Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

Timing of Breaths

In the upcoming notes, we will be discussing the “timing” of breaths, inhales, and exhales. I’ll use the terms “in” and “out” instead of “inhale” and “exhale,” for brevity.

I’ll also use the abbreviation “bpm” to connote the units “breaths per minute” (“normal” breathing, for the “average” adult human, is between 12-16 bpm).

Wim Hof: Around 15-22bpm

If you use a timer to time Wim Hof’s breaths in this video for beginners (subtitled “3 Rounds Slow Pace”), they are generally around 1.5-2 seconds for each inhale and exhale (3-4 seconds per full breath). This comes out to around 15-20 bpm.

Even when following along with Wim in this video, the timing is not “perfectly” the same for every inhale & exhale. It varies between ~1.3 seconds and ~2.2 seconds. This is a natural consequence of being a human, rather than a robot. So do not stress about timing the breaths “perfectly,” as this type of precision is an impossible standard to live up to.

In this video, Wim’s inhales and exhales range between 1.3-1.7 seconds (2.6-3.4 seconds per full breath). This comes out to 17-22bpm.

Ananda Mandala: 30-40bpm to start, 50-60bpm at the end

I’ve also used a timer to time Ananda Mandala meditation breaths. The inhales and exhales start out at around 1 second each (so 1 full breath per 2 seconds or 30bpm), and then the cadence of breathing speeds up to a maximum speed of around 0.5 seconds per inhale and exhale toward the end of each round (1 full breath per second, or 60bpm). So Ananda Mandala varies between 30bpm and 60bpm.

My Breathwork In This Module: 40-60bpm

I used a timer to time myself (in the “exercise” video in this module) and my inhales and exhales are generally around 0.5 – 0.75 seconds. That comes out to around 40-60 bpm… similar to the “end of each round” in Ananda Mandala.

So… what’s the ideal timing?

While Wim Hof might consider 20bpm to be “ideal” and Oneness University (where Ananda Mandala was developed) might consider escalating rounds of 30-60bpm to be ideal, the truth is, these are all simply anecdotal reports. There is no real scientific research yet to show whether 20, 30, or 60 bpm is “better” for breathwork exercises.

You may notice that these three forms (Wim Hof, Ananda Mandala, and my own breathwork presentation in this module) all produce very similar effects. Your body gets warm and tingly, you feel light headed, your mind feels lighter and brighter and kinda blissful, some muscles might spasm, you may experience euphoria, strong emotions may come up, you may laugh or cry, etc.

All of these effects come from the same thing… you are “hyperventilating,” which means you’re taking in more O2, and putting out more CO2, than usual. You’re increasing the level of oxygen and decreasing the level of carbon dioxide in your blood. You’re raising the PH (and increasing the alkalinity) of your blood. This is what produces the effects.

Based on this understanding of what’s going on in your body, it stands to reason that hyperventilating more intensely (faster and deeper) will produce the effects more quickly and intensely. That’s why I tend to practice toward the “faster and deeper” end myself.

But it’s totally up to you how fast/deep you want to breathe, and it’s really a product of personal preference.

In Summary

Don’t get bogged down in worrying about timing the breaths so that they are precisely the same as anyone else. Practice, experiment, and find the flow that works for you. And when you’re presenting this to people who are new to breathwork, it might be gentler to start them a bit slower (like Wim Hof, 20bpm) and go to a more intense cadence (30-60bpm) once they get the hang of the practice.

Humans are not robots or machines, and we cannot breathe precisely the same way every time. There will always be some variation in the timing of breaths.

And remember that there are many other kinds of breathwork that have much faster bpms (like breath of fire), and many kinds that have much slower bpms (for example, all of the “kava breathing” techniques you’ll learn in Dr. Mansi Vira’s module). As you continue to practice, you will find how the rhythms of breathing affect you, and you’ll be able to vary, adjust, and fine tune the cadence to your (and your clients’) needs and preferences.