Yoga for hypertension

Hypertension or commonly known high blood pressure is one of the major health concerns around the globe. Blood pressure is the measure of pressure that blood exerts on the walls of arteries. Normal range of blood pressure is 120/80 mm Hg. Blood pressure higher than this value is health hazard as it adversely affects the vital organs of the body. Cardiac attest and brain stroke due to high blood pressure are the first and fifth leading causes of death respectively in United States. Over the globe, more than 26% of adult population suffers from this ailment. [1]
As suggested by the Center Of Disease Control And Prevention (CDC), if the blood pressure is consistently higher than the normal 120/80 mm Hg, its but less than 140/90 mm Hg, it’s pre-hypertension. However, blood pressure constantly higher than 140/mm Hg is hypertension.

What Cause Hypertension?

High blood pressure usually develops over time. Sedentary lifestyle, food choices, chronic health issues such as cardiac ailment, diabetes and obesity are major causes of hypertension. There are no specific signs and symptoms of hypertension. However, regularly measuring your blood pressure helps to identify this problem. [2]
Consistent high blood pressure is serious health issue as it can damage body’s vital organs including eyes, heart, brain and kidneys. Moreover, the high pressure on the walls of arteries make them weak and less elastic, thereby significantly adds to the risks of cardiac arrest. High blood pressure can also cause brain stroke. Therefore, care and necessary precautions must be taken to prevent this health concern in the first place.
The good news is that even if a person is suffering from consistent high blood pressure, he / she can manage it to prevent further complications.

Managing high blood pressure!

Studies suggest that your lifestyle choices, such as your diet, sufficient physical activity, managing stress, avoiding alcohol can help a lot to prevent and manage high blood pressure. The holistic approach of yoga is an ideal integrative approach to prevent and manage the consistent high blood pressure.

Yoga For Managing Hypertension

A growing body of literature affirms the effectiveness of yoga for preventing and relieving several health issues; hypertension is one of those. Studies affirm that yoga can reduce consistent high blood pressure. Thus, it can be applied as the integrative and supplementary therapy alongside the conventional medical treatment. [3]
International medical guidelines emphasize on adopting healthier lifestyle for managing high blood pressure. Yoga is already widely practiced in western countries. A study of undertaking the subjects from German population suggest that three fourth of the yoga practitioners do so for its health benefits. Clinical studies affirm that yogic practices including physical posture, breathing exercises and meditation have positive impacts on physical and mental health. [4] The effectiveness of yogic techniques is due to enhanced parasympathetic activity and reduced activity of sympathetic nervous system. The enhanced parasympathetic activity imparts mental and physical calm and relaxation. Moreover, yogic practices are free of adverse side effects. Thus, yoga can be an effective and safe intervention for preventing and managing hypertension. [5]

Effective Yoga Asana For Hypertension

Yoga asana are generally categorized into beginners, intermediate and advanced level practices. Keep in mind that not all the yoga poses are safe to practice for patients of hypertension. Some of the practices are strenuous that put strain on cardiovascular system; thereby these should not be practiced. On the other hand, there are certain yoga poses that are ideal to practice for managing hypertension. Overall, these poses help the practitioner to achieve a relaxed and balanced state of mind and body. When the mind and body are perfectly harmonized, it rejuvenates and energizes the body. Some of effective yoga postures (asana) for managing hypertension are:

  1. Halasana (Plow Pose)
  2. Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose)
  3. dhyana veerasana (Hero’s meditation Pose)
  4. Padmasana (Lotus Position)
  5. Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
  6. Ardha Padmasana (half lotus pose)
  7. Seated forward bending poses and asana of Pachimotonasana Series

Pranayama For Managing Hypertension

Slow and deep breathing has positive influence on cardiovascular system. These practices can lower the blood pressure and reduce the secretion of stress hormone, cortisol. Studies affirm that regular practice of Pranayama reduces the resting pulse rate as well as the systolic and diastolic arterial blood pressure. Recommended Pranayama practices for managing high blood pressure are:

  1. Ujjai Pranayama (ocean breath)
  2. Naddi Shodhan Pranayama (alternate nostril breathing)

In addition to these practices, meditation is an ideal yogic practice that connects mind and body and induces a balanced state. Regular meditation practice is helpful for managing body’s “fight or flight” response. It is therefore an ideal practice for managing the hypertension.

Bottom line

According to the world health organization, approximately 1.13 billion people worldwide have hypertension. This is the second leading cause of premature death worldwide. Only one in every five persons has this problem under control. Keeping in view the prevalence of this issue and the further complications if remain unmanaged and untreated, it is inevitable to choose healthier lifestyle. The holistic mind-body approach of yoga is a safe and effective intervention to manage this ailment when used alongside conventional treatment of hypertension.