How Deep Breathing Can Lower Blood Pressure

How Deep Breathing Can Lower Blood Pressure

With the amount of stress in the world today, it is no wonder that elevated blood pressure readings are something that many people face during their lifetimes. In fact, nearly half of the American population has high blood pressure and unfortunately, many don’t even know.

High blood pressure can lead to a multitude of health problems and may increase an individual’s risk for severe health complications like heart attacks or strokes. While there are many treatment options on the market for people dealing with high blood pressure, prevention is the best approach.

Living an active lifestyle and eating a nutritious diet while lowering daily stress is a great way to keep your heart healthy and blood pressure within the normal range. But what if you could do something else to help lower blood pressure?

One of the greatest tools for your overall health tends to go under utilized— breathing. But, can deep breathing lower blood pressure? What breathing exercises can I do to help decrease stress and how do I incorporate them into my daily life?

With as little as 5 minutes a day, breathwork can change your life, improve help, and may even help lower blood pressure.

What Is Breathwork?

Throughout history, cultures have emphasized the importance of breathing properly. While we may take something we do all day and night subconsciously for granted, breathing may hold the key to unlocking our highest potential.

Breathwork is more than just focusing on your breath. While some practices like meditation call upon the practitioner to focus on their breath which provides a sense of calm and creates a mental focal point, breathwork is all about the breath.

Breathwork is the intentional manipulation of a breathing pattern to achieve a desired outcome.

During breathwork sessions, the practitioner will focus solely on the act of breathing. They will call attention to their abdomen to ensure that they are inhaling properly while also making sure that they are exhaling completely. Each session may use multiple breathing patterns and techniques all of which require the practitioner to intentionally change the way they breath.

While breathwork can be done as a stand alone therapy, you can find remnants of breathwork in many different areas already in your life. If you take a yoga class, you will find that you breathe in during some poses while exhaling in others, creating a flow. This also rings true in other physical activities like running, weightlifting, and swimming.

You also use breathwork as a pain management technique. Taking a deep breath before a painful experience or using breathing techniques during childbirth are great examples. The calming effects of breathwork can be felt when we breathe deeply before doing something that scares or intimidates us, such as presenting in front of a group or interacting with someone on a first date.

But what’s so great about breathwork and does deep breathing help lower blood pressure?

Breathwork and Mental Health

How does breathing affect blood pressure? The answer is really simple— breathwork can help improve mental and physical health.

Deep breathing and breathwork techniques have been found to help increase feelings of relaxation, thus decreasing feelings of stress. 

Stress may be a common cause for many illnesses and ailments affecting millions of people and may be causing underlying health issues. By reducing stress, we increase the body’s immune system, increase restful sleep, help improve cognitive function, and may even help lower or alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression.

Breathwork and Physical Health

Mental health often manifests in our physical health since the mind body connection is so strong. Poor sleep quality may reduce our body’s immune response, making us more susceptible to illnesses. Mental stress can also have detrimental effects on our physical bodies.

Does breathing affect blood pressure? Since breathwork can help lower symptoms of stress, yes breathing can have an affect on your blood pressure.

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress can cause a steep rise in blood pressure. But when stress goes away, blood pressure returns to what it was before the stress. However, short spikes in blood pressure can cause heart attacks or strokes and may also damage blood vessels, the heart and the kidneys over time.”

How To Do Breathwork

Before beginning a breathwork regime, it is best to check with your doctor to ensure you are healthy enough to safely perform the sessions if you have pre existing conditions. Since breathwork uses something we are all doing all the time, most people are able to begin and benefit from continued breathwork sessions.

You will want to choose the appropriate attire for your session. Loose fitting and comfortable clothes are important. It is vital that your clothes allow space for your abdomen to fully extend during inhales.

You can perform breathwork seated or lying down. It’s often best to keep water on hand as well. You can find trusted certified breathwork facilitators online to guide you throughout your journey, help keep you working toward your goals, and provide support during your breathwork sessions. 

Breathing Exercises To Lower Blood Pressure

While beginning and staying regular with your breathwork facilitator is the best way to see results, there are some basic breathing exercises you can do to lower blood pressure.

Since blood pressure spikes when you are stressed, taking some deep calming breaths is a great way to start. Breathing in for 5 counts, holding for 5 counts, and then exhaling for 5 counts is a simple exercise that can be done anywhere. Repeat this exercise at least 5 times for the full effect.

Does holding your breath lower blood pressure? While holding your breath on its own does not lower blood pressure, including breath holds during your breathwork sessions can help decrease stress which may help lower blood pressure.

Conclusion

Breathwork has been utilized by cultures for thousands of years as a way of calming the central nervous system, focusing the mind, and meditation. Today, more and more people are experiencing the benefits of breathwork on their mental and physical health.

Deep breathing and breathwork techniques may help lower blood pressure when used regularly and under the supervision of a trained and certified breathwork coach.

Since breathwork requires very little equipment and utilizes our breath, which we are already doing day in and day out, there is nothing stopping you from lowering your blood pressure and taking control of the stress in your life.

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