ByZarafshan Shiraz, New Delhi

Breathing exercises are crucial for maintaining heart health and according to experts, Yoga offers a natural and safe approach to address various health concerns, including prevention, treatment and recovery. This extends to heart health, where Yoga combines techniques like pranayama, mudras and asanas to provide significant benefits.

Pranayama for improved blood circulation: 6 essential breathing exercises of Yoga for heart health (Image by Freepik)

In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar, Founder of Akshar Yoga Kendraa, shared, “Adopting a positive lifestyle plays a pivotal role in supporting overall health. Neglecting the well-being of your heart and brain can lead to severe conditions such as stroke, paralysis, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, acute stress, and anxiety. Therefore, incorporating Yoga practices and positive lifestyle changes is essential for your heart’s well-being.”

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Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar said, “Pranayama is a key component of Yoga and involves breath control techniques that can contribute significantly to heart health.” Here are some pranayama practices that he recommended, which you can gradually integrate into your daily fitness routine to promote a healthy heart –

  1. Bhastrika Pranayama: Inhale deeply, filling your lungs with air. Exhale completely. Maintain a 1:1 ratio for inhalation and exhalation. For instance, if you inhale for 6 counts, exhale for 6 counts.
  2. Brahmari Pranayama – Bee Breath: Position your thumbs on the ‘Tragus’ (external flap outside your ear). Place your index finger on your forehead, your middle finger on the Medial Canthus, and your ring finger on the corner of your nostril. Inhale deeply to fill your lungs with air. While exhaling, create a buzzing sound resembling a bee’s hum, like “mmmmmmm…”. Keep your mouth closed throughout the practice and feel the vibration of the sound spreading throughout your body.
  3. Vratakar Pranayama: Inhale deeply, expanding your lungs. Avoid disturbing your stomach area. Visualise three circles in front of your face. Use your right hand to draw imaginary circles close to your nose. Imagine the air flowing into your nose like a spring. With a single breath, draw three clockwise circles in front of your nose, then exhale. Start with a few circles and gradually increase to 100 as you become proficient in this technique.
  4. Anulom Vilom Pranayama (Alternate Nostril Breathing): Gently close your right nostril with your thumb and inhale through your left nostril. Close your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril, then close it to exhale through your left nostril. This completes one cycle; repeat for 10 minutes.
  5. Kapal Bhati Pranayama – Bellows Breath/Skull Shining Breathing: Inhale normally and focus on exhaling with short, rhythmic, and forceful breaths. Use your stomach to expel all the air from the diaphragm and lungs by compressing it. Inhalation should happen automatically as you release your stomach.
  6. Udgeeth Pranayama: Sit comfortably in a posture like Sukhasan, Ardhapadmasan, or Padmasana. Straighten your back and close your eyes. Place your palms on your knees facing up in Prapthi Mudra. Inhale deeply to fill your lungs. While exhaling, form a circle with your lips and chant “Oooooooommm” for as long as possible. Feel the vibration of the sound resonating throughout your body.

Himalayan Siddhaa Akshar advised, “Maintaining a nutritious diet is another vital aspect of heart health. Consuming fresh, home-cooked meals and avoiding processed foods can enhance your immunity and support your heart’s well-being. A robust immune system helps protect you from infections and other illnesses, ensuring your overall health and longevity.”