What is your breathing rate? (and why it’s important!)

Pic credit Fabian Moller Unsplash

Do you know your breathing or respiration rate?! Most of us at some time have tested our heart rate, but how many of us have timed our breathing pattern?

If you have a spare few minutes then why not check your breathing rate? (and this has to be resting rate – not just after you’ve finished a deadline or done a supermarket dash with kids in tow). Sit comfortably or lie down and time your breath over the course of a minute.

My breathing pattern is one full breath in and out roughly every 8 seconds, which is around 7 breaths a minute… so (and forgive me as maths isn’t exactly my strong point) but that means I breathe around 420 times an hour and about 10,080 times a day – phew!

That may seem like a lot of breaths, but that is still significantly lower than the average person. According to Healthline the normal respiration rate for adults is 12-16 breaths per minute. Which means that on average people are breathing around 17,000 to 23,000 times day! So I am slower, BUT… that is due to years of yoga breathing practice and as a result I have managed to use the breath to really ease my anxiety.

I’ve been teaching yoga for 20 years and the breath is an integral part of yoga – it is what sets yoga apart from other forms of exercise (well that and so much more…!). In yoga not only do we combine movement with specific breathing patters, but there is a practice called Pranayama which is breath control – and it is aimed at strengthing our lungs, slowing our breathing rate and lengthening our exhalation which all helps to initiate what Dr Herbert Benson coined as the Relaxation Response.

We are aiming for this to be our default – it is where our parasympathetic nervous system is running the show – so we can operate with a clear perspective and uncluttered mind while our body is feeling relaxed.

So basically we can calm the mind, ease tension from the body simply by focusing on the breath!

It may sound easy to slow the breath down in this way, but it’s important to not strain the breath which is why it helps to have an experienced yoga and pranayama teacher guiding you.

In Finding Calm, I incorporate a variety of tranquilising breathing techniques that help you to lengthen the exhale and slow the respiration rate in a way that is relaxing and natural.

There are more studies on the this subject and increasingly people are realising the power of the breath. I’d love to show you just how helpful the breath can be – and the best thing is we have our breath all the time. Its free, plentiful and always with us: we just have to know how to use it!

Check out this study published in the journal Breathe for more information.

And I’d love to know what your breathing rate is! And if you’d like to know more about Finding Calm please email me or check out this link. Finding Calm combines a blend of the best breathing techniques, yoga moves, massage and meditation to help you manage anxiety – naturally.