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Show Your Students the Tangible Benefits of Yoga

When it comes to results, people love proof, yoga students included. Thankfully, yoga’s powerful results can be proved through the respiratory rate and the resting heart rate. Yoga has the capacity to lower both for overall improved health. Once you learn how to check these vital signs, you can wow your yoga students by tracking their quantitative progress.

How to check respiratory rate

  1. Have your students lie down on the floor in Savasana with their eyes closed.
  2. Make sure they are comfortable, using props to support the pose if needed. Ask them to simply relax and breathe naturally.
  3. Use a second-hand watch to track one minute.
  4. Observe the student’s belly, counting their inhalations. The total count gives you the BPM: breaths per minute.

Don’t tell your students when you are checking their respiratory rate, or they may change their breathing pattern.


The normal respiratory rate for a person over the age of 12 is 12 to 16 breaths a minute. It’s 18 to 30 breaths for a child between the ages of 6 and 12.

If the BPM is too fast, it can indicate asthma, bronchitis, heart attack, lung disorders, pneumonia, tuberculosis, or nervous system disorders. Assuming that your student hasn’t come to you during a spell of a serious illness, the culprit for a high respiratory rate is usually stress, anxiety, or shallow chest breathing.

Help your students get low

Your goal is to help your yoga student reduce their breathing rate to 12, or an even lower BPM. Eight breaths is a totally attainable goal for a dedicated yogi.

  • Teach them healthy breathing habits: through the nose and into the belly.
  • Have them practice deep belly breathing for several minutes daily with a ratio of 4:4, meaning a four-second inhalation and a four-second exhalation.
  • They can work up to 5:5 breathing, and eventually double the exhalations for a ratio of 4:8.

Take your student’s respiratory rate weekly. If they had any doubts about yoga’s efficacy before, their lowered respiratory rate will make them believers!

How to check resting heart rate

Checking heart rate

The best time to check the resting heart rate is first thing in the morning, while you are still in bed. That won’t be an option in a yoga session, so try to check heart rate when your student has been sitting or lying down for at least a few minutes.

There are three main places to check heart rate: the inside of the elbow, the side lower neck, or the inside of the wrist. The wrist is typically the easiest place to find a pulse.

  • Place your index and middle fingers on the artery of any of these three spots, and press gently until you feel the pulse.
  • Use a second-hand watch to track one minute.
  • Count the number of beats within the 60 seconds to get the resting heart rate.

The normal resting heart rate for an adult is between 60 and 100 beats per minute, and women tend to have faster pulse rates than men. Having a pulse rate less than 60 isn’t necessarily a bad thing—pulse rates as low as 40 beats per minute are often seen in runners, athletes, and those with a healthy heart.

Make their hearts happy

Of course, one of yoga’s goals is to make the heart (and all muscles) healthy. This happens with all work on the mat, including the rhythmic breathing of a vinyasa flow, pranayama practices, and long rests in Savasana. To help your students lower their heart rate, remind them to practice rhythmic breathing throughout their session. Teach them pranayama practices like deep belly breathing and alternate nostril breathing.

Tracking your students’ resting heart rates and respiratory rates will give stone-cold proof that their health is improving, something that everyone likes to see when investing their time, money, and energy.


  • “All About Heart Rate”. American Heart Association. American Heart Association, 30 Sep. 2014. Web. 7 Jul 2015.
  • “Pranayama – Deep Breathing”. Yoga Point. Yoga Vidya Gurukal. Web. 7 July 2015.
  • “Rapid Breathing”. Right Diagnosis. Health Grades. Web. 7 July 2015.

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Julie Bernier
Julie Bernier
Julie Bernier helps women to bring their bodies back into balance, whether they’re struggling with hormonal imbalances, period problems, digestive troubles, skin conditions, anxiety, depression, preparing for or recovering from giving birth, or any other dis-ease. This holistic approach to individualized wellness is rooted in ayurveda: a holistic system of healing from ancient India. Julie is a registered Ayurvedic Practitioner and Ayurvedic Yoga Therapist with the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) as well as a Certified Massage Therapist. She studied each of these modalities in the US and straight from the source in India. Connect with Julie at or on IG at @juliebernier.