- Causes of Hypertension
- Why yoga is the ideal lifestyle practice that can allow hypertension stay away?
- Which yoga poses/ asanas are good for Hypertension?
- Breathing exercises or Pranayamas for Hypertension
Can yoga help reduce and control high blood pressure? Research seems to be responding with a resounding yes. Yoga is one of the few lifestyle practices that provides both physical and mental benefits to practitioners, thus helping deal with hypertension on two levels.
Stress is one major cause of hypertension, as it causes constriction of the blood pressure, and activates the body’s flight or fight response, that tends to tax the circulatory system. By design, yoga is a relaxing activity, which, through its combination of asanas and breathing patterns, helps in calming both the mind and the body, and thus reduces stress and its negative outcomes, including hypertension.
Major physical causes of hypertension include lack of exercise and obesity, both of which are closely related. Yoga is an antidote to both. The practice provides a wide range of activities and asanas, varying in intensity and skill, that can be undertaken by individuals of any age and condition.
Thus, yoga provides an ideal lifestyle practice that can shield against the possibility of developing hypertension for the vulnerable, and an effective controlling mechanism for those who are dealing with the illness.
Asanas are postures or positions undertaken in steps, often accompanied by controlled breathing. Usually, people understand yoga to mean asanas (though, of course, yoga is a lot more than just that). Asanas are effective physical exercises that both stretch and strengthen, along with aiding the mind-body connection too. Here are some Yoga poses/asanas that are particularly effective for hypertension
(Note: Be very careful in attempting any kind of inversion or postures where your head goes below your heart, refer to the paragraph towards after asanas to understand it in detail)
- Vajrasana (Thunderbolt or Diamond Pose) – A simple exercise that can be undertaken wherever you need to sit, this asana is especially practiced after meals, as it helps move circulation in the lower abdomen. This helps in effective digestion, and in turn helps in controlling obesity, and can also be a very relaxing pose to engage in.
2. Sukhasana (Easy Pose) – A perfect introductory pose, this asana simply involves sitting in an appropriate cross-legged position. Despite its ease, this asana carries a lot of benefits. It helps the body relax, and acts as a great introduction to a yogic session, and is also very conducive for meditation. Its relaxing properties make it great for hypertension.
3. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose) – A great challenge for beginners, this bridge pose tones the stomach and helps in strengthening various muscles groups, particularly the back and the shoulders. Added action on the lungs, chest and kidney facilitate relaxation and blood circulation.
4. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend) – A great way to relieve the stiffness of the spine and neck, this asana also provides a great stretch to the legs and hips, and stimulates the liver and kidneys. With all the relief that comes with it, a calmer you will also surely follow
5. Savasana (Corpse Pose) – Deceptively simple, this asana is about putting the body in a free pose so that relaxation can follow. Thus, it becomes an exercise of duality, one wherein you have to control the movements of both your mind and body to facilitate true relaxation. It is also a great pose for meditation.
6. Paschimottanasana (Sitting Forward Bend) – An effective challenge for those looking to work the body, this asana gives a stretch you will not find in few other activities. It may require practice however, but the element of discipline also makes it a great relaxer.
7. Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose) – Yet another gentle stretch with relaxation added in, this asana is an easy work even for those who may be out of shape. This asana promotes blood movement towards the central organs of the body, and thus helps in invigorating the circulatory system.
8. Bhujasana (Cobra Pose) – This pose strengthens the arms and shoulders, decreases stiffness in the lower back, and works the muscles in the chest and stomach, providing an all-round upper body workout. It is also known to elevate mood, and reduce mental stress along with physical tension.
9. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog) – A great work for the entire body, this asana stretches out the back and leg muscles even as it helps in strengthening the shoulders and wrists. Alongside its physical benefits, it is also known to facilitate relaxation and energize the body.
10. Halasana (Plough Pose) – An asana best approached under supervision or beyond an intermediate level, this complex but rewarding posture stimulates the thyroid gland and abdominal muscles, stretches the shoulder and spine, and helps in creating a feeling of both relaxation and achievement.
Do note that a lot of these asanas creating shifts in our blood pressure – this is beneficial for those with healthy systems, as it helps the body in learning to adapt to these changes. Those with high blood pressure should be cautious however, especially in asanas that put the head below the heart, as the body may not react quickly or effectively enough, leading to a dangerous spike in blood pressure. Thus, be sure to practice under medical and expert supervision, and exercise vigilance. If you feel any discomfort, stop immediately and take stock of things before proceeding any further.
Alongside asanas, breathing exercises are also a great aid in dealing with high blood pressure. Known also as pranayamas, all of them have the common benefit of relaxation, strengthening the circulatory and respiratory system, and acting as a great activity where the mind and the body can harmonize. These exercises can be undertaken alone, or alongside asanas. The best part is that once you learn to do them, you can practice them virtually anywhere – even annoying traffic jams can become time spent in relaxation through these exercises.
Thus, yoga provides a rich range of exercises and practices that you can undertake in order to both cut down your vulnerability to the condition, or to help you effectively manage hypertension if you are suffering from it. Supplemented by adequate medical care, yoga can thus help you live your life productively and happily, despite hypertension.