Approximately 1 in every 3 adults in the United States has high blood pressure, or hypertension. Often called the silent killer because it produces few symptoms in its early stages, the condition can damage blood vessels, heart, and kidneys.
Lifestyle management is one of the primary keys to prevention and management, and a Yoga practice can be the key to making important changes. Genetics is also a major factor in the cause of high blood pressure (HBP). While lifestyle can be a family culture, it is also possible for someone who exercises and eats right to have elevated HBP readings.
While Yoga offers many benefits to sufferers of high blood pressure, there are a few precautions:
• Consult a medical doctor before any new exercise.
• Choose an experienced Yoga instructor who is familiar with the modifications, adjustments, benefits, and limitations of Yogic exercises.
• Ask for special modifications to challenging Yoga postures.
• You should avoid practicing pranayama techniques, which require holding the breath. It is important to keep a steady supply of oxygen to the heart and brain.
• Use caution when doing poses in which the head is lower than the heart. During physical exertion, blood flow and heart rate increase to provide oxygen to the muscles. Yoga inversions can cause the blood to pool in the head at the same time pressure in the cranial region is elevated, potentially damaging blood vessels and causing them to hemorrhage.
• Versions of the following poses may be contraindicated: Shoulder Stands, Forward Bends, Bridge Pose, Head Stands, and Downward Facing Dog Pose.
In addition to promoting a healthy lifestyle, Yoga improves circulation and combats stress – two areas affected by hypertension. The following techniques are a small sample of a safe sequence, but the possibilities are endless.
Yoga Poses for Hypertension
Yoga Sequence for High Blood Pressure
• Alternate Nostril Breathing Technique
• Standing Warm Ups
• Standing Spread Leg Forward Fold
• Standing Shoulder Stretches
• Table Pose
• Cat Pose
• Pigeon Pose
• Camel Pose
• Cobbler Pose
• Dirgha Pranayama
• Easy Pose
• Knee to Chest Pose
• Supine Spinal Twist
• Wind Relieving Pose
• Corpse Pose
• Yoga Nidra
The use of Yoga as hypertension therapy is most effective when it is part of a comprehensive holistic treatment plan that addresses the root of the problem. By balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, Yoga not only lowers blood pressure; it also increases energy, improves immunity, contributes to healthier sleep patterns, and creates a general state of inner calm.
Sometimes, the exact cause of HBP is unknown. In the case of a person who has a healthy lifestyle, but still has HBP, we can speculate about the pressure of multi-tasking and the pressure of modern living. We can also speculate about genetics. Yet, throughout history people have always had work, family, and social pressures. Yoga takes the “sting” out of trying times, which makes it a viable alternative solution.