Control your Blood Pressure better with Yoga

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure (BP) is the term for an essential function of the body in which, as the heart alternately pumps and relaxes, the blood in the arteries exerts a force on the artery walls.

You’ve probably seen it written as a combination of two numbers: your systolic score written above your diastolic score. The systolic number measures your blood pressure while the heart pumps blood, and the diastolic between beats.

 

If the blood vessels are not relaxing normally and if there are blockages in the arterioles, it can lead to an increase in blood pressure. This is what’s termed high blood pressure.

The Risks Involved

Though BP normally varies through the day — being higher while at work and lowest when a person is sleeping — older persons and those with undetected or neglected stress-levels are at greater risk for high BP. This can also be a risk factor for many chronic diseases like:

Heart failure or angina pectoris

Stroke (especially at the time of waking)

Hardening of the arteries

Enlarged heart muscles

Kidney damage and endocrine gland malfunction

Hypertension

Hypertension – The Silent Killer

The most commonly-occurring type of high BP is hypertension, known as the “silent killer” because it gives no overt symptoms/indications. It has numerous causes depending on the individual’s constitution, health condition and lifestyle. Stress, lowered immunity, poor nutrition/digestion, hardening of arteries and obesity are some of the other factors that contribute to high BP.

Symptoms of High BP

High BP is normally not easy to detect, nor is its high-end variation, hypertension. Consult your healthcare professional at the earliest if you notice the following symptoms:

Dizziness/light-headedness and tiredness

Heart pain, breathing problems, palpitations

Sound in the ears

Headaches, ache in neck on waking that generally subside quickly

Tension

Frequent urination

Dull vision

Why Yoga for High BP?

Yoga asanas are recognized to be beneficial because certain asanas:

Create an alpha brain wave state that actually lowers blood pressure.

Bring balance to the autonomous nervous system and stabilize the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems

Enhance circulation to all parts of the body and oxygenate the blood, enhancing alertness and cognitive skills while reducing stress and tension

Promote therapeutic “side–benefits” like increased strength, flexibility, calmness of mind

Address the problems of shallow breathing and increased heart rate

Channel the life-force or prana into all parts of the body, assisting the body to heal itself

Some Recommended Yogasanas

Sitting and supine positions that place the spine in a horizontal position and exert less strain on the heart can be therapeutic. Depending on your condition, the following asanas can be considered:

Sukhasana

Bhramari pranayama

Janusirsasana

Paschimotanasana

Shavasana

Setu Bandhasana

Variation on Pawanmuktasana (circular movements with knees - don't lift head up)

Makarasana with Bhramari pranayama

Shishuasana

Cautions

Practice yogasanas only after consulting your healthcare professional and a qualified yoga therapist.

Asanas that invert the body i.e. - where the head is below the body - are to be avoided. Discuss your medication and diet-regime with your doctor and teacher

Once you have started yoga practice, careful monitoring of medication-levels by your doctor is crucial

Gently close your eyes during yoga, rest a few breaths after each pose, and do not over-exert yourself

Follow the recommended inhalation/exhalation pattern for each asana

A few gentle warm-up exercises before the asanas, and resting in Shavaasana (Corpse Pose) after the yoga routine, is essential

Eat Right, Exercise Right

Supplement your yoga practice with these simple, multi-therapeutic lifestyle changes:

Shake your head - at the salt-shaker! Learn to use lemon, low-fat yogurt, unusual spices and herbs as substitute taste-givers and enhancers. And remove those pickles from the dining table! Opt for healthier low-salt chutneys and salads

Vegetables and fruits rich in potassium and magnesium like lady fingers, black beans, pumpkin seeds and spinach can help in lowering BP

Eat natural: avoid canned, packaged, frozen and restaurant foods

No smoking, limit alcohol intake

Do try herbal teas and fruit drinks like pomegranate juice, tulsi tea

Consult your doctor for recommended levels of fat/oil intake and monitor your weight

Discuss with your doctor the type and level of daily exercise that is best for you

Incorporate meditation, pranayama and learn the art of letting go

Ayurveda – The Healthy Lifestyle Alternative

Ayurveda is an ancient science focused on living a healthy life by adopting a healthy lifestyle. It is a natural alternative to allopathic medicines and is also free from any side-effects. Adopting ayurveda along with yoga can help keep a check on your blood pressure levels and with time, normalize it for good.

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