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Other/Mixed Is there a trick or technique for keeping pressure out of your head during power breathing?

Other strength modalities (e.g., Clubs), mixed strength modalities (e.g., combined kettlebell and barbell), other goals (flexibility)

Boris Bachmann

Level 7 Valued Member
That was a great video! I'm not sure it addresses the pressure in the head, tho. I actually think I've watched this video before when I did a youtube deep dive on power breathing trying to figure this out.
Sometimes wearing a belt and learning to pull the breath into the belt helps. If you're feeling it in your head, part of it (for me) is 'holding' the breath too high.

Also, I would make sure that your sinuses are clear prior to training. Saline nasal spray is my friend prior to heavy training.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
Exhale down into the pelvic girdle, back pressure provided by the lower abs and obliques - don’t let the pressure build around the lungs.

Let off enough air that it doesn’t generate static Valsalva level pressure. You’ll feel it some in the head but should be relatively minor.
Okay, this is workable. I just did some practice reps and it seemed okay. By not letting the pressure build around the lungs, do you mean to just not generate enough tension to feel it all the way up in the lungs? Because that's the only thing I felt working.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
Sometimes wearing a belt and learning to pull the breath into the belt helps. If you're feeling it in your head, part of it (for me) is 'holding' the breath too high.

Also, I would make sure that your sinuses are clear prior to training. Saline nasal spray is my friend prior to heavy training.

If i'm feeling it in my head and neck, is it just me breathing into my belly AND chest and not realizing I'm breathing into the chest?

I feel like a maniac trying all these exercises and figuring out where I'm going wrong with my breath. Maybe I don't know how to belly breathe without the chest.
 

Don Fairbanks

SFG II
Certified Instructor
That's a good exercise. For some reason, i don't feel pressure in my head when I do that. But if I squeezed my butt/abs/fists hard while doing a sphincter lock, I would feel it in my head. Am I just generating too much tension in my core?
Try the glute / gut / grip technique while talking.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
Try the glute / gut / grip technique while talking.
I can't believe that made such a difference! Exhaling with the TSSSSS tongue against the teeth technique just adds tension to my head because my tongue is tensing, but talking seems to involve musculature well below the face.

I think I'll be able to piece together several small improvements from this thread.
 

Mark Limbaga

Level 8 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
If Pavel has written about it in his biggest books, I've probably read about them, but it's not coming to mind.
Let me look at some of his older material and see if it's somewhere.. I personally knew about it from my martial arts background and master instructor @Pavel Macek mentioned it at the Taiwan SFB in 2019 where I got to assist

Would you prefer a visual aid?
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
Let me look at some of his older material and see if it's somewhere.. I personally knew about it from my martial arts background and master instructor @Pavel Macek mentioned it at the Taiwan SFB in 2019 where I got to assist

Would you prefer a visual aid?

Visual aid would be amazing, but I'll take any information you can scrounge up!
 

Conor

Level 1 Valued Member
I can't believe that made such a difference! Exhaling with the TSSSSS tongue against the teeth technique just adds tension to my head because my tongue is tensing, but talking seems to involve musculature well below the face.

I think I'll be able to piece together several small improvements from this thread.

Maybe try a different sound when you’re trying to increase the compression. Say “ha” or something like that. Might be something with how you’re drawing the air for that particular sound.
 

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
Sinister
What a great thread. This is one of those times where the forum wins out over courses, in-person coaching, and video. People can't see the pressure in your head. You can only tell us about it. But it can be resolved, with good advice and good descriptions. Good work and thanks for sharing, @3letterslong!
 

Pantrolyx

Level 5 Valued Member
I've tried to tie the power breathing to generating full body tension, which sounds like the same idea, but that just increases the pressure in my head.
I think it could be a matter of practicing that tension technique. The descrfibed drill from WHM is about taking a few breaths - consciously hyperventilating while hardly exhaling - followed by short burts of brath holds and hard tension below the neck. It is actually easier to do when you are acutally exposed to cold water, but I would be careful to recommand learning it during such an exposure. :)
 

North Coast Miller

Level 8 Valued Member
Okay, this is workable. I just did some practice reps and it seemed okay. By not letting the pressure build around the lungs, do you mean to just not generate enough tension to feel it all the way up in the lungs? Because that's the only thing I felt working.
Its more of an exhale down. When doing easy breath meditation, you let the viscera settle and that pushes air out. With a power exhale you force the viscera “down” into the pelvic girdle, restrict air escape through the throat. You will feel tension in the throat.

If you drive air out primarily with diaphram pressure you’ll feel it more in upper chest cavity and head.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
Its more of an exhale down. When doing easy breath meditation, you let the viscera settle and that pushes air out. With a power exhale you force the viscera “down” into the pelvic girdle, restrict air escape through the throat. You will feel tension in the throat.

If you drive air out primarily with diaphram pressure you’ll feel it more in upper chest cavity and head.

"It's more of an exhale down." Whoa. I didn't even know that was a thing, but it changed everything! lol No pressure in the head!

I think this is the key that I was missing. Thank you!
 

bluejeff

Level 6 Valued Member
@3letterslong
Perhaps doing some non-power breathing drills could teach you better how to not breath with your neck (which sounds like may be the case), which in turn could help with the power breathing by generating better "breathing coordination." I too, have dealt with lots of neck tension, and the following has helped me a lot.

You don't really have to be in a specific position to feel this; I can get it to work sitting or laying on my back. It comes from PRI-inspired drills, as far as I can tell.

Take a breath in. Nothing special yet. When you exhale, exhale through a loosely open mouth, letting your jaw basically go limp. As you exhale, do it like you are trying to fog up a huge window or mirror. Exhale until all the air is out. If you do, you will find that your abs contract very well. Now, when you inhale, inhale through your nose, but make it as quiet as you can. Even though the mouth is closed on the inhale, keep the jaw relaxed and tongue resting on the roof of the mouth.

I don't know what it is about the inhaling quietly, but in me it always produces the effect of ribcage expansion. I can feel my diaphragm contract and my belly expand, but also my ribcage. Not my neck.

Tight jaw almost always equals a tight neck. I have developed the habit of relaxing my face and jaw as much as I can when training, and it makes a world of difference.
When I do a power breath, to me, it feels like a very short version of the exhale above. Abs, not neck. Personally, I find it takes a bit of practice to use the "tssa!" kind of sound withot also tensing the head and neck.
 

Xcal

Level 5 Valued Member
A breathing behind the shield exercise taught at my SFG I. You lay on the ground and have a similar size student stand on your stomach while you recite your name, telephone #, and address. You could practice with an appropriate size bell, while relaxing your neck and face and reciting something.
this is an interesting exercise:) I *very recently* came across this idea that may help OP, and is also alligned with this idea
An example/test is breath out while make a H sound until you’ve emptied your lungs fully
the idea is:
1. take a gentle and very deep breath to fill your lungs as much as possible
2. count out verbally to 5, go back to 1 (I suspect that they just want to keep you focused on verbalizing instead of counting)
3. as you continue counting verbaly, you will start to lose structure/support/air. just continue until you are whispering
4. continue counting even when there is no sound coming out of your voicebox...moving your mouth as 'normal' speaking
5. just keep going until there is nothing left to give
6. take many many gentle breaths to get back to normal.

they said to relax your body, the face was not specifically mentioned. Yes it is absolutely a large part of the deal!

Grease the groove with this. i'm doing it now at a whisper-silent level in the office

edit: this is obviously a breathing practice that you can do while meditating/driving/before sleep/etc. not while training.
 
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3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
@3letterslong
Perhaps doing some non-power breathing drills could teach you better how to not breath with your neck (which sounds like may be the case), which in turn could help with the power breathing by generating better "breathing coordination." I too, have dealt with lots of neck tension, and the following has helped me a lot.

You don't really have to be in a specific position to feel this; I can get it to work sitting or laying on my back. It comes from PRI-inspired drills, as far as I can tell.

Take a breath in. Nothing special yet. When you exhale, exhale through a loosely open mouth, letting your jaw basically go limp. As you exhale, do it like you are trying to fog up a huge window or mirror. Exhale until all the air is out. If you do, you will find that your abs contract very well. Now, when you inhale, inhale through your nose, but make it as quiet as you can. Even though the mouth is closed on the inhale, keep the jaw relaxed and tongue resting on the roof of the mouth.

I don't know what it is about the inhaling quietly, but in me it always produces the effect of ribcage expansion. I can feel my diaphragm contract and my belly expand, but also my ribcage. Not my neck.

Tight jaw almost always equals a tight neck. I have developed the habit of relaxing my face and jaw as much as I can when training, and it makes a world of difference.
When I do a power breath, to me, it feels like a very short version of the exhale above. Abs, not neck. Personally, I find it takes a bit of practice to use the "tssa!" kind of sound withot also tensing the head and neck.
Thank you so much for writing this up! It sounds like you know exactly what I'm describing and these little details really helped me relax my head and neck.
 

3letterslong

Level 5 Valued Member
this is an interesting exercise:) I *very recently* came across this idea that may help OP, and is also alligned with this idea

the idea is:
1. take a gentle and very deep breath to fill your lungs as much as possible
2. count out verbally to 5, go back to 1 (I suspect that they just want to keep you focused on verbalizing instead of counting)
3. as you continue counting verbaly, you will start to lose structure/support/air. just continue until you are whispering
4. continue counting even when there is no sound coming out of your voicebox...moving your mouth as 'normal' speaking
5. just keep going until there is nothing left to give
6. take many many gentle breaths to get back to normal.

they said to relax your body, the face was not specifically mentioned. Yes it is absolutely a large part of the deal!

Grease the groove with this. i'm doing it now at a whisper-silent level in the office

edit: this is obviously a breathing practice that you can do while meditating/driving/before sleep/etc. not while training.

Thank you for writing up these details! When I was trying the other poster's suggestion, I was falling short in a few places. This helped straighten things out.
 

DocMike

Level 5 Valued Member
Certified Instructor
Great question, especially for those of us hith high blood pressure. What I find works is to get the big breath I to the abs, set the bar, and then take a breath into the chest to make the abd and chest almost equal. When done right the head popping off is gone
 
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