What is BreatheAware?
We all deal with stress and anxiety, but BreatheAware’s structured, technology-based breathing and mindfulness training program promises to help you change your behavior—and your health—by teaching you lifelong stress reduction skills.
Called a “stress and resilience platform” by the company, BreatheAware can be used by individuals, employers, doctors, and coaches in as little as two minutes per day.
There is a total of 16 levels in the BreatheAware program, with self-paced, progressive lessons focused on changing behavior day-by-day. Each lesson is backed by a team of advisors specializing in a variety of fields, including medicine, sports science, biosystems engineering, physical therapy, and Eastern practices.
Like pretty much everyone else, you’re overworked and overstressed. But will BreatheAware’s behavioral and breathing-based approach to stress reduction make a difference? Or, will other options work better?
Here, we’ll talk about what you might encounter with the BreatheAware program and find out what authoritative websites have to say about the benefits of mindful breathing.
What Is Stress? What Causes It?
The BreatheAware site notes that one in four doctor visits are for stress-related ailments, although WebMD puts the figure much higher at between 75% and 90%. Forbes puts annual stress-related health care costs closer to $190 billion.
Any way you slice it, stress clearly has a negative impact on our lives. So why do we get stressed in the first place? What benefit does it serve?
We won’t go into unnecessary detail here, but stress largely defies definition because it’s such a subjective experience. What causes one person to stress out may not make another person to so much as flinch, and what one individual considers through-the-roof-stress levels another might view as a walk in the park.
Basically, stress is your body’s response to a demand or threat. Your nervous system releases high levels of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol, which increases heart rate, tenses muscles, boosts blood pressure, and sharpens senses, which is known as the fight or flight response.
While this stress response evolved to help keep us alert and out of danger’s way, our body can’t distinguish between stress caused by (for example) a wooly mammoth charging our family or the tight deadline your boss handed you at the last minute.
To this last point, in the modern world, it’s no secret that short, periodic bursts of stress within our comfort zone can help us rise to different challenges.
But if we’re constantly in a stressed, fight-or-flight mode, it can lead to negative health consequences like fatigue, decreased libido, sleeping issues (which can further compound stress), irritability and mood swings, drug or alcohol abuse, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and decreased immune response.
How does the BreatheAware program promise to actively address stress and prevent poor health?
How Does BreatheAware Work?
Even on BreatheAware’s How It Works Page, we weren’t provided with a clear overview of precisely how the system works.
Based on four different exercises listed, though, it appears each one involves completing a certain number of reps (slow, relaxed in-and-out breaths) over a period of a couple of minutes.
Onscreen, there is a circle that expands, holds, and then contracts, which users are supposed to follow with their breath. You’ll also receive some short instruction on how to breathe and how to hold your body for best results.
BreatheAware’s short, guided meditation sessions claim to help reduce stress and anxiety. Image credit: BreatheAware
With this said, each exercise in the BreatheAware program seems to be focused on helping you accomplish three things:
- Conscious Breathing – Focusing attention on your breath without trying to change it.
- Body Alignment – Being aware of your body on a moment-by-moment basis, while making little adjustments to improve health and wellness.
- Mindfulness – Learning how to observe yourself and the world around you with awareness, allowing you to remain calm and focused while fully recognizing your experiences.
If you think this sounds a lot like meditation, you’d be right.
BreatheAware references their exercises as short, informal meditation and breathing breaks that require no commitment or a special environment, immediately make you feel good, and reinforce positive self-care habits.
And a big part of this self-care is learning how to respond to daily stress, while proactively working to reduce it. After you learn this skill, you’ll be able to integrate it into your lifestyle—even when you’re not meditating.
Is Meditation Beneficial and How Do You Begin?
The short answer? Yes.
Specifically, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health notes clinical evidence exists indicating that meditation can help reduce anxiety and depression, improve symptoms of insomnia, decrease blood pressure, and may even physically change the brain (for the better, of course).
After just 20 minutes of daily meditation, WebMD adds stress reduction and boosted immune response to this list. In fact, the physical and mental benefits related to meditation are so widely recognized that even some health insurance companies recommend it on their websites.
The BreatheAware website also links to several authoritative websites regarding the link between meditation and stress reduction, including Harvard Health, Stanford University, and the science journal Nature.
But hold on: Isn’t meditation only for Eastern mystics and new age gurus? Not at all.
Getting started meditating is as easy as setting aside a few moments of your day, sitting in a comfortable position (even in a chair), and paying close attention to each inhalation and exhalation. While doing this, you'll be mindful not to allow your thoughts to wander.
That’s about it!
Given how easy it is to start meditating, how much will you pay for BreatheAware’s program?
How Much Does BreatheAware Cost?
There are three different BreatheAware membership options, which are billed on a recurring basis:
- 1 Month: $9/mo
- 3 Month: $6/mo ($18 total)
- 12 Month: $4/mo ($48 total)
You can also try BreatheAware free for seven days, after which you’ll roll to a monthly subscription plan.
Each of these options will provide access to the full program, giving you the ability to train at your own pace and configure personalized SMS/email reminders.
No refunds are available, and the only way to reach a BreatheAware representative is through their site’s contact form.
We Want Your Reviews for BreatheAware!
Although BreatheAware has been in business since 2013, we didn’t encounter any legitimate online customer feedback for the program during our research.
We learned that the company was founded by Curt Rosenthal, Peter Hermann, and David May, none of whom appear to have any formal background in behavior or stress studies.
Previously, Curt (Chief Innovation Officer) worked in soccer coaching, training, programming, and business development with a variety of organizations. Peter (CEO) has a sales and enterprise technology consulting background, while David (Director of Technology) has a software background.
As mentioned above, though, the BreatheAware website lists six different advisors, including three PhDs, two doctors, and one eastern practices professional.
We also encountered a third-party affiliate site that noted BreatheAware features not just one program, but three (Explore, Train, and Lifestyle).
We reached out to the company to verify and will update as soon as a response is received.
Does BreatheAware Have Any Competition?
With such little tangible information to go on, it’s difficult to know exactly where BreatheAware falls among its competition—and there is a lot.
For example, websites and smartphone apps like Headspace (as low as $6.24 per month) provide access to hundreds of guided and unguided meditations that can be completed in 10 minutes per day.
Omvana, Take a Break!, and Sattva can do much of the same at no charge. For more free and paid options, we’d recommend checking out Healthline’s Best Meditation Apps of 2016.
We can even help you get started on the right foot by reading 6 Ways to Naturally Improve Your Focus, Energy, Productivity, and Decrease Stress.
What’s the point? We’ll wrap it up in the next section.
How Much Value Will BreatheAware’s Program Provide?
Might BreatheAware’s advisor-backed mindful breathing program(s) help you de-stress? Based on the demos on their site, it certainly seems like it could help you take short, focused breaks during the day, which could certainly help refocus your mind and reduce anxiety.
Their ‘breathing circles’ and timers also worked well on our mobile device, which means you can utilize them on the go.
In the end, though, it’s not so much BreatheAware’s efficacy that we’re focused on. After all, the benefits of meditation are well established. Instead, it’s the overall value it will provide.
In our mind (we’re consumers, too!) it might be difficult to justify diving into a BreatheAware subscription with such little information available and no customer feedback to speak of. And this doesn’t factor in the free (and paid) subscription services that compete directly with BreatheAware.
We reached out to the company for some additional information and will update this article as soon as a response is received.
In the meantime, what did you think about BreatheAware? Was the subscription a solid value, or did you prefer some of the competition? Give us your insight by writing a review below!