Of all the automatic functions of the body—cardiovascular, digestive, hormonal, glandular, immune--only the breath can be easily controlled voluntarily, explain Richard P. Brown, M.D. and Patricia L. Gerbarg, M.D. in their book, “The Healing Power of the Breath.” They write: By voluntarily changing the rate, depth, and pattern of breathing, we can change the messages being sent from the body’s respiratory system to the brain. Messages from the respiratory system have rapid, powerful effects on major brain centers involved in thought, emotion, and behavior.
Rhythmic breathing can have a profound impact on your mental and physical state. The interval between heartbeats is your HRV (heart rate variability) and measuring this can help you determine when your body is fully rested. When the HRV falls within a relatively tight pattern, it is said to be more coherent. Changing our rate and patterns of breath can alter our HRV, which causes a shift in our nervous system. There is a growing body of research that says this coherence can have a profound impact on your mental and physical state. According to the HRV theory, anxiety causes the heart to beat erratically, which sends powerful electrical signals to the brain that effectively shut down the normal reasoning portions.
According to Coherent Breath expert, Dr Alan. Watkins, he likens the body to an orchestra, with different organs representing the sections. If the string section is the heart, HRV is the lead violin, with the ability to influence the tempo of the entire orchestra. The key takeaway, says Dr Watkins, is that it is possible to train the HRV to be more coherent using slow, rhythmic breaths. It is then easier to achieve what psychologists call “flow,” a mental state often described as runner’s high.
The "Coherent Breath" is a powerful breathing technique that co-regulates your heart, brain and lungs, it is all about the signals your heart is sending to your brain. Coherent breathing is basically breathing at a rate of six breaths per minute, which is the middle of the resonant breathing rate range. By count to five inhaling and count to five exhaling, this five breaths per minute rate maximizes the heart rate variability (HRV), a measurement of how well the parasympathetic nervous system is working. Brown and Bergarg further explain that changing our rate and pattern of breath alters the HRV, causes shifts in our nervous system. The higher the HRV the better because a higher HRV is associated with a healthier cardiovascular system and a stronger stress-response system. Breathing at a rate that is close to one’s ideal resonant rate (around five breaths per minute) can induce up to a tenfold improvement in HRV.
By practicing the Coherent breathing pattern consistently, this breathing pattern eventually entrains the heartbeat and helps athletes and executives alike achieve greater control. Dr.Watkins states that coherence makes performance less hit and miss,” he says. “We get below cognition to the three levels of feelings, emotions and biology to help you get your A-game every single time you step out on the pitch or court.”
The use of chimes can be an amazingly powerful tool to help guide your Coherent breathing technique. It allows for a quick eliciting of the relaxation response, which is imperative for peak performance. You will hear two singing bowls chime that every 5 seconds. This repetition will help guide you by shifting from inhale to exhale, exhale to inhale. and this mimics the Coherent Breath. This is a 25 minute track, but feel free to enjoy any length of time above 10 minutes to help you shift quickly into your "flow".