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3 breathing exercises for hypertension
Dr Hansaji Yogendra, Director, The Yoga Institute and President of the Indian Yoga Association, says Pranayama can help to control high blood pressure.
In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, hypertension, commonly known as high blood pressure, is on the rise. Our state of mind, clouded by emotions such as anger, frustration, irritation, restlessness, and stress, contribute to the risk of hypertension. Moreover, the constant hustle often leaves us forgetting to relax, a significant factor underlying this condition. Faulty food habits and a lack of exercise also play a role. In light of these concerns, it becomes crucial to explore techniques that can effectively reduce high blood pressure. One such approach is through the practice of Pranayama, ancient yogic breathing exercises. Let us explore the best breathing exercises for hypertension and their therapeutic benefits.
1. Yogendra Pranayama No.4
Yogendra Pranayama No.4 is a specialised breathing technique that emphasises deep abdominal breathing to induce relaxation and alleviate stress-related factors contributing to hypertension. Yogendra Pranayama No.4 promotes diaphragmatic breathing, triggers the relaxation response, and assists in reducing blood pressure. Here’s how to practice this technique:
* Assume a comfortable seated position and place your hands on your lower abdomen, just above the navel
* Inhale deeply, allowing the abdomen to expand outward as the lower lungs fill with air
* Exhale slowly and completely, allowing the abdomen to contract inward and gently release the air
* Repeat this rhythmic deep abdominal breathing for 5 to 10 minutes daily.
Rechaka, derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘exhalation’, is a Paranyama technique that focuses on controlled and prolonged exhalation. It aids in releasing tension, reducing anxiety and fostering a calm state of mind and body. Here’s how to practice Rechaka:
* Sit in a cross-legged position such as sukhasana
* Close your eyes, and inhale deeply through the nose, filling your lungs with air
* Exhale slowly through the nose, extending the exhalation to a duration longer than the inhalation
* Aim for a 1:2 ratio, exhaling for twice as long as you inhale.
This extended exhalation induces deep relaxation and activates the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, resulting in a potential decrease in blood pressure levels. Engage in Rechaka for 5 to 7 minutes daily to experience its potential benefits.
3. Anuloma Viloma
Anuloma Viloma Paranyama, commonly referred to as alternate nostril breathing, is a widely recognized pranayama technique known for promoting harmony and balance within the body and mind. Here’s how to practise Anuloma Viloma.
* Find a comfortable seated position, allowing your body to relax
* Raise your right hand to your face with your eyes closed. Gently close your right nostril with your right thumb
* Inhale slowly and deeply through your left nostril, filling your lungs with air
* Once you have completed a full inhalation, release the closure on your right nostril and use your ring finger to close your left nostril
* Exhale slowly and fully through your right nostril
* Inhale through the right nostril, close it with your thumb, and exhale through the left nostril
* Continue this rhythmic pattern of alternate nostril breathing for several rounds.
Anuloma Viloma Pranayama, without breath retention, is particularly beneficial for individuals with hypertension. That is because it facilitates relaxation, stress reduction, and has the potential to regulate blood pressure levels.
By incorporating this pranayama into your daily routine alongside Yogendra Pranayama No. 4 and Rechaka, you can further amplify the advantages of your breathing practice in effectively managing hypertension.