Wednesday, January 19, 2011

#2 Why is breathing at the Resonant Frequency Important?

Deep breathing can increase parasympathetic tone helping you to relax, slow down heart rate etc. It's a useful clinical tool which explains why it is a component of virtually every ancient healing tradition-it has withstood the test of time.

But if deep breathing is a flashlight, then Resonant Frequency Breathing (achieved using HRV Biofeedback) is a laser. Much more powerful. Why? Coherence.

What makes a laser powerful is the coherence or synchronization of the light waves. When light waves are made coherent, new properties emerge e.g. being able to cut through metal. Similarly when breathing at the resonant frequency the cardiovascular system is in sync, and acts to synchronize other systems in the body-what the folks at Heartmath call "Psycho-physiological Coherence".

The effects of psycho-physiological or Mind-Body Coherence achieved via Resonant Frequency breathing include improvements in a wide variety of disorders including Irritable bowel syndrome, hypertension, Raynaud's syndrome, anxiety, depression and pain. (HRV is a relatively new technology and there is a need for more research however, in my clinical practice with HRV since 2005 I have seen clear improvements in all of these conditions).

In short, while deep breathing tends to induce a state of relaxation, Resonant Frequency Breathing with HRV tends to induce a state of Balance. Very different. More on that later.

In the next post we'll look at the emerging clinical science of HRV and how it might be applied to Fibromyalgia.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

#1 What is the "Resonant Frequency"? (of the Cardiovascular System)

Resonant Frequency is a concept from physics which describes a property of systems that cycle. For example pushing a child on a swing (simple pendulum).

Each swing has a characteristic resonant or natural frequency. When energy (in the form of a push) is added at the resonant frequency, there will be a large change in the amplitude of the cycle i.e. the swing will go much higher. If the push is a little slower, or a little faster than the resonant frequency the swing will not go as high.

In the context of Heart Rate Variability feedback, the resonant frequency is the rate of breathing that results in the largest swing in heart rate. In humans the resonant frequency depends on the individual, and usually lies between four and seven breaths per minute.

It is possible to approximate the resonant frequency in a person simply by having him breathe for a period of time at a given rate, say 5 breaths per minute, then increasing the rate to 5.5 breathes per minute etc. The breathing rate that creates the greatest variation or "swing" in the heart rate is the resonant frequency for that person.