The “Perfect Breath” Exercise

The “Perfect Breath” Exercise

In this exercise, we will help you find the perfect breath rhythm.

This breathing exercise is based on a study done at the University of Pavia. They gathered two dozen subjects and covered them with sensors to measure blood flow, heart rate, and nervous system feedback. 

Then, they had them recite prayers. 

Catholic, Hindu, Taoist, and Native American prayers, Buddhist mantras, and the Latin rosary.

They were stunned to find that the average number of breaths per minute was almost exactly the same for all the different prayers. 5.5 second inhales, followed by 5.5 second exhales, for a total of almost exactly 5.5 breaths per minute. 

What was more stunning was the effects this breathing pattern had on the subjects.

Blood flow to the brain increased, and the systems of the body entered a state of coherence. The functions of the heart, circulation, and nervous system all coordinated to peak efficiency. 

A decade later, Dr. Richard Brown and Dr. Patricia Gerbarg used the same breathing pattern to treat anxiety and depression patients, minus the prayers. 

The results were so profound — even when practiced for just 10 minutes a day — that the pair went on to write books and publish several scientific papers on the subject. 

Now, this breathing exercise is not about precision; you don’t have to hit 5.5 seconds exactly. 

Our goal is to consciously slow our breath down and find the perfect rhythm for ourselves. 

I ask you to find a comfortable seat and sit with a straight back.

Now, relax your shoulders and chest. 

In this exercise, we will inhale for 5 seconds and exhale for 5 seconds.

When you inhale, slowly sip air through the nose and into your belly. And then, without pausing, exhale softly out the nose, bringing the belly in as your lungs empty. 

Repeat for at least 5 minutes a day. 

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