Sunday, May 28, 2017

How Breathing Helps Lower Blood Pressure

In Ayurveda it is taught that the life force (prana) within us is our breath.  One of the many natural healing modalities in Ayurveda is pranayama, which means the regulation of the breath through certain techniques and exercises.  Ayurveda uses the breath to help heal people both physically and mentally.  Incorporating breathing techniques into one's daily routine is easy, inexpensive and provides many positive benefits.

Modern medicine and science have been studying the effect of breathing on health, and the findings have been very promising.  One of the leading causes of death in western civilization is cardiovascular disease.  Generally, hypertension, which is also known as high blood pressure, is one of the biggest risk factors for developing cardiovascular or heart disease.  High blood pressure occurs when the force of a person's blood against the artery walls is too high.  The heart is working too hard and the body becomes weakened from this high stress state.  Doctors usually treat this condition with prescription medication and instruct the patient to exercise more, reduce sodium intake and try to slow down (have less stress).

However, a new form of treatment has been found helpful - breathing exercises.  The breathing exercises have been shown to lower blood pressure.  While breathing exercises can lower blood pressure in the moment, it seems to only be a temporary fix for adults. The authors of the study felt to prevent and eliminate high blood pressure, the breathing exercises needed to be practiced in one's youth.  As one ages, the neurons become set and the synaptic interactions have become more fixed.

Adults can still benefit from breathing exercises and move their high blood pressure in a positive direction.  Controlled, purposeful breathing is calming because it doesn’t activate specific neurons in the brain that communicate with the body's arousal center. The reason rapid, shallow breathing is so stress-inducing is because it activates neurons that trigger arousal, which typically translates into worry and anxiety.  The deep breathing slows down the heart rate and digestion while promoting a state of calm.  Further, the body learns how to adapt to stress more positively, which keeps the heart healthier, stronger and more resilient.

Having a way to lessen and possibly eliminate high blood pressure and stress that is natural, free and practiced for hundreds of years is a good thing.  Ayurveda has always known this. Go ahead, take a deep breath and feel your mood shift instantaneously.

Stay healthy & well,
Lisa

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