Relaxed Breath Work Question


Level 6 Valued Member
Dear friends of strength,

I like to do relaxed breathing exercises daily, mainly for relaxation and regeneration purposes. Often combined with relaxation practices.

Background: I have been practicing relaxation techniques for more than 15 years now (Autogenic Training, Progressive Relaxation by Jacobsen, Body Scan from MBSR, and other meditation practices like metta or tonglen). I also like to do 3 sets of Wim Hof breathing in the morning. I also know box breathing. And I have read (but not implemented systematically) Oxygen Advantage.

After reading a bit about hypoxic training I have experimented a bit with shortening my inbreath.

My question is: which of the following breath practices is more beneficial for regeneration? (The numbers are my usual ranges)

  1. Hypoxic breathing: 2-count inbreath, 1-2 count breath hold, 8-12 count outbreath. One cycle lasts about 12-15 seconds. In to out ratio usually 1:4 to 1:6
  2. Relaxed slow breathing: 6-10 count inbreath, 1-2 count breath hold, 12-18 count outbreath. One cycle lasts about 24-30 seconds. In to out ratio usually 1:2
The first one feels a bit more energizing, the second one more natural.

In essence, what is better in your opinion (maybe even based on attending Seond Wind?): Less breathing cycles or a higher inbreath to outbreath ratio?

Anna C

Level 9 Valued Member
Elite Certified Instructor
I think based on my recollection from Second Wind is that both "less breathing cycles" and "longer exhales" are good. We learned several techniques, but I'd say more were like your second example.

Also, for relaxation breathing, any breath hold should be after the exhale, not the inhale... though 1-2 second count at the top is brief enough that it's not counterproductive.

I think we also learned (@Steve Freides can chime in here, and I don't have my manual with me currently) that "hypoxic breathing" would be definition have long and fairly hard breath holds that end up reducing your blood oxygen levels. "Hypercapnic" breathing would be more like what you are describing in both examples, elevating your CO2 levels a bit and producing a relaxing effect.

Steve Freides

Senior Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
@Bauer and @Anna C, I don't feel qualified enough about Second Wind to comment on that specifically - Pavel discussed a wide range of approaches to breathing and for a wide range of purposes as well. I am in the process of reading the Second Wind manual, slowly and from cover to cover.

@Bauer, personally I don't practice nor do I teach holding the breath after inhale, which is something included in both your options. And I do teach holding the breath after exhale, something I don't see in either of your options. The closest thing I do to what you've listed is a 2-count in-breath followed by a 12-18 count combined outbreath and hold, and I don't closely monitor when the outbreath has ended and the hold has begun.

All other things being equal, raising blood CO2 levels is the practice that is restorative for me, and my personal practice includes some of the above and also some longer breath holds, e.g., a few normal breathing cycles followed by a normal exhale and a long hold of 60 seconds or more. Second Wind goes into much more detail, both scientific and practical, than what I have been able to wrap my brain around so far.



Level 6 Valued Member
Thanks a lot @Anna C and @Steve Freides !
Actually my breath hold is more of a short intentional pause before letting go. I think I got that from the Buteyko App, actually. But I will keep an eye on it.

Maybe the occasional long outbreath/hold followed by a couple of relaxed cycles is a good way to combine both. Or not, Steve?

Given that you two don't dismiss any of the two options I guess the most important thing is to do at least some kind of breath work :)
Top Bottom