“the pulse rate reflects whether a person is calm or has mental illness. A pulse rate ranging from 65 to 72 represents a calm mind. A pulse rate of more than 72 implies physical illness. If the pulse rate is more than 90, then the person has a combination of physical and mental illness”
(Krishnamacharya commentary on Visnu Purana 6.5.6
from “Nathamuni’s Yoga Rahasya“)
Your pulse (the number of time your heart beats in a minute) will provide you an additional perspective on the state of your body & energy. It is useful to familiarize yourself with it. To do this you will need to take it at regular times and similar circumstances (such as first thing in the morning, before lunch, etc.). In addition to counting your pulse, you may discover changes in its quality – it can be throbbing, gentle sharp, soft, steady, erratic,etc. This will give you a general reference point.
Then, there are numerous points in a Yoga practice in which you may want to measure your pulse:
- At the beginning of a practice.
- At the end of a practice.
- At a mid-point of your practice.
- After an intense sequence in your practice – before & after resting.
You may find that exercises that challenge your breath cause your pulse to rise, after which a short rest should bring it back down. Generally, your pulse at the end of a well-balanced practice should be equal to or less then your pulse at the beginning. You may want to make a list or a chart to write down your findings – so that you can observe change over time.
How to feel your pulse:
- Find a comfortable seated position where you can relax your arms.
- Turn one palm facing up.
- Use the index and middle finger of the other hand to feel the pulse.
- Trace the fingers along a path from your thumb – following the bone structure towards your wrist – until you reach a soft area into which your fingers can sink deeper.
- Use the tips of your finger (just before the fingernails) to feel your pulse.
- If you can’t find it you can apply more pressure, and then when you find it, release to a more gentle touch.
Practice finding your pulse. You should be able to find it quickly and without applying too much pressure (which may affect the pulse itself and give you an imprecise measurement).
To measure your pulse you will need a clock or timer that clearly shows seconds:
- Place your fingers in place and find your pulse.
- Look at the watch/timer and choose a round starting point to count.
- Count the beats of your pulse for 20 seconds.
- Multiply that number by 3 (to get the number of beats in a minute).
I find that taking the pulse can be both informative and meditative.