Last week, I was preparing for a new program to help people review and understand their health biometrics report. Blood pressure is one of the measures within the screening, and I learned that the American Heart Association reports that 1 in 3 adults have high blood pressure and 1 in 6 don’t even know it. (That fact made my blood pressure go up!)
The fancy medical term for high blood pressure is hypertension. By either name, this condition is often called the “silent killer.” With no obvious symptoms, high blood pressure significantly increases a person’s risk of a heart attack, stroke and even death. Heart disease has been for many years and remains the leading cause of death in the United States.
I did a quick google search for “high blood pressure remedies.” So often the remedies seem almost mocking; exercise, lose weight, reduce stress. Remedies that feel like destinations without a clear path.
One of the entries on the google search caught my attention. RESPeRATE. I clicked through and read the claim on the home page. “The world’s only FDA-cleared, non-drug product, clinically proven to lower blood pressure.” Really, what was this thing? The FDA doesn’t mess around.
The short description of RESPeRATE is a device that measures your real-time breathing rate and then uses musical tones and rhythms to guide you to the therapeutic zone of 5-6 breaths per minute. I wanted to learn more.
This device is not new. It’s been around for 15 years and the science and studies validating its effectiveness go on for several pages. Also, they found that people using RESPeRATE slept better. They created a second device, 2breathe, that they call a “sleep inducer.”
Ahhhhhhh, this was a fantastic discovery for me. (No, I’m not looking to become a reseller for RESPeRATE or 2breathe.)
We are not the first humans to live on earth. Ancient wisdom and practices, like breathing and yoga, have helped people live healthy, calm lives for many thousands of years. When the first yogis talked about these practices and their benefits, they used different words, but the benefits they experienced are the same benefits we experience today.
Today, however, we have the science to explain how these practices work. That was exciting.
Yet my real delight is the grafting of our modern technology onto the old wisdom–taking the rootstock of ancient practices and attaching the advances of health tech.
The RESPerate device measures your rate of breathing and then gradually, through music tones guides you to a slower, deeper breathing pace. You are instructed to inhale at the sound of one tone and then exhale at the sound of the second tone. These tones repeat as you inhale and exhale. You innately do this with little or no thinking. That is the idea. Your body responds.
The science shows that deep breathing taps into the body’s parasympathetic nervous system and slows the heart rate which is directly connected to blood pressure. After each session of device-guided breathing, your breathing returns to normal though with practice you train your breath to be slower and deeper as your default mode. You lower your blood pressure and have the added benefit of better sleep.
Music is the key here. When my children were young, I was getting a massage at a spa in Old City Philadelphia. I was pretty wound up most of the time at that point in my life. After a few minutes, I noticed some music playing in the background. I could feel it slowing me down and my body softening. It felt like my energy was getting recalibrated.
At the end of my session, I asked the name of the music. It was called Shamanic Dreams by Anugama. I got the CD (yes, it was that long ago before Spotify, Pandora or iTunes!) It became one of my go-to music soundtracks for my yoga classes. Then I realized when I was working it also helped me slow down and focus. The way the music flowed just seemed to regulate my breathing and energy without any effort.
One day I did not have the music, and I could feel myself getting upset and disorganized. I realized I had listened to that music so many times I could “play” in my head. The memory of the music had the same effect.
It became the music I’d play before a presentation, and I still use it with groups. People comment about how “calming” the music is and I can see after a few minutes, without any effort, they relax, slow down and appear calmer.
The practice of yoga and the coordinated breath with movement, the ocean breath, is one of the most significant benefits of yoga. On the surface, it seems that yoga is about ordering your body’s limbs into particular shapes. Yet so much more is happening.
The music that is played in most yoga classes and the breathing guidance from the instructor is doing what the RESPeRATE device is doing. Deep breathing is one of the first and most valuable solutions you can access to reduce blood pressure, find calm and for overall better health and wholebeing.
Inhale and exhale.
I’m off now…to get to work on getting the FDA to approve the practice of yoga.