How to Improve Heart Health with Breathwork
From Conscious Breathing to Heart Coherence
In this post we will cover the connection between heart health and breathing.
We’ll dig into terms like heart rate variability, RSA resonance, heart coherence,
We hope you come away with the confidence to breathe your way to better heart health, and understand how a few small tweaks to your daily routine can have a massive impact.
What you'll learn in this article about heart health and breathing:
- Conscious breathing is when you actively control the breath.
- Conscious breathing can help you achieve Heart coherence, ideal heart rate variability, and heart resonance, which can lead to less stress, a more positive mood, a calmer state of mind, and a healthier heart.
- The quickest way to achieve heart coherence is through conscious breathing.
- 3-6-5 breathing technique is an easy way to start conscious breathing and begin improving heart health.
- The real impact is seen once you make a habit of breathing better.
The benefits of breathing to improve heart health:
- During this deep dive into the heart and breathing, as you begin to breathe better, you will not only improve the health of your heart, but also:
- Increase longevity,
- Decrease stress,
- Become more resilient,
- And help those around you do the same.
How to get started right now.
Start by practicing the 3-6-5 breathing technique.
In his book, Just Breathe, Dan Brulé offers the 3-6-5 technique as an easy way to begin improving heart health through breathing.
Here's how to do it:
- 3 times a day
- 6 breaths per minute
- 5 minutes at a time
And what are the best times to practice the 3-6-5 breathing technique?
- When you wake up, before coffee or breakfast
- Four hours later, just before lunch
- At the end of your workday
What to read: Just Breathe by Dan Brulé.
We are on this journey to understand breathwork and the potential transformation ahead with you. We recently started reading Just Breathe by Dan Brulé.
This book is a great introduction to the overall impact breathwork can have on your day-to-day physical, mental, and emotional health.
“As with any art or skill, the key to excellence or greatness is in understanding
and applying fundamentals. Even the world’s greatest musicians practice the
scales before a performance.
You will go a lot further and a lot faster if you start with the basics and keep returning to them. When it comes to breathwork, there are two basic aspects: Breath Awareness and Conscious Breathing.
You can think of these as the yin and yang, active and passive aspects of the practice.”
What is Breath Awareness?
Pay attention to your breath and how it comes and goes on its own.
What is Conscious Breathing?
You actively control the breath.
“With Breath Awareness, the breath breathes you; with Conscious Breathing, you breathe the breath.”
- Dan Brulé
HRV, RSA resonance,
heart coherence, oh my...
The path to understanding how breathwork and heart health intertwine gets complicated quickly. We’re still sifting through, absorbing, breaking everything down, and trying to align all the puzzle pieces.
There's 3 terms to know about heart health and breathing.
Getting to know more about heart rate variability, RSA resonance, and heart coherence will greatly improve your understanding of how the heart and breath are related.
We return to Dan Brulé’s book Just Breathe to get to know these 3 terms and how the breath influences them.
Spend some time breathing and consciously focusing on these terms and your heart, and you’re well on your way to improving heart health through breathwork.
Heart Rate Variability or HRV
Literally, HRV is the variance in time between heartbeats.
It measures your autonomic nervous system and is used to determine your body’s fitness level.
Among other things, HRV regulates...
- heart rate
- blood pressure
“High HRV is linked to longevity, and it is inversely proportional to stress. The more stressed you are, the less your heart speeds up and slows down with every breath. The less stressed you are, the greater the range of your HRV. When you are in the zone, it is at peak or optimal variability.”
- Dan Brulé
Respiratory sinus arrhythmia, or RSA,is the oscillation of heart rate rhythms with breathing. The goal is for HRV and breathing frequencies to resonate together. When the HRV and the breath resonate, when they are aligned, good things happen.
“A healthy heart is always adjusting to the internal and external environment. A healthy heart is irregular! It is resilient, responsive, adapting moment to moment.”
- Dan Brulé
Heart coherence refers to the continuous fluctuations in the heart rate.
“[Heart coherence] is associated with a positive mood—a feeling of inner balance and centeredness—alert yet relaxed, energized yet calm.”
- Dan Brulé
How to Achieve Heart Coherence with Conscious Breathing
Recalling a warm memory, meditation, yoga... there are a number of ways to achieve heart coherence.
But there's one quick and easy way to consistently feel relaxed and calm...
“By far the quickest and most effective way to guarantee heart coherence is through Conscious Breathing. Heart coherence is at its maximum when a resonant frequency of four and half to six respiratory cycles per minute is attained.”
- Dan Brulé
The Conscious Breathing Goal
4.5 to 6 breaths per minute puts you in the perfect zone to achieve heart coherence, and experience all of the benefits that come along with it.
But what exactly does that mean?
Still wondering what Conscious Breathing is and how to do it?
Don't worry, it took us awhile to get this down, and honestly, we're still working through it too.
First and foremost, Conscious Breathing means you are thinking about your breathing pattern, you are taking control of your breath.
Then, you want to inhale for 5 seconds.
Then you want to exhale for 5 seconds.
And you want to do this for 5 minutes.
But, if you can only carve out 2 minutes, or only focus on this pattern while you're making your coffee in the morning or while brushing your hair or tying your shoes, no worries, every little bit helps.
But, but, there's a catch...
Making a routine of better breathing is the most important element when striving for improved heart health through better breathing.
The Breathing Routine
What if you only brushed your teeth once a week? Or washed your hands every now and again? These daily habits work because they are part of a routine, and must be maintained to really work.
Same with the breath. The real impact of breathing better and improved heart health is achieved when you make a habit of it.
When we first started down this road, the Shift served as our daily reminder to breathe better.
Bonus: the weight of the Shift hanging around your neck not only acts as a daily reminder, it serves as an anchor to that calm and relaxed feeling. When confronted with an anxious or stressful moment, the Shift is there to help you weather the storm.
Learn more about how our breathing tool works.
How to Make a Habit of Better Breathing
Making a habit of better breathing isn’t just about feeling better now. It’s all about feeling incrementally better, one step at a time. It’s about the person you are now, becoming the best version of yourself and reaching your potential.
But we can all use some help when it comes to creating and adopting new, healthy habits.
We just started reading James Clear’s book Atomic Habits, and we’re already hooked. In his book, Clear defines a plan for making tiny changes that lead to remarkable results.
“The ultimate form of intrinsic motivation is when a habit becomes part of your identity. It’s one thing to say I’m the type of person who wants this. It’s something very different to say I’m the type of person who is this.”
- James Clear
Stay tuned: we'll continue to share our journey through Atomic Habits and deliver tips to help you make a habit of breathing better.
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