Hypertension can be caused by a variety of reasons, including a lack of physical activity, family background, obesity, and stress.
While certain factors cannot be helped, such as your age or if you have a family history of high blood pressure, others can be brought about by making changes in your lifestyle.
Yoga can help you deal with more than one of these factors: physical exercise, achieving and maintaining healthy body weight, and reducing stress.
How can yoga help you deal with high blood pressure?
Yoga involves using deep breathing techniques in synchronisation with certain postures or body movements. Consciously focusing on inhaling and exhaling helps regulate your breathing patterns, which encourages relaxation and reduces stress. This may help lower blood pressure.
Yoga works as a full fitness regime. The various asanas target both internal and external areas of the body, thereby increasing your strength, flexibility, and stamina. At the same time, it can be as gentle or rigorous as you want, depending upon your body’s needs and abilities. If you have hypertension, be sure to consult your doctor on the best yoga asanas for you, as some poses might be too strenuous for you.
Obesity acts as a risk factor not only for hypertension but also for diabetes and cardiovascular conditions like heart attacks and strokes. Regular yoga as a form of physical exercise along with a healthy diet can help you shed kilos, thereby reducing the risk of heart problems.
Here are five poses that will help you manage hypertension:
1.) Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Baddha Konasana improves blood circulation, stimulates the heart, and helps lower blood pressure. It stretches the muscles in your knees, groins, and inner thighs.
- Begin by sitting with your back straight and legs stretched out straight in front of you.
- Bend your knees and press the soles of your feet together. Pull them in as close to your pelvis as possible.
- Let your knees drop down towards the ground as much as possible.
- In this seated position, focus on your breathing. Hold the pose for 5–10 breaths, then release.
2.) Adho Mukha Shvanasana (Downward-Facing Dog pose)
Adho Mukha Shvanasana strengthens your arms and legs by stretching your hands, thighs, calves, hamstrings, and feet. It also improves blood circulation.
- Begin by resting on your hands and knees, with your knees below your hips and your hands below your shoulders.
- Spread your fingers wide, distributing your weight evenly over them and your entire palm.
- Lift yourself off your knees until your legs are straight. If you can, gradually lower your heels to the floor while keeping your palms and fingers flat against the floor.
- Keep your feet hip-distance apart, and your head between your upper arms.
- In this pose, your body forms an inverted “V”, with your bent hips as the apex and your outstretched hands and legs as the two sides.
- Breathe as you hold the pose.
- Hold for 5–10 breaths, then release.
3.) Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
This asana improves blood circulation, lowers blood pressure, and stretches your spine.
- Lie flat on your back, keeping your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hip-distance apart. Rest your arms alongside your body, with your palms facing down.
- Breathe in and lift your hips, so that your knees, pelvis, and chest are aligned in a straight line.
- Adjust your shoulders and arms to properly support your position.
- Breathe while holding the pose.
- Hold for 5–10 seconds, then gently release.
Be careful that you don’t injure your neck or back while performing this asana.
4.) Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
Shavasana helps the body relax, stimulates blood circulation, and relieves stress, thereby lowering blood pressure. It helps prepare the body for sound sleep.
- Lie flat on your back.
- Keep your feet apart, and let your hands rest a few inches away from your body, palms facing upwards and fingers relaxed.
- Close your eyes and relax your whole body, allowing the tension to leave from every part.
- Breathe while holding the pose.
- Hagins, M., States, R., Selfe, T., and Innes, K. Effectiveness of yoga for hypertension: systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine. 2013; 2013: 649836. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3679769/
- American Heart Association. Exercise Mind and Body with Yoga and Mindful Movement. Available from: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-lifestyle/mental-health-and-wellbeing/exercise-mind-and-body-with-yoga-and-mindful-movement
- The Art of Living. Yoga for high blood pressure. Available from: https://www.artofliving.org/in-en/yoga/health-and-wellness/yoga-for-blood-pressure
- Yoga Journal. Yoga Poses for High Blood Pressure. Available from: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/yoga-by-benefit/high-blood-pressure