Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (HRV)
What is Heart Rate Variability and Why is it important?
Heart rhythms have been of interest to scientists and poets alike throughout time. Prior to the early 70’s, researchers believed that the brain was the control center for all organs in the body. Then some new research began to show that the heart has its own nervous system, its own intelligence, and that the brain and heart are in a two way communication link, influencing each other in a synchronized dance.
Heart rate variability (HRV) refers to the beat-to-beat alterations in heart rate or pulse. HRV is now understood to be reflective of inner emotional states and level of stress.
Research on HRV has shown that disturbed emotional states lead to increased disorder in the heart's rhythms and in the autonomic nervous system, thereby adversely affecting the rest of the body. Alternately, positive emotions create increased harmony and coherence in heart rhythms. Increased coherence improves balance in the nervous system and the whole body's functioning.
The health implications are easy to understand: Disharmony in the nervous system leads to strain and increased stress on the heart and other organs while harmonious rhythms are healthier and less stressful to the body's systems. A low HRV is linked to depression, poor health outcomes, cardiac symptoms, and high stress levels.
What are the Benefits of increased Heart Rate Variability?
Higher HRV is linked with better physical and emotional health overall and has been shown to reduce risk for stress-related illness, such as cardiac problems, asthma, and diabetes. Studies have shown that training HRV can improve physical, mental, & emotional stability. Positive outcomes include improved cognitive abilities and mental clarity, greater emotional balance, enhanced creativity, a sense of peace, greater "heart intuition intelligence" and greater personal effectiveness. Other health benefits include reduction of anxiety, enhanced immune system functioning, increased levels of DHEA hormones which improve overall hormonal functioning and decrease effects of aging, and a lowered stress response. These all amount to better physical functioning and better emotional regulation of your system.
Heart Rate Variability is a Key Measure of Mental and Emotional Balance
More balanced HRV is demonstrated in the changes that can be seen here when comparing a negative emotional state to a more positive one:
Note the smoother more even pattern in the 2nd graph above.
How Does HRV Biofeedback Work?
HRV Biofeedback involves using computerized feedback of your heart rhythms as measured by a small sensor that registers pulse.
We then teach you skills for gaining greater conscious control over your HRV coherence and the functioning of your body through a variety of techniques that are used in the sessions and practiced in your home environment.
Conditions That May Benefit From Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback:
- High Blood Pressure
- Generalized Stress Response
- Cardiac Risk after Heart Attack
- Some Cardiac Arrhythmias
- Anxiety and Nervousness
- Illnesses worsened by stress can benefit from HRV Biofeedback and Stress-reduction training (Irritable Bowel, Diabetes, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, Asthma, Fibromyalgia)
- Stress-related Headaches
- Improve Peak Performance States
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