Have trouble lowering blood pressure? Try breathing.
An ancient, yogic breathing practice (pranayama) called Nadi Shodhona has recently been shown to have cardiovascular benefits such as lowering blood pressure.
Nadi shodhona translates from Sanskrit to mean “channel washing” or “channel purifying.” Yogic regulation of breath focuses on moving energy called “prana” along nerve channels called meridians. According to yoga’s sister science, Ayurveda, prana can also be considered as breath. Nadi shodhona uses alternate nostril breath to stimulate the flow of prana, remove energetic blockages and balance the ida (the left, cooling) and pingala (the right, heating) nadis in the body.
So, how does this breath channel washing help lower blood pressure?
Research indicates that yogic pranayama can activate the parasympathetic nervous system for significant physiological effects. Several clinical studies have recently shown that nostril breathing regulates the systolic, diastolic and mean blood pressure. A study published in the Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback demonstrated the effects of right (RNYB), left (LNYB) and alternate nostril yoga breathing (ANYB) in 21 male patients. Results indicated that systolic and mean BP were lowered after LNYB and both systolic and diastolic pressure decreased after ANYB.
An additional study looking at the effects of ANYB on cardiorespiratory functions showed that pulse rate, respiratory rate and diastolic blood pressure were significantly reduced after patients performed ANYB for 15min daily in the morning for 4 weeks.
Further studies investigating the psychopsychiological effects Nadi Shodona's on memory, coordination, cardiovascular function and respiration are underway as this 5,000 year old practice comes into light as modern Natural Medicine.
Skeptical? Try alternate nostril breathing and see the effects for yourself. The Art of Living Foundation offers a wonderful video attached to this article on how to perform Nadi Shodhona.