Most people were never actually “taught” how to breathe in the traditional sense – it’s one of the first things you do straight out the gate, and it’s generally understood that you’ve got it under control from there. Breathing is an unconscious process that occurs 20,000+ times a day.
It turns out that how you breathe may merit some attention: not only does how you breathe affect how you feel (both physically and emotionally), it also plays a critical role in inhaling smoke properly.
No one likes choking and coughing every time they smoke, that’s why we’re dedicated to spreading the information you need to learn how to inhale properly – using these techniques will help you cough less and get higher on each hit!
A Note About Technique
The first thing we need to talk about is diaphragmatic breathing. Also known as belly breathing or deep breathing, the technique is intended to help you use the diaphragm correctly when inhaling and exhaling.
Your diaphragm is the often-ignored but ultra-important muscle that sits below your lungs, expanding and contracting them to draw in and expel air. Most people vastly under-use this vital organ! Using diaphragmatic breathing will help you establish a more controlled breathing process and develop muscle memory to maintain it more quickly.
There are several exercises you can perform at home until it becomes second nature, but one of the easiest is to rest your hand on your belly while sitting or lying comfortably. Breathe in slowly, feeling your belly expand as it fills with air. Then, when you’re ready, exhale slowly, feeling your diaphragm pushing the air out of your lungs. Repeat this process for several minutes, focusing only on your breathing and the movement of your belly as you do it.
When evaluating whether you find it easy or difficult to inhale smoke correctly, consider where the suction is coming from – are you drawing the smoke into your mouth (like you would with a cigar) or inhaling the smoke directly into your lungs? Both techniques are technically correct, but they are typically applied to different consumption methods. Regardless of how you like to consume, we’ll help you learn how to smoke effectively.
How to Inhale Cannabis
Draw Into Your Mouth First
When smoking joints, spliffs, or blunts, it is essential that you draw the smoke into your mouth prior to inhaling into your lungs. Doing so helps the rolled cannabis burn more evenly and provides a smoother, more enjoyable hit. The process is similar to smoking a cigar – use your cheeks to draw the smoke into your mouth first. Then, while the smoke is still in your mouth, take a deep breath of fresh air – this will force the dense smoke down into your lungs with a mixture of normal, oxygen-rich air. The result is a smooth, flavorful hit that results in less coughing and irritation due to the inclusion of fresh air.
Inhale Directly Into Lungs
If you’re smoking out of a bowl, bong, or anything with a carb, you can inhale the smoke directly into your lungs. These devices typically require a longer sustained inhalation and benefit from a carb to introduce fresh air in the same breath (rather than having to take a second breath to introduce fresh air like you would with rolled cannabis or hemp flower).
Use a Rhythm, Like Yoga
As you begin practicing your diaphragmatic breathing, using a simple 4-2-4 count. Inhale softly for four seconds, pause briefly for two, and exhale gently for four. Repeat this sequence 10 times, 3 times a day to create a new breathing pattern in your subconscious. You can then call it into use every time you smoke.
Add Fresh Oxygen
You might have noticed a pattern, but it bears repeating! When smoking, use the last second of inhalation to move the glass, joint, or pen away from your lips and draw fresh oxygen into your lungs on top of the smoke, pushing it deeper into your lungs. The combination of diaphragmatic breathing and stacking oxygen will greatly increase the potency of each hit.
Don’t Hold it Longer
After your two second pause, let the smoke go. There is no need to sit and hold your breath as long as you can to “let the smoke work”. You’ll get the full effect as soon at it enters your lungs – the extra rush you feel from holding your breath is from oxygen deprivation, not extra THC! Remember: steady in, steady out.
Bonus: High-CBD Strains
There’s been a lot of press about CBD concentrates and isolates, but did you know there are high-CBD strains available as well? In addition to the CBD-heavy indica cannabis strains available at dispensaries in states with legal medical cannabis programs, organic hemp flower is federally legal in all 50 states (yes, you can buy online and have it mailed to you) and looks, feels, smells, and smokes just like its THC-heavy cousin, but without the high.
We like the organic, non-GMO raw hemp flower and hemp prerolls available from Canna Comforts — they’re batch-tested, organically grown, and legal to ship in all 50 states. Their diverse strain selection allows you to tailor your CBD regimen with full-spectrum, organic, whole-plant cannabinoids (we really like Lifter (shown in image below) and Special Sauce, topped off with some Elektra kief if you need more intensive symptom relief) at an affordable price.