Top 3 Breathing Exercises for lowering High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is one of the leading health issues that people of different ages suffer across the world. Looking only at the US, 1 in every 3 adults across the country suffers from high blood pressure. What’s troubling is that only less than 50 percent of these people with hypertension have it under control. This means that such patients have more probability of severe cardiac diseases in the future. In this post, I have compiled one of the most effective Breathing Exercises for lowering High Blood Pressure.

According to recent studies and researchers, hypertension is a growing problem and can be caused by various factors including high levels of sodium intake, obesity, lack of physical activity and smoking. One other reason and most common these days, for hypertension is stress. As people are getting busier each day their regard for their own well being is growing thinner; leading them to overstrain their bodies, that as a result can cause various lifestyle diseases like hypertension, Coronary heart disease, and diabetes.

Fortunately, this is one issue can be dealt with the right measures. There are allopathic, homeopathic and various alternative ways to lower high blood pressure. One of these ways is through breathing exercises (Exercises recommended by Yoga Practitioners)!

Since the low supply of oxygen to the brain and body can raise the blood pressure, the quickest way to lower it is to change your breathing patterns. With more oxygen in your bloodstream, the heart has to work less hard which in turn lowers the blood pressure.

What is Normal Blood Pressure?

Before we move on to learning the Breathing Exercises for lowering High Blood Pressure, we all should know the difference between good and bad blood pressure. Since its basic understanding is essential, we will start by explaining what blood pressure is.

Blood pressure is the measure of pressure exerted by the blood against the blood vessels as it travels through them to various parts of the body. This pressure can be affected and increased by various factors such as high blood volume, elevated blood flow coming from the heart due to stress or other reasons; and hardened blood vessels as a result of age and other diseases. Blood pressure also increases if the person has clogged vessels, as blood has to exert extra force in order to pass through narrow passages.

One can measure the blood pressure at home, or go to a physician to get it checked using a sphygmomanometer. The readings for blood pressure are measured using two different points and are communicated as fractions; for example 120/80 mm Hg. The higher number or point is called the systolic pressure and it measures the pressure of the blood surging into your blood vessels when your heart contracts or squeezes. While the lower number in the fraction is called the diastolic pressure that measures the pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is at rest.

According to the American Heart Association, the ranges for blood pressure are as follows :

Blood Pressure Category Systolic (mm HG) (upper number) Diastolic (mm Hg) (lower number)
Normal < 120 mm Hg and < 80 mm HG
Elevated 120 – 129 mm Hg and <80 mm HG
High Blood Pressure

(Hypertension) Stage 1

130-139 mm Hg or 80-89 mm Hg
High Blood Pressure

(Hypertension) Stage 2

140 mm Hg or Higher or 90 mm Hg or Higher
High Blood Pressure

(Hypertensive Crisis)

Consult your Doctor Immediately

>180 mm Hg and/or > 120 mm Hg

The trickiest part is that hypertension or high blood pressure does not exhibit any symptoms until the problem becomes severe causing serious health conditions including heart attack and stroke. That’s why cardiologists recommend that you get your blood pressure checked regularly to catch it in the pre-hypertension phase i.e. when the readings are between 120/80 mm Hg and 139/89 mm Hg, so it can be managed easily.

There are several methods for lowering high blood pressure and stabilizing it. From prescription medications for severe cases to natural remedies for mild cases of hypertension, there is a way of controlling it for every patient. What is important is to take immediate action to lower your blood pressure if your readings are even a little bit outside the normal range.

One of the more natural methods for lowering high blood pressure is through breathing exercises. I am not asking you to stop your blood pressure medicine altogether and to rely on these breathing exercises. But such exercises, if practiced regularly can drastically decrease the dose of antihypertensive medication. In mild to moderate cases, the patients have experienced complete withdrawal of medications by regular practice of breathing or yogic exercises.

Breathing Exercises for lowering High Blood Pressure

Breathing exercises have been studied and approved by many experts and researchers to not only keep the mind calm and body functioning at its best, but also to lower high blood pressure. The regulation of breathing allows the bloodstream to get more oxygen easily, lowering the activity and pressure your heart has to exert.

In order to control the pressure on your heart and blood vessels, all you need to do is to rely on a certain way of breathing. In fact, the FDA has approved a Biofeedback device as a non-pharmacological adjuvant treatment for lowering high blood pressure. This device is used by individuals to regulate their breathing cycles to under 10 per minute and accustom their body to longer exhalations. The studies showed that such device with regular use can lower high blood pressure as much as a low dose pill would have. This study and success of the device became the ultimate proof for the role of breathing exercises of being beneficial and functional for treating high blood pressure.

But, the use of the device is not mandatory to reap the benefits of breathing exercises. There are numerous breathing exercises for various levels of practitioners to help them treat hypertension.

Manipulating your system to modify your breathing patterns in order to reduce hypertension can take a certain amount of time and practice.

Discussed below are exercises for all three levels of difficulty, i.e. beginner, intermediate and difficult, these exercises help people with high blood pressure, and also build their respiratory system to be more efficient.

Breathing Exercises for Beginners:

For people who have never practiced breathing exercises, particularly for lowering blood pressure, practicing the following three exercises will be beneficial.

1. Equal Breathing also called as “Sama Vritti”

Practiced by yogis and meditation enthusiasts to gain stillness and balance of their consciousness through regulation of breathing, Sama Vritti or equal ratio breathing is the easiest breathing exercise for beginners.

How to do it:

The exercise is pretty simple and is the basic level of pranayama for beginners. To start the exercise: you need to inhale through the nose-counting 1 to 4, and then exhale through the nose for a count of four. Breathing in and out through the nose adds natural resistance to the breath, bringing the body back to its normal state. after practicing this exercise for some time, one can do the same exercise for 6 or 8 counts.

The goal of the practice is to make your lungs inhale more oxygen during a cycle in order to calm your nervous system, reduce hypertension and increase focus.

When to do it:

The simple answer is, anytime and anywhere you feel comfortable doing it. But this exercise is most effective when it is practiced right before you go to bed. The systematic breathing pattern relieves your tense nerves, reduces hypertension and helps take your mind off distractions, preparing you for better sleep.

Video Credit – Michelle Brown

2. Progressive Relaxation Technique

This technique Uses the whole body in harmonized collaboration with your breathing, this technique not only reduces your blood pressure but also releases the tension in stiff muscles.

How to do it:

In order to reduce muscle tension and lower blood pressure, start by closing your eyes followed by tensing and relaxing each muscle group, for 2-3 seconds each. Start with your feet and toes, moving up to your calves, knees, thighs, rear, chest, arms, hands, neck, jaw and the eyes. You need to do this all while maintaining deep and slow breathing. Take in a deep slow breath through your nose while tensing your muscle, and count till 5, then slowly exhale through your nose and release the tensed muscle.

When to do it:

Like Sama Vritti, you can do this exercise anytime and anywhere you feel comfortable practicing it.

Video Credit – Mark Connelly

3. Abdominal Breathing Technique

Engaging the core, particularly your diaphragm with your breathing is practiced to expand the capacity of your lungs and get your core stronger.

How to do it:

Find yourself a comfortable spot and your favorite sitting position and start the exercise by placing one hand on the chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath in through your nose, making sure to inflate your abdomen (not the chest) with substantial air to stretch your lungs. Slowly exhale through the nose and let your diaphragm deflate. Try to do 6 to 8 slow breaths per minute for 10 to 15 minutes each day to achieve quick results.

When to do it:

Like the other breathing techniques, this one can be practiced anytime and anywhere you feel comfortable doing it. But it is beneficial to practice it right before a big event where you might get stressed.

Video Credit – Be The Change Yoga

Breathing Exercises for Intermediate Practitioners:

The following two breathing techniques are perfect for people who have either become used to the beginner techniques or want to find something more advanced:

1. Alternate Nostril Breathing also called as “Nadi Shodhana”

Alternating the inhalation and exhalation between the two nostrils, Nadi Shodhana is practiced by people to achieve purification through an even flow or channel of breathing.

How to do it:

Start by sitting in a comfortable pose, hold your right nostril with the thumb of your right hand and take a deep breath through the left nostril. When you reach your peak of inhalation, close the left nostril with the ring finger of your right hand, holding your breath for 1-2 seconds; then remove the thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Repeat the pattern, this time inhaling through the right nostril and exhaling through the left one.

When to do it:

Whenever you feel the need to focus or feel more awake and to release some tension from your body, that is the right time to practice this technique. It will clear your airflow and increase the oxygen supply to your lungs.

Video Credit – Yoga With Adriene

2. Guided Visualization Technique

Imagining a happy place and picturing yourself in a space of utmost relaxation, in this way you can use your breathing to guide your brain to let go of anxiety and stress.

How to do it:

Heading straight to your happy place, with the help of a coach or recording as your guide, try to shut your mind off and focus on the pleasant and positive image in front of you. While you transport your thoughts to a more positive environment, take deep and slow breaths through your nose and connect your mind to your body.

When to do it:

You can pretty much do this exercise anywhere and anytime you are comfortable and can safely close your eyes.

Video Credit – Relaxforawhile

Breathing Exercises for Advanced Practitioners:

For the practitioners who have gone through the motions of the first two levels, this technique is the most advanced form of breathing exercise.

Skull Shining Technique, also called as “Kapalbhati”

The word Kapalbhati is a combination of two Sanskrit words which translates to mean lighting or shining the skull. Meaning that this advanced form of yogic breathing is practiced to not only reduce blood pressure but also to invigorate and rejuvenate your mind and body.

How to do it:

The practice of this technique starts with a long, slow and deep inhale through the nose; followed by a quick and powerful exhale through the nose, generated from your lower belly. Start slow and get your body comfortable with the contraction, then increase the pace to 1 exhale-inhale every one to two seconds, for 10 breaths in total.

When to do it:

Frequently compared by veteran yogis to a shot of espresso, the best time to practice this technique is right after you wake up. Or you can practice it when you are feeling tired and tensed. A word of caution for this technique is that you should practice only if you have been practicing the exercises from the preceding levels. Once you are comfortable with the others and have seen some results, you can advance to start practicing the Kapalbhati technique.

Video Credit – Shemaroo

Bonus Advice

In order to lower your blood pressure naturally and achieve quick results by practicing the techniques mentioned above, you need to keep some important points in mind, which include:

  • Don’t try too hard. If you are uncomfortable at any point, take a step back.
  • Choose a place and pose where you feel comfortable. The idea is to let go of stress, not adding more.
  • Make it a routine. You can only see results when you practice the exercises regularly. Try to get 15-20 minutes of practice every day.

While stress, tension, and frustration are a part of life and will always be there. The good news is, so will your ability to control your breath. With these considerations in mind and practicing one of these exercises, you can achieve your goal of lowering your blood pressure naturally.

I would also recommend watching a video by my friend -Christian Goodman, explaining simple blood pressure exercises, proven to help lower your blood pressure below 120/80 – starting today…

6 Replies to “Top 3 Breathing Exercises for lowering High Blood Pressure”

  1. Very interesting but in the third video the girl speaks too fast, I´m from Brazil , i have difficulties to understand!

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