Hard - Restricted Breathing (custom)
Download the Breathe+ Breathing Exercises app for free and set you own custom breath cycle.
Access the app on an Apple device in this link. If you don't have an Apple device, you can download a similar free app called Breathe from Google Play in this link (please note that this app looks different to the images below).
If you find the above Medium 4-8-8 cycle easy, try 6-8-16 in the app and increase the cycle timing as you progress. You can also customise your session length within the app.
As with the easy and medium restricted breathing exercises breathe in the nose, out the nose or mouth and then hold your breath repeating the cycle. I like to sit in a chair with a flat back and feet flat on the floor while I do this.
To take this exercise a step further you can add in a stomach lock known as Uddiyana Bandha. Bandha means a lock or bind which is performed in order to direct and regulate the flow of prana (life force energy).
Uddiyana Bandha is an upward abdominal lock where you are pulling your stomach up under your ribs. The benefits of incorporating it into this exercise are as follow:
- Helps left energy up through the centre of your core, as well as activating all the smaller muscles deep in your lower back and abdomen.
- It’s a great practice for improving your digestive system as it helps to correct the low blood circulation in this area of the body.
- De-stresses the mind.
- Increases the capacity of your lungs, and strengthens them.
How to do an Uddiyana Bandha (stomach lock):
- Standing up, bent over, hands on knees. Exhale completely. Like your blowing up a balloon as much as possible with one breath. Notice that you do this by pressing your chest and abdomen in towards your spine.
- Hold your out-breath. Then pretend to inhale (without inhaling) stopping air from entering your lungs, and at the same time relax your abdomen. You should feel your chest lift and your stomach pull up underneath your ribcage.
- While holding your breath, try harder to inhale while keeping your abdomen relaxed forming a deeper concave underneath your rib cage. This is a stomach lock.
How to incorporate it into this breathing exercise:
Inhale through your nose, breathe out completely like you’re blowing up a balloon in one breath, and then hold your breath and activate the stomach lock during the breath hold cycle.