Coherent Breathing (aka resonance breathing ) - creating "Relaxed Aliveness"
Coherent or resonance breathing is 5-7 breaths a minute for most people (a bit slower if you are over 6 foot tall), with no gap between the in and out breath – so breathe in for 5 or 6 seconds, out for 5 or 6 seconds). It has a huge effects on many health parameters as hundreds of scientific studies have shown. This is because it's our more natural rate of breathing; we are all "over breathing" which adversely affects our physiology, including the O2/Co2 balance in our blood, which alters the pH of our blood, creating an overly acidic system. We are living in a state of "fight/flight & freeze" which supresses our immune system, digestion and ability to restore ourselves.
Coherent Breathing brings the electrical rhythms of brain, lungs and heart into resonance, and improves Heart Rate Variability (a vital factor in resilience to stress). Essentially it balances the nervous system and scientific studies have shown that the effects of coherent or resonance breathing supports the innate ability of our body, nervous system, and emotions to restore themselves through the balancing of the complementary branches of our autonomic nervous system, which control our heart rate, blood pressure, digestion, respiration, and many other automatic functions of the body, including immunity. The effects of practicing this breath are cumulative, so build over time; you have to keep at it to really start reaping the benefits, embed this new neurology and really feel optimal in your work, rest and play time.
There have been over a hundred scientific studies performed on resonant breathing since 1963, which show a wide array of benefits, including:
• Increases pulmonary function
• Lowers blood pressure
• Has positive applications for anxiety and depression
• Improves baroreflex gain
• Improves heart rate variability (many linked benefits including reduction of inflammation)
• Tones the vagus nerve
• Increases resiliency
• Increases the ability to handle stress (measurable drop in Cortisol levels)
• Leads towards emotional balance
• Clinical improvements in asthma
Apps can really help focus and guide breathwork; otherwise it’s easy to drift off to sleep, especially when we are breathing lying down. They are also helpful to play in the car (so long as it doesn't make you sleepy) or bus, walking or anytime you need them. Your app info is at the bottom of the page.
Do a minimum of 10 minutes coherent breathing a day; so 5/6 seconds in, 5/6 seconds out. If it works for you 5 minutes on waking, and 5 minutes at bedtime can be good. It’s a loving act of kindness that can help us be present with ourselves as well as setting us up for a calmer day and better night’s sleep. You can build up to more – I generally do 20 minutes. In fact you can do this as much as you like; because it mimics our natural resting breathing rate it’s safe and beneficial to do it as much as you can (just not when exercising as we need to breathe faster to bring in more Oxygen then).
If you are depressed or anxious then you definitely need to be doing more – build up to 20 minutes twice a day and maintain that as a minimum. Most people find this breath relaxes them, but if you find the bedtime session isn’t relaxing enough for sleep maybe do it after work instead, and just focus on the basic diaphragmatic breath at bedtime or use a setting with a longer out breath. Most clients find it helps them sleep though, and is helpful to practice if you wake in the night.
You can do this practice sitting or lying down, or whilst walking (even driving – so long as it doesn’t make you sleepy). Lying on your back with knees bent, feet hip width apart and knees touching can be very relaxing (constructive rest position). Put your hands on the lower belly to feel the breath moving via the diaphragm in this position.
The effects and benefits of this practice build over time, so it’s important to keep at it and try to breathe daily. Some days it may feel easier than others, depending on how much tension you are carrying, don't worry just keep going with it, and talk to me about any issues arising. Remember the body has been carrying bad breathing habits through many years and will at times resist change! Over time you will learn to just initiate this breathing anytime at all when you need to calm your nervous system. Unlike other breathing practices, Coherent Breathing is designed to bring balance to the nervous system, creating the state of “relaxed aliveness”, an alert yet calm state which is optimal for carrying out daily activities.
So enjoy your "breathplay", write down any questions or concerns for us to discuss at a future session. I am also available at any online group sessions to answer your questions or you can book a one to one, if it feels supportive to have a session personalised to your own needs. Below are some resources to help you keep up with your homeplay.
The Breathing App - for Coherent Breathing
The Breathing App - for Coherent Breathing
This one "The Breathing App" is free and simple and has a very helpful information section as well as links to helpful information videos. Good support for creating good Coherent breathing habits. Developed by yoga teacher Eddie Stern and Deepak Chopra. Most people need to set it to 5:5 or 6:6 (in for 6 seconds, out for 6 seconds), or if that’s too slow then start at 4:4 or whatever starting rate works for you and gradually work towards 5:5 or 6:6. Don't put too much pressure on yourself, as ANY breathing rate that is slowing you down towards the Coherent Breathing rate is going to support you to feel better.