Breath holding refers to voluntarily holding your breath for a short period of time in order to increase mental power, improve lung capacity and manage stress or anxiety. There are many benefits of breath holding, but the most important part is knowing how to do it safely.
Breath holding safely
Breathing is your life’s anchor. When you hold your breath, your body will start to react and respond as time goes on. When you hold your breath for 30 seconds or so, you might feel relaxed as you close your eyes and tune out the world around you. Anything more than that, you may start to feel light headed, your diaphragm and lungs will pain and it could be dangerous for your life and wellbeing. This is why you should not do this for more than 30 seconds and not do it frequently either. Here’s an entire explanation on how your body reacts over time to breath holding.
Here’s how you can practice breath holding:
Step 1: Take a few deep breaths and settle into your chair or on the floor, keeping your back upright
Step 2: Slowly close your mouth and cover your nostrils. Use one finger to hold your breath
Step 3: Count to 30 (or a number you are comfortable with) and try and stay relaxed, noticing and observing your mind and body as you practice breath holding
Step 4: Once you reach your number, let go of your fingers and breathe normally without trying to force anything
By doing this, you’ll feel relaxed and enjoy the present moment. Drink a glass of water in case you feel uncomfortable. If it is your first time, don’t do this again for another hour or so. Take small steps to become more comfortable.
Benefits of breath holding
The benefits of breath holding are plenty. From generally improved breathing and lung function to potentially lifesaving benefits, they are:
- Improves lung capacity
- Improves concentration and alertness
- Reduce stress and anxiety
- Learn a life skill
Improves lung capacity
One of the main benefits of breath holding includes better lung capacity and breathing function. This is because you are testing your lungs in short times to cope without breathing, making it stronger and more resilient. Over time, your lungs learn to take deeper breaths and improve their capacity.
Just make sure not to hold your breath for more than 20-30 seconds.
Improves concentration and alertness
Your breathing is a great way to give your mind health a boost. By practicing breath holding, you help your brain wake up and feel alert. The short span of no oxygen spurts it into action. As a result of this alertness and power,you can focus better and helps your mind health!
Reduces stress and anxiety
One of the underrated benefits of breath holding is how it reduces stress or anxiety. Breathing is your ally when you face negative emotions. It can help you stay in the moment, process one thought at a time, lower your heart rate and relax. By holding your breath for 15-20 seconds, you can stay in the moment, recharge your mind and feel relaxed. When you are done, you will feel better and less stressed but happier. This is because there’s a sudden surge of oxygen after you finish holding your breath, giving your brain something else to focus on rather than what is bothering you.
Learn a life skill
Knowing how to manage your breath and hold it for short periods of time can help you navigate dangerous situations in the future. With an improved lung capacity, you can hold your breath better underwater in case of an emergency. You can even swim better and store more oxygen within yourself. It can be very handy in certain situations.
The benefits of breath holding are many and they can help you improve your mind health and breathing capacity, as long as you do it in moderation and stick to maximum of 30 seconds, as medically suggested.
If you’re looking to improve your breathing, you can even try breathing exercises like box breathing or alternate nostril breathing which have their own benefits and positives.
Evolve’s guided meditations include breathing exercises and techniques to help you manage anxiety, sleep better and improve focus. The Evolve app is live globally for Android & iOS, click here to try for free!
Here are some articles on different breathing techniques:
Jash is an expert on mindfulness.