Shammi, my blood pressure is constantly around 170/70 from last two days, said Prince smilingly as he entered the Yogalaya. A 67 year elderly young man (elderly based on the chronological age; young as he does not allow age as a medium for any kind of restriction), Prince had joined Yoga class with sole intention of managing his wellbeing on his own so that he could bid good bye to all his existing medications. The beautiful journey of his yogic life had resulted in his showing a decent progress towards achieving his aim. Therefore, this statement was a shock to me.
I sat him down comfortably and started him off on basic breathing exercises. We commenced with ‘AUM’ chanting, followed by Chandrabhedan breathing, Ujjayi breathing, Nadi Shodhan Kriya and concluded with Bhramari Rechak. We ended the session with 10 rounds of ‘AUM’ chanting.
Upon taking his BP after the session, his BP was down to 145/80. Both of us sighed with relief. His BP at the time of writing this blog is 139/68.
Chandrabhedan (Stage -1)
In Hatha Yoga, left nostril is associated with our body’s cooling energy, corresponds to the Ida nadi and is symbolized by the characteristics of the Moon. By activating left nostril through Chandrabhedan Pranayama, we imbibe those qualities in us.
Block your right nostril softly, inhale deeply from left nostril, block your left nostril, unblock your right nostril and exhale from the right nostril. This is one cycle of chandrabhedan. Alternatively, you can choose to inhale and exhale from the left nostril alone.
Begin your practice with 20-30 seconds or 10-20 rounds and then gradually increase the duration as per your comfort. Chandrabhedan practice activates parasympathetic nervous system, calms down your brain, releases headache, helps control high blood pressure, lessens excess body heat and gradually brings your stress, tension & anxiety within control.
Make sure you are on empty stomach. Avoid this practice if you have low blood pressure, asthma, cold, cough or if the nostrils are blocked.
Check complete details of chandrabhedan at……….
Though there is no mention of Chandrabhedan in Hathapradipika and Gheranda Samhita, it is believed that such practices and techniques, though not mentioned, still form part of continuing tradition.
Prince did Chandrabhedan religiously for 5 minutes and waited for my next instructions. It was time to do Ujjayi Pranayama next in the most basic way without any kind of exhaustion.
Ujjayi Pranayama (Stage -1)
Ujjayi Pranayama is part of one of the eight Pranayamas described by sage Svatmaram in HathaPradipika. The word “Ujjayi” means “victorious”.
Choose any comfortable sitting posture. Your body should be relaxed and spine neutral. Slightly contract the back of the throat, inhale upto the brim as if you are inhaling to accumulate your breath in the throat region and force your accumulated breath out with a soft release. There is a partial contraction of the glottis which creates a light snoring sound during inhalation as well as exhalation. It may take a while to develop this practice. In case, you are not able to engage your throat, slightly drop your chin down towards the chest and you will have a better grasp of throat involvement.
Ujjayi is one of the most recommended pranayama that brings high blood pressure immediately in control and keeps it in a balanced state.
For full detail on Ujjayi Pranayama, check…………………
Prince had started feeling much better by this time. As he finished his Ujjayi Pranayama, Nadi Shodhan Kriya and Bhramari were next in the queue.
Commonly known as Anulom Vilom or alternate nostril breathing, Nadi Shodhan Kriya is a cleansing process which cleanses the nadis. Nadi Shodhan becomes Anulom Vilom Pranayama when we start applying kumbhak (holding breath) during our practice.
Assume Pranav Mudra; press right nostril with right thumb, inhale from the left nostril, exhale from the right nostril, again inhale from the right nostril and exhale from the left nostril. This is one cycle. Repeat 5 cycles to begin with. Gradually increase the number and try to double your exhalation with regular practice.
Nadi Sodhan Kriya can be practiced by anyone as per their comfort. It activates parasympathetic nervous system thereby establishing homeostasis in the body. It relaxes the mind, the body and helps control high BP as well. You can check detailed Nadi Sodhan Kriya at…
Bhramari Rechak (Stage -1)
Bhramari refers to humming bee sound and Bhramari rechak to female humming bee sound during exhalation. Cup your eyes softly with your palms, inhale, immediately block your ears with thumbs, and then exhale creating the female bee sound. The sound will resemble ‘Um’ of the syllable AUM.
Bhramari is soothing to mind and body. It calms one completely with the vibrations of the humming bee sound. One starts feeling a tranquilized effect on the mind which brings all the tension and anxiety under control. Helps keep High Blood Pressure in check and also helps in case of sleep disorder or insomnia.
I recommended that Prince repeat the whole series of practice every single day to get a better grip on his BP which he continued and witnessed great stability in his condition.
Most of the above mentioned pranayamas (stage 1 where we have not got into breath retention) create parasympathetic system dominance and helps maintain homeostasis in the body. That was the reason, why Prince started feeling better with these practices and his blood pressure started showing positive result.
Note: The moment we use the word Pranayama, it means we need to apply kumbhak i.e. hold the breath. The above mentioned pranayamas have been given in the form of manipulation of breathing to get maximum benefits but without kumbhak (i.e. breath retention as breath retention can be harmful in case of high BP).
Also practicing these pranayamas alone does not guarantee complete control. This is just one of the ways to proceed further, not to forget regulation of your eating pattern as well as other lifestyle elements in the whole process.
Word of Caution
On going into the details of why he could have seen a sudden rise in blood pressure, Prince confessed that he had stopped his blood pressure medication abruptly without referring to his doctor. Lifestyle changes do help one get off medication but it is important to do so gradually and in consultation with your doctor to avoid any kind of complications.
Disclaimer: The above mentioned technique has worked greatly in case of High BP with my students. However, I am fully aware of their medical / family history and their lifestyle quality hence make changes as and when required to suit their specific needs. Do check with yoga expert before preceding further to make sure that it does not contraindicate with other existing problems.
Shammi Gupta, founder of Shammi’s Yogalaya holds an MA in Yoga Shastra, is a certified Yogic Therapist and Naturopath, has completed an Advanced Yoga Course and holds a Diploma in Yoga Education from Mumbai University. She is a certified trainer from American College of Sports Medicine and holds an MBA in HR & MBA in Finance from The University of Akron, Ohio, USA. She conducts Health Awareness Workshops for Corporate, Yogasana Workshops for Athletes and Yoga Therapy Workshops on different medical issues for patients. Among the celebrities Shammi trains are eminent personalities from the film and television industry and corporate world.