Lowering blood pressure can be as easy as completing deep breathing exercises. A common cause for elevated or high blood pressure is stress, so deep breathing exercises can help reduce stress and, consequentially, your blood pressure.
Having high blood pressure can be dangerous as it causes damage to your arteries and heart. Over time, chronic high blood pressure can put additional stress on your arteries and heart, increasing your risk of a cardiovascular event such as heart attack or stroke.
Learning how to conduct deep breathing exercises is a natural way to help further reduce your blood pressure and keep your heart healthy. Below you will learn some of these tactics for promoting healthy blood pressure numbers through deep breathing.
How to get started with deep breathing exercises
Take a quiet moment to concentrate on your breathing – don’t change it, just simply breathe how you normally would. Do your lungs feel full? Has your belly risen? If you answered “no” to both questions, you’re not breathing deeply enough.
Diaphragmatic breathing – or deep breathing – is a useful technique to reduce stress. But why does it work exactly?
Deep breathing requires the air you breathe in to fill your lungs completely by entering your nasal passageways. This type of breathing needs the stomach to rise. This may seem unnatural, as the image of a flat tummy is so desirable that both men and women alike tighten their abdominal muscles limiting their ability to breathe deeply.
Shallow breathing – the style of breathing many of us use – does not allow for the diaphragm to complete its range of motion. This lack of air to the lower part of the lungs can lead to shortness of breath or even anxiety.
When we breathe deeply, not only do we take in more oxygenated air, it can also help lower blood pressure and slow down our heart beat (both rising during the times of stress).
If you want to reduce stress – or just improve your health – it’s a good idea to practice deep breathing. Although it seems simple enough, let us further explain how to properly conduct this technique.
Step 1: If possible, find a spot where it is quiet and you can relax. Feel free to either sit up tall or lie down.
Step 2: Take a normal breath and follow it up with a deep breath. You should feel your lungs expand and fill up with air. Likewise, your belly should rise with each deep breath. To release the breath, expel the air either through your mouth or nose – whatever is most comfortable – ensuring it is all out.
It’s important that you focus not only on your breath but also on how your body feels with each breath. Notice the way your abdomen grows and falls, and feel it getting larger as you take deeper breaths. You will begin to feel a sense of calm and in the moment. Stressful thoughts will begin slipping away as you count 1, 2, 3, 4 and back down 4, 3, 2, 1.
Lower blood pressure with breathing exercises
Below you will find different deep breathing techniques to help you naturally reduce stress and lower blood pressure.
Alternate nose breathing: Place yourself in a meditative pose and hold the right nostril down with your right thumb. Inhale deeply from the left nostril, and before exhaling close the left nostril and exhale through the right nostril. Continue this pattern for a few minutes.
Music-guided breathing: An FDA-approved device called RESPeRATE uses musical tones to guide deep abdominal breathing. The goal is to reduce the number of breaths to less than 10 a minute, and prolong exhalation.
Equal breathing: Begin by inhaling through your nose while counting to four and exhaling through your mouth for a count of four.
Abdominal breathing techniques: Place one hand on the chest and the other on the belly. Take a deep breath through the nose and ensure the diaphragm is enlarging, not the chest. Take six to 10 slow, deep breaths per minute for a total of 10 minutes.
Skull shining breath: Begin with a long, slow inhale and release the air through a quick powerful exhale generated from the lower belly. Once comfortable with this technique, you can speed it up to one inhale-exhale every one to two seconds for 10 breaths in total.
Progressive relaxation: Lay on your back with your eyes closed. For this technique, you are releasing tension in every part of the body. Work from the toes up. While maintaining a deep breath, tighten each body part and then release to promote relaxation. By the time you reach the head, you will be utterly relaxed.
Guided visualization: This is where you maintain a peaceful mental image while breathing.
Other benefits of deep breathing exercises for healthy life
Deep breathing has been hailed to improve many other aspects of health. Deep breathing can help with asthma, pregnancy, anxiety, exercise, sleep problems, reduce stress, promote muscle relaxation, improve oxygen delivery, release endorphins, promote detoxification, and even help manage panic attacks.
For these many reasons, it’s important to include deep breathing exercises into your daily routine.