Although the ancient practice of yoga has been known to be beneficial for helping people achieve calmness and relaxation, it is only recently that some experts have given out suggestions, based on their studies that hypertensive people can also benefit greatly from practicing yoga on a regular basis.
How Yoga Helps Hypertensive Individuals
Yoga asanas that calm and balance an individual’s ANS (autonomic nervous system) were found to be very beneficial for people who have hypertension.
Stress is one of the most common triggers for high blood pressure which can cause the sympathetic branch or the ‘fight or flight’ response to gain control over the parasympathetic branch or the ‘rest and repair’ system of the body.
Regular yoga practice will help settle your mind and body through its soothing stretches that are very effective for reducing stress. Several yogic postures have already been known to help switch on and maintain the parasympathetic nervous system. An increased activity in the parasympathetic branch will help make it easier for you to achieve balance as it becomes more capable of freeing up the body’s natural healing response. This is when relaxing yoga practices will prove to be very helpful.
One of the most preferred poses for hypertensive individuals is the Corpse Pose. This pose alone has been found by medical studies to be effective in lowering blood pressure. However, there are people who are not comfortable with performing the Corpse pose unless they are first able to perform several vigorous practices that allow them to burn off some steam.
Yoga Asanas to Avoid
Some yoga practitioners whose blood pressure is too high are often advised not to perform certain yogic postures such as the Headstand and the Skull Shining Breath. Any asanas that allow the body to be in an inverted position where the legs are positioned higher than the heart and any posture that places the heart higher than the head should be avoided by individuals who are diagnosed with hypertension.
In other words, any inversions are contraindicated for people who are suffering from cardiovascular disease. This is because inversions such as the headstand (Sirsasana) increases blood pressure to the person’s head since the trunk and the legs are totally elevated while the head is positioned far below the heart. Even those relaxing inversions such as Viparita Karani are sometimes not recommended for people who are hypertensive or suffering from any cardiovascular disease.
Recommended Yogic Postures
There are many yoga postures that do not require any inversions and are generally recommended for people with high blood pressure. Yoga asanas that are calming and restorative are known to be effective for reducing stress which can subsequently lead to lowered blood pressure levels. Poses that require intensive stretching are also helpful.
It is best for sufferers to prefer those yoga asanas that enable the spine to be positioned horizontally which can help the heart to slow down as it requires less effort to move blood to the other organs and the brain. Other useful poses for hypertensive people may also include Upavista Konasana, Baddhakonasana and Virasana.
Working Closely with Your Doctor and Yoga Therapist
If you are diagnosed with hypertension and are considering the benefits of yoga, make sure that you have already been fully evaluated by your doctor. It is important to be extra cautious and see to it that the sessions are tailored according to your medical status.
Always see to it that you liaise closely with your doctor while undergoing yoga sessions. If you have cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol level or at risk of atherosclerosis then a stress test is a must before starting any yoga class. When practiced under the supervision of a yoga therapist, yoga is indeed a great therapy for hypertensive people.