A recent article looked at numerous studies on breathing exercises to better cardiovascular health, and concluded that the addition of “slow breathing” exercises can help lower heart rate (HR) and blood pressure (BP). “Slow-breathing” can encompass a wide array of various breathing techniques all aimed to help gain a mindful awareness of a more relaxed and evened pace of breathing, and increased parasympathetic tone (which is the part of the nervous system that enables us to relax). Mindful breathing is known to help with anxiety, insomnia, and stress, as well as many other health conditions. Breathing exercises help the body regain rhythm and poise, and bring awareness into the present moment, where healing can take place.

Recent Studies Showed that Slow Breathing Can Lower BP as much as 10 Points over a Few Months

Since our hearts are so overburdened with stress and sorrow, it can be beneficial to use breathing exercises to take the time to connect, and to soothe this vital organ. There are many breathing exercises which are beneficial, as long as the diaphragm is being engaged, to really utilize the muscles of respiration, which in turn helps the abdomen relax as well as the shoulders and neck muscles.

These recent studies showed that slow breathing practiced twice a day can lower BP as much as 10 points over only a few months.

Here is a Heart Centered Breathing Exercise which has been Popularized by HeartMath:

Allow yourself some amount of time; 10 minutes, 5 minutes, 3 minutes – whatever amount of time YOU feel comfortable committing to.

Sit comfortably with your feet firmly placed on the ground, your hands gently placed in your lap, and your back straight, yet not rigidly poised. You should be comfortable.

Next, focus on your heart. This is a heart-focused breathing exercise. Direct your attention to the center of your chest, or slightly to the left, where your heart sits anatomically. You may even place your hands over your heart if it helps maintain your attention there during the duration of your breathing.

As you begin to breathe, imagine breathing into your heart. Imagine your heart expanding, as your lungs expand, filling with life. As you exhale, imagine you’re exhaling through your heart, as your lungs contract, and relax. Attempt to find an even rhythm whereby each breath is roughly the same length. It is more important that each breath is easy and relaxed than super deep and long, though ideally, a 4 – 6 second inhalation and 4 -6 second exhalation is recommended. Unlabored, relaxed, and even breathing is FAR MORE important than the length.

If you, or someone you know is struggling with high blood pressure, this may be a valuable tool to explore. It is simple, easy to implement, and most importantly, FREE.

Image Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_fizkes’>fizkes / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

Node Smith, associate editor for NDNR, is a fifth year naturopathic medical student at NUNM, where he has been instrumental in maintaining a firm connection to the philosophy and heritage of naturopathic medicine amongst the next generation of docs. He helped found the first multi-generational experiential retreat, which brings elders, alumni, and students together for a weekend campout where naturopathic medicine and medical philosophy are experienced in nature. Three years ago he helped found the non-profit, Association for Naturopathic ReVitalization (ANR), for which he serves as the board chairman. ANR has a mission to inspire health practitioners to embody the naturopathic principles through experiential education. Node also has a firm belief that the next era of naturopathic medicine will see a resurgence of in-patient facilities which use fasting, earthing, hydrotherapy and homeopathy to bring people back from chronic diseases of modern living; he is involved in numerous conversations and projects to bring about this vision. 

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