The Mind-Body-Breath connection
How does breath influence our body?
When we change our breathing pattern, our nervous system registers the change and prepares our entire body system including the heartbeat accordingly.
For example, breathing deep and coherently will enhance heart rate variability and introduce a state of calm & composure.
What is Heart rate variability (HRV)
A measure of the difference between successive heartbeats, a human heart shows complex variability and does not beat similarly beat after beat.
In-fact, variability is desired as the higher the variability measure the stronger, flexible and adaptable the heart is. Click for more info on HRV, health & breathing.
HRV-Breathing exercises effect
Various researches show that a few minutes of resonant and harmonic breathing can increase Hrv resulting in better productivity, recovery, less stress, and less fatigue.
We measured HRV before and after a breathing/meditative session and saw a noticeable improvement in various components of HRV.
For example refer to the readings below, two sessions done by the same subject consecutively-
A) Non-controlled breath, the subject was doing light work on pc.
B) Controlled breath also known as cardiac coherence/resonant frequency breathing, inhaling and exhaling for 5 seconds each, Mindbreath app was used as a visual guide for the session.
A) Non-controlled breathing
B) Harmonious Inhale & Exhale- 5 sec each
Increase in all components of HRV is observed with Harmonic resonant breathing
A) meanBPM = 77.36 ,mean sdnn = 13.92 ,mean sdsd = 6.07 , mean rmssd = 9.57 , mean pnn20 = 0.05 , mean pnn50 = 0.00 , mean lf = 39.82 , mean hf = 9.04 B) meanBPM = 82.31 ,mean sdnn = 30.79 ,mean sdsd = 11.62 , mean rmssd = 19.01 , mean pnn20 = 0.34 , mean pnn50 = 0.00 , mean lf = 210.11 , mean hf = 17.68 Larger wave-forms are observed in B) in terms of Hr oscillations (tower heights), this means more variation in beats. The max and min Hr is also much higher in B). Both these traits are desirable and result in higher Hrv and the heart's ability to perform better and more efficiently
3 Breathing exercises to increase Heart rate variablity HRV
Resonant frequency breathing
Breathing frequency: 7-8 breaths/minute
Breathing duration: Equal 4 seconds inhale & exhale
DEEP Resonant frequency breathing
Breathing frequency: 6 breaths/minute
Breathing duration: Equal 5 seconds inhale & exhale
Relax - Longer exhales
Elongating your exhales relaxes the nervous system
Breathing duration: 3.5 seconds inhale & 4.75 seconds exhale