High blood pressure is a major health problem for approximately one in three Americans, according to recent statistics, which is commonly associated with other health issues, such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes.
With scientific advancements, modern society has shifted our thinking in how we address health issues. The traditional treatment plan for those with hypertension (and most other medical conditions) is primarily focused on prescription medications to manage the symptoms.
Yet, while science and technology offer many advantages in the field of medicine, ancient practices, such as yoga, have been successfully used to treat conditions such as hypertension, for thousands of years.
For many who are not entirely familiar with the practice of yoga, thoughts of meditation and bending around into seemingly impossible positions comes to mind.
However, these poses can offer many healing benefits that you just can’t get from popping a pill. Yoga is becoming more popular these days, as it’s known to promote a mental and biological sense of calm and relaxation. The simple technique of breathing and following specific movements (poses) can help in relieving the negative symptoms caused by stress, poor diet, lack of sufficient sleep and exercise.
But for those with hypertension, yoga can also be an effective method of reducing your blood pressure.
In a study done at the University of Pennsylvania, a team of researchers put this theory to the test. Divided into three groups and given a routine to follow.
One group followed a diet and walking routine, another group followed a yoga routine (2-3 times per week for a 3 month period), and the third group combined both the diet/exercise routine and the yoga routine.
Among the 58 study participants, the data revealed that the yoga only group showed a much greater drop in blood pressure levels compared to the diet/exercise only group. In fact, the yoga group averaged a three point reduction in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, compared to a one point decrease of those who followed only the diet plan.
That said, while practicing yoga has a long list of benefits that are proven to apply to many people, for those with hypertension, there are a few poses that may be potentially dangerous, if not done correctly.
POTENTIALLY DANGEROUS POSES FOR THOSE WITH HBP
While yoga is believed to have a positive effect for many, due to the focus of mindfulness and relaxation in practicing this technique, every individual case is different, just like medicine- one type of treatment doesn’t necessarily “cure all”.
Before doing any “inverted” movements, you must “proceed with caution”, with your doctor’s approval, and only when your blood pressure is under control.
Examples of inverted poses in varying degrees include “downward facing dog”, “bridge pose”, a “headstand”…
If you have high blood pressure, you should always be aware of the position of your heart during inverted poses. This is important because there are two key factors that affect an increase in your blood pressure: how far is it above your head , and how far is it below your legs and midsection.
To put it simply, when it comes to doing inverted positions, it’s just a matter of gravity in action. The greater the degree of inversion, the more pressure is increased inside the blood vessels of your head and neck.
Again, inverted poses are beneficial, but DO NOT DO THESE POSES unless your blood pressure is under control, and your doctor has given you the green light to go.
But there are PLENTY of non-inverted poses that can be very helpful to those with blood pressure. In fact, you may have done a few of these before. Practicing yoga really isn’t that complicated at all.
At first, especially for those who aren’t familiar with yoga and ‘how it all works’, the concept may be a bit intimidating. But not to worry. You don’t have to have the flexibility of a pretzel to get the blood pressure lowering benefits that this relaxing exercise has to offer.
It’s best to wear comfortable clothing that will allow you to bend and move freely without being constricting.
Practicing your poses barefoot is also recommended, for better stability and balance.
A yoga mat is not required, however it helps give you traction as you perform your exercises. For safety purposes, it’s best to practice your poses on a slightly cushioned, but stable, surface.
THREE EASY POSES THAT WILL REDUCE BLOOD PRESSURE
Big Toe Pose: For this pose, stand up straight with your feet together.
Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose.
Then, as you exhale through your nose, bend forward at the waist, with your back straight, and grab your toes, if possible.
Gently pull down, and then slowly return to standing position.
Seated Forward Bend: Sit on the floor with your legs straight forward, feet pressed together. Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose.
As you exhale, bend forward and reach for your toes, keeping your back straight, and shoulders in line with your hips. The slowly return to sitting up straight position.
Camel Pose: This pose may look (and sound) a bit more difficult than the first two poses, but it is easier than you might think.
Start by kneeling on the floor, knees close together, facing forward, back straight, and arms to your sides. Take a deep breath, inhaling through your nose.
As you exhale, slowly arch your back, tilting your head to face the ceiling, and reach toward your ankles. Your hips should stay inline with your knees. Then slowly return to your original kneeling position.
Find out on the next page which yoga workouts I highly recommend that will help you increase calorie burn, help your bodies circulation, reduce back pain, build your bone density and tons more.
Let me know what you think in the comments or any questions you have.