Extended Exhales: Hack Your Nervous System With This Simple Breathwork Practice

As part of our month of micro rituals series this January 2023, we’re bringing you an edit of simple techniques to help boost your wellbeing; starting with a quick breathing practice that will help soothe a fatigued mind. 

When we’re busy or stressed our inhalations typically become longer than our exhalations. This in turn exacerbates our stress levels keeping us in a state of high alert and creating imbalance in the autonomic nervous system.

Extended exhale breathwork is a controlled breathing practice that moves the nervous system from the fight-or-flight mode and towards rest-and-digest (the parasympathetic nervous system). 

When the parasympathetic system is dominant, breathing slows down, heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers, and your body is guided back into a state of calm and healing.

Putting your body into a parasympathetic state can be achieved with yogic and pranayama practices; including this simple extended exhale breathing technique. 

So next time you’re feeling flustered ahead of a meeting, are trying to unwind in the evening or simply seeking a moment of solace, give this practice a try. 



Basic Technique

  • To begin, sit in a comfortable position with the shoulders relaxed and spine tall. Begin breathing smoothly in and out through the nose. 
  • Inhale through the nose for a count of 4 seconds. Pause at the top of your inhale. Exhale gently and smoothly, for a count of 6-8. Pause at the bottom of your exhale.
  • Keep your breathing even and smooth. 
  • If the 4-6 count feels too long, try decreasing the breath lengths to 3 in and 6 out. (If longer breaths create any stress or anxiety, there is no need to push yourself. Find a pattern that works for you. The exact length of time isn’t as important as ensuring the exhales are longer in duration that the inhales)

If you enjoyed this practice, keep a look out more micro breathwork and meditation sessions from us throughout January 2023 as part of our month of micro rituals series.