Cut-off retention breathing
Cut-off breathing is a breathing retention exercise, that limits the supply of oxygen to the brain, by narrowing the artery going to the brain. While making a breath-retention, after a full exhale, head is tilted to the side, so that the artery going through the neck, up to the brain, becomes narrower.
As levels of CO2 rise in the blood, when making a retention, the body prioritizes the brain and directs more of the remaining oxygen to the brain. The brain gets oxygen through the artery going through the neck. By tilting the head backwards, then tilting the head to one of the sides and holding this posture, we can narrow the artery, restricting the blood flow and thus restricting oxygen supply to the brain.
If the head is kept tilted to the side in a particular angle for long enough, dizziness is experienced and ultimately loss of conscience.
Practicing cut-off breathing
We start by sitting down practicing harmonized breathing. After fully exhaling, breath is held, head tilted to the back, then to the right (ear to the shoulder) and the neck is twisted. This position is held for a personally chosen number of seconds (counting 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 …) and then the head is straitened. While head is strait up, we inhale fully. At the last stage of the harmonized exhale, breath is held again, head tilted to the back, then to the left and then twisted. This position is held for an additional second (counting 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 …). This sequence continues by alternating between tilting to the left and tilting to the right, every time adding one second to the count.
Starting with a 5 seconds retention and gradually going up. Let’s say, going up to 12 seconds (counting 21, 22, 23 ….. 32) which is in total 4 tilts to the right and 4 tilts to the left.
On the last count, 32, continue retaining the breath as long as we possibly can and then we inhale, ending the retention and allowing blood to pass through the artery in the neck.
It is advised to try and keep the same breathing tempo after ending the retention, as it was before and during exercising.