You probably know someone in your close circle of friends and family who suffer from hypertension. Not only is it common, but it can be dangerous, affecting not just the heart but different endocrinal functions of the body.
According to the American Heart Association, an elevated blood pressure is diagnosable after it has crossed the threshold of 14/90 mmHg; this is where the pressure against the walls of the heart starts to harm your physical well-being.
People diagnosed with high blood pressure have to make huge changes in their lifestyle, start taking regular medication, refrain from certain foods, and follow a strict exercise regime daily. All these lifestyle changes do not reverse hypertension, but only reduce the effects it has on the body.
How are Hypertension and Yoga related?
Well, for starters, hypertension and stress are peas of the same pod.
So, the tiny packets of hormones causing your blood pressure to fluctuate are the same ones that you control with yoga poses and breathing exercises.
Hypertension causes the fight or flight mechanism of your body to dysfunction, consequentially messing up your hormone levels, metabolism, breathing rate, and cardiac functioning as well.
And this is where yoga comes in. With poses that aid in digestion and cardiovascular function, yoga stimulates the endocrinal production, and ‘de-stresses’ the body; reversing the effects of hypertension.
With yoga, your entire nervous system becomes more balanced.
Don’t believe us? Here’s some science.
- Yoga reduces blood pressure by 4 -8 mmHg systolic and diastolic
Study of all trials of yoga and high BP from the year 1975 to 2010 revealed that Yoga could be used as an effective complementary therapy for people suffering from hypertension. Different elements of the Yoga practice were taken into consideration, including breathing exercises, postures that targeted certain muscles, and meditative practices.
The mmHg reduction was low, but significant enough to have caused a reduction in about 8mmHg systolic and 6 mmHg diastolic. (Marshall Hagins)
- 12 weeks of yoga classes alone results in a clinically significant drop of BP,
For this study, the participants were grouped into three categories: one who had to take 1.5 hours of a yoga class twice a week, another group who had to control their diet and exercise, and the third group had to practice yoga, make dietary changes as well as exercise.
All three groups were examined for twelve weeks, and the group that had to practice only yoga had the most significant drop in blood pressure levels. (Cohen DL1)
Yoga Poses for Hypertension
Certain yoga poses like the shoulder stand, headstand or legs up against the wall, actually elevate the heart rate because the limbs are placed higher than the head and the heart. People suffering from hypertension must avoid these poses at all costs.
It is always better to ask your doctor or a qualified yoga therapist for recommendations before trying out physically taxing activities when you have a medical ailment. Additionally, signing up for tailor-made yoga classes as opposed to DIYing it would also prove to be a healthier option for you.
Yoga is an Effective Therapy,
Renowned Yoga Guru Dr. Asana Andiappan says Yoga is an effective method that helps reduce the side-effects of the disease, but one also needs to adapt to some lifestyle changes such as making certain dietary changes and early to bed and early raise habits. It is most effective when combined with other therapies and healthy eating habits and applied as a holistic approach.
Cohen DL1, Boudhar S1, Bowler A1, Townsend RR1. “Blood Pressure Effects of Yoga, Alone or in Combination With Lifestyle Measures: Results of the Lifestyle Modification and Blood Pressure Study (LIMBS).” J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). (2016 August, 18): 809-816.
Marshall Hagins, 1 ,* Rebecca States, 1 Terry Selfe, 2 , 3 and Kim Innes 2 , 4. “Effectiveness of Yoga for Hypertension: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2013 May 28).