A blog by Thomas Boto, co-founder of Natural Rhythm
When I first got heart palpitations, I scoured the internet looking for cures (as I’m sure many of you have or are doing). One of the first websites I came across was one that practically guaranteed that my heart palpitations would go away. I was pumped. But once I finally found their “solution” I was sorely disappointed. Their solution was basically to buy their book/video teaching me how to breathe properly. Breathe properly? Ha! That’s crazy talk. I breath just fine thank you very much. So I passed on their product and moved on to other sites. But the more I looked for cures and remedies, the more I came across people who said breathing exercises helped reduce their heart palpitations significantly. Maybe it wasn’t crazy talk. Plus I was desperate and willing to try anything.
So I did. I jumped into the world of breathing exercises. I tried to be religious about practicing proper breathing techniques. I made a spreadsheet and marked off my time each day. After all, breathing exercises are a great way to relax, right? Well… not for me. After a couple of weeks, I was still having terrible heart skips, and I was anything but relaxed. I was frustrated. I wanted to concentrate on my breathing, but all I could hear and feel was my heart skipping over and over again. It was terrible. My frustration would make my heart skip even more. I would come out of my “relaxation time” ready to punch someone in the face. It was bad.
But then I found a couple of tricks that seemed to work for me. Hopefully they will work for you too.
I do breathing exercises with a massager
This may sound strange, but hang with me here. As I mentioned, I couldn’t concentrate and relax when doing breathing exercises. I couldn’t get over the feeling of having thump thump…skip…big thump… heart palpitations every three beats until I stumbled across this strange solution. I had been standing at my desk working all day and decided to use a massager on my back (one of the percussion kinds). After a few minutes I noticed that I didn’t feel the skips as much as before. It was great. So I tried combining it with my breathing exercises and it was incredibly helpful. (If you don’t know what type of massager I’m talking about, here is massager that I use if you are interested, I love it.)
I lay on my back with my feet up on a wall or on my bed
The other thing I do is lie on my back with my feet up. This helps me take deep breaths by expanding my stomach rather than shallow breaths from my chest. I put my massager on my chest and concentrate on the rise and fall of my stomach. Weird, I know, but effective, at least for me.
If you want some help with your breathing exercises, there is a great app that helps walk you through each breath. It’s called Breathing Zone – Relaxing Breathing Exercises and you can use it on your mobile phone or tablet. I use it on my iPhone and it’s really helpful. I highly recommend it.
Four Breathing Exercises That Help Me with Heart Palpitations
All Things Equal
This is an easy one and supposedly helps get your body in a natural rhythm. It also helps you fall asleep, so that’s good. All you do is sit up straight (or lay down) and breathe in (inhale) through the nose for a count of four, then breathe out (exhale) through the nose for a count of four. Keep it simple. This is the one I do most often. I slowly breath in through my nose and then let the weigh of my body force the air out of my lungs on it’s own. All the air comes out quickly but I linger at the end of the exhale (enjoying the silence) until I reach my count. Once you feel comfortable with a count of four move up to five, then six, then seven, etc.
Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and then breath in naturally (don’t worry about rhythm) through your nose and out through your nose. When you breath out through your nose count “one” to yourself. Keep doing that all the way to five and repeat. Focus on the numbers (maybe even try to picture them mentally). Soon your mind will wander, but that is good. Just keep coming back to your five count.
The Simple Slow Roller
(i.e. The Longest Birthday Party or The Birthday Cake) The idea here is to breathe out longer than you breathe in. Inhale through the nose and count to four or more, then exhale through your mouth for one to two seconds longer than the inhale. My favorite trick is to breathe in slowly then when you breathe out through your mouth you pretend that you are blowing out a candle on a birthday cake but so softly that it wouldn’t put out the flame – hence the Longest Birthday Party Ever 🙂
The Bumble Bee (i.e. The Hummer)
This one might be my favorite. I especially use this when I don’t have my massager since it produces a similar effect. First you cover your ears with your thumbs and your eyes with your fingers. You breathe in through your nose, and with your mouth closed, you breathe out slowly making a deep humming sound. You do this about five to ten times and then you take a couple deep breaths without the humming. It’s nice and peaceful. Then you just repeat as needed.
So those are my four go to breathing exercises that I do when I feel stressed or anxious or when I am having a lot of heart palpitations. Hope you find them helpful!
So what about you? Do you have any breathing exercises that you love or that you find helpful?