Our heart is constantly impacted in a negative way owing to the bad habits that we develop over time and from sitting all day in front of the desk to overindulging in alcohol to stressing too much, all these habits not only increase the chances of heart disease but also worsen existing heart conditions. Though modern day medical science has made immense progress to treat heart diseases, going the natural way plays a major role in maintaining and regulating cardiac functions and one such natural process is Pranayama or the science of breath control.
It only takes a few minutes to perform Pranayama which immediately lowers blood pressure and heart rate. Daily practice of Pranayama can help permanently decrease blood pressure and heart rate which means that the heart works slower and the wear and tear are also reduced but the best part about Pranayama is that it can be practised at any place without any equipment.
How Pranayama can be effective for heart health?
Heart attacks usually occur when an artery that supplies blood and oxygen to the heart is blocked hence, fatty deposits build up over time which forms plaques in the arteries of the heart. When a plaque ruptures, it results in the formation of a blood clot that can block arteries, leading to a heart attack.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle ahead of World Heart Day,, Dr Rajeev Rajesh, Chief Yoga Officer at Jindal Naturecure Institute, shared, “Research has revealed that various forms of Pranayama can produce different effects, in which slow type of Pranayama techniques can be useful for the prevention and management of heart disorders. Also, as per a study, 15 days of Pranayama practice along with meditation helped reduce resting pulse rate, diastolic blood pressure mean arterial blood pressure and systolic blood pressure in 50 participants within the age group of 20-60 years. Deep breathing techniques can help uproot the cause of heart diseases and even reverse their course. Pranayama also helps to reset the autonomic nervous system, decreasing arousals to external stimuli and thus reducing anger and hostility.”
Gushing over some of the benefits of Pranayama, he highlighted that it results in:
a) Reduction in heart rate and blood pressure
b) Relief from anxiety and stress
c) Regulates oxygen supply to the heart
d) Improves sleep
e)Strengthens the lung muscles and reduces breathlessness
Dr Rajeev Rajesh spilled the beans on the different types of Pranayama to improve heart health. these include –
1. Anuloma Viloma
Method: Sit erect in a comfortable meditative posture. Place the hands on the knees in a mudra and gently close the eyes. Adopt nasika mudra. Close the right nostril with the thumb and slowly inhale through the left nostril. Release the thumb from the right nostril and exhale slowly. Now inhale from the right nostril. Release the ring finger from the left nostril and exhale slowly from the left nostril. The exhalation must be a little longer than inhalation. This completes one round. Practice 10 rounds.
Method: Sit erect in a comfortable meditative posture. Press the flap of the ear with the thumb. Place the index finger on the forehead and gently press the eyes and sides of the nostrils with the remaining fingers. Keep the mouth closed throughout the practice. Inhale deeply through the nose. While exhaling, produce soft humming sound from the throat and nose and feel its vibration in the brain. Practice 5 rounds.
3. OM Uccharan
Method: Sit erect in a comfortable meditative posture. Chant 3/4th time ‘O’ and 1/4th time ‘M’, ie, OM with loud echo, thus vibrating the brain nerves. Practice three rounds.
Dr Rajeev Rajesh cautioned, “For people with chronic medical conditions, medical advice from a doctor is necessary before starting the practice. There should not be any strain during pranayama practice. Always breathe through the nose unless specifically stated. Keep the breath rhythmic and steady. It should not be practised when the lungs are congested. Pranayama should be practised at least three hours after meals. When practised in combination with regular asanas, healthy balanced diet and a positive mindset, Pranayama can bring immense benefits to the heart and make life more enjoyable but before starting the practice, it is always advisable to seek professional advice and guidance.”