Yoga RX: Hypertension
Hypertension is a chronic medical condition in which the blood pressure in the arteries is raised. An elevated pressure causes the heart to work harder than normal to circulate blood through the blood vessels. This over exertion is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attacks, heart failure, aortic aneurysm, peripheral arterial disease and chronic kidney disease. Blood pressure is summarized by two measurements, systolic and diastolic.
They are dependent on whether the heart muscle is contracting (systole) or relaxed between beats (diastole). Normal blood pressure at rest is within the range of 100-140mmHg systolic (top reading) and 60-90mmHg diastolic (bottom reading). High blood pressure is said to be present if it is persistently at or above 140/90 mmHg. To reduce your high blood pressure you can take certain preventative steps that include: dietary changes, physical exercise, and weight loss.
Hypertension is the leading cause of cardiovascular mortality. Fight this growing problem and try these simple yoga exercises to slow your heart rate and lower your blood pressure!
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
Yoga poses that put the spine in a horizontal position allow the heart rate to slow down, as it takes less effort to pump the blood to the brain. Supta Padangusthasana is known to control blood pressure and anxiety while promoting relaxation.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose)
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana is energizing for the kidneys and hence relaxes the system, lowering high blood pressure. While the head is slightly below the heart, Bridge Pose is generally considered to be tolerable for students with high blood pressure. Supported bridge pose is a calming restorative yoga pose, and such poses are particularly useful for reducing stress and naturally lowering blood pressure, as are intensive stretching poses like leg stretches and hip openers.
Yoga Contraindications for Hypertension
Inversions in particular are contraindicated; you want to completely avoid inverting the body as in a shoulder stand or Sirsasana (headstand), which increase blood pressure in the head the most, because the legs and trunk are maximally elevated and the head is as far below the heart as possible.