Slow Breathing - Relief of Hypertension

Tess Thompson

Yoga tries to harmonize mind, body and soul, and breathing techniques are an integral part of how yoga helps in achieving that. The emphasis on breathing is so large that it is important to control breathing before taking up any yogic exercise or posture. The breathing control regime is known as pranayama.

Breathing exercises have been practiced for ages as a technique to meditate and deep relaxation. The West is now fast realizing the benefits that can be derived from breathing techniques, especially slow breathing.

Stress is one of the risk factors for primary hypertension. Although the reasons are not fully known, stress, worry and overwork often cause blood pressure to rise. High blood pressure, in turn, is a major risk factor behind coronary heart disease, stroke, congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease and peripheral vascular disease. Slow and controlled breathing exercises can prove to a better alternative to conventional high blood pressure medications.

The exact mechanism of how it works is not known, but breathing and relaxation techniques bring about Brain Wave changes that are characteristic of a relaxed state of mind. It is an established fact that as one inhales the heart rate speeds up slowly and lowers while exhaling. Recent research shows that your breathing can affect the autonomic nervous system’s links to cardiac activity and blood pressure.

The central blood pressure, cardiac and pulmonary systems are linked through the autonomic nervous system. Reducing the breathing rate to six breaths per minute is extremely important to build up a resonance of heart and blood pressure control systems and relaxation. The arrival in the market of some breathing devices and their approval by FDA is a standing proof of acceptance of this simple but effective natural remedy for treating hypertension.

The standard breathing technique suggested by pranayama regime of yoga requires inspiration with a smooth and gentle effort to increase lung power. There should be a distinct pause at the end of the inspiration. At the end of the expiration, there has to be another distinct pause and then inspiration should start again. At no point of time should the breath be released freely, as in normal breathing. Pranayama techniques also accompany some simple postures like thumbs in the arm pits and the rest of the palm extended in front during the exercise. These are simple postures but a yogic instructor is the right person to learn from.

Nowadays, controlled breathing is part of the natural remedies for high blood pressure recommended by specialists the world over. It is safe and easy to learn. Instead of side effects, it helps in treating a lot of other ailments and attaining a relaxed state of mind that will help you improve your efficiency at work.


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