Breathing techniques to control hypertension: How Pranayama can help

On World Hypertension Day 2023, Indian yoga guru Dr Hansaji Yogendra suggests the most effective breathing exercises for hypertension. healthshots
Woman doing breathing exercise
Practise breathing techniques to feel active on a dull day. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Team Health Shots Updated: 17 Oct 2023, 18:32 pm IST
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Take a deep breath! We often underestimate the importance of breathing exercises for health. Various studies have highlighted how slow and deep breathing is a fruitful alternative therapy for people fighting lifestyle conditions. One such health condition is hypertension or high blood pressure. According to Indian yoga guru Dr Hansaji Yogendra, practising certain breathing exercises for hypertension can have potential benefits in controlling high blood pressure.

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.

Abdominal breathing for hypertension
Try deep abdominal breathing to control high blood pressure. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

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.

2. Rechaka

Rechaka, derived from the Sanskrit word for ‘exhalation’, is a Pranayama 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.

Anoluma Viloma Pranayama for hypertension
Breathing exercises can help you reduce your BP.. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Anuloma Viloma

Anuloma Viloma Pranayama, 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.


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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.

Importance of Pranayama for health

Even dedicating just 10-15 minutes a day to practice pranayamas can have a profound positive impact on your body and mind. Pranayamas such as Yogendra Pranayama No.4, Anuloma Viloma and Rechaka, provide techniques to relax your breath, which in turn relaxes your entire being instantly. It is high time we prioritize ourselves and carve out moments in our day for self-care. Embrace the potential benefits of these Pranayamas, allowing yourself to regain control of your hypertension and experience the transformative power of breath in promoting overall health and well-being.

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