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Coherence Breathing

Coherence Breathing is a quick and easy breathing technique to learn. It is something you can use in difficult moments to restore a sense of balance and ease. It is also something that can be practiced on a regular basis to promote general wellbeing and mental and physical health. Follow the step by step process below to try it.

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  1. Sit in a comfortable position, back upright but not stiff with your shoulders relaxed and your feet planted firmly on the floor. Eyes may be opened or closed.

  2. For this exercise you will breathe in through your nose and out through your nose with your mouth closed.

  3. Breathe in through your nose slowly while counting to 4 (Inhale...1...2...3...4.)

  4. Breathe out through your nose slowly while counting to 4 (Exhale...1...2...3...4)

  5. Repeat steps 3 & 4 continuously for 2-5 minutes. 


  • You can do coherence breathing for as little as 10 seconds and for 20 or more minutes. 2-5 minutes is a recommended starting point for the exercise which you can adjust according to your preferences and time available.

  • For many adults breathing to a count of 4 will feel comfortable. However, breathing to a count of 5 (Inhale...1...2...3...4...5) can be practiced as well, as can using a shorter count such as 3 (Inhale...1...2...3) if that feels more comfortable. The most important element to keep in mind is that however you long you breathe in is however you long you breathe out for (i.e. your breath cycle remains 'coherent'). 

  • An alternate and quite pleasant way to practice this exercise is to start breathing in at a count of 1 (Inhale...1/Exhale...1) and practice that for one cycle, continue at a count of 2 (Inhale...2/Exhale...2) and practice that for two cycles and continue on in the same pattern until you reach a count of 4 or 5 depending on your prefence. Practicing the exercise in this way can help you more smoothly shift into the breathing pattern and for many this deepens the experience.

  • As with all relaxation techniques, it is best not to focus on producing a feeling of relaxation or checking to see if you are relaxed yet. Aim to follow the steps without expectations. If you feel relaxed, great! If not, still great! You're still developing and working on the skill and with practice it will likely have a positive effect on your mental state and stress levels over time.

  • Practice the technique at times you are already calm at first so that you have experience and familiarity with it. Then, in moments of stress and overwhelm it will be that much more accessible. 

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