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Breathing technique can lower stress, blood pressure and keep the heart healthy

Alternate nostril breathing, also known in Sanskrit as Nadī Shodhana, is said to help clear your energy channels and bring about inner balance.

Nadī refers to the energy that circulates throughout your body, while Shodhana refers to purifying or cleansing.

Benefits from the practice include feelings of well-being, improve memory, stress relief, and an increase physical relaxation.

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“You do it by isolating each nostril, breathing in through only one of them at a time and then exhaling through the other,” says integrative medicine specialist Dr Melissa Young.

She added: “Like all breathing techniques, alternate nostril breathing is very calming.

“But you may also find that it leads you to clearer, brighter concentration and higher levels of energy.”

Lowers blood pressure helps with heart health and reduces stress levels

In a study published in the National Library of Medicine, the effect of modified slow breathing exercises on stress was investigated.

Research involved around a hundred healthy male volunteers were randomised into a control group or a slow breathing group.

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The slow breathing group trained for 30 minutes a day, five times a week for 12 weeks.

Researchers noted an improvement in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and perceived stress level decrease.

“Twelve weeks of modified slow breathing exercise reduced perceived stress and improved the cardiovascular parameters,” noted the study.

It concluded: “The above results indicate that our modified slow breathing exercise is effective in reducing stress and improving the cardiovascular parameters.”

How to do it

Dr Young offers a step-by-step guide which includes:

  • To start, exhale through your mouth, making a “whooshing” sound
  • Bring your right hand up to your nose, with your index finger hovering over your left nostril and your thumb hovering over your right nostril
  • Use your thumb to block your right nostril. Inhale through your left nostril
  • Use your index finger to block your left nostril. At this point, both nostrils should be held closed
  • With both nostrils blocked, hold your breath for a beat or two
  • Release your thumb to unblock your right nostril and exhale
  • Take a pause at the bottom of your exhale. Then, keeping your left nostril closed, inhale through your right nostril
  • Use your thumb to block off your right nostril. With both nostrils held closed, hold your breath again for a beat or two
  • Release your index finger to unblock your left nostril and exhale.

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