3 Breathing Practices You Can Start Today to Build a Better Connection to a Healthy Happy Heart

Discover the Intimate Relationship Between Your Breath and Your Heart

Your body needs oxygen-rich blood to function properly. Your heart and lungs work together to create something called the Pulmonary Loop. This is a system that helps circulate blood cells through the body. 

When you are breathing short and shallow your blood isn’t getting enough oxygen to allow your body to function properly. Resulting in a build-up of carbon dioxide that makes our blood become acidic. And an acidic environment is a breeding pool for disease. 

By developing breathing practices that focus your breath deeply through the body, you are creating a foundation for good mental and physical health. 

Learning to control the breath both cleanses and strengthens the respiratory system. 

Stress and the Heart

Stress has become a normal part of our daily life and we often hear people using their stress as a badge of honor. It’s not something to be praised. It doesn’t mean you’re doing more. It’s actually a health hazard. Stress creates irregular breathing patterns that can result in heart conditions, like heart disease. 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in the United States

High blood pressure is the leading cause of heart disease. Closely followed by cholesterol levels, alcohol dependency, smoking, and physical inactivity. These are all related to chronic stress that causes inflammation in the body. 

The good news is you can start to manage your stress levels and improve your heart health by adopting a few simple breath practices into your daily routine. You will be amazed what as little as 3-5 rounds of conscious deep breathing can do. 

Now, I’m not suggesting that lifestyle doesn’t play a significant role here. Things, like not smoking or limiting your intake of alcohol and caffeine, and adding more fruits and vegetables, are essential too. As you steer yourself in that direction you can add in breathing practices to start feeling immediate relief.

Here are 3 Breathing Practices that you can start today to build a better connection to a healthy happy heart.

Heart Coherent Breathing

One of my favorite breathing practices is Heart Coherent Breathing. It is so simple that it is often overlooked. But as we know sometimes the simplest things are the most challenging to do. 

  • Sit in a comfortable cross-legged position, or if on a chair move away from any back support so you can have a straight spine. Plant your feet on the floor, a hip-width distance apart.
  • Round your shoulders back and down and let your chest be open.
  • Tuck your chin slightly to allow the back of your neck to draw long.
  • Soften or close your eyes.
  • Bring your attention to your breath. Make no effort to change your breath pattern, simply notice it.
  • Begin to slow the breath by inhaling to the count of 5, and exhaling to the count of 5.
  • Bring your attention to the inhale. Feel the breath flow in through your heart center. 
  • Exhale and notice the breath leaving your heart center. 
  • Do 10 rounds of breathing like this, focused on your heart. If it feels good you can place your hands over your heart to help keep your focus and attention there. 
  • After 10 rounds or so let the 5×5 pattern go and continue to breathe with ease keeping your attention inside. 

This simple and effective practice can be done anytime day or night for clarity. I recommend starting by just practicing the steps above. After you feel more comfortable keeping your attention internal and your breath and heart you can add a question for clarity or intention. You will be amazed at the things your heart and breath begin to open up to you in these subtle moments when you truly belong to yourself. 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

This is a practice that takes some getting used to, but the benefits are well worth the effort. Alternate nostril breathing is exactly as the name describes. It’s a great practice for improving heart health because it helps lower blood pressure. 

You will forcefully direct air in one nostril and out the other using your right hand – using just your thumb and pointer fingers. 

  • Sit in a comfortable position.
  • Place your left hand on your left knee or in your lap.
  • Exhale completely.
  • Use the right thumb to close the right nostril.
  • Inhale through the left nostril.
  • Pinch the left nostril with your pointer finger.
  • Open the right nostril and exhale through this side.
  • Stay here.
  • Inhale through the right nostril.
  • Pinch closed this nostril.
  • Open the left nostril and exhale through the left side.
  • This is one cycle.
  • Continue for 5 to 10 rounds.
  • Always complete the practice by finishing with an exhale on the left side.

Not only does alternate nostril breathing balance your autonomic nervous system, it also supports the circulatory and respiratory systems. Helping you to feel more centered and relaxed. 

4-7-8 Breathing

This is a popular technique made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil. It is a calming breath practice often used at night to help fall asleep. This pattern involves a breath hold that reoxygenates the body. 

  • Sit or lie down allowing your spine to be straight. 
  • Inhale through the nose, allowing the tip of your tongue to rest behind your top front teeth, and count to 4.
  • Hold your breath at the top as you count to 7.
  • Purse your lips, tongue still resting against the roof of your mouth, and exhale making a whooshing sound as you count to 8.
  • Repeat 5-7 rounds.

You can start with a lower count if this is too challenging or you become light-headed or dizzy. Once you get the pattern down you can gradually build your count. Just be mindful to allow the exhales to be twice as long as the inhale. This allows you to take in more fresh oxygen-rich air.

So many of us are up late at night, wired but tired. This breathing practice relaxed the mind, allowing stress to melt and you to more quickly fall asleep. 

These are just 3 of the many breathing techniques that are beneficial for your heart and overall well-being. Try them all and find the one that creates the most ease in your body. As stress creeps in throughout the day these techniques can quickly calm your heart and mind. 

Cardiovascular health is vital and so is your breath. Together they work in perfect harmony to guide you into a more mindful way of living. 

If you are interested in deepening your relationship with breath, check me out on Instagram, breath_mindset, and start developing that relationship today.