Breathing exercises are very effective in controlling high blood pressure. Regular and right exercises related to breathing can help you to maintain normal blood pressure. However, these exercises must be learned properly and only then they prove to be beneficial.
“You don’t breathe, you die!” This line perhaps describes the essence and importance of breathing. When viewed critically, breathing goes beyond the realms of just being biologically active and alive! Yes, just breathing is not enough. Then what is enough? To find the answer, just relax a bit, take a few deep breaths, inhale and exhale calmly. Do it just for 2 to 5 minutes! What happens? You will of course realize a positive sense of well-being. You feel better, relaxed nerves and a calm mind. If you are a regular follower of breathing exercises, you will totally agree with me beyond any doubts in your mind. And the reason behind this enhanced feeling of well-being is deep breathing. These relaxation breathing exercises are not a new discovery to the world. Breathing has been realized as a connection between mind and body since thousands of years in the Eastern philosophy (India), China and Tibet scriptures.
Breathing Exercises To Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is the force exerted by the heart when it pumps blood into the blood vessels. Also, the arteries resist the flow of blood and hence they exert a resistive force. It is the combination of these two forces that contribute to blood pressure. Generally, hypertension or high blood pressure can be linked to obesity, lack of physical activity and unhealthy habits like alcohol addiction, smoking and drugs and thyroid inefficiency. High blood pressure, if unchecked for a long time, can be life-threatening. However, there are many treatments for high blood pressure and various exercises to lower blood pressure. Here, I would like to mention about deep abdominal breathing exercise.
Deep Abdominal Breathing Exercises
This breathing technique is also called diaphragmatic breathing exercise and it must be practiced nearly twice a day for excellent results. After practicing abdominal exercises you will feel relaxed and the internal rhythm of the body will be perfect. The blood pressure will return to the normal level after some time. Regular practice will show the benefits of abdominal breathing exercises.
- Put one of your hands on the chest and the other on the abdomen. Inhale and take care that while you breathe deeply, the hand on abdomen raises higher than the hand on chest. This ensures that the diaphragm expands enough to put enough air into the lungs.
- Exhale calmly and then start inhaling. Take a slow deep breath and hold your breath for a few seconds. You can count up to seven in order to gain better control. Do not force yourself to hold the breath. Take it easy and hold it just for few seconds.
- Now, at the count of 8, exhale slowly. When all the air is released, gently contract the diaphragm muscles and relax.
- Make sure you exhale deeply without applying too much pressure. Just try to exhale completely.
- Repeat the cycle 4-5 times, with 5-6 deep breaths and 5-6 breathes per minute.
As a general rule, the exhalation time is twice the inhalation time. As you practice and become better, you can stop keeping the hands on the chest and abdomen. They are just meant to give you a feel of the expanding diaphragm.
Ujjayi pranayama is a breathing technique that is effective in raising as well as lowering the blood pressure. It depends on the type of ujjayi pranayama you practice. There are two type of ujjayi pranayama. The forceful ujjayi pranayama and the soft meditative style. For people who wish to lower their blood pressure, the soft style of ujjayi pranayama must be considered. Basically, in this breathing exercise a typical sound is created in the throat during breathing. This sound is different from the sound produced by the larynx. Hence, it is named as ujjayi (called victorious breath) pranayama. For people with high blood pressure, it is advised to practice it slowly and continue only if they feel comfortable doing it. The technique to do ujjayi pranayama is as follows.
- Start breathing slowly, calmly and deeply. Keep it gentle, do not apply too much effort to inhale deeply. Inhale from both the nostrils.
- Contract the back of your throat to a slight extent, while maintaining your posture and keeping your breath constant.
- Now comes the most important part, as you inhale try to make a hissing sound. This hissing sound should be soothing to the ear. The sound should be generated from upper part of the throat. Don’t create a sound from your nose!The sound will come automatically due to the air resistance in the throat while breathing. It’s simple, just try once!.
- Stretch your inhalation to expand your chest till you feel comfortable. Meanwhile maintain a continuous hissing sound.
- Finally, exhale slowly and completely without any extra tension on any part of the body.
Tips for Practicing Breathing Exercises
Here are some key tips for people who want to practice the above exercises to attain holistic well-being.
- It is good to practice these exercises early in the morning. The mind and body are relatively fresh in the morning and even the air is pure, with more oxygen content in the atmosphere. If morning time isn’t possible, prefer sunset time in the evening.
- It is always good to do breathing with empty or light stomach. Clearing bowels before doing these exercises is essential to reap maximum benefits.
- It is good to be guided by an expert for effective results.
- Distraction free areas are always beneficial as it helps in focusing the mind completely on these exercises.
- Just like diet mattes when we join a gym, regular practitioners of these exercises must focus on light diets.
- Drinking water at least 30 minutes before starting the practice is recommended. However, if you’re able to manage, drink little water before doing these exercises. Remember, an empty stomach is always better.
- If you’re tired, weak or not well, it is better to avoid intense breathing. Follow the advise of a Yoga instructor to follow light and mild yoga and breathing exercises.
- These exercises are recommended for blood pressure problems but only on expert medical advice. Don’t attempt them on your own if you’re unaware of the right method to follow them.
- Focus on making your breathing smooth and light. Through consistent practice, your breathing must become effortless.
- While practicing them, if one feels nauseated or weak, he or she must immediately stop and seek help.
Breathing exercises are a part of Yoga and meditation since ages. They can be very effective in controlling high blood pressure. However, as aforementioned, one should take care that breathing exercises to lower blood pressure must be practiced under the guidance of expert yoga trainers.