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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.