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Bio-hacking through Breathholds

In a previous blog article, I wrote about how the breath is a bio-hacker of the body. A lot of breath work modalities, include breath holds. The most common ones are either an Antara kumbhaka or a Bahya kumbhaka. This simply means you are either holding/ retaining your breath while your lungs are full (Antara kumbhaka) or while your lungs are empty (Bahay kumbhaka).

There are also Sahaja kumbhaka and Kevala kumbhaka but they are not relevant to this article per se.

In this article, I will share interesting findings about breathholds from different perspectives.

When we pause the breath we are pausing the oldest organic clock that existed long before "time" was invented. The rhythm of the breath is the true clock of life. When we pause this clock, amazing things happen.

The first thing I want to bring attention to is intermittent hypoxia.

This is where blood oxygen drops below 85% for a short period of time. This has been shown to offer benefits to the body & mind, plus the body responds by building resilience much faster. There have been studies that showed the science behind altitude training and intermittent hypoxic training. At high altitudes, the amount of oxygen available for consumption is much less, so when you are putting your body under stress with exercise, the body has to utilize energy in a different way than straight from oxygen.

“In order to compensate, a protein called Hypoxia Inducible Factor (HIF-1) sets off a host of reactions. These reactions are geared toward improving the body's ability to utilize oxygen.”

You might be asking: “What is intermittent hypoxic training?”

“An IHT session consists of an interval of several minutes breathing hypoxic (low oxygen) air, alternated with intervals breathing ambient (normoxic) or hyperoxic air. “

If I can put it in more simplistic terms, you are breathing deeply and at a faster pace to over-oxygenate your body for a period of time, and then you hold your breath to drop the oxygen levels in your body.

Some of the reported benefits include but are not subjected to:

  • Increase blood flow to the brain

  • Improved cognitive functions

  • Prevents dementia and neurodegeneration (improves neuroplasticity)

  • Increases adaptability and endurance

  • Reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease

  • Improves the production of red blood cells

  • Boosts and regulates the immune system

  • And many more…

From my personal experience, it has helped me regulate my moods, and the chemical balance in my brain while offering clarity of mind. It has helped me regulate my nervous system and helped me through peaks and toffs of depression and anxiety that I experienced for a good 11 years. Before breathwork I spent years trying to meditate, only to realize the deep meditative levels breathwork delivered me into. What’s more, is that now I can also just sit in silence and surrender into those deep states of meditation too. It’s almost like breathwork carves and paves the path to meditative places within consciousness.

Breath-hold on empty or breath-hold on full?

Both have different textures to it but with very great benefits that merge into each other. The thing that surprised me the most is how the theory and the practical of breath holds are very different. Please allow me to explain.

Theoretically, according to the science of breath-hold, you can hold your breath much longer in empty lungs than in full. There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly it is because the signal to breathe actually comes from the build-up of CO2 in the body and not the drop in oxygen as we would think. It does play a role, don’t get me wrong. The CO2 build-up is a much faster response than the oxygen levels dropping. The other thing is that if the lungs are empty then the gas exchange happening has enough space to secrete CO2 into the lungs to be expelled.

When we fill our lungs and hold our breath there is already a big amount of CO2 in the air within the lungs and the gas exchange from that air also leads to faster turnover of CO2 in the body.

Then the lungs are already expanded and full so the gas exchange taking place runs out of space after a while. The diaphragm tries to compensate for this after a while, as well as the spleen and heartbeat rate.

So technically you can hold your breath much longer on empty than on full… Yet in practice, we can not exclude the mental realm that is interconnected with the body and the breath.

When we exhale and hold our breath on empty, the mind brings forward all the programs of “not enough”, and “lacking” and it creates an urgency to fill that void. Or to a”void” the discomfort.

On exhale holds these programs almost become palpable to the body. So truth is, mostly we don’t hold our exhale retention as long as we are capable of doing so due to the interruption patterns our belief systems create.

Luckily this practice not only reveals this to us but can also become the very practice to rewire the subconscious and install new and more beneficial beliefs of well-being.

So what happens if we take breath holds into the realm of physics?

Before I get to breath holds it is important for me to explain 2 concepts. Resonance and rhythm entrainment.

Resonance is when 2 oscillators emit and absorb the same frequency of energy between them. The energy transfer is very easy because when 2 oscillators are tuned to the same frequency they receive the energy as their own energy. Allow me to use an example here.

Let's say that 2 tuning forks of 440Hz stand next to each other. Just the one stem fork is rung. Both will vibrate and make noise as the energy (acoustic in this case) transfers from the 1 oscillator to the other oscillator in the resonant system.

This highlights the saying: “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” Only it doesn’t attract, but shares the energy and activates that resonant energy in them too.

Rhythm entrainment is the most economical and energy-efficient way for energy to travel. Nature finds it more economical in energy efficiency to have periodic events that are close enough in frequency to occur in phase or in step with each other.

Nature is always falling into the path of least resistance and energy efficiency.

This video can help you get a visual of what rhythm entrainment means. Some call it spontaneous synchronization.

The body is also an oscillator. So if we take these 2 concepts to the sound of the body, things get very interesting.

The heart is the biggest noise maker. Each beat shakes the body and the body has a typical response to this beat which is quite easily measured.

A seismograph instrument can measure the movement patterns the heart has on the body. The largest spike is when the heart ejects blood from the heart into the aorta (the largest artery in the body)

Fig13 shows a reading. The smaller toffs and peaks are due to interference patterns. This is where the peak of a wave meets the troff or valley of a wave and they diminish or cancel each other out.

Fig 14 is when the breath is paused (practical sign wave pattern) the resin for this is when the breath is paused and the movement of the breath now has less interference with the other movements of the body, the amplitude is higher and more in harmony. The aorta also becomes a resonant system when the breath is retained.

Fig 15

The aorta forms 1/2 a wavelength of the system. By resonant I mean that it tunes just like a tuned instrument.

Here is what seems to be the case: when the left ventricle of the heart ejects blood, the aorta being elastic balloons out just beyond the valve and causes a pressure pulse to travel down along the aorta (fig 16)

When the pressure pulse reaches the bifurcation in the lower abdomen, which is where the aorta forks in 2 to go into the legs, part of the pressure pulse rebounds and starts traveling up the aorta. If in the meantime the heart ejects more blood and a new pressure pulse is traveling down, these 2 pressure pulses will eventually collide somewhere along the aorta and produce an interference pattern. This is reflected in the movement of the body and is the reason for the irregular pattern of motion in fig 13.

However, when the breathing stops, it looks as if some communication has been set up between the heart and the bifurcation, some kind of signal seems to travel from the bifurcation to the heart, saying to it, heart hold your next pulse until the echo of the bifurcation pulse returns to you. Only then should you eject the next quantity of blood.

When this happens and the echo and pulse move out of the heart together in synchrony, such a system is said to be in resonance.

It causes the body to move harmoniously up and down about 7 times a second.

The amplitude of the height of this sign wave and synchronicity is about 3 times the average.

Another characteristic of resonant behavior is that it requires for its sustenance a minimum amount of energy.

If this happens when we hold the breath then how do we get this to happen while breathing?

By attuning to the coherence rhythm. Heart math found the coherence of breath. So if you breathe in and out for 5 sec, you synchronize to this resonant system and this phenomenon also happens while breathing.

The brain is also part of this system though. It rests in a fluid called the dura. It protects the brain from hitting the skull when we move and slows it down.

This is something we are not aware of though.

When something happens to the nervous system for a period of time and that event is not traumatic, it will not be brought to conscious attention because the part of the brain that is in charge of separating and sorting important signals from unmeaningful ones will relegate it to the group of unimportant signals. Which requires no conscious processing. The conscious processing unit of the brain and mind is not that fast and its storage capacity is small. So this mechanism is required in order for us to still operate sufficiently in our daily lives.

It helps us get used to the loud constant noise in an airplane or sorts memories from implicit to explicit so we don’t have to learn how to use a key to open up our house every single day.

The noise is still there and affects us in some subtle ways.

Our bodily rhythm entrainment is affected by light and to some extent gravitational effects.

These are the most obvious ones. However magnetic, electromagnetic, atmospheric, and subtle geophysical affect us in ways that are not currently well understood.

If we shake our electric or gravitational field, the disturbance in the environment will travel faster and further. We will still apply sound to it although it will be of a different kind as it will travel at the velocity of light.

We can actually associate our reality with one sound or another because our reality is a vibratory reality and nothing is stagnant or static.

Starting with the nucleus of an atom which vibrates at enormous rates of 10 to the power of -14. That is on a scale of a hundred trillionth of a second. The electrons and molecules are associated with vibratory rates.

The most important aspect of matter is vibratory energy. As matter is merely vibrations compressed, it appears as solid.

When we think our brains create rhythmic electrical currents with magnetic components that spread out into space with the velocity of light due to the electric waves and sounds produced by our hearts. They all mingle to form interference patterns.

It requires very little energy to drive the frequency of a resonant system.

Everything creates shockwaves that interact. From a micro to macro level.

Our reality is based on one common factor, periodic change or sound.

So easy and basically, when we hold our breath it creates a resonant system and the energy output of such a system is amplified.

This means that when you use technology that can capture your electro-magnetic field (torus field/ aura) after breathwork, you will see it more vibrant with a much bigger circumference.

I just want to take a moment to rewind to light.

This is an important factor when it comes to breathwork. Every time we inhale we are inhaling about 70 000 photons per second and we emit at least 3800 photons per second. When there is a lot of distortion and the system is not resonant it will struggle to utilise light energy as the technology it is through the breath. When a system (body-mind complex) is resonant and falls in rhythm entrainment the amount of light utilized and emitted is much more.

So this not only makes you feel enlightened but it also makes you glow, literally. Our sense of sight can just not see the rays of light we emit. Yet I have seen people glowing after breathwork in the way my senses can pick up more than they can process. One last pun I can't skip is that when we are doing breathwork and consciously inviting more light energy through the breath into our body, we can feel lightheaded.

So as a short summary, breath holds are very beneficial in the right setting. When accompanied by deep mindful breathing and an intention.

Holding your breath due to an overload of stress, anxiety, or tension does not lead to the same benefits, unfortunately.

Stress is not the enemy, this article shed some light on that I hope.

Stress is resilience’s best friend. But resilience has a low tolerance to hanging out with friends a lot as it is an introvert. So short periods of time with prolonged care and solitude offers it the perfect environment to flourish.

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