statue du bouddha qui tient des fleurs en offrande dans ses mains

Calm your Mind Through Breathing

This article is additional information regarding the personal development exercise proposed for the month of September (Recollection - My breathing is calm and deep) in our positive affirmations card game .


“When the breath wanders, the mind is agitated. But when the breathing stops, the mind does the same” (Excerpt from Hatha Yoga Pradipika).

Take a deep breath! How many times have we been suggested to catch our breath when faced with an impending burst of stress and mental rumination? And without much success of course!

And yet, breathing to relax can be learned! It's all the more motivating when you know that breathing, emotions and heart rate are intrinsically linked.

A short, ultra-simplified neurology course is essential!

Since the dawn of time, our brains have been programmed to quickly analyze and react to dangerous situations.

To be in “red alert” mode to ensure our survival.

Flee, defend yourself or play dead. A very useful ability when you are attacked by a lion or surprised by a forest fire.

But in 2021, the year this article was written, the “dangers” are of a different kind: bills we forgot to pay, congested traffic, canceled concerts.

Let's say that our brain has retained its automatisms from the Stone Age and that it could really use a little update.

Yes, we have to make a special effort to deactivate danger mode, which, as you will have understood, exists “by default”.

woman breathing calmly

In the human body, two major nervous systems coexist: the somatic system which governs voluntary acts, and the autonomic system which governs automatic acts.

The heart is naturally connected to the autonomic system, allowing for immediate changes in the body based on the environment.

The autonomic system is itself divided into two subsystems: the sympathetic system and the parasympathetic system.

The sympathetic system will help increase heart and respiratory rate, dilate the pupils and inhibit digestion to respond to danger, whether it is a canceled flight or an attack by a panther.

The heart will begin to beat in a jerky and anarchic manner, the breathing is weak and irregular. You have certainly already experienced a small episode of tachycardia!

The parasympathetic system will bring the body back into a state of relaxation and rest. Phew!

Ok great, what next?

We always come back to the heart! This is directly connected to the brain and by adjusting our breathing, we will finally be able to tame our negative and stressful thoughts.

To stop mental rumination. To stop breaking out in a cold sweat when our phone runs out of battery.

crown of flowers and inscription and breathe

A simple little exercise that has proven effective is called “cardiac coherence”.

It is a concept which was developed in the United States in the 1990s and introduced in France in 2003 by Professor David Servan-Schreiber.

Cardiac coherence is an exercise which consists of breathing deeply, in a seated position with your back straight, at the rate of 3 times a day, 6 breaths per minute, for 5 minutes.

A quick mental calculation: that leaves 5 seconds to inhale through your nose and 5 seconds to exhale through your mouth, lips pursed, before starting again.

Why 3.6.5?

The rate of 6 breaths per minute is equivalent to a respiratory rate of 0.1 Hertz common to many biological rhythms, including the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems.

By breathing slowly at the rate of 3.6.5, the heart slows down and regulates itself. The brain calms down, we say that it is “in coherence” with the heart.

This method of self-regulating stress is really cool and the more it is practiced, the more it makes us autonomous in managing our moods.

At the beginning to get the hang of it, it can be very useful to program 3 alarms per day so as not to forget the cardiac coherence sessions and to download a mobile application.

In general, they suggest following with your eyes an object that moves up and down over a 10-second rhythm with the added bonus of a little relaxing music. T

All this to help us inhale and exhale over the same length of time. We like the free RespiRelax application, available on Google Play or the App Store .

In the settings, choose the duration of the session (5 minutes), the “balance” mode and the duration of inhalations and exhalations (5 seconds for both).

woman with hand on heart

The effect of a 5-minute session of cardiac coherence is felt on average for 4 hours, hence the interest in repeating it 3 times a day.

You will see, the relaxing effects will soon be felt and if practiced diligently, cardiac coherence will very quickly bring you a feeling of calm. This tool is very useful when you suffer from insomnia, anxiety attacks or latent stress.

Used just before a yoga session, cardiac coherence will surely allow us to be more present and appreciate our favorite asana sequence even more.

When you start with meditation, you can also use this breathing method and extend the experience beyond the 5 minutes suggested, to better control your thoughts.

We often associate basic hygiene with 1 toothbrushing, a good shower and 5 fruits and vegetables per day. But what about mental cleaning?

We suggest you include this method in your daily routine. With a little practice, you will soon be able to do your breathing while standing, on public transport or in line at the bakery. Because remember, this method is most effective in regularity!

Another great way to calm the mind is walking meditation, have you heard of it?

Practicing yoga every day also helps a lot to find calm. Have you already figured out what type of yoga is right for you?

Discover the personal development exercise proposed for the month of October: Today, I say yes to what is!

Discover here our eco-responsible yoga outfits made in France from recycled materials, perfectly suited to practicing all types of yoga!

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Photo credits :

  • Chris Ensey
  • Georgia de Lotz
  • Motoki Tonn Ez
  • Darius Bashar





  • Delphine

    Merci Michèle de m’avoir signalé ce problème ! Les liens ont été réparé ! Delphine

  • Michèle Yan

    Bonjour Delphine,
    Vos articles m’intéressent beaucoup, toutefois les liens me ramènent systématiquement sur une page erreur (404, page introuvable), dommage. Pour information j’utilise Chrome.
    Bonne semaine

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