthen his breath retention underwater and the regulation of his body heat. What he does is similar to pranayama, and dissimilar to hyperventilating in that he's pausing between the inhale and the exhale, a lot like the Navy SEALS.

Wim is not a great public speaker, and English is a second language to him, so what you see as evasion appears to me as a non-scientist trying to explain his experience in a language he hasn't mastered.

If you are going to claim that people have drowned by following his methods, you should link to it. Wim and his website are careful to say that this breathing technique should only be done in a safe place, sitting down. And if people go into ice water they should be supervised.

There is some scientific support, published in the Proceedings for the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) for a breathing technique that can affect our autoimmune responses.


Briefly, sustained deep breathing mimics and breath retention stimulates the production of epinephrin/adrenalin and influences the autonomic nervous system.

When he came to the Bay, Andrew Huberman brought him into his neurobiology lab at Stanford to run some tests on him. Wim is doing something that deserves attention, and his breathing exercises can help change your mental and physical state. You don't take his word for, or mine. Just try it.

>If you are going to claim that people have drowned by following his methods, you should link to it.


I did not say, nor do I think, that Wim Hof is scamming people. He appears genuine, although often evasive. And I do not think it has anything to do with English being his second language.

However, I do get a feeling that _someone_ is using him behind the scenes to make money, due to the false/exaggerated claims made about the results of his method and the related publications, and the method getting heavily commercialised and promoted.

As for the method itself, like I wrote before, it is nothing new. It is controlled hyperventilation (and cold showers). Like many kids, I discovered it when competing with friends in who could hold their breath the longest.

It has also been used by free-divers for a long time, and there is evidence that it may cause brain injury when done repeatedly (in addition to blacking out and drowning). Which is why I would not recommend anyone to "just try it".

Too many red flags for me personally, and I just wanted to share that since the topic came up.

Fair enough. Wim Hof and his organization have warnings on every single page of their tutorials telling people not to do the exercises in a swimming pool, like the guy did who died. Below is a screenshot of them. Saying that people die following his method, when they do the exact opposite of what he says, is inaccurate. Nobody should try it near water, or driving, or anywhere but sitting in a meditative position.


Wim's marketing is crap, and frankly, he's not making a lot of money off of this. No one is.

The method may not be new, but many old things are not known or popularized. Kids may discover it, but we are still learning about the effects of this technique on the body.

Playing with your breath is the ultimate hack of the human mind. There are seemingly endless combinations of techniques that each have a unique physiological impact on the body. Use the right one at the right time and life flows smoothly.

Can you give more examples or provide a source? The only examples I encountered are breathing cycles during exercise and stress-relief techniques.

Science is verifying a lot of the value in breathing practices. Check out this article on a specific technique as a treatment for depression. https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2016/novembe...

The box breathing works because it slows the breath down and brings it to a standard rhythm. Think of it this way, every emotion has a specific type of breath. When a person is experiencing sadness, happiness, anger, etc. there is specific pattern of breath that can be observed with regards to speed, length of inhale and exhale, depth, etc.

Emotion and breath are linked, and as the box breathing shows, it is a two way street. As emotions change, the breath does, but if we change our breath, our emotions do too. Have you ever been told to count slowly to ten when you're angry? Same principal.

this is not a solution

`That's it! Repeat for as many times as you need to calm down.`

hmm.. you could apply that to anything

Including banging your head against the wall!

Do that with sufficient gusto and you'll be calm in no time.

"If <x> doesn't work, you're not doing enough of it!"

If you're ever in a "hold your breath" contest do this right before it starts.

You'll crush the competition by a wide margin (assuming they're not doing the same) and be amazed at how many minutes you can go.

If anyone is interested, David Blaine has an interesting TED Talk on holding your breath. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XFnGhrC_3Gs

TIL: The longest time breath held voluntarily (male) is 24 min 3.45 secs and was achieved by Aleix Segura Vendrell (Spain).

How is that thing even possible? your body would work in an entirely different manner!

He pre-breathes 100% oxygen for up to 30 minutes prior to the breathhold: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Static_apnea#With_pure_oxygen

World record without this trick is 11 min 54.

Not sure that that would beat someone doing hyper-ventilation. Hyper-ventilating easily adds 1:30 - 2 minutes of time holding my breath.

This is only because you're not able to recognize your urge to breathe for what it is...a buildup of CO2 rather than a need for O2. With practice in breathing exercises, you learn to recognize the start of contractions (in the diaphragm) as a stage in the breath hold that's typically around 1/3 of your maximum. With more practice, you can start to recognize more subtle symptoms of low O2...tingling in the extremities is the easiest to notice, but there's a few more.

Hyperventilation is stigmatized in the apnea community because it doesn't increase the level of O2 in the blood. This can be measured with an oximeter...you'll never get above the 94%-98% saturation you achieve at rest while breathing comfortably. All hyperventilation does is purge CO2. During a breath hold, CO2 levels rise and O2 levels fall. The body detects the CO2 rise easily since the PH level becomes more acidic (carbonic acid). But if you've purged your CO2 from your body, it's entirely possible to run out of O2 without the buildup of CO2 being great enough for the body to register the change in acidity and trigger the urge to breathe. And running out of O2 underwater leads to black outs, especially in shallow water as water pressure drops fastest when surfacing those last 10m-20m.

Source: I've practiced apnea/freediving for the past ~7 months and my personal best is 6:48. My training plan is to hit 8 minutes on my 1-year anniversary of beginning my training. Hyperventilation is counterproductive for me since I need to be as relaxed as possible during my holds. My current breathe-up is a 2-1 short to long breath cycle for about a minute then a 3/4 breath, full exhale and a full breath in. This is a slight over-breathe, but not enough to purge much CO2.

> And running out of O2 underwater leads to black outs, especially in shallow water as water pressure drops fastest when surfacing those last 10m-20m.

Because people swim faster when they're close to the top?

Maaaats' answer is excellent, but I thought I'd add one bit for non divers.

When you learn to dive, the most fundamental fact you learn is that the every 10.5m you descend under water adds 1 atmosphere (bar) of pressure. It's customary to round that down to 10m to make the calculations both easier and more conservative. But the important realization from this calculation is that pressure changes more rapidly near the surface. Descending those first 10m doubles the pressure. From 10m to 20m only adds 50%. From 20m to 30m adds even less, 33%.

And it's that percentage change that is most noticeable underwater. You have to equalize the pressures in your ears and sinuses most in the first 10m under water. And since pressure effects your body's ability to deliver oxygen to the brain, that rapid decrease in pressure near the surface when surfacing is where someone low on oxygen will pass out.

This also explains another part of maaaats' answer. Since a freediver is wearing a wetsuit that compresses with pressure (and the lungs also compresses with pressure), their buoyancy will depend on depth. Being neutrally buoyant at 10m deep is a common practice for all but the most experienced freedivers. This means for those first 10m, you actually have to kick your fins to go down or else you'll just float back up to the surface. But beyond 10m, you can just let gravity take you down. And it works the same way coming up. You actually have to kick to get back to 10m, but once you pass that point, the buoyant force starts to help you get to the surface. Experienced freedivers might actually exert themselves less in those last 10m since they've got that assist from buoyancy.

> it's that percentage change that is most noticeable underwater

Ahh! I figured I was missing something, because the pressure change is linear, but yeah... the percentage change is different. Interesting, and thanks for explaining.

The details here are great even for divers :)

When I freedive, I'm often weighted so that I'm neutral buoyant at -10m. So the last 10 meters I will start to float upwards, and thus go faster.

But that's not the issue here. It's the pressure difference when ascending.

> [1] Ascent-induced hypoxia is caused by a drop in ppO2 as ambient pressure is reduced on ascent. The ppO2 at depth, under pressure, may be sufficient to maintain consciousness but only at that depth and not at the reduced pressures in the shallower waters above or at the surface

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freediving_blackout

Thanks for the super detailed reply!

Just be careful when using hyperventilation for diving. You can drown. Might pass out before you feel the urge to breathe.


That said, it's hella effective. Used it a lot as a kid snorkeling in the Mediterranean. Only swallowed water a few times.

Same with Jenga. Half the reason the people I've played with lose is due to the sheer tension.

Rhythmic breathing and a detachment from the outcome of the game to just focus on the damn tile is a fairly good way to wreck. That and locking your wrists/fingers.

Any idea why that is?

It's probably mild hyperventilation.

Your urge to breathe comes from the CO2 content of your blood; by breathing heavily you deplete your blood CO2, so your blood can absorb more from your metabolism before the acidity goes up enough that you feel compelled to breathe again.

It's a design flaw that your urge to breathe is connected to CO2 saturation and not oxygen saturation (the thing you really need); evolution has kind of assumed that the two will be inversely related. That bogus assumption can lead to the "shallow water blackout" scenario a few other sibling comments are describing.

Yes, you are getting a form of hyperventilation as the holding of the breath like that is resulting in exactly what you're referring to. Often times in SCUBA diving and firefighting with SCBA's we refer to this method as "skip breathing". Some people teach to do it in emergency situations when low on air to try and conserve air, but I don't believe there is any backing that it will aid in that, it may even make it worse.

However, the skip breathing can be helpful as it can be a decent way to relax. Most people say to do it to conserve air, but I think the real benefit is that you relax and therefore conserve air.

Nice way to get into focus on breathing. Mind is like a monkey, it keeps wandering. Keep it busy by asking it to watch or focus on breathing. De-stress and bringing emotions under control are just starting point of meditation. The next stage is achieved when we can do "Balancing breath". Our guru calls it "Gayathri sthithi". In this stage, both of our breaths (left and right nostrils ) are balanced. In normal conditions, either your left ( Ida or moon nadi) or right nostril ( pingala or surya) only has the air flow, based on your body type. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nadi_(yoga). When both the breaths are balanced, your sushumna Nadi is activated. This is when you could achieve Spiritual state and a fantastic experiences will unfold before your inner vision. I am yet to experience it.

Our Guru, With his tough practices of Kriya yoga and other meditating techniques, could achieve this state and He can get into this Gayathri state at any time. This is THE ultimate state to experience the Universal source of energy. This is where every soul came from and will get into.

As technologists we are materialistic and we are operating in lower dimension.The other dimension (spiritual), once opened/experienced, can answer any question in this universe. This is how RUSHIs and yogis could fathom universal truths with out any scientific tools, eons before our modern science.

Shameless mention of a related app that I built: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/calmly/id998619858?mt=8

Struggled with severe stress and IBS during my youth; controlled breathing was really one of the only things that had an (near-immediate) effect.

Relaxation has immensely decreased my IBS symptons. Wished that somebody advised me years ago that yoga and relaxation could be so beneficial to your body.

https://breathe.now.sh add to your home screen

I feel short of breath when I try this.

You might want to see a doctor about that.

yep. as someone who has suffered sleep apnea for a while once your oxygen levels get so low that you can't hold your breath for 4 seconds it's time to get checked.

You might be breathing with your chest instead of your belly. Try filling your belly with air as you inhale.

This! Also, probably connected to bad posture, specially when sitting in front of a computer.

My posture when using the computer is terrible and usually when I'm distracted, I slouch and kinda slide down on the chair, that makes my back arch forward and compresses my stomach. Since I'm distracted reading or gaming or something I just notice it when I already start feeling my heart on my chest, or slight discomfort or shortness of breath.

I have health related anxiety and this has caused me lots of stress in the past (bad posture making me overly mind how heavy it is to breathe, or starting to feel my heart beat on my stomach out of nowhere and get stressed out etc). I've been focusing on sitting better when in front of the PC and correcting myself early when I slide down and the issue has gone away so quickly and in such a way that it even feels ridiculous to have been so stressed out about it. I truly believe our best friend and also our worst enemy is the self, so we need to get our feelings in control, and that means good breathing... and that can require you to better your posture :)

The timing of this post was very good because I tried doing the breathing exercise 5 mins ago and while I didn't had shortness of breath like the poster above us, it wasn't calming to me either... I then corrected my posture, redid the exercise and yes, it did relax me quite a bit :)

Good posture, mates!

Try counting to 2 instead. You may have to work up to it. Definitely don't strain yourself or you may get the opposite effect.

Weird, I was just playing Wolfenstein: The New Order today, where the main protagonist uses this technique all the time. I'd never heard of this technique before that.

What's the phenomena called - where you encounter the same new thing multiple separate times within a short time frame?

It's called synchronicity.

"Synchronicity is a concept, first explained by psychoanalyst Carl Jung, which holds that events are 'meaningful coincidences' if they occur with no causal relationship yet seem to be meaningfully related." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Synchronicity

Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time it's enemy action. -- Ian Fleming

Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Fun fact about that phenomenon: no one really knows why it's called that. Someone just picked what seems to be a random name and it stuck. It has nothing to do with the real life Baader-Meinhof group.

I thought the reason for that name was that it was the original example: someone who had never heard of that group learned about it and suddenly noticed they saw it mentioned or referenced everywhere.

EDIT: Source: https://psmag.com/there-s-a-name-for-that-the-baader-meinhof...

Thanks, that was what I was thinking of. :)

It's all connected!

Many more related techniques in this book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/188192.Light_on_Pr_n_y_m...

This is something I started doing in my teenage years, to help measure and equalize my breathing while running. Count 1-2-3-4 while inhaling, then 1-2-3-4 while exhaling - while running. After some time, I could only count 1-2-3, measuring my fatigue through lack of breath. I thought it was just something my odd self made up, and never knew this was a significant activity.

I thought it was more important to have a constant rhythm to your breathing, not necessarily how long you inhale/exhale.

Listen to "One More Robot / Sympathy 3000-21" by The Flaming Lips and breathe with the background piano chords. Great for square breathing.

For vortex breathing (in 3, out 5, no pause between either phase), listen to "Breathe (in the air)" by Pink Floyd.

I found an App which does a great job!

Relapps - https://appsto.re/us/8PGcfb.i

There's a great app in the Android store that has a variety of breathing based meditations - Prana Breath.

Meh, breathing in or out for 4 seconds is at least 2 seconds too long for me.

Isn't this Pranayama?

I wished this followed the 4-7-8 breathing technique. I have been practicing this for the last few weeks and it has been a really positive experience for me.


You might want to check with mods before you keep posting these.

Here's what they said to one other project doing similar: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11607103



It is nice to see a demonstration of the fundamental principle, described in the Patanjali's Yoga Sutra, in contrast to the cascades of bullshit of the Yoga Pradipika.

Humans bullshit everything, painting degrade to the modern colorful Warkshok inkblots, music - to sophisticated noise, yoga became a method of hipster's public snowflakery. Philosophy - Hegelian nonsense, politics - vagina marches.

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