Blood pressure is the new-age affliction that is increasing our risk of cardio-vascular diseases.

The good part is that it is preventable and controllable if some habits and personal attitudes are corrected. Yoga can help rein it in and I have seen it improve the health condition of my brother Ram.

In 2008, his diabetes had shot up to 666 and his systolic BP was 200. He was put on Telsatin 40 mg and insulin injections of 15 cc. He got into regular yoga practice and also controlled his diet. He kept up a disciplined regime of diet, yoga and regular watch on his BP and sugar readings at home and with his GP. In a year, the doctor reduced his medication to Telsatin to 20 mg. Also, he strictly followed a diet of 50 per cent vegetables, 25 per cent protein and 25 per cent carbohydrates.

One of the practices incorporated in his yoga practice for BP was Ujjayi pranayama. This is a simple pranayama which calms the mind and manages blood pressure. It is yet again a pointer towards how the yogis, through experiential and intuitive knowledge, controlled the various systems of the body.

How does this practice work?

There are carotid sinuses inside the throat on both sides of the main artery through which blood flows from the heart to the brain. These regulate heartbeat, blood flow and pressure. Whenever there is a fall or rise in the blood pressure, these carotid sinuses send a message to the brain to increase or decrease the heart rate and blood pressure. The brain reacts by increasing or decreasing the heart beats and narrowing or dilating the arterioles to manage the blood pressure. In Ujjayi pranayama, we deliberately constrict our throat area, prompting the carotid sinuses into thinking that there is pressure build-up. They send a message to the brain to lessen the heart beat and decrease the pressure in the arterioles. Thus this helps bring down the blood pressure.

Also, the practice of Ujjayi pranayama ensures that the person is intently watching the flow of breath in the throat area and hearing his own breathing like a soft, gentle snoring. In an effort to do this, he achieves thoughtlessness. It stills the body, with lowering of heart rate and fall in BP. It cancels out anxiety, stress and tension.


· You can sit in any meditative pose or sit relaxed on a chair with back support. You may even lie down on the bed and do this practice.

· Relax your whole body.

· Watch your own breathing. Be aware of every single inhalation and exhalation.

· Then consciously make your breath deep and slow.

· After a few rounds of this, slightly contract your glottis so that you can hear your own breathing, like gentle snoring, and feel the breath inside your throat area and not inside your nostrils.

· Compress the throat area just enough to put mild pressure on the carotid sinuses.

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· Keep breathing through the throat area for as many rounds as is comfortably possible.

· When this practice is done at night, it works as an antidote for insomnia.

Along with this, it is important to control your diet with lower salt, controlled intake of stimulants like smoking, too much tea or coffee, alcohol and over-eating. A diet of fresh fruits and vegetables and getting good sleep will help you get rid of BP, especially in the initial stages. Please do not stop or change any medicines without consulting your doctor and without checking parameters of hypertension.

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