Hypertension is one of the most common health disorders, and yoga has been shown to be an effective adjunct therapy in its management. Earlier studies have reported blood pressure (BP)-lowering effects of slow,deep breathing after 3 weeks and 3 months of training and beneficial immediate effects of slow, deep breathing in reducing premature ventricular complexes and lowering blood pressure. None of these immediate studies used the concept of pranayama, involving conscious internal awareness of the whole breathing process. This study was undertaken to determine the immediate cardiovascular effects of sukha pranayama in hypertensive patients. Methods: Twenty-three hypertensive patients attending the Yoga OPD at JIPMER were recruited for the study and instructed to perform sukha pranayama for 5 minutes at the rate of 6 breaths/min. This pranayama involves conscious, slow and deep breathing with equal duration for inhalation and exhalation. Heart rate (HR) and BP were recorded before and immediately after the intervention. Results: Post-intervention statistical analysis revealed a significant (p < .05) reduction in HR and a highly significant (p < .001) reduction in systolic pressure, pulse pressure, mean arterial pressure, rate-pressure product, and double product with an insignificant fall in diastolic pressure. Discussion: It is concluded that sukha pranayama at the rate of 6 breaths/minute can reduce HR and BP in hypertensive patients within 5 minutes of practice. This may be due to a normalization of autonomic cardiovascular rhythms as a result of increased vagal modulation and/or decreased sympathetic activity and improved baroreflex sensitivity. Further studies are required to understand possible mechanisms underlying this beneficial immediate effect and to determine how long such a beneficial effect persists.

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