Meaning of ratio 1:4:2 in breathing

by Misty
(Prairieville, LA, USA)

I don't understand this ratio. What is the inhalation count and exhalation count? I'm a beginner, so I'm not doing the retention yet, but that count would be good for future reference!


This is the ratio between the inhalation time, retention time and exhalation time during breathing. For example, let us say you are doing breathing by counting mentally during inhalation, retention and exhalation of breath.

Ratio of 1:4:2 (inhalation:retention
:exhalation) means that suppose you inhale in 2 counts, hold breath for 8 counts and exhale for 2 counts.

1-2 (two counts): inhale
1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8 (eight counts): hold breath
1-2-3-4 (four counts): exhale

But it is strongly recommended not to hold breath unless learning pranayama from a teacher. Therefore for you, while doing pranayama without doing retention of breath, the ratio 1:4:2 reduces to 1:2
(inhale in 2 counts and exhale for 4 counts).

After sufficient practice you can increase the counts for inhalation and exhalation keeping the ratio as 1:2.
(inhale in 4 counts and exhale for 8 counts).

And with still more practice.
(inhale in 8 counts and exhale for 16 counts).

You can also keep count by monitoring time on a clock.

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Aug 10, 2017
Time between exhale and inhale
by: Anonymous

To answer the question about how long between the end of the exhalation and the start of the inhalation, my understanding is there is no pause. (I am no expert but I heard an expert explain it!)

Editors Note
There is a natural pause of 1-2 seconds between end of exhalation and inhalation.

Hope it helps

Sep 20, 2014
Time Between Inhaling And Exhaling
by: Anonymous

Dear Sir,

I am practicing with 5 sec inhaling 20 sec holding and 10 sec exhaling. My question is what is the time given between exhaling and inhaling.

Editors Note
For beginners it is not advisable to hold breath, so keep the ratio of inhalation: exhalation to 1:2. Count mentally four counts (approx 4 secs) for inhalation and eight counts (approx 8 secs) for exhalation.

Hope this helps

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