What is Resonance Frequency Breathing?

The breathing technique in question is not the first one to be found able to affect health. However, it is different from others in that it seems to improve blood pressure and increase heart rate variability – a curious parameter that is sometimes regarded as an indicator of nervous system and heart health. The growing body of scientific evidence suggests the technique may have medical uses.

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The breathing technique in question is not the first one to be found able to affect health. However, it is different from others in that it seems to improve blood pressure and increase heart rate variability – a curious parameter that is sometimes regarded as an indicator of nervous system and heart health. The growing body of scientific evidence suggests the technique may have medical uses.

Many stress management techniques are based on controlled breathing – you adjust your breathing frequency in accordance with a specific pattern, and your body reacts to the changes. Resonance frequency breathing is a new trend, which is gaining popularity. Surprisingly, there are a good many studies that addressed the issue of its effects, and they demonstrate that the technique is capable of improving health.

A little science first

Have you ever noticed that your heart rate correlates with your breathing rhythm? The phenomenon is called respiratory sinus arrhythmia. The heart rate variation, which is the variation in heart rate during exhaling and inhaling, is considered an important parameter that can be used in evaluation of health. Termed heart rate variability (abbreviated as HRV), the parameter indicates the condition of the nervous system and the heart. Low HRV is associated with a variety of diseases, including diabetic neuropathy, heart failure, etc. There is a correlation between age and HRV: older people usually have lower heart rate variability.

While there is still a lot to research, it is supposed that high HRV indicates better adaptability, as the variation in heart beat intervals can presumably be used to measure the ability of a body to adapt to stress, and that is why higher HRV is better than lower HRV. However, it is strongly recommended to consult a doctor before starting to practice resonance frequency breathing.

Medical uses

Resonance frequency breathing is reported to be able to “train” HRV. The technique implies reducing the amount of inhale-exhale cycles to 6 per minute. It may seem to be quite a challenge, as your body may feel as if it lacks oxygen, but one can adjust to it relatively fast. The health benefits associated with RFB appear to be numerous, and the amount of researches addressing the issue is impressive.

In 2017, a team of scientists from Brigham Young University carried out a study, in which they found that the technique can be effective at improving blood pressure and HRV. They asked 95 volunteers either to breathe at the frequency implied by RFB for 15 minutes, or at a higher frequency, or just sitting still. The researchers reported that the blood pressure and HRV in the first group improved – the statistically significant improvements were seen only in the RFB group. Some participants also said their mood lifted, but these findings were dismissed as statistically insignificant.

There were other researches that demonstrated that the technique can have a positive effect on health. Indonesian researchers used the breathing technique to see whether it can help reduce negative emotional symptoms in industrial workers, and, according to them, it can. Some scientists claim it may enhance music psychotherapy.

If you want to see how it looks, you can watch this video, in which a Rutgers University staff member demonstrates how to practice resonance frequency breathing.

To facilitate it for those who want to master the technique, Sergey Varichev, a Belorussian developer living in Amsterdam, introduced an app that helps practice RFB. The app is the result of cooperation between Varichev, a yoga teacher Eddie Stern, Deepak Chopra, and Moby. The developers hope that once it’s approved for medical use, the app will be of help for a wide audience.

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