Practise Pranayama for heart health everyday!

The year 2023 saw many people in their 30s and 40s suffering heart attacks. One way to avoid the risk is by practising yoga. You can do Pranayama for better heart health.

The year 2023 witnessed many people under the age of 50 succumbing to heart attacks. In February 2023, former Miss Universe and actress Sushmita Sen shocked her fans when she shared that she had a heart attack at the age of 47. Telugu actor Harikanth also suffered a heart attack and died at the age of 33 in July 2023. Actor Shreyas Talpade joined the list earlier this month when he was struck by a heart attack at the age of 47. As cases of heart attacks in young people are on the rise, it is necessary to make healthy lifestyle choices. You can start with doing pranayama for heart health.

What is pranayama?

Pranayama, which is an important component of yoga, signifies the deliberate practice of breath control. Originating from the Sanskrit words “prana,” meaning life force, and “ayama,” meaning control or expansion, pranayama involves consciously regulating the breath to achieve specific physical, mental and spiritual benefits.

Woman doing pranayama
A superb breathing technique for heart health. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What are the benefits of pranayama for heart?

When it is integrated into daily routine, pranayama can be extremely beneficial for your heart.

1. Increases oxygen intake

Many pranayama techniques emphasise deep and controlled breathing, enhancing oxygen intake. This supports the cardiovascular system by ensuring the heart pumps oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, says yoga and wellness coach Shivani Bajwa.

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2. Reduces stress and anxiety

Pranayama requires one to focus on slow and rhythmic breathing, which activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This induces relaxation, mitigating stress and anxiety, thereby positively impacting heart health.

3. Lowers blood pressure

Pranayama may help lower blood pressure. Controlled breathing exercises induce a calming effect on the cardiovascular system, contributing to reduced blood pressure levels.

4. Improves circulation

Pranayama practices emphasising breath awareness and control enhance blood circulation. This ensures the heart receives an ample supply of oxygen and nutrients, supporting its overall function.

5. Enhances respiratory efficiency

Conscious and deliberate breathing patterns promoted by pranayama contribute to improved respiratory efficiency. This, in turn, facilitates better oxygen exchange and supports cardiovascular health, says the expert.

6. Promotes mind-body connection

The mind-body connection emphasised in yoga, including pranayama, fosters awareness of breath and the present moment. This heightened awareness positively influences overall well-being, potentially benefiting heart health.

Types of pranayama for heart health

Several pranayama techniques are commonly recommended for overall well-being and cardiovascular health.

1. Dirga Pranayama

It involves slow and deep breaths. This enhances oxygen intake, promotes relaxation, and reduces stress, says Bajwa.

2. Nadi Shodhana

This type of Pranayama is about alternate nostril breathing. That means if you close off your right nostril, you need to inhale deeply through your left one and vice-versa. It balances energy flow, calms the mind and may help to balance the autonomic nervous system.

3. Kapalbhati Pranayama

A dynamic breathing exercise cleansing the lungs, energising the body, and stimulating the cardiovascular system. This involves inhaling deeply and exhaling forcefully through the nose while focusing on abdominal contractions.

Woman doing breathing exercise
The way you inhale and exhale are important for your heart. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

4. Bhramari Pranayama

Inhaling deeply and exhaling with a humming sound, this type of Pranayama is believed to have a calming effect on the nervous system, says the expert.

5. Bhastrika Pranayama

It involves rapid inhalations and exhalations. It is thought to increase energy, improve lung capacity and stimulate the cardiovascular system.

Tips to follow for Pranayama

To ensure a safe and effective pranayama practice, consider the following points.

  • Begin with simple techniques and progress gradually to advanced practices.
  • Be consistent, as consistency is key. Even a few minutes of daily practice can be beneficial.
  • Maintain good posture. Sit comfortably and upright for better airflow and focused awareness.
  • Listen to your body. Pay attention to your body’s response, and stop if you experience discomfort.
  • Breathe naturally. Allow the breath to flow naturally without force.
  • Avoid strained breathing
  • Do not push too hard, especially if you’re a beginner.
  • Choose a quiet, clean space for practice.

The best time to practice Pranayama is early morning, but you can do it anytime of the day. Listen to your body and practice at a time that feels comfortable and convenient for you. If you have specific health concerns, consult with your doctor or an experienced yoga instructor for personalised guidance.

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