Elevated heart rate when meditating


Hi I notice that my heartrate increases in meditation and does not decrease what could be the problem? In my practise of the hong-sau tecnique It should calm My heart down but for some reason it seems to make my heartrate go up. I sit on quite a hard surface could that be a factor, aswell as posture, wich im trying to improve. It would mean alot of course to receive some practical advice on this.

—Victor, Sweden


Dear Victor,

There could be several aspects to what you are experiencing. Let me say that I’m not a doctor and am only mentioning aspects of the practice of meditation that might be helpful. I don’t know your age or general health but you may want to have a medical checkup.

  1. It might be the case that you are not noticing your heart rate until you sit quietly! This is why a medical checkup could be a smart thing to do. To give an example: when a person has a cold or sore throat, one can generally get along just fine during the activities of the day but the moment you go to meditate or lay down to sleep, you find the throat or cold irritating. This is because while you are active you just don’t notice what the body is experiencing.
  2. It is normal to take stock of your general health and diet in relation to meditation. Do you exercise regularly? Aerobically?
  3. How soon before meditation have you eaten or drank something? As to beverages, coffee, tea or sugary drinks; as to food, sweets, food rich in carbohydrates. As you presumably know, it is advisable not to eat a full meal within 3 hours of meditation.
  4. Before you meditate, do you do any yoga postures? Do you practice Yogananda’s Energization Exercises? If not, you might try doing some stretches, walking in place etc before sitting. (You can learn the excellent Energization Exercises — search on YouTube: there are plenty of videos.)
  5. Is there any fresh air in the room where you meditate? (I know it’s cold this time of year but even a little fresh air can help.)
  6. Before commencing Hong Sau, do you do simple breathing exercises: slow, diaphragmatic breathing (inhale, hold, exhale in equal measures)? 6-12 times. (Try having the exhalation be longer and slower than inhalation and hold the breath “out” a little before going on to the next inhalation. This can be an extra boost to decarbonizing the bloodstream.)
  7. Do you know the technique we call the “double breath”? (Tense the body as you inhale; hold breath, vibrate the whole body, and exhale forcibly through the mouth. Repeat 3-5 times.)
  8. An excellent pranayam for decarbonizing the bloodstream is Kapalabhati. You would need to search online to learn this and you should only do this if your health is basically good.
  9. As to your posture, a naturally straight but relaxed and upright spine with chest up, shoulders relaxed down, head level, feet flat on the ground is very important. Don’t force yourself to sit on the floor if it is uncomfortable or your chest is being pinched because your spine isn’t straight. There’s nothing wrong with a straight back, armless chair with a blanket on it or not-too-thick cushion.
  10. How recently did you begin a regular meditation practice? If not so long ago, I would say that it is not unusual for a beginner to experience an elevation in heart rate when sitting. Relaxation is the key: thus the various suggestions above.

I think I’ll stop here as this is plenty for now, given I know next to nothing about your health and your meditation practice and routine. Feel free to write back if necessary.

I hope you’ll find some benefit from some of these practices,

Nayaswami Hriman

Seattle WA USA