Skip to main content

This month, I’d like to share some information from the work of Stephen Elliott, author of “The New Science of Breath.” And I encourage you to dig into his work.

Stephen coined the term ‘coherent breathing’ in 2005 when he launched and Coherent breathing refers to a specific breathing method to manage our internal state and balance our autonomic nervous system.

Coherent Breathing is a rate of 5 to 6 breaths per minute. And it is practiced in conjunction with relaxing the “six bridges.” The six bridges refer to the regions of the body where dual control (conscious and unconscious) exists.

The six bridges are: the face, the tongue and throat, the hands, the diaphragm and intercostals (breathing), the pelvic floor (anal, urethral and vaginal sphincters), and the feet.

Stephen points out that breathing is not only about exchanging gases, but it also fulfills a circulatory function. That is, it aids the heart in circulating blood. With each breath we take, the lungs empty and fill not only with breath, but also with blood.

Every time you inhale, the movement of the diaphragm draws blood from the extremities into the lungs. And every time you exhale, the movement of the diaphragm sends blood from the lungs toward the extremities.

This is called the “Valsalva wave,” and it is generated by the “thoracic pump” which is how breathing helps the heart do its work. At the peak of the inhale, not only are the lungs nearly full of air, but they are also full of blood. And at the peak of the exhale, the lungs are nearly empty of both air and blood.

Without deep breathing, the heart must work harder to pump blood which raises blood pressure. That’s why practices like diaphragmatic breathing and coherent breathing can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Supported by deeper breathing, the heart stops working so hard.

It is well proven that 5 minutes of coherent breathing results in the raising of HRV (heart rate variability), the lowering of heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol levels. (Cortisol is a stress hormone.) What is not well known is that doing coherent breathing for 10 to 12 minutes triggers what is referred to as “the awakened mind” That is a brain state where theta waves are dominant.

Theta brainwaves are connected to creativity, intuition, meditation, prayer, and spiritual awareness. (By the way, the original Rebirthing Center in San Francisco was called “Theta House.”)

Here is an exercise/meditation I suggest you practice to bring all these benefits alive:

Breathe at a rate of six breaths per minute. That is five seconds in and five seconds out.

When you exhale, consciously relax your face, forehead, tongue, jaw, throat, chest, pelvis, and your arms, hands, legs, and feet.

As you inhale, sense or imagine blood being drawn from your extremities into your lungs.

As you exhale, sense or imagine blood being pushed from your lungs out to your extremities.

Practice this for at least ten to twelve minutes so that you shift your state toward what is called the “awakened mind.”

Good luck in your practice, and many blessings on your path!

(Guchu Ram Singh)
October 2023

Dan Brule

Author Dan Brule

More posts by Dan Brule

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This