Breathe To Help Reduce High Blood Pressure. Many people with mild to moderate Essential Hypertension can learn to lower their blood pressure by making simple lifestyle changes. Essential Hypertension is caused by increased tension in small arteries throughout the body. When muscles are tense due to stress or anxiety the sympathetic nervous system sends chemical messages of flight or flight response that in turn constrict the arteries and the blood pressure within them rises. Some people live in a chronic state of nervousness or stress which keeps the body in a constant low level condition of flight or fight. People become so acclimated to this state that it feels like “normal” and their nervous systems forget how to relax. Getting into the habit of regularly lengthening and deepening your breathing several times throughout the day is one easy way to break the cycle of a hyper alert nervous system. This yogic breathing exercise has been found to relax the chronic fight flight state. Done two or three times daily it can reduce or normalize high blood pressure in a significant percentage of patients with mild to moderate hypertension. Sit with your back straight. Place the tongue just behind your front teeth, keeping it there throughout the exercise. Exhale completely through your mouth with a woosh sound, contracting your stomach muscles to push out all the air. Inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7. Exhale completely again to a count of 8 contracting your stomach muscles to expel all the air. This is one breath cycle. Repeat 3 more times. The 4:7:8 rhythm is more important than how slow or fast you count. With practice your breath control will improve the cycles will slow and the effectiveness of the exercise will increase. Monitor your blood pressure and along with your M.D. adjust your medication accordingly. Do not adjust medication on your own as some blood pressure medication cannot be stopped abruptly. Unregulated high blood pressure can lead to strokes and damage arterial walls. Other natural aids to lowering high blood pressure are; reducing excess weight, avoiding cigarettes and caffeine, supplementing calcium and magnesium and doing regular aerobic exercise all of which serve to de-stress the nervous system. Yoga and massage are two other nervous system relaxation tools to include in a healthy life style. Acupuncture and Chinese herbs are also very effective at breaking the stress cycle and reducing high blood pressure. Kathleen Macgregor has been practicing acupuncture since 1988. She taught Kundalini Yoga for 5 years before becoming an acupuncturist and combines the ancient wisdoms of both Chinese Medicine and yoga in her work. She can be reached at 137 W. El Roblar Dr. in Meiners Oaks. 805-646-6581, www.5-elementacupuncture.com

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