Can Resonance Frequency Breathing Help Blood Pressure?Oct 18, 2022
It might seem ridiculous at first- something we do unconsciously thousands of times every day be a solution for high blood pressure. For a lot of people, it would seem more reliable to just trust your doctor and the prescription for a daily med. But you have, a highly effective, no-cost, side-effect free solution to high blood pressure literally right under your own nose.
What is High Blood Pressure and Why Is It a Problem?
Blood pressure is the pressure that blood exerts on the vein walls. A high blood pressure means the force of the blood on the veins is too high which can come about from a variety of causes including smoking, obesity, too much salt, alcohol, genetics and stress.
High blood pressure can result in a lethal heart attack, increased risk of heart disease, heart failure, kidney disease and strokes. Not fun. And unfortunately, too common: heart attacks are the number one cause of death in the US.
Blood pressure is measured with two numbers written over each other such as 120/80. The top number indicates the systolic pressure, or the force of the blood against the artery walls when the heart beats. The bottom number shows 'diastolic' blood pressure, or the force when the heart rests between beats. Both numbers are important in monitoring heart health. Normal is around 120/80 although you would want to check it several times to make sure as it can fluctuate depending on things like how much espresso you had that morning. If however you start to push towards 130/80 and above, you will want to pay more attention: many health care professionals diagnose a consistent measurement of 130/80 mmHg or higher as being too high for good health.
How does breathing help blood pressure?
Our breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure are all connected. When we breathe in, the heart rate speeds up to pump the oxygen-rich blood through the arteries. As the heart rate speeds up, the blood pressure goes down so the passageway is more open, ideally. The same is true in reverse, when you exhale, the heart rate slows down and the blood pressure increases.
All of this oscillation is accomplished by your autonomic nervous system, the part of you which handles the functions of your body that need to go on when you're not thinking about it- such as your breathing, most of the time, your heart rate and function of your internal organs. The autonomic nervous system has two branches, the sympathetic and parasympathetic.
The sympathetic nerve system is what speeds up your heart rate. It is the side of us which kicks in to respond to stress- that is, if you need to run from a predator or fight an opponent. As well as increasing your heart rate, it dilates your pupils, releases adrenaline, and tightens the midsection to protect the body against any injury. This constriction limits the range of the main breathing muscle, the diaphragm. This sends the work of respiration into the neck and shoulders which act on the rib cage from above to expand it so the lungs can take in air.
Chronic stress generated by the mind often shows up with faster, shallower breathing patterns and if this stress is not accompanied with enough physical movement, it puts the body into a chronic fight-flight mode which constricts the blood vessels, higher blood pressure and low CO2 levels caused by overbreathing.
On the side of the nervous system is the relaxation response, where our heart rate to slow down, the blood vessels to dilate, the digestion to start again. This causes a reduction of overall blood pressure and the healing process to begin leading to more calm, lower stress, reduced inflammation and a clearer mind.
When our breathing can deliberately engage the diaphragm muscle in breathing more than the secondary muscles of respiration in the neck and shoulders, the parasympathetic system increases its function and there is less pressure. Less stress= more open blood vessels=reduced blood pressure.
Scientists long regarded the autonomic nerve system as being outside of our control although yogis knew differently. It was considered impossible to be able to consciously influence the heart rate or blood pressure or digestion. But as science caught up to what yogis already knew- more and more evidence showed that by making our breathing, which is ordinarily an autonomic function, conscious, it would open up a range of possibilities of at least indirect influence on other systems of the body.
Because you can train yourself to breathe more with the diaphragm and that is associated with the rest-and digest function of the parasympathetic nerve system, the constriction of the blood vessels that comes with the fight-flight mode is reversed and blood pressure can start to normalize. According to a study of 20,000 Japanese individuals with high blood pressure, people can reduce their systolic blood pressure greatly by taking six deep breaths within a 30 second period.
Resonance Frequency Breathing for Blood Pressure
Resonance Frequency Breathing is a method of breathing smoothly in and out at a rate of around 5-6 breaths per minute which switches on the relaxation response so that when you exhale, your heart rate slows down even more before speeding up again on the inhalation. This variability between the highest speed of your heart rate at the top of your inhale and the slowest rate at the bottom of your exhale is an indicator of the health of your nerve system and is one of the best measures we have for a person's overall state of health. By breathing in this pattern and bring our breath, heart rate, blood pressure and nerve system into resonance with each other, our blood pressure can start to normalize, our heart rate variability and resilience to stress goes up and our inflammation levels go down.
How to Do Resonance Frequency Breathing To Lower Blood Pressure
Breathing at the resonance frequency is very simple, you simply breathe between 5-6 breaths per minute. To make it more effective, you want to breathe as smoothly as you can, without pause. Your inhale flows into your exhale and your exhale flows into your inhale making your breath last the entire length of the sound. To boost the parasympathetic response more, you want to breathe in using your diaphragm as much as you can, and as you breathe out, try to relax as much as you can, letting go of any tension.
It is best if you follow along with a guide at first, both listening and watching the screen so your brain stays focused. Check out the video in the post for a five-minute practice!
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