Pranayama and HRV (Coherence)

The terms Coherence and Heart Rate Variability (HRV) reference the same principal in a chart of one’s heart rate.  According to this site, the HRV/Coherence is calculated in two ways:

HRV measures the difference in the amount of time between each heartbeat. There are two ways to measure HRV:

  • Amplitude or how much variability – Variability is measured in 10-second cycles. The more, the better. The goal for people under 50 is 20 beats of variability. After 50, this generally reduces to 10 beats of variability.

  • Pattern – If you were to plot the variability between heart beats on a graph, you would want the graph to show smooth sign wave patterns – the smoother and taller, the better.

The heart’s rhythm can change as the breathing cycle is changed.  Typically in Wild Divine, they suggest breathing in for 5 seconds, and releasing the breath over 5 seconds – repeating the cycle.  I wanted to try pranayama as I have learned it to see how it helps… I found it established with me a quicker coherence score and my pulse would shift to follow a pattern.
Below are some screenshots after two different pranayama sessions.  The first image is a 4 fold pranayama (breath was inhaled over 4 seconds. breath was held for 4 seconds, breath was exhaled for 4 seconds, breath was held for 4 seconds – repeating the cycle) the second image was 3 fold pranayama (the breath was inhaled over 4 seconds, it was held for 4 seconds, it was exhaled for 4 seconds and repeating the cycle.)
For me, this was much quicker to hit the coherence scores above 90%.  Within 30 seconds or so the score was hit.  It appears that the 4 fold breathing was a longer stretch of HRV.  More tests might be required to prove that 4 fold breathing has a benefit above 3 fold.
Take notice of the spectrum… blue is colored for the Higher coherence/hrv score… also notice the heart rhythm pattern established in the Higher Coherence periods.

4 Fold Breathing for a count of 4


3 Fold Breathing for a count of 4


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